Shoddy reporting/hatchet job on tugs+barges moving crude

Lots of bad info in this article. I’m not sure where to start.

I read that also and thought the same thing. It seems like they only talked to the Tree Hugger people and have it out for anyone involved n moving Crude.

The barges are119 ft.

Being enlightened hippies you would think they would know what meters are.

Don’t know if I missed it in the article but what is the destination of these recent crude shipments coming out of Albany? NY refineries? Philly? Canada?

This from a 2012 gcaptain post:
The British-flagged Stena Primorsk is the first of many tankers that will be carrying Bakken crude to Irving Oil Corp.’s St. John refinery in New Brunswick, Canada, from Albany, New York. The ship was expected to return to Albany every eight days, which would make the crude shipment rate about 35,000 barrels a day, according to Bloomberg.

So they are exporting crude oil?

[QUOTE=KPChief;161096]Don’t know if I missed it in the article but what is the destination of these recent crude shipments coming out of Albany? NY refineries? Philly? Canada?

This from a 2012 gcaptain post:
The British-flagged Stena Primorsk is the first of many tankers that will be carrying Bakken crude to Irving Oil Corp.’s St. John refinery in New Brunswick, Canada, from Albany, New York. The ship was expected to return to Albany every eight days, which would make the crude shipment rate about 35,000 barrels a day, according to Bloomberg.

So they are exporting crude oil?[/QUOTE]

Probably just having it refined there.

Bayway in NJ, and some are going down to Philadelphia / Delaware river.

This is good.

The AWO argued that mariners were trained to handle the six-on, six-off schedule and that longer periods of uninterrupted sleep would not reduce fatigue.

Some of the oil is going to Irving in St. John. The m/t Afrodite is hauling it. As others have said, the rest is going to NJ/PA.

They have some sweetheart export deal with Canada.

Agreed. What a crock of $h!t! Talk about an playing the industry party line at the expense of the mariners!


Lots of bad info in this article. I’m not sure where to start.[/QUOTE]

Man, that article is all over the place and stunningly inaccurate.

The United States Merchant Marine didn’t suddenly spring into existence when reporter Harry Stevens decided to stop his car, roll down his window, and look at the harbor in Albany, [“A risky cargo on the Hudson River”, April 27, 2015].

Mr. Stevens’ honorable concerns, which mirror the same love for the water held by professional seamen, are addressed below. It’s appropriate to remind Mr. Stevens that starting 400 years ago with the first colony of Jamestown in 1607, sea routes were the life-blood of our nation and remain so to this day. Because of American ingenuity, courage, and high standard of living, our country continues to have the best-educated, best-trained, and best-paid professional seamen in the world. Given America’s 8,650 seamen killed at sea in WWll, and the 175 ships sunk off Atlantic beaches by torpedoes, Mr. Stevens might even concede a little allowance for the United States Merchant Marine’s rich tradition in courage.

On a note of trivia, he might find interest in famous past U.S. Merchant Mariners including Peter Falk, James Garner, Jack Lord, and Carroll O’Conner. Of course, the most famous mariner of all, who found pay on warships and adapted to battle conditions to lead our infant navy, was John Paul Jones: “I have not yet begun to fight.”
Six hours-on, six-hours-off watches: Unlike large ships with proportional crews divided into departments, working four hours-on, eight hours-off, tugboats are small vessels built for power with limited crew quarters. Since the first steam tugboat, Charlotte Dundas, was built in 1802, six hour watches evolved and held fast. There are few tugboat seamen during the last 200 years, with the exception of working on day tugs, who have stepped on deck and not been placed automatically on the six hour watch.
Why? One reason is that tugboats often sail 24 hours, and compared to ocean vessels, typically handle narrow waterways as well as make more frequent stops. When a tugboat is underway in a narrow waterway at 3 a.m. in driving snow, or arrives in port at 3 a.m. in the same conditions, no one off-watch is being disturbed. The midnight watch is on duty. They are fresh from six hours off. They’ve had their coffee, are alert, and are ready to handle the wind, limited visibility, and docking lines on the slippery deck.
The six hour watch is essential and substantial for a commercial tugboat’s division of work, responsibilities, and rest in limited quarters. A seaman working over his six hour watch must be compensated with equal rest or the captain receives a “non-conformity” complaint on his record; this is logged on computer and audited by the company office and, if the company is a member of IMO, likewise audited by IMO or the International Maritime Organization.
Clearly, many industries operate successfully without the work/sleep mold Mr. Stevens espouses with gratuitous alarm, one might say, singled out against career mariners. Career nurses and doctors responsible for life and death decisions on a daily basis work 12 hour shifts straight. Even simple dairy cows, which suffer and eventually die if they’re not milked every 12 hours, require farmers to be working by 4 a.m., who often eat breakfast and rest after, with lunchtime kicking off farm maintenance prior to evening milking.
In reality, there is no work/sleep cookie-cutter mold producing Mr. Stevens’ warm home in the winter, good care at his hospital, or milk for his children to drink at night.

