Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sods Law

For many years I made a living with "maggot Taxis," although at times making a living was somewhat euphemistic.

One of the enduring problems when mustering for docking, or tailing as the southern herders call it, was the risk of a 'break' when the lambs, having become separated from mum, decided that the next move was to head back to where the parting occurred. It required very well planned fencing and good dogs to prevent the break and sometimes both were not enough. But often a modification to the fencing was sufficient as a remedy but one could not conjure up that solution in the face of the disaster as it happened.

Now with Pike River, the earthquakes and now the boat on the reef there are armies of experts with notions of "what the Gummint should have done". Nothing is that simple. There are things that should have been done differenlyt in every disaster but to foresee them all and plan for all prevention and or mitigation scenarios is just financially prohibitive.

What is unforgivable and bloody annoying is where lessons are not learned and that will become apparent when the dust has settled on the three disasters listed above. I have money which says that the Pike River Inquiry will not find any fault with the snail protection brigade or the mindless impositions put in place by DOC that had only one purpose - to frustrate those wanting to mine the coal to the point where 'give up' was the only option.

Likewise the planners who ignored what many of us tried to have considered as unsuitable land for building left as "swamp" as it was just too attractive to developers with its base cost and location. They will never be held to account.

Now we are enduring another brigade of the AA (armchair army) who are claiming the Gummint is not acting fast enough to solve the disaster off Tauranga Harbour. What part of the problem would any government with fiscal restraints in the face of possibly the most unlikely problem to manifest do they not understand?

The freakin boat ran onto a submerged reef, charted on nearly every map down to a primary school atlas, at 17 knots with an almost full load of freight and fuel some miles off course. As one observer said, if the boat had dodged the bloody reef it would have beached at Papamoa.

Whatever was the "cause", driver error must be high on the list and how random was that?
0.4 of a Hectare in how many thousand Ha of sea?.

The AA are asking why helicopters cant lift off containers that will weigh anything between 40 and 70 tonnes. The average lift capacity of a chopper in everyday use would be 4/5 tonnes for the biggest, while most are maxed at less that one tonne. That is without the problem of the moving boat and keeping the rest of the containers restrained when the load is released.

Why cant boats get alongside to pick up transferred oil? They will struggle to get within 600 meters in calm seas. And current conditions sure ain't that.

How did it happen? Jesus wept it has "happened!" Why it happened will be eventually discovered and a drunk skipper could be a prime suspect. Mikhail Lermantov anyone?

Risk management involves prevention planning and insurance cover but it is very difficult to cover stupidity and rare occasions when "Shit Happens".

A disaster? Yes. A tragedy? Yes. Preventable? Nearly every accident is preventable but with humans involved probably not in all the above and in five/ten/fifteen years it will all be fixed.

How many tonnes of bunker fuel went into the ocean as a result of the U Boats, the arctic convoys, the Coral Sea, Midway, Jutland, et al? Graf Spee probably had as much fuel on board when Langsdorf took her to Davy Jones off the River Plate.

Nature will repair the oil spill. Pike River and the earthquakes not so.

9 comments:

Mort said...

correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't oil an organic compound created in nature, and previously found welling up and leaking out of the ground. Nature has organisms already that live off the stuff.

Psycho Milt said...

I have money which says that the Pike River Inquiry will not find any fault with the snail protection brigade or ... DOC...

Well, I'd lay money on that too, given that it would be about as sensible as putting it down to solar flares or Muslim terrorists.

Anonymous said...

Rena will keep the NZ media happy as clams for months.

Oil spills make for great 'stories'. In my minds' eye, I see the likes of Campbell and chubby chick in tv puff jacket crouched sympathetically over an oil covered seagull.

And lo! There stand the lines of talking heads.....

Judge Holden said...

ROFL. Retarded comment of the month goes to poor old Mort for suggesting oil slicks are harmless 'coz of nature and stuff. Congratulations.

Anonymous said...

I was also stunned by the comments of the AA.

1; The largest helicopter in the world ONLY has a 20 tonne lift capacity! The nearest one (I believe) is in Australia, as it can't fly across the Tasman it would have to be dissembled, freighted and reassembled, not an overnight procedure!

2; As far as I understand we do not have a floating crane in NZ that is capable of lifting those containers off the ship, at the height they are at. So to get one is, again, not an overnight solution!

Why does the MSM not do it's job and stop with the sensational s**t and go ask some professional people as to what are the difficulties in a salvage of this nature.

Mark F

Paulus said...

I did not know Phil Goff was a Maritime Salvage Expert. He is one of soo many experts on all aspects of this and other disasters.

Believe may have been Captain's birthday when ship hit reef.

Anonymous said...

Good to see all the usual ignorant old-man clap trap being passed off as fact here.

Prior to about 1905 ships were all coal powered, and when coal powered ships sank they took nothing more lethal in terms of fuel than a load of anthracite to the bottom. So you can forget about Jutland in 1916 - all the ships lost in that battle were coal burners, some had small amounts of oil for sprayers but the amount of oil carried was small. Oil firing only became widespread in the 1920s, and large numbers of oil fired ships were not lost until WWII. These WWII wrecks have not just gone away and many still pose a huge risk,The British have spent the last decade draining the oil from the wreck of the Royal Oak in Scapa flow after it began to leak out in unacceptable quantities. In 2003 the US Navy removed 2 million gallons from the USS Mississinewa in Ulithi lagoon after it began to leak oil and there is still half a million gallons of heavy fuel oil in the fifty year old wreck of the tanker S.S. Jacob Luckenbach causing major problems off San Francisco. Some 9000 ships were lost in WWII, many of which are only now starting to break up, some seventy years later - so in fact the risk is growing as these vessels deteriorate and their oil is released. For example, the USS Indianapolis has been mentioned as a wreck that could suddenly release an enormous amount of trapped bunker oil from the depths of the Pacific, which is one of the reasons so much effort has been put into trying to find her wreck.

More recently, in 2004 some 14,000 tons of oil had to be removed from the sunken wreck of the oil tanker Prestige, which sank in 2002 in 4000m of water after polluting a huge stretch of the Spanish coast.

The fact that seventy years after WWII there is still huge pollution problems from all sort of different wrecks,should tell you (if you shut up spouting your ignorant prejudice long enough) something about the longevity of these issues and the difficulty and cost of dealing with them, let alone dealing with more recent ones or ships like the MV Rena.

Anonymous said...

Oh and one other fact. Almost 1000 tankers alone were sunk in WWII, and these tanker wrecks still contain anything up to 10 million tons of oil. These ships will start breaking up over the next fifty years.

WWII wrecks have not gone away.

Anonymous said...

Just a point on the weight of the containers - they will be around 22 tonnes not 40 - 70 as stated. Just think about it for a minute, most of these containers will be moved by road when landed in NZ. The maximum gross laden weight of a truck & trailer is 44 tonnes. Of that the truck & trailer probably account for around 18 tonnes of the total 44 tonnes. Even at 22 tonnes I cannot see a fleet of choppers suddenly arriving in NZ overnight to lift containers off the ship & who is going to volunteer to be shipside hooking the containers up to the choppers?