December 2014 - Kemplon Engineering

Royal Canadian Navy’s Modernization Drive

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HCMS Fredericton (Source:

Royal Canadian Navy in an Overhauling Mood
Labeled as the largest peacetime modernization program of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is the $4.3 billion Halifax Class Modernization / Frigate Equipment Life Extension (HCM / FELEX) Program. The program is on budget and scheduled for completion by 2018.

Twelve Halifax Class Frigates form the spine of the RCN. Four of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HCMS) that are already updated include Fredericton, Halifax, Winnepeg, and Calgary. HCMS Fredericton is scheduled for deployment at high readiness in early 2015.

Saint John Shipbuilding made nine out of the original twelve Halifax Class frigates. HCM / FELEX was launched in 2007 and awarded in November 2008 to a team led by Lockheed Martin. It includes Saab AB, Xwave, CAE Professional Services, Elisra, L-3Electronic Systems, and IBM Canada.

Halifax Class Frigates make a complete team with Victoria Class Submarines and Kingston Class Maritime Coastal Defense Vessels. The combination will continue to guard Canadian waters till new Canadian Surface Combatants take over this responsibility shortly.
Halifax Class Vessels Rejuvenation

Frigates are lean, long, and relatively small warships for anti-submarine warfare (ASW). They protect larger warships, merchant-marine convoys, in-transit replenishment groups, and amphibious expedition forces chiefly from submarine dangers. The term frigate has denoted different kinds of ships over several centuries.

Image 2Changes in Halifax Class Frigates

A product of the Canadian Patrol Frigate Project that goes back to the 1970s, all Halifax Class vessels are designed to deal with surface and air threats apart from conventional submarine attacks. These vessels are named after major Canadian cities choosing at least one city from each Canadian province.

These Made in Canada patrol frigates were commissioned between 1992 and 1996 and can take on multiple roles anywhere in the world. The planned mid-life revamp includes:

  • Fresh Command & Control System: SHINPADS combined processing and display mechanism offers distributed command and weapon control
  • Internal Communication System Upgrade
  • Interrogator Friend or Foe Mode S/5
  • Long-Range Infrared Search & Track System (SIRUS)
  • Harpoon Missile System Upgrade (surface-to-surface)
  • Updated Sea Sparrow Missile (surface-to-air): uses partially active radar homing for vertical launch of a 39kg warhead to 15km at 1.6Mach speed
  • Electronic Warfare System Upgrade
  • New Radar Suite
  • Multi-Link

Technical Specifications

Table 1

Main weapon of the Halifax Class warships is the CH-124 Sea King Helicopter. It works with the shipboard sensors to locate and neutralize submarines before they come within striking distance of the frigates.

Helicopter deck of these frigates is equipped with Recovery, Assist, Securing, and Traversing (RAST) mechanism for launching and recovery of helicopters in up to Sea State 6. Sea State measures the degree of smoothness / roughness of the sea surface. The CH-148 Cyclone Helicopter will soon replace the CH-124.

Image 3

HCMS Halifax

Other weaponry includes:
• Torpedoes
– 24 x Mk 46 Torpedoes Mod 5
• Missiles
– 8 x MK 141 Harpoon SSM
– 16 x RIM-162 ESSM SAM/SSM
• Decoys (Post HCM/FELEX)
– Rheinmetall Multi Ammunition Softkill System (MASS)
• Guns (Post HCM/FELEX)
– 1 x 57mm Bofors Mk3 Gun (220 rounds/minute to 10nm)
– 1 x Phalanx CIWS (Block 1B) Baseline 1
-6 x 0.5cal Heavy Machine Guns
• Sensors (Post HCM/FELEX)
– Combat System: ‘CanACCS-9LV’ with elements from Saab 9LV
– Navigational Radar: Raytheon Anschutz Pathfinder ST MK2
– Air / Surface Search: Saab Sea Giraffe HC 180 (G-band)
– Long Range Air Search: Thales Smart-S Mk2 S-band Radars
– Active Sonar: AN/SQS-510 Hull Mounted Variable Depth (Max. Range 27nm)
– Passive Sonar: Upgraded AN/SQR-501 CANTASS Passive Towed Array
– Fire Control: Saab CEROS 200