Independent steering and propulsion systems: For clarity, and with no intent to be facetious, Mr. Stevens’ concern for these above installations on tugboats would not mean a second rudder (steering), a second set of propellers (propulsion), or a separate engine room to operate both. The system redundancy he propounds for emergency conditions would be to regain control of maneuverability when primary systems fail.

Obviously with no fear of an oil spill, it’s reasonable to assume when Mr. Stevens drove away from the harbor in Albany to write his article, he exercised due diligence and didn’t accelerate his car to 60 miles per hour to get to the first street intersection. It’s reasonable to assume he’d rather have obeyed speed laws, prepare for the unexpected, for a red light, for other moving vehicles, or even for a child dashing onto the street. There is likewise reasonability and due diligence in the inching, glacier speed of commercial tugboats approaching docks with their barges. There is a reason for the tugboat captains and mates on the Hudson River to be on the radio, miles apart from approaching vessels, to plan well-ahead how they will pass each other. Does Mr. Stevens adjust his driving to blinding rains and gusting winds? Yes, there can be no doubt, as do tugboat operators in conjunction with water depth, tide, wave height, and current. Of course, Mr. Stevens doesn’t earn his income by operating a car, nor is he held in disfavor for the potential worse damage others fear and imagine he could cause by operating a car.

With some research, Mr. Stevens could have told his readers that tugboat operators must first log 12 supervised voyages before navigating a specific waterway or harbor. This maritime regulation is called “recency”. Recency is required on U.S. waterways including the Hudson River as well as, outside Mr. Stevens’ car window, the harbor in Albany.

A tugboat’s generators allow the captain to operate the hydraulics and navigational electronic systems for steering and propulsion. In oil commerce, in addition to stringent USCG regulations, there are standard-bearing agencies including OCIMF, Oil Companies International Marine Forum, which also not only require double-hulled oil barges, and not only require two generators to compensate for failure of the other, but a third, standing generator that can operate completely independent of a failed plant. That is, completely independent, from receiving its fuel source to delivering its energy to hydraulics and electronic navigation. Upon his inquiry, Mr. Stevens could have found this to be the case for the two typical, modern tugboats photographed for his article. He might have asked to photograph their third standing generators in order for his readers to see what they look like.

In response to Mr. Stevens’ possible dismissal of superior generator redundancy on U. S. commercial tugboats, and so, in response to his possibly unfettered worse fears that oil commerce is only a threat to the purity of waterways, it is by fact measured in minutes, and not measured in hours, for any crew on the Hudson River to anchor.

Mr. Stevens’ moral absolutism is not subtle in his article; he may simply love advocating the water against man’s use of it. Mr. Stevens may believe this: only his love for the water is morally legitimate because he works on land. However, Mr. Stevens might ask himself: Do I love and value my home? Do I feel pride and purpose in defending it? Likewise, the same water he photographs is not a photograph to professional seamen: it is their home. If they were moving wood instead of oil, the water would still be, as it’s been for centuries, an extension of their humbleness, their pride, and of their soul.

Accidents vs. incidents: If Mr. Stevens stopped at the grocery store on his way home from the harbor in Albany, and had to honk his horn to stop a shopper from backing their car into his car in the parking lot, that would have been an incident. If the shopper kept backing and caused damage, that would have been an accident. Mr. Stevens’ loose, free-flowing interchange between maritime accidents vs. incidents in his article bears question to his objective reporting vs. subjective narrative.

Seamanship training: With full respect to Mr. Stevens and his clearly genuine love of the water, his reference to strengthening crew requirements is simply divorced from irrefutable fact. He dismisses the reality of arduous training and certification not only required by the U.S. Coast Guard, but by highly competitive and individual tugboat corporations. Graduates from four-year maritime colleges, fluent in trigonometry-based celestial navigation, very often must start out working at the Able Bodied Seaman rate on deck on commercial tugboats. They face several years of supervised wheelhouse training and Coast Guard examinations to ultimately test for mate, never mind test for Master. Testing, upgrading, physicals, and ongoing additional certifications spare no seaman every year from the Abled Bodied rate to Master.

