The Panama Canal commemorated the one-year anniversary of the inauguration of its Expanded Canal, one of the most significant milestones in the history of the 102-year-old waterway and a defining moment for the people of Panama and the global maritime industry.
June 25 was the annual Day of the Seafarer, which was established in a resolution adopted by the 2010 Diplomatic Conference in Manila to adopt the revised STCW Convention.
The day recognizes the unique contribution made by seafarers from all over the world to international seaborne trade, the world economy and civil society.
This year, the theme was “Seafarers Matter”.
For 2017, the idea was for ports and seafarer centers to share and showcase best practices in seafarer support and welfare.
The Wilson Center hosted its Arctic Circle Forum June 21 to 22, bringing together experts on the region to discuss the latest happenings and opportunities in the polar North.
Sea Technology attended the first day of the forum, which played up U.S.-Russia relations. Representatives from the Russian government emphasized that the bilateral bond is deteriorating with the sanctions having just been imposed by the U.S. Congress on Russia in retaliation for the alleged interference by Russia in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Others at the forum, however, were quick to point out that cooperation has been consistent for years in the Arctic. Ambassador David Balton, deputy assistant secretary for Oceans and Fisheries at the U.S. State Department, pointed out that the Arctic Council has made three formal agreements thus far, all of which have involved U.S.-Russia cooperation.
The Arctic holds great economic importance for Russia. The U.S. also has economic interests in the Arctic (i.e., oil and gas), as well as scientific interest in trying to understand regional changes in relation to the Earth as a whole. U.S. President Barack Obama traveled to the Arctic in the fall of 2015 and found that Arctic science is fragmented. He wanted to develop alignments in Arctic science, which led to the White House Science Ministerial, involving all countries invested in Arctic science, wanting collaboration to live beyond his administration. The EU will host the next Arctic Science Ministerial in 2018.
The Arctic is a barometer of climate change, and sea ice extent and duration is clearly changing with the warming climate. The Arctic has always been important in the global climate cycle, and it is now taking on new importance as commercial possibilities open up in the region for shipping, tourism and natural resources. Melting sea ice will lead to new Arctic sailing routes in the coming 10 years, said Gylfi Sigfússon, president and CEO of Eimskip. His company has linked ports in the Arctic, which increases trade. “Sometimes we think we’re like AT&T. We’re connecting people, seeing places others are not eager to serve.” It is seeing these opportunities missed by others that has kept his business going strong and benefits the communities that require connections to survive in the harsh polar climate.
A highlight of the day was a Q&A with Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, who was interviewed by David Martin of CBS. He said that 33 percent of gas and 13 percent of oil sits in the Arctic, which makes it of strategic interest to the U.S. (and other countries). When he started his career, the U.S. had seven icebreakers; today, it has two—and only one of them is a heavy icebreaker, and both of them are aging. “The U.S. has not made investments in the Arctic,” he said. The Coast Guard wants to connect Arctic strategy to U.S. policy. Only 5 percent of the Arctic is surveyed to modern methods, and Zukunft went to Google to put action behind this survey challenge. He brought up the fact that an “intermodal deepwater port is lacking if this becomes the next Suez Canal connecting Europe and Asia.” While the Arctic Council is important for cooperation and reaching agreements, the Arctic Council sets policy, and implementation is done by the Arctic Coast Guard Forum, Zukunft emphasized.
Paul Fuhs, president of the Marine Exchange of Alaska, wrapped up the day by discussing the increase in vessel traffic in the Bering Strait. Real-time monitoring of vessel traffic via AIS enables dynamic resource protection in the harsh climate of the Arctic. He proposed a jointly managed seaway with Russia for navigation safety.
Teledyne Marine is hosting its 2017 Photo Contest. All Teledyne customers are invited to submit photos of Teledyne products in action. The winner will receive a pair of Bose wireless headphones. Three honorable mentions will receive $50 Visa gift cards.
Deadline is June 30.
Learn more here.
The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald has collided with a merchant vessel off Japan, resulting in seven deaths aboard the Fitzgerald. The cause of the crash is yet unknown, and the Navy will investigate.
Read NPR’s speculation on the cause here.
The Chief of Naval Research (CNR) is looking for innovative concepts that could generate a leap ahead in the U.S. Navy/Marine Corps capability in the future. He is looking for vision that really gets out in front of the rapid, ever-accelerating technology development and deployment cycle.
Learn more about what the CNR is looking for at http://www.navalengineers.org/navaltechexpo (click on “CNR Concept Challenge”).
The deadline for submission to the CNR Concept Challenge is June 30, 2017.
Capitol Hill Ocean Week is a three-day event, but the business of championing the oceans is ongoing throughout the year.
If you’re in town, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, ranking member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, will hold a roundtable event aimed at promoting an informed dialog to help Congress and the public better understand the effects of climate change that have already occurred, what we can expect in the future, and what actions are and should be taken to address this growing crisis. The oceans are inextricably linked to climate change.
The roundtable is called “Science and Policy Perspectives: Climate Change” and will take place Tuesday, June 20 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 2360 Rayburn House Office Building in D.C.