Halifax Class frigates include the following Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS):

  • Fredericton
  • Halifax
  • Calgary
  • Winnipeg
  • Regina
  • Ottawa
  • Montreal
  • Charlottetown
  • Ville de Quebec
  • Toronto
  • St. Johns
  • Vancouver


Over the coming decades, Canada will execute the $36.6 billion National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) to acquire 15 vessels that will eventually replace all twelve Halifax Class Frigates and three Iroquois Class Destroyers. RCN is incorporating new maritime helicopters in its fleet service and also acquiring Arctic / Offshore Patrol Ships, Joint Support Ships, and Canadian Surface Combatants.

Google, Partners Launch Global Fishing Watch

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Last November, a prototype of Global Fishing Watch was launched by Google, Oceana, SkyTruth, and SpaceQuest. The surveillance system, which can track large fishing vessels all over the world, was released in an effort to equip environmentalists with sophisticated technology to combat illicit fishing. Kemplon Engineering takes a closer look at how Global Fishing Watch works, what each of its collaborators brings to the table, and how it has been received so far in the maritime community.

Protecting the World’s Overfished Waters

Surveys indicate a third of our planet’s fisheries are overharvested, and that 75% of remaining stocks have reached the sustainable limit. Aside from resulting in species bordering on extinction, there is also a snowballing effect on the ocean’s ecosystem when extinction or limited stocks disrupt food cycles.

Global Fishing Watch began when representatives from Oceana, SkyTruth and Google’s Ocean and Earth Outreach Program sat down together and agreed that the elements that would allow monitoring of fishing fleets were already available. Fast-forward a few months, and a prototype of Global Fishing Watch was launched during the IUCN World Parks Congress in Australia.

Advocacy group Oceana heads the project; non-profit group SkyTruth developed the software; satellite data is available from SpaceQuest, and Google provides engineering and financial support, as well as use of its mapping software. Also involved in the project is Analyze Corp., which worked with a former NOAA agent and created a heuristic algorithm that allows the system to determine if a monitored vessel is probably engaged in fishing.

Global Fishing Watch extracts data from satellites and plots the positions of large, commercial fishing activity, both from registered fishers and those that act in ways suggestive of fishing. The eventual goal is a public-release version displaying data tantamount to being in real-time, or at least current enough to be actionable, such as illegal fishing in protected areas.


The system is at this point, expectedly imperfect. It can miss illicit activities from smaller vessels not required to send identification signals, and from fishers who cut communications when operating in protected or restricted zones. Furthermore, according to analytics company Windward, vessels operating illegally can ‘game the system’ through the manipulation of the Automatic Identification System (“AIS”) they are required by the UN to send out—making the tracking information Global Fishing Watch is heavily relying on, not-quite dependable.

There is clearly a long way to go before we have a fool-proof system that can monitor and consequently protect our oceans—the most important question being, that if we can develop one in time to save our fisheries. The strides made by formidable Google and their partners in this new endeavor offer some hope, as they show willpower, a fresh, scientific approach, and a collaborative spirit towards finding a solution.

^ Clark, Liat. “Google’s Global Fishing Watch is Using ‘Manipulated Data’.”, 21 Nov 2014. Web. 12 Dec 2014.
^ Gibbs, W. Wayt. “The Plan to Map Illegal Fishing From Space.”, 13 Nov 2014. Web. 12 Dec 2014.
^ Khan, Sami. “Google To Put An End To Illegal Fishing With Global Fishing Watch.” International Business Times, 17 Nov 2014. Web. 12 Dec 2014.
^ Marex. “New Google Tool to Track Global Fisheries.” Maritime Executive, 28 Nov 2014. Web. 12 Dec 2014.
^ Wood, Chris. “Google joins the effort to combat overfishing, with Global Fishing Watch.” Gizmag, 17 Nov 2014. Web. 12 Dec 2014.

