Archive for 12/22/2011

Hastings Observer –

A project designed to promote Hastings’ maritime heritage has wound down after three years.

The Stade Education Project, run by Hastings Borough Council, was celebrated at the town hall last Tuesday (December 6) when the council chamber was transformed into a giant tea party.

Speakers included project manager Bea Rapley and council leader Jeremy Birch, who thanked volunteers, particularly those that lead guided walks of The Stade and staff at the Fishermen’s Museum, Shipwreck Museum and Fishermen’s Protection Society, for all their support and hard work since 2008.

The Stade Education Project was set up with the aim of encouraging more people to enjoy learning about the maritime heritage of the fishing area in Hastings Old Town called The Stade.

More than 5,000 people were directly involved with the project through walks, talks, workshops, competitions, exhibitions and events. Alastair Fairley, representing the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) South East England Committee, praised the project’s high level of community engagement.

He said: “Increased funding from lottery ticket sales means that HLF’s own commitment to heritage is able to increase significantly in 2012.

Full story…

Bryan Nelson –

Treasure, spices… and syphilis ? New evidence confirms that the 1492 Columbus voyage is the likely source of the venereal disease in Europe.

The main purpose of Christopher Columbus’ famed 1492 voyage was to open up trade routes to bring back treasure and spices to Europe.

But now new evidence has emerged suggesting that Columbus may also have brought back some unintended cargo: syphilis.

Since the first recorded epidemic of venereal syphilis occurred in Europe in 1495, just 3 years after Columbus returned from his discovery of the New World, scientists have long suspected that the voyage was the source of the disease.

A few kinks in the evidence kept the theory from becoming mainstream, however. For instance, there existed skeletal remains from both the Old and New World which allegedly showed signs of syphilis infection before Columbus’ voyage.

“This is the first time that all… of these cases have been evaluated systematically,” said George Armelagos, co-author of the study. “The evidence keeps accumulating that a progenitor of syphilis came from the New World with Columbus’ crew and rapidly evolved into the venereal disease that remains with us today.”

Full story…

gCaptain –

Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) Wednesday said it has halted production from the 200,000-barrel-a-day Bonga deepwater oil field, offshore Nigeria, after a pipeline connected to a waiting tanker started leaking.

No force majeure has been declared as a result of the leak, at a field that accounts for around 10% of Nigeria’s total crude production, and traders said the shutdown should be immaterial for West African crude differentials.

“The spill at Bonga is a tiny thing for the market,” a West Africa trader said. “It is just a small operational issue.

We believe the pipe will be fixed pretty soon.” “Early indications show that less than 40,000 barrels of oil have leaked in total,” said Shell in a statement.

The Anglo-Dutch major said the incident occurred Tuesday. Production at Bonga, which lies approximately 120 kilometers off the Nigeria coast, is now in the process of being shut down, Shell said.

An export line linking the field’s floating production, storage and offloading vessel to the tanker has been identified as the likely source of the leak, the company said. It has since been closed and depressurized, halting the flow of oil.

“We are sorry this leak has happened,” said Mutiu Sunmonu, Shell Nigeria chairman. “As soon as we became aware of it, we stopped the flow of oil and mobilized our own resources, as well as industry expertise, to ensure its effects are minimized.

It is important to stress that this wasn’t a well-control incident of any sort, and to make clear that no-one has been injured. Our focus now is on a speedy and effective clean-up.”

Full story…

CBS News –

Fifty miles off the shores of Cuba lies one of the world’s healthiest coral reefs, an underwater Eden full of rare and endangered species.

Anderson Cooper and “60 Minutes” cameras take viewers on an underwater adventure to this colorful world that could disappear someday if mankind isn’t more careful. Cooper’s story about “The Gardens of the Queen” reef will be broadcast on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Dec. 18 at 7:00 p.m.

One hundred feet deep in crystal clear Caribbean waters, with sharks angling by, neon-colored fish schooling and a 200-lb Goliath grouper hovering a few feet away, Cooper interviews marine biologist David Guggenheim of the Ocean Foundation in Washington, D.C., using special scuba masks that permit them to talk underwater.

“Do you ever see groupers this big elsewhere,” says Cooper, bubbles rising from his regulator valve. “Never, never in my life. It’s a critically endangered species,” says Guggenheim, who is familiar with many of the world’s ocean reefs.

Reflecting after one of their dives, Guggenheim tells Anderson Cooper he is impressed with what he saw on the reef, which the Cuban government has protected from commercial fishing and development.

“The corals are healthy. The fish are healthy and abundant. There are predators here, large sharks,” Guggenheim says, noting that sharks “are a very important part of the ecosystem and we’ve kind of forgotten that, because we’ve taken about 90 percent of sharks out of the world’s oceans over the last 50 years.”

Just like the large sharks and the groupers they sustain, coral reefs themselves are in danger. Guggenheim shows footage of a reef in Veracruz, Mexico, he visited, where he says he found 90 percent of the reef dead.

Scientists say coral is succumbing to a complex combination of environmental factors including pollution, agricultural run-off, coastal development, over-fishing, and rising ocean temperatures, which researchers believe is causing a phenomenon called “bleaching,” that causes the coral to turn white and sometimes die.

Full story…

Hydro International –

To make A-frame adjusting and equipment change faster, easier and safer, MacArtney (Denmark) has designed and developed a new A-frame system.

This new system makes it possible to access the top of the A-frame from the deck of the ship.

This clever hydraulic design, using just 2 rams, articulates the A-frame a full 149° from the 20° angle for launching equipment over the side or the rear of the vessel to 11° over the deck of the vessel.

It has a high total safe working load of 89 kN throughout the entire process. Equipment, for example a full ROV launch system, can be installed on the A-frame on deck by operators working at deck level and readied for launch.

With all operators clear of the frame, the A-frame can be lifted up, past 90° and then onwards over the side or the rear of the vessel and lowered down to 20° for launch into the water.

For retrieval, the process is reversed and the A-frame raised past the 90° point and lowered to 11° over the vessel deck, which makes a 149 degree range of movement.

From here, operators can conveniently remove and replace equipment and make any necessary adjustments to the A-frame without having to be hoisted up the frame.

Lowering the A-frame to 11° from the deck also makes any service and maintenance work easier and faster to perform.

Full story…