Repairing Sextants in the Age of GPS

I first arrived in New York harbor forty years ago, as a freshly minted naval architect working for Moore McCormack. In those days, the Brooklyn docks were crowded with US flag shipping companies, many with their headquarters or sales offices in Lower Manhattan. Just to the north, in the narrow streets of Tribecca and Soho were clusters of little workshops where often elderly craftsmen repaired or calibrated chronometers and sextants, and rebuilt or reconditioned everything from pumps and valves to ship’s order telegraphs to the old tube radar sets.

In New York, these shops are long gone now. I was please to recently learn of a shop in Medford, MA, where Ridge White, 73, proprietor of Robert E. White Instrument Services, is carrying on a three generation family tradition of maintaining and repairing nautical instruments, particularly sextants. From an interview with Cindy Atoji-Keene in Boston.com:

“My forefathers were ship builders on one side and nautical instrument makers on the other. My grandfather, Wilfrid O. White, studied with the revolutionary scientist Lord Kelvin in the UK, then came to Boston and established a store near the Boston waterfront in the early 1900s. He invented the spherical compass, still used by many sailors today. My father continued the business, and early on I was tinkering with marine sextants, aneroid barometers, and barographs.

“Very few places around the country do what I do. I am happy to not be in my right mind helping people who need some service. Just yesterday I received an old English barograph that had a total failure of the sensors, which is like having a car that needs a new engine. I’ll have to install aneroid cells or capsules then put it into my test chamber to make fine adjustments. The owner of this lovely instrument inherited it from his father and it will function like new when I’m done.

“There are few things that I can’t do, and I most enjoy servicing sextants; these precision instruments are a joy to work on. They rarely need a new part, but occasionally need careful adjustment. Sextant sales, while hardly brisk these days, seem to be steady. It’s part of a renewed interest in simplicity. Navigating across the ocean without electronics keeps our minds alive instead of being slaves to the wizardry of modern gadgetry.

“I also teach coastwise navigation, navigating using buoys and coastal aids as well as tides and currents. What happens if you don’t have a GPS or the batteries go low? It’s like learning multiplication tables while you have a calculator at your desk. It’s valuable to know what’s behind the digits on the screen.”

 

Thanks to Lee Gruzen for contributing to this post.

Posted on May 22, 2017 by Rick Spilman

Sextant Description

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Hyper Sub? Boat or Sub?

The most common response to the Hyper-Sub is that it looks like something from a James Bond movie. The decidedly strange hybrid craft is a high-speed long-range speedboat which can also turn into a submarine. The craft has a capacity for only five people but boasts speeds of 40 knots and has a range on the surface of 500 miles. Submerged, it can dive to 250 feet. Reportedly, the US Marines are very interested in the Hyper-Sub. No doubt, it would also make a fun toy for a mogul who dreams of pretending to be James Bond.

Courtesy of Old Salt Blog

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U.S. Navy Ships Launch Tomahawk Missiles Into Syria

The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations against Syria while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. U.S. Navy Photo
The United States fired 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria Thursday from two U.S. Navy ships in what President Trump says in direct retaliation for the Bashar Assad regime’s April 4 chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians in Syria.

President Trump ordered the strikes on the Al-Shayrat Air Base, the base from which the chemical attack on Syria’s Idlib province was launched. The missiles were launched from U.S. Navy destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The missile strikes are the first direct attack by the U.S. against the Assad Regime since the Syrian civil war began more than six years ago.

President Trump went on national television Thursday night to announce the attack to the American people.

“Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians,” Trump said in a statement to the nation. “Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis later issued a statement with details of the strike, which took place at about 8:40 p.m. EDT — 4:40 a.m. April 7 in Syria, he said. The DoD also released photos and video of the missile launches:

“As always,” Davis said, “the U.S. took extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties and to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict. Every precaution was taken to execute this strike with minimal risk to personnel at the airfield.”

Davis said that Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line and U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel at the airfield.

“We are assessing the results of the strike,” Davis said. “Initial indications are that this strike has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat Airfield, reducing the Syrian government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons. The use of chemical weapons against innocent people will not be tolerated.”