Carnival to Increase Fleet Capacity

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Image: Carnival Corporation Website. Accessed 20 Nov 2014.

The cruise industry is all abuzz about Carnival Corporation’s plans to expand its fleet capacity by almost 10% over the next two years. The main source of the capacity expansion is the launch of new ships for several of its brands.

Carnival has the world’s largest fleet, comprising of over 100 ships in nine iconic cruise brands: Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Seabourn, Cunard, AIDA, Costa, P&O (UK), and P&O (Australia). But far from resting on their achievements, new ships and further improvements to existing ones are on the near horizon for the company. In the next 18 months, four new ships will be added to the fleet. And from 2015 to 2017, seven new ships are scheduled for delivery—all while refurbishments and upgrades are planned on 17 ships in 2015 alone. All in all, Carnival is gearing up to introduce nine new ships between now and 2017.

Carnival was recently in the news for the splashy naming ceremony of Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess in Fort Lauderdale. Costa Cruises’ Costa Diadema, a 132,500-ton behemoth able to carry 4,947 passengers, also had a launch this month, in Genoa, Italy. This coming March will see the official delivery date of the P&O Cruises’ Britannia, and October 2015 is when AIDA Cruises’ AIDAprima is expected to be delivered.

The introduction of new ships, according to Carnival Corporation CEO, Arnold Donald, is just another way the company can grow the cruising market, increase demand for their own products, and provide millions of people from all over the world with opportunities to have “wonderful vacations and lifetime memories.”

We at Kemplon Engineering are always thrilled by cruise industry news, and few companies can create more excitement than Carnival and all the exciting things the company plans for its future! The next two years will be a whirlwind of deliveries, launches, and of course, stunning cruise ships that will inspire and delight travelers the world over.

^ Carnival Corporation. “Our Brands.” Carnival Corporation Website. Accessed 20 Nov 2014.
^ Gibson, Rebecca. “Carnival to increase capacity.” Cruise and Ferry, 06 Nov 2014. Web. 20 Nov 2014.
^ Marex. “Carnival Will Increase Fleet Capacity by Nearly 10%.” Maritime Executive, 06 Nov 2014. Web. 20 Nov 2014.
^ Thakksy. “Carnival Corp To Increase Fleet Capacity By 10% Until End of 2016.” Cruise Hive, 06 Nov 2014. Web. 20 Nov 2014.

CMN’s C Sword 90 Corvette Naval Warship: As Versatile As It Gets

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C Sword 90 Corvette (Source:

CMN’s Stealthy Prowler
Cherbourg-based Constructions Mecaniques de Normandie (CMN) presented its fresh and highly versatile naval warship, the C Sword 90 Corvette at EURONAVAL 2014. This is among the three new ship designs CMN launched at the show, the other two being OCEAN EAGLE 43 Mine Hunter and COMBATTANTE FS46.

Largest of the naval crafts CMN has ever built, this vessel packs a combination of multiple features. It is based on CMN’s experience of designing and building nearly 700 naval vessels, 90 of which were of Combattante type. The C Sword 90 Corvette therefore succeeds the Combattante vessels first built in the 1960s.

Compact and innovative, the vessel combines high fire power with fantastic radar for anti-surface, anti-aircraft, and anti-submarine operations. The unique hull and superstructure balance its characteristics and the vessel can operate in numerous environments and assume various roles. What is more, it comes at a reasonable price.

EURONAVAL is a leading exhibition that specializes with maritime safety and security and naval defense. The 2012 event of the exhibition was particularly successful. Hundreds of exhibitors, many of whom were first time visitors, attended EURONAVAL 2014 held in Paris between October 27 and 31.

