Nautical News: For the week of January 22nd, 2012


Here are the latest facts concerning the wrecked Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia. Sixteen people are dead and 16 are still missing. The missing consists of passengers and crew including a musician and a waiter who were working onboard. Rescue crews have temporarily suspended their search of the ship because of bad weather. Big waves have caused the ship to lie completely on its side filling those cabins and hallways with water. The ship’s captain was released from jail and is under house arrest at his home near Naples. Italian media reported that the Captain told investigators that he did not abandon his ship. He claimed he tripped and fell overboard into the water as the ship rolled on its side. Salvage crews are in the process of removing the 500,000 gallons of fuel from the ship. They think it could take as long as a month to transfer the fuel out of each tank.


Recently, the MBTA announced that the subsidy given to the Hingham, Quincy, and Hull commuter boats would come to an end on July 1st. Commuter boat riders will have the opportunity to complain directly to MBTA General Manager Jon Davis when he rides the boat to Hingham and Hull on February 3rd. Along with elimination of the boat subsidy, the T is planning to cut commuter train and bus service on the South Shore. State Representative Garrett Bradley said, “It’s a private company that operates the Hingham, Quincy, and Hull boats. If the subsidy is cut, it would probably lead to a doubling of fares.”


The state is planning to build a new vertical lift bridge over the Fore River to connect the cities of Quincy and Weymouth despite protests from area residents who say the proposed bridge design is too large, unattractive, and too expensive. Critics also claim a larger vertical lift bridge will cause additional traffic backups on Rte 3A because it will opens more slowly. The Coast Guard insists that the bridge and channel be made bigger than what is there because they anticipate “Post-Panamax” cargo ships transiting the channel, delivering oil to the Citgo tank farm in Braintree. Originally the projected cost of the new bridge a few years ago was to be $289 million. Now, the government’s Department of Transportation said it expects to spend $326 million.


The Coast Guard went to the rescue of a fisherman aboard the fishing vessel Polaris 12-miles east of Nantucket. The captain of the boat called for help after one of his crew was suffering from severe stomach pains. Air Station Cape Cod launched a helicopter to pick up the man and bring him to a waiting ambulance at the Hyannis Airport. There was no report about his current condition, but a Coast Guard spokesperson said his treatment was a success.


Recreational and commercial fishermen are organizing a national fishing day protest in Washington. It is scheduled for March 21st and is being called the “2012 Keep Fishermen Fishing” rally. Their goal is to get the fishing regulations amended and to get the head of NOAA, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, fired. Among the changes sought is flexibility of time frames for rebuilding the fish stocks and eliminating the European method of fishing called catch shares. Fishermen are expected from all three coasts and Alaska. For more information on the rally as it becomes available – including bus sign-up information go to


Seven more dolphins were found stranded in Wellfleet. Marine mammal rescuers were able to return five of the seven back into Wellfleet Harbor. The other two were died. With this latest stranding, the total number of stranded dolphins since January 12th is about 90. It is not known why the dolphins beach themselves, but it happens around this time on Cape Cod each year.


In an unrelated story about dolphins, the U.S. Navy said it would use the natural sonar detecting capabilities of dolphins to detect underwater mines the Iranian government is threatening to place in the Persian Gulf. However, animal rights activists are against the idea because the lives of the dolphins would be put in jeopardy. In the past, the Navy has used whales and sea lions to search for mines just like the army has used dogs on shore.


And last on today’s nautical news, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society claims that three of their crew were injured after Japanese whalers used grappling hooks and bamboo poles against them when they approached one of their harpoon boats. The Sea Shepherders, who annually shadow and harass the Japanese whaling fleet, claim that two of their crew were struck in the shoulder with iron hooks and one was hit twice in the face with a long bamboo pole. Japan’s Fisheries Agency has disputed the account, accusing the Sea Shepherders of starting the conflict by trying to disable their boat. The Japanese claim they acted in self defense. The Agency called Sea Shepherd’s actions “extremely dangerous acts, threatening the safety of Japan’s fleet of whaling ships. All of these events are being video taped and will be broadcast on this season’s Whale Wars shown on TV’s Animal Planet.

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About John Shea