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UFO Reported in Gulf of Mexico: OSV Engineer Says He Saw Large Craft Hovering Near Rig

A crew member of an offshore supply vessel in the Gulf of Mexico claims he saw a UFO ‘fives times’ the size of his vessel and UFO trackers are now looking for more witnesses to come forward with any information possibly related to the sighting.

The UFO sighting reportedly occurred on Tuesday in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 80 miles southeast of New Orleans.

The sighting was submitted to the National UFO Reporting Center, which apparently tracks UFO sightings and data, by the chief engineer of an OSV working the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday afternoon. According to the eyewitness report:

“Close to 7:00 pm on March 21st, just before dusk, myself and 4 of the crew members aboard our vessel saw a craft that appeared to be five times our 240 ft vessel in length. My line of sight was about 1/4 mile from our vessel. There was a rig behind the craft about a 1/2 mile. i used this to help gauge size of craft. Sighting was approximately 80 miles SE of New Orleans, Louisiana.

The scene lasted about 40 seconds. The craft rose up out of the water (Gulf of Mexico) about 40 feet, no water was dripping from the craft. Within a split second the craft disappeared at a 30 degree angle into the sky. Speed appeared to faster than speed of a light turning on in a room. Within seconds it had disappeared completely.

I can say for sure that the craft was dark colored, oval in shape and made no sound whatsoever.

With as many rigs (2), there has to be more witnesses than just the four on our vessel.

The NUFORC has even highlighted the sighting as being of particular interest among the 246 reports of UFOs received in March alone. And after speaking with the witness by phone, the NUFORC said the report seems legit and has urged more witnesses to come forward.

“We spoke via telephone with this witness, and he seemed to us to be unusually sober-minded,” NUFORC wrote in a note added to the original report. “We suspect that he is a very capable, and very reliable, witness. He estimates that upwards of perhaps 50 people, who were aboard nearby vessels, may have witnessed the event, as well. We would urge those other witnesses to submit reports of what they had witnessed.”

So, did you see a UFO in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this week?

Story courtesy of G-Captain

Dramatazition

 

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Royal Caribbean Jettisons Balconies And Adopts RFID Tracking In New Celebrity Edge Class Design

by Nikki Ekstein (Bloomberg) Richard Fain, the chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., is willing to bet $5 billion that he can take everything you know about cruising and flip it upside down. Or at least outside in.
On Monday, he and Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, CEO of Celebrity Cruises—one of three brands in the Royal Caribbean family—announced a new class of ship that, among other transformational design moves, brings stateroom balconies indoors. With a push of a button, the floor-to-ceiling windows of Celebrity Edge-class staterooms retract like a super-sleek garage door, leaving nothing but a simple glass railing between your living room furniture and the crystal-blue sea.

“When I started [working in the cruise industry] in the 1970s, nearly zero ships had balconies. It was all portholes,” reflected Fain on a phone call with Bloomberg. Since then, balconies have been the golden rule for hard-core cruisers.

But fast forward to December 2018, when the first of five Celebrity Edge-class vessels is scheduled to leave the shipyard, and both portholes and balconies will become a thing of the past. At least, that’s what Fain and Lutoff-Perlo are betting on.

These balconies on-demand are just one of the first-to-market design features raising the price tag of Edge-class ships to $1 billion a piece. Here’s what else to expect on these tricked-out ocean liners, which are packed with enough bells and whistles to make even the most fervent anti-cruiser consider a trip on the high seas.

“Infinite” Verandas

By redefining the balcony, Celebrity is able to expand cabins right up to the edge of the ship—almost like an infinity pool. As a result, stateroom floor plans are (on average) 23 percent larger than before, with bathrooms gaining an extra 20 percent of square footage. This is a feat of engineering much larger than meets the eye: Currently, balconies help distribute the weight of a boat, and bringing them indoors requires naval architects to redesign the vessel’s support system. Making ships bigger isn’t the answer if you’re looking for increased square footage, either, as many ships are already too large to dock in popular ports. (They solve that issue by dropping anchor off shore and ferrying guests to land in smaller boats.)

“We have been reimagining shore experiences for a long time,” explained Lutoff-Perlo, who says the glassed-in staterooms “let us transform how guests experience destinations when they’re in port or out on sea.”