2 - Boat

C Sword 90 Corvette

Constructions Mecaniques de Normandie (CMN) supplies state of the art naval ships and systems to 38 navies over the world. CMN established its position over 68 years through its Fast Attack Craft LA COMBATTANTE. The company is known for its innovative design, construction, training, systems integration, and life-long support.

C Sword 90 Corvette: Technical & Other Details

Increased automation boosts fuel efficiency and the vessel is optimized for simple maintenance. Made for intense war conditions that present day navies encounter, the vessel is at home in deep oceans, coastal zones, and littorals. The craft supports:

  • Intelligence, Surveillance, & Reconnaissance (ISR) Missions are tactical operations that support the intelligence, planning, and decision making of a battalion
  • Ground Operations Support through the on-deck helicopter, inflatables, and underwater drones
  • Electronic Warfare involves attack or defense with the use of directed energy or electromagnetic waves
  • Naval & Law Enforcement Operations
  • Deterrent Strikes & Stabilization Operations

CMN designed the innovative hull & superstructure in partnership with Thierry Verhaaren Architecte Naval for superb stealth, seakeeping, maneuverability, and performance. No fancy aesthetics or styles here. Every inch and curve of the hull and superstructure serve a function:

  • Reversed Stem improves seakeeping and propulsion efficiency
  • Round Bilge Shaped Hull imparts stronger endurance in rough seas and strong winds

Technical Specifications:

Table 1

Weaponry & Related Mechanisms

  • Primary Gun: 1 x 76 mm / 57 mm gun mounted on the fore area
  • Secondary Gun: 2 x Remote Operated 20 mm / 30 mm guns for threats from the port and starboard sides
  • 8 x MM40 Exocet Anti Ship Missiles
  • Vertical Launcher to fire 16 x Anti Aircraft Missiles
  • Additional 2 x Short Range Anti Aircraft Missile Systems

3 - Boat

C Sword 90 Corvette

All surveillance and monitoring equipment is interfaced with the Integrated Naval Communication System and the Integrated Bridge Control System in order to automate procedures and lower the responsibilities of the crew. Equipment includes:

  • Naval Radar as the Primary Sensor. It comes with four Fixed Array Panels affixed on the upper superstructure of the vessel. The construction and location ensures continuous, 3600 monitoring of the surrounding sea and air environs. The company has not disclosed the specifications of the radar
  • Electronic Warfare Means (R-ESM, C-ESM)
  • Electro Optical System that doubles up for Fire Control

Decoy Launchers provide:

  • Radar or Infrared Guided Anti Missile Protection
  • Electro Acoustic Anti Torpedo Security

Anti Submarine (ASM) Warfare Systems include:

  • Torpedo Launcher Tubes
  • Hull Mounted Sonar
  • Towed Sonar

With a modular design, the C Sword 90 Corvette supports Commando Launching and Intervention operations because such a design enables the activation of two Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB) or Remote-Operated Unmanned Surface Vessels (USV) / Underwater Unmanned Vessels (UUV) necessary for such operations.


CMN’s website defines itself as the House of Naval Excellence since 1946. One look at the capabilities of the C Sword 90 Corvette and we know why.

Controversy Over New EU Laws on Emissions Reporting

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^ Image: EU Flag (C) EC. European Union Website. Accessed 11 Dec 2014.

The European Union’s new environmental emissions laws are a sticky point for global shipping. The shipping industry, a key element of international trade and many a nation’s development, is highly impacted by regulations which are often the subject of sensitive negotiations. The EU’s recent moves toward requiring ships in EU waters to monitor, report and check emissions, is seen as a potential detriment to current efforts by the International Maritime Organization (“IMO”) toward global, rather than just regional, measures at emissions monitoring and reporting. Kemplon Engineering takes a closer look at the controversial issue.

EU’s New Laws

Estimates attribute about 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions to shipping and specifically, the CO2 emissions of ships sailing in EU’s waters are said to have emitted 180 million tonnes in 2010—levels that could make maritime transport Europe’s 8th largest emitter if it were a country.
Concerns over such emissions paved the way toward stricter environmental regulations. Under new laws adopted by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, ships of over 5,000 GT calling at EU ports are subject to monitoring, reporting and verification (“MRV”) of CO2 emissions and to provide other information, regardless of the ship’s flag and ownership.