Mr. Stevens, after rolling down his window in the harbor in Albany, would have to step out from his car and sail 540 days solid, documented by the captain’s log with the United States Coast Guard, just to qualify to take the exam to become an Able Bodied seaman; and therefore, afterward, possibly meet the standards to step onto the decks of just one of the commercial tugboats photographed for his article.

Sailing the Hudson River or any American waterway: Before sailing a commercial tugboat, captains must conduct and log a pre-voyage plan for minimum under-keel clearance and “squat” calculations, or how much the vessel and barge will suck down in ratio to its speed and draft. There is virtually no arbitrary decision made on a tugboat in oil commerce.

Protection of the sea: Captains must log into computer his run-off calculations, even just the run-off calculations of rain onto the oil barge and into the sea, to document that captain’s compliance to EPA regulation and law for determination of that individual vessel’s impact on waterways. The EPA’s Vessel General Permit or VGP applies to and requires documentation of 26 types of potential discharges, from rain water running off the barge, to the tugboat’s dishwater from the galley.

Unfortunately, instead of informing, Mr. Stevens’ article was political: It’s a shame and lost opportunity that Mr. Stevens’ didn’t balance his article with more facts. Unfortunately, this was an effort by Mr. Stevens to produce public fear and use that fear to strangle an industry he appears to despise. How? By bringing down heavy political pressure on the USCG to produce unnecessary, window dressing regulations. This result would only be for reasons of public relations, and would only be for reasons of politics. It is very clear Mr. Stevens is attempting to pressure the USCG to be less practical and more punitive; less about safety and more about morality, that being, of course, about Mr. Stevens’ morality. To make this happen, he falsely depicts mariners and tugboat companies as uncooperative, if not downright sinister, as well as falsely depicts the USCG as inept in regulating them. Mr. Stevens openly misled readers in his article by selecting USCG quotes for what inspectors look for and made this sound like what inspectors typically find. All of this was Mr. Stevens’ effort to produce public fear and brandish that fear for political pressure against an industry he despises.

The purpose of this response to Mr. Stevens’ article is to, unbelievably, express such obvious and well-deserved respect to the individuals in the United States Merchant Marine. That is, those invisible seamen who withstand 15 foot seas and blinding snow to make sure Mr. Stevens has fuel to warm his home in the winter. No matter Mr. Stevens’ political views, he is warm in the winter.

What specifically does Mr. Stevens condemn? What does he want the public to condemn? Is it corporate America, fossil fuels, or the United States Merchant Marine? Whichever Mr. Stevens decries, it is the excellence of American seamanship that guarantees him a warm home while he writes articles like this.

This article is written by E.V. Lambert, the third seawoman to pass the U.S.C.G. exam for Able Bodied Seaman’s rate in port of Norfolk, Virginia; and author of Tugging on a Heartstring.

Thanks tugboater203 for the article link.
It has been fascinating to witness changes in our country’s petroleum transportation as Bakken came into production. Albany, for example, went from a net importer of petroleum to an exporter simply because of rail infrastructure. Of course, the article’s author outlines a pretty naïve view of how to increase oil transportation safety. I wish the author would have included a statement that barge transportation is the safest method of transporting oil in terms of spillage. With regard to increased USCG inspections, that will not necessarily increase safety. In my experience, customer (that is, oil company) vetting has done more to ensure safer vessels. Lower price per barrel for crude has more recently increased competition for barge contracts. Competition alone will improve job performance.

Lambert’s article above is way off mark. The Coast Guard questions the 6x6 schedule, not Stevens.

to the 2011 notice, the Coast Guard was considering a ban on the industry’s customary “six-on, six-off” sleep routine, which allows crew on overnight trips to take six hours of rest between six-hour work shifts. Under the six-on, six-off system, “fatigue is inevitable,” creating needless danger in an industry in which human error accounts for more than half of serious accidents, the notice said.
Why attack the reporter?

The rest of the Lambert’s article is the same. The reporter of the original article is reporting on what the AWO, the CG, the local Sierra club etc are saying, Stevens is not expressing his own opinion, just reporting others.

Lambert’s article is bizarre. Also - companies don’t belong to the IMO and it’s Able Seaman, not able bodied.

ATTACK THE REPORTER? HE IS A ASS that’s why, Maybe you should work with him Kennebec Captain

I have been on tugs about 40 years, and your a ass with that comment. Go home