Floating Villas With Private Plunge Pools

Suites have traditionally made up five percent of Celebrity’s room stock; on Edge ships, they’ll represent 12 percent of the accommodations. Included are six duplex villas that shed the traditional décor you’ll find on, say, luxury cruise line Cunard’s two-floor suites—instead, they have private plunge pools and direct access to the one of the ship’s sundecks. “They look like a beautiful hotel that just happens to float,” said Lutoff-Perlo, who added that if you opt for the penthouse suite, you’ll get a better view than the captain. “It’s set right over the bridge,” she said.

Mobile-Controlled Everything

The last big innovation in cruising dealt with RFID-enabled wristbands that let you scan in and out of the ship at port or charge drinks to your room. But wearables are a thing of the past, said Lutoff-Perlo. On the Edge ships, you’ll be able to do everything on your phone, from checking in to unlocking your stateroom door or controlling your room’s temperature and lighting.

It all happens via a proprietary Celebrity app, which also puts the concierge, ship map, and daily event schedule in each guest’s pocket. “We’ll send you notifications for the things you’ve told us you’re interested in and use it to reduce pain points across the entire experience,” said Lutoff-Perlo. “It will help us personalize your cruise as we’ve never been able to do before.”

The Bottom Line

Lutoff-Perlo and Fain both talk about the Edge class as an evolution in modern luxury, capable of drawing more affluent younger travelers and converting them into cruisers.

“When you have to sign a contract for $5 billion, your hand shakes. But now that I’ve seen the design, my hand no longer shakes,” said Fain. And Lutoff-Perlo indicated there’s more to come. “Every new feature needs to be a must-see, must-have experience—that’s true of all these additions, along with several more amazing things we’ll be revealing later on,” she teased.

Want to get a spot on the inaugural sailing? Bookings are officially open here for the first ship’s maiden voyage, departing from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Dec. 16, 2018, for a week-long Caribbean circuit.

©2016 Bloomberg News

 

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Wind Sails On a Tanker?

 

Illustration shows two Flettner rotor sails installed onboard a Maersk Tanker vessel. Photo: Maersk Tankers/Norsepower

A Maersk-owned tanker is set to be fitted with two Flettner rotor sails as part of a industry project seeking to test the century-old wind propulsion technology’s potential to reduce fuel consumption in modern day shipping.

The project will be the first installation of the wind-powered energy technology on a product tanker, and will provide insights into fuel savings and operational experience.

Partners in the project include Norwegian rotor sail company Norsepower Oy Ltd, in partnership with Maersk Tankers, The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), and Shell Shipping & Maritime.

Maersk Tankers will supply a 109,647-deadweight tonne (DWT) Long Range 2 (LR2) product tanker which will be retrofitted with two 30m tall by 5m diameter Norsepower Rotor Sails. Combined, the alternative propulsion technology is expected to reduce average fuel consumption on typical global shipping routes by 7 to 10 percent.

The rotor sails will be fitted aboard the Maersk Tankers vessel during the first half of 2018, before undergoing testing and data analysis at sea until the end of 2019.

The Norsepower Rotor Sail Solution is a modernized version of the Flettner rotor – a spinning cylinder that uses the Magnus effect to harness wind power to propel a ship. Each Rotor Sail is made using intelligent lightweight composite sandwich materials. When wind conditions are favorable, the main engines can be throttled back, providing a net fuel cost and emission savings, while not impacting scheduling. Independent experts will analyze the data gathered from the project before publishing technical and operational insights, and performance studies, the companies say.

Experimentation with Flettner rotors to aid in ship propulsion dates all the way back to the 1920’s. Although the technology has not been widely adopted, modern Flettner rotors are currently in use aboard the E-Ship 1, which has four large rotor sails and is owned by wind turbine manufacturer Enercon. Also the roll-on/roll-off vessel MV Estraden operates North Sea and is equipped with two Norsepower Rotor Sails

 

Thanks

G Captain for the post!