It is hoped that public reporting requirement of environmental performance will create transparent data on which ships and practices are efficient, and that this in turn would start “a virtuous cycle” of competition that can lead to reduced fuel consumption and emissions.

Reactions, Criticism

Transport & Environment, a sustainable transport group, find that the law may trigger fuel savings, but is still inadequate, as it is just a monitoring measure, rather than a reducing measure. Furthermore, they find the law weak for not covering other air pollutants such as SO2 and NOX. On the other hand, groups such as BIMCO is concerned the new requirements present more red tape than positive impact, and that the new regulations may be detrimental to international agreements at the level of the IMO. The International Chamber of Shipping (“ICS”) is also concerned moves in the EU region may “complicate and perhaps jeopardize” efforts at the IMO to develop a global data collection system.

Next Steps

On the 17th of December, an Environmental Council meeting is expected to come to a political agreement on this adoption. This step will be followed by a position transmitted to the European Parliament for voting on the agreed text at a plenary meeting. The legal procedures may be concluded by the spring of 2015, in force by July, with the first reporting period to start about three years later, on January, 2018.

^ Barnard, Bruce. “EU vessel emissions rule draws ire of shipowners.”, 28 Nov 2014. Web. 11 Dec 2014.
^ “Debate rages over European environmental regulations …” Container Management, 04 Dec 2014. Web. 11 Dec 2014.
^ “EP Committee Adopts CO2 Monitoring Regulation.” Press Release. World Maritime News, 04 Dec 2014. Web. 11 Dec 2014.
^ Marex. “EU CO2 Regulation Compromises IMO Initiatives.” Maritime Executive, 28 Nov 2014. Web. 11 Dec 2014.–2014-11-28
^ Marex. “EU Law a First Step, say Environmentalists.” Maritime Executive, 03 Dec 2014. Web. 11 Dec 2014.
^ Ship & Bunker News Team. “ICS: EU CO2 Rules Could Jeopardise Global Agreement.” Ship & Bunker, 01 Dec 2014. Web. 11 Dec 2014.

SeaCURETM Ballast Water Management System Promises Cleaner Oceans

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SeaCURETM Ballast Water Management System

Welcome News
Evoqua Water Technologies’ SeaCURETM Ballast Water Management System (BWMS) secured approval under the Alternative Management System (AMS) of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) for operation in fresh, sea, and brackish water.

SeaCURE already possesses approvals from IMO and Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) of Germany. This is good news for ship owners who now have a type-approved BWMS for all global shipping routes.

A BWMS can operate in U.S. waters only with full USCG approval or AMS approval. Presently, no BWMS has full USCG sanction. The AMS is a temporary measure under which the USCG accepts BWMS approved by another flag state and by the IMO. In April 2013, the USCG published a list of nine AMS-acceptable models.

Managing ballast water prevents the spread and proliferation of non-native species in coastal waters, lakes, and rivers. The IMO adopted the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention in 2004 but it becomes operational only after ratification by 30 states that make up 35% of global merchant shipping tonnage.

Freshwater ballast treatment systems are rare. Of the 50 odd systems type-approved by the IMO, only a few are recognized by Standards Developing Organizations (SDO) as fit for freshwater. This, despite the existence numerous freshwater ports and waterways.

A refined version of Siemens Chloropac® Marine Growth Prevention System (MGPS), SeaCURETM BWMS treats ballast water only on uptake. It is a safe, reliable, efficient, and economical BWMS.

2 image

SeaCURETM BWMS: Flow Diagram

Over the past 30 years, more than 2,500 Chloropac MGPS have been installed in power stations, FPSOs, onshore refineries, and offshore oil rigs. MGPS uses electro-chlorination biocide generation with injection treatment for seawater cooling systems.