Sea Technology took some time out from the office to attend the opening day of Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW), which runs from June 13 to 15 at the Ronald Reagan Building in D.C. this year. 2017 marks the largest crowd thus far for CHOW, with more than 1,000 people registered.
UN Ocean Conference
The day started off with a panel on the UN Ocean Conference that took place June 5 to 9 in New York City, coinciding with World Oceans Day on June 8. The panelists were: Ambassador David A. Balton, deputy assistant secretary for Oceans and Fisheries, U.S. Department of State; Rolando Morrillo, vice president, Rockefeller & Co.; Mara A. Murillo Correa, senior program officer, intergovernmental affairs, UN Environment Programme; and Karen Sack, managing director, Ocean Unite.
The UN conference focused on SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) 14, aspiring to sustainable ocean development and conservation. There are 17 SDGs, and they apply to the whole world, not just developing nations, unlike the UN Millennium Goals.
The conference in June was the first UN conference on SDG 14, chaired by Fiji and Sweden. Originally, the plan was to hold the conference in Fiji, but holding it in NYC allowed access to/for the business community, which needs to be a part of sustainable ocean development efforts, according to the panel. None of the SDGs exist or can be achieved in isolation.
The conference was a call to action for stakeholders and resulted in more than 1,300 voluntary commitments to work toward SDG 14. Monitoring will be part of the process, with a follow-up planned for 2020 in a meeting to be hosted by Portugal and Kenya.
During the Q&A session, Morrillo addressed the notion of a circular economy, which is new to the U.S.–attaching value to waste and developing it as a product. He also said that while the idea of carbon taxing has been out there, as of yet, there is no international standard, which means efforts around the world are uncoordinated. Balton pointed out that marine nutrient pollution is another major problem, which requires working with the agriculture industry. Correa said environmental sustainability must be integrated into industry best practices. Sack praised U.S. President Barack Obama for his administration’s work on the oceans, which paved the way for the high-level global engagement happening today.
Next up for the morning was a panel comprising three former NOAA administrators: Dr. D. James Baker, now a consultant for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization; Dr. VAdm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., now CEO of GeoOptics Inc.; and Dr. Jane Lubchenco, now a professor and advisor in marine studies at Oregon State University.
Baker said that NOAA has progressed from a budget of $2 billion under his leadership to $5.5 billion under Kathryn D. Sullivan. “This progress was made possible by a continuity of ideas,” he said.
The panelists discussed their concerns about programs cut from President Donald Trump’s FY 2018 budget, including the Sea Grant program, which destroys a network for protection and sustainability of the coasts, said Lautenbacher. Baker brought up that the new budget takes out ice-modeling research, which will have a direct effect on the U.S. because the Arctic could be ice free in 2030 to 2050, leading to big changes in/extreme weather.
“Much of what NOAA does is not widely appreciated,” said Lubchenco. Weather forecasting is an example.
All three were wary of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s review of marine national monuments, ordered by Trump.
“We are trashing the world,” and we need to do something about it, Lautenbacher said in his closing remarks. “I encourage you to work for a sustainable world.”
Technology as a Game Changer
Bill Hilf, CEO of Vulcan Inc., gave an introductory talk for the afternoon Technology panel. Vulcan was founded by Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and a philanthropist. The company uses data to support conservation efforts by tracking illegal fishing. Vast amounts of data are turned into actionable, near-real-time intelligence.
The Technology panelists were: Roger Hine, co-founder and chief technology officer, Liquid Robotics, a Boeing Co.; Keith Rosema, executive director, technology advancement, Vulcan Inc.; Dr. Mario Tamburri, director, Alliance for Coastal Technologies; and Dr. Jyotika Virmani, senior director, XPRIZE.
The panelists discussed cutting-edge ocean tech, such as constellations of small satellites with lower price tags; machine learning to analyze big data; 3D printing; AI; robotics; sensor development for smaller, cheaper instruments; open-source tech; and data as a service/product.
They also discussed the need to share the risk load for tech development, which requires public and private partnerships.
While there has been an explosion in computational ability, the ocean still lacks a system of network connectivity from the depths to the surface, Hine said. Corals could be gone by 2050. Saving the ocean with tech takes will, he said.
HEINEKEN Netherlands, foodstuff distributor Nedcargo, and GoodFuels, the first marine biofuel company focused on the global commercial shipping fleet, have launched a joint pilot initiative to demonstrate the significant advantages of operating inland transport barges using sustainable drop-in marine fuel.
The initiative will see advanced marine fuel supplied by GoodFuels containing 30 percent biofuel on board the 104-TEU barge For Ever, an inland barge transporting Heineken export beer from the HEINEKEN brewery in Zoeterwoude to the deep-sea terminals in Rotterdam. The transportation of the beer will dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 25 percent, while also sharply reducing harmful local emissions such as nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM).
The project will showcase the possibility of reducing emissions of inland waterway transport without any vessel modification.
OceanGate Expeditions and The Cape Eleuthera Institute will embark on a Bahamas deep-sea survey of the twilight zone of the Exuma Sound using the manned submersible Cyclops 1.
Beginning in October 2017, with multiple weeks of diving each season over a year, the exploration aims to uncover new details on deep-sea sharks and the variety of species that inhabit the waters off the Great Bahama Bank Continental Shelf.