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Getting A Little Bit Deeper

This guy is so good at what he does. Now if I could talk him into building a #ShipModel

amateur airplanes

The weekend is expiring as I type this and while I didn’t get a spectacular sit-down to show magnificent efforts like I had planned, I did make some motivating headway. These helicopters are teaching me lessons with different aspects that I am not used to building. It’s foreign, but a nice change up so far.

I started with the Blackhawk and spent very little time installing the cockpit followed by both fuselage halves getting affixed together. All very much similar to an airplane build and right in my wheel house. The seams will be next to be addressed sometime this week.


The Huey was next with basically the same routine as the Blackhawk. Cockpit, fuselage, done. I will form an assembly line with the Huey, Blackhawk, Eurocopter, and a nice stack of sand paper.

The Hind would be right there with the rest if not for a little more work…

View original post 79 more words

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Enterprise Carrier Decommissioned

The U.S. Navy has decommissioned the world’s first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise (CVN 65), during a ceremony held in the ship’s hangar bay on Friday at Newport News Shipbuilding.

The ceremony not only marked the end the ship’s nearly 55-year career, it also served as the very first decommissioning of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Capt. Todd Beltz, commanding officer of the Enterprise, addressed the ship’s company, former commanding officers and distinguished visitors and spoke of where the true spirit of “The Big E” comes from.

“For all that Enterprise represents to this nation, it’s the people that bring this ship to life,” said Beltz. “So as I stand in this ship that we all care so much about, I feel it’s appropriate to underscore the contributions of the thousands of Sailors and individuals that kept this ship alive and made its reputation. We are ‘The Big E.’”

Enterprise was the eighth naval vessel to carry the name. It was built by the Newport News Shipbuilding Co. and was christened Sep. 24, 1960, by Mrs. Bertha Irene Franke, wife of former Secretary of the Navy William B. Franke. The ship was put to sea in 1961 and safely steamed more than 1 million nautical miles on nuclear power over its entire career of more than 50 years. The ship aided in the Cuban Missile Crisis and operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn, as well as naval maritime security operations.

Key-note speaker Rear Adm. Bruce Lindsey, commander, Naval Air Force, Atlantic, used his own experiences aboard Enterprise to emphasize the unmatched adaptability and capability of not just this ship but of all nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

“One cannot influence world events if you are not on station and stay on station; in other words: to be where it matters, when it matters,” said Lindsey. “Nuclear carriers are tough and no other country can match us in this respect.”

Though Enterprise’s history is long and filled with a number of successful deployments, Beltz offered highlights from a letter written by Adm. James Holloway III, Enterprise’s third commanding officer, which looked toward the future of the namesake in the proposed construction of the ninth Enterprise, CVN 80.

“As this ship retires,” Beltz recited, “we know the memory will live beyond her and we–the Sailors, the shipbuilders, the supporters of Enterprise–we are that link to the next Enterprise.”

The first super carrier powered by nuclear reactors, USS Enterprise is also the first to undergo an inactivation, which includes defueling the ship’s eight reactors and preparing the hull for its final dismantlement.

Thx G-Captain for the story:

121008-N-NL401-013 STRAIT OF BAB AL MANDEB (Oct. 8, 2012) The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) transits the Strait of Bab Al Mendeb. Enterprise is returning from a deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, where the ship conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daniel Meshel/Released)

121008-N-NL401-013
STRAIT OF BAB AL MANDEB (Oct. 8, 2012) The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) transits the Strait of Bab Al Mendeb. Enterprise is returning from a deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, where the ship conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daniel Meshel/Released)

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China Welcomes Onlookers as Aircraft Carrier Skirts Japan

 

 

liaoning aircraft carrier

liaoning aircraft carrier

China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier pictured during its inauguration in September 2012. Photo: Simon Yang/CC BY-SA 2.0
reuters_logo1BEIJING, Dec 29 (Reuters) – If people want to come and look at China’s first aircraft carrier, they are very welcome, the defence ministry said on Thursday, brushing off encounters with the Japanese military as the carrier passed close to Japan this week.

The Soviet-built Liaoning, accompanied by several warships, this week travelled through the passage between the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa and into the Pacific for what China has described as a routine exercise.