Features and benefits of SeaCURE:
• Uptake Treatment Only cuts cost and power consumption
• In-Line Filtration
 40µm Weave Screen filters out sediments and larger microbes
 Patented Bio-Fouling Control eliminates biological clogging of filter. It introduces biocides in ballast seawater before this water reaches the filter surface. This drastically slashes microbe growth that clogs filters
• Off-Line Electro-Chlorination
 Concentric Tube Electrode (CTE) Technology with Temperature-Insensitive Anodes minimize maintenance
 Hydrogen Degassing erases explosion risk by ensuring hydrogen-free ballast tanks
• Side Stream Use lowers pressure drop and adds to the flexibility
• On-Demand Dosing slashes corrosion effects
• Self-Cleaning Cell eradicates the need for acid washes and cuts maintenance
• In-Situ Biocide Generation cancels the need to store and handle biocides. SeaCURE generates sodium hypochlorite from salts in water

Furthermore, making sodium hypochlorite in the side stream (generated from the main ballast water stream) makes SeaCURE compatible for retrofitting

Challenges @ Freshwater Ballast Systems
Freshwater organisms are smaller in size than their cousins in seawater. This allows them to pass through filters for seawater ballast treatment. SeaCURE is the first commercially available BWMS that passed the test in natural water. Most testing facilities across the globe use clear fresh water.

3 image

Chloropac®: SeaCURETM BWMSs Predecessor

With humic acid, tannins, and a flourishing aquatic life, the waters at the testing complex of the Great Ships Initiative located in Lake Superior are dark reddish and pose a challenge for Ultra Violet (UV) ballast water treatment systems.
UV disinfection mechanisms rely on the penetration and disinfection capacity of UV light – they use UV light at 254 nano-meter (nm) wavelength to eliminate disease causing microbes.

Ultra Violet Transmissivity (UV-T) indicates how much UV light can penetrate water. A UV-T of near 100% means clear water while less than 50% UV-T implies unclear water.

Such UV disinfection systems do not work effectively in unclear freshwater with low UV-T because:
• light does not penetrate and disinfect such water
• absence of salt (sodium chloride) means chlorine is not available for electrolysis
• freshwater with extreme high or low water temperatures and ice-laden freshwaters cut their efficacy
Non uniformity of regulations between different institutions leaves much to be desired. The IMO for example does not mandate testing UV

BWMS in freshwater, the USCG does. Then again, both fail to mention the term UV-T.
In practical operating conditions, UV-T of water ranges from 100% to 50% or lower. However, most UV ballast treatment systems can deal with water with UV-T between 100% and 80% only.

Company Profile

Evoqua Water Technologies provides clean water technologies to millions through reliable and economical systems. The company serves aquatic, industrial, institutional, and municipal clients around the world.

Through research and development, Evoqua focuses on desalination, waste reduction, water reuse, and process-energy efficiency. Evoqua services include systems for:
• water disinfection for aquatic applications
• town-city potable drinking water
• ultra-pure water for scientific and medicinal applications
• municipal and industrial wastewater treatment
• industrial process water
• water recycle and reuse

Despite inconsistent regulations, environmental concerns will drive similar developments. Already the BSH is basing its type approvals on the rate of flow of ballast water that further adds to the complexity of compliance.

Bringing Down the Global Drowning Rate

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Image: Sreen Capture. World Health Organization. “Global Report on Drowning.” Infographic. Web. Accessed 28 Nov 2014.

A World Health Organization (“WHO”) report reveals drowning as one of the 10 leading causes of death for children and youth. Over 372,000 lives are lost to drowning in a year, earning it a reputation for being ‘a hidden childhood killer,’ now claiming more lives than tuberculosis and measles in youth under 15 years of age. An investigation by the WHO revealed that over 90% of drowning deaths happen in low and middle-income countries, particularly in the African, Southeast Asian, and Western Pacific regions.