Japan said one of its Maritime Self Defense Force ships and a P3C patrol aircraft had spotted six Chinese naval vessels including the Liaoning travelling through the passage, and they also scrambled jets after a helicopter that took off from a Chinese frigate flew near Miyako Island.

China’s Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Liaoning sails the water in East China Sea, in this handout photo taken December 25, 2016 by Japan Self-Defence Force and released by the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan. Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan/HANDOUT via REUTERS

China’s Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Liaoning sails the water in East China Sea, in this handout photo taken December 25, 2016 by Japan Self-Defence Force and released by the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan. Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan/HANDOUT via REUTERS
Asked about the Liaoning’s encounters with Japanese ships and aircraft, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said it was natural people wanted to look at something attractive.

“There is an expression in China – the love for beauty is common to all men,” Yang told a monthly news briefing.

“Our Liaoning is both mighty and pretty. If people are interested in it, they can look at it from afar, or peep at it. As long as they don’t break relevant laws and rules, or hinder navigational safety and freedom, we don’t care,” he said.

Yang declined to give details of the Liaoning’s mission. It also skirted self-ruled Taiwan, then sailed across the South China Sea to a base in the southern Chinese province of Hainan, according to Taiwan’s defence ministry.

However, Yang was less amused about pictures of China’s still-under-construction second aircraft carrier that surfaced on the internet this week, including on Chinese websites.

“I think that foreign reporters reporting in China must respect relevant laws and regulations,” he said when asked about the pictures, apparently implying that he believed it was a foreign reporter who took them. He did not elaborate.

China last December confirmed it was building a second aircraft carrier but its launch date has not been announced. The aircraft carrier programme is a state secret.

Yang said he had nothing he could reveal about the progress of construction of the second carrier.

China could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years, the Pentagon said in a report last year.

While the Liaoning has taken part in previous exercises, including in the South China Sea, but China is years away from perfecting carrier operations similar to those the United States has practised for decades.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2016.

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Navy Shows Off Autonomous Fleet

The U.S. Office of Naval Research took to the lower Chesapeake Bay recently to show off their new autonomous unmanned swarming boats.

The unmanned boats, mainly of rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) and other small boats, use a network of software, radar and other sensors to get a collectively “swarm” and perform patrol missions autonomously, with only remote human supervision.

During the demo, unmanned boats were given a large area of open water to patrol. As an unknown vessel entered the area, the group of swarmboats collaboratively determined which patrol boat would quickly approach the unknown vessel, classify it as harmless or suspicious, and communicate with other swarmboats to assist in tracking and trailing the unknown vessel while others continued to patrol the area. During this time, the group of swarmboats provided status updates to the human supervisor.

“This demonstration showed some remarkable advances in autonomous capabilities,” said Cmdr. Luis Molina, military deputy for ONR’s Sea Warfare and Weapons Dept. “While previous work had focused on autonomous protection of high-value ships, this time we were focused on harbor approach defense.”

The ONR calls the autonomy technology Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing, or CARACaS. The ONR says components that make up CARACaS (some are commercial off-the-shelf) are inexpensive compared to the costs of maintaining manned vessels for some of the dull, dirty or dangerous tasks—all of which can be found in the work of harbor approach defense, experts say.

“The U.S. Navy knows our most important asset, without question, is our highly trained military personnel,” said Dr. Robert Brizzolara, the program officer at ONR who oversees the effort. “The autonomy technology we are developing for our Sailors and Marines is versatile enough that it will assist them in performing many different missions, and it will help keep them safer.”

In 2014, ONR completed the first major demonstration of CARACaS technology on the James River in Virginia. At that time, the transportable kit containing the autonomy package was installed on multiple RHIBs, allowing them to operate in sync with other unmanned vessels, swarming to intercept potential enemy ships and escorting naval assets.

The demonstration held this year in October built upon that successful demo. Brizzolara says that substantial additional capability has been added to CARACaS since the 2014 demo, including the ability for multiple unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) to collaborate on task allocation; the development of additional USV behaviors and tactics; and advances in automated vessel classification from imagery.

“This technology allows unmanned Navy ships to overwhelm an adversary,” added Molina. “Its sensors and software enable swarming capability, giving naval warfighters a decisive edge.”

 

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