Until the staggering figures were revealed this November, drowning has not exactly been on the international agenda in the fight against childhood mortality. Bloomberg Philanthropies had provided funding for WHO’s report, an effort which NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and founder had said was part of prevention since “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” It is hoped that drowning can now be a larger part of the discourse.

Drowning, according to WHO director general Dr. Margaret Chan, is a “needless loss of life” and demand preventive action from governments. Initiatives suggested by WHO include swimming, water safety and safe rescue training for school-age kids; bystander training in rescue and resuscitation; and creating and enforcing proper regulations in boats, ferries and shipping.

The report, as well as helpful summaries and infographics, are available online at the World Health Organization’s website,

We at Kemplon Engineering, like many of our clients, have a great affinity for the water in all its forms. It is a source of life, nourishment, beauty and adventure. But as in all things, practicing safety should always come first. The global survey conducted by the WHO revealed some devastating statistics for our world’s youth. It is our hope that the information creates more awareness, and that this awareness leads to better safeguards to protect children from this ‘hidden’ killer.

^ Marex. “Action Needed to Curb Global Drowning Rate.” Maritime Executive, 17 Nov 2014. Web. 28 Nov 2014.–2014-11-17
^ Mundasad, Smitha. “Drowning: ‘Hidden childhood killer’.”, 17 Nov 2014. Web. 28 Nov 2014.
^ Wax-Thibodeaux, Emily. “Drowning is one of the 10 leading causes of death for children, WHO says.” The Washington Post, 18 Nov 2014. Web. 28 Nov 2014.

Infrastructural Deficits, Blame Games Hampering Congestion Resolution at Los Angeles & the Long Beach Ports

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Deepwater Ports on the West Coast of the U.S. (Source:,_connected_to_the_rail_grid.png)

Titanic Bottleneck

Every year with Christmas just round the corner, businesses around the world gear up for brisk operations as people go on shopping sprees. This year should be no different. Alas! That is not the case. Being played out at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is a battle of nerves that promises to play spoilsport this festive season.

Long standing truck lines greet you and over a dozen container ships have queued up outside ports, something that happens once in a blue moon. Some say, this is the worst congestion in a decade. Also affected are the ports of Tacoma and Seattle.

Labor unions representing 20,000 West Coast dock workers are still negotiating with representatives of shipping lines and terminal operators. Talks started in May. Worker contracts expired at July-end and they have been working without contracts since then.

Now, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the busiest container ports in the United States respectively ranking number one and two for traded volumes. Between them, they handle 43% of the volume of containerized goods entering the U.S.

Both sides continue leveling accusations on the other as neutral observers point to the more solid causes. Now, a broad coalition of the affected parties has urged President Obama to intervene under the Taft Hartley Act 1947 to resolve the crisis. The act monitors the powers and operations of labor unions.

2 - ContainerStacked Up Containers at the Los Angeles Port

With the end of the deadlock nowhere in sight, many might find it hard to lay their hands on their favorite merchandise. Worse still, this bodes ill for the economy of the entire region for the port is central to the businesses of manufacturers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, retailers, transporters, and logistics providers.

What’s the Matter?

With about 42,000 members, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) includes dock workers from the West Coast of the U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, and the province of British Columbia in Canada.

Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) represents 72 leading international maritime shippers and terminal operators. Their main task is to negotiate and execute maritime labor agreements with the ILWU at 29 ports in the United States.

While the PMA accuses the ILWC of not continuing with the agreed ‘normal operations’ till a solution is forged, the ILWC says the term ‘normal operations’ is undefined and that the two sides have an historic disagreement over the definition of the term.

However, the ILWC is not confirming if its members have deliberately slowed down work at these and other West Coast ports to reinforce its position at the bargaining table. Similarly, the ILWC is silent on PMA’s allegation that the ILWC has refused to dispatch qualified crane operators at these ports, an action that adds to the delay.

3 - Container

Truck Queues at the California United Terminal, Long Beach Port

On the contrary, the ILWC claims that the PMA is covertly seeking to relieve dock workers of their conventional responsibility of maintaining chassis – large, wheeled metal beds that trucks use to transport container-laden trailers. The ILWC also alleges that the PMA is no longer negotiating over training programs.

Presently, it takes 7 to 10 days longer than before to obtain goods from these ports. Average truck turn time jumped from 89 minutes in August to 101 minutes in October. Retailers are re-routing their goods through other ports on the East Coast, Gulf Coast, Canada, and Pacific Northwest amidst fears that some importers might shift permanently.

  • Neutral experts point to the following causes apart from the failing negotiations:
    Trailer Shortage is the almost-unanimous main cause. Shipping lines exited from owning the chassis-trailers throughout the U.S. Leasing companies now own and operate trailers whose availability does not match the demand
    Truckers have to make additional trips to find their allotted trailers and this adds to the delay. The affected ports are creating a plan for a shared pool of trailers to shorten delays
  • Larger Ships & Carrier Alliances means large ships that take more time to load-unload are always fully loaded. Present terminals were designed for ships one-third of the size of such ships. Leasing companies naturally cite this as the main cause. Terminals have to evolve to meet this expansion
  • Peak Shipping Season coupled with retailers ordering more goods in anticipation of the strike has created a massive influx of goods
  • Trucker Deficit means there are fewer hands for transporting the stacked up containers. Most economic recovery periods witness trucker shortage as trucking companies find it hard to hire and retain drivers


Last time a similar bottleneck erupted at these ports in 2004, the authorities urged truckers to work during nights and liquidated the problem. The present situation demands a similar, out-of-the-box approach particularly for dealing with the botched up negotiations.

Damage Claims vs Costa Cruises For Costa Concordia Disaster

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Image “3d Gavel ” courtesy of sscreations at

Costa Cruises faces damage claims from the governments of Giglio and Tuscany, years after the tragic sinking of the Costa Concordia. The claims have a hefty price tag: the region of Tuscany demands €30 million (about $38 million) in compensation, and the island of Giglio is demanding €189 million (about $237 million) for damages. Kemplon Engineering takes a closer look at the grievances of these famous tourist havens, and provides updates on fallout from the disastrous 2012 sinking that ended the lives of 32 people.

The Costa Concordia Disaster

In January 2012, the Costa Concordia—a 950-foot cruise liner from Costa Cruises—capsized off Giglio, an island off the Tuscan coast. The ship struck rocks and rolled to its side near Giglio after the captain, Francesco Schettino, was said to have deviated from a set route. 4,000 passengers were aboard Costa Concordia at the time, and the disaster ended with 32 lives lost.

Captain Schettino is on trial for manslaughter and dereliction of duty, with the prosecutor seeking a 20-year prison term for him. Five senior crew members were convicted of manslaughter in 2013. Just this year, the fallen ship was refloated and towed to Genoa for scrapping.

The Damage Claims

Tuscany and Giglio are known holiday retreats. Their governments claim the Costa Concordia disaster caused significant damages to their image and tourism livelihood. Giglio, for example, had reportedly lost about 45,000 visitors in the wake of the tragedy. Their 189-million-euro claim for compensation was arrived at by calculating the disaster’s financial impact on the island’s 1,400 residents over the course of the 900 days the ship remained in the area. Legal representation for Costa Cruises do not find the requested figures realistic, however. A verdict on the claims is expected in 2015. These claims are on top of the €1 million fine paid by Costa Cruises to avoid a criminal trial in 2013, and agreements to pay €11,000 to each passenger on the ship.

The Costa Concordia disaster had been heartbreaking for many people, on many fronts—lives lost, families in mourning, damaged environments, and loss of much-needed local livelihood. Many people are hurting, even years after the incident and likely for years to come. We at Kemplon Engineering can only hope that justice can be served, and agreements can be reached that would aid the recovery of affected individuals and the communities.

^ “Costa Concordia: Captain Schettino tried to ‘impress’.” BBC, 02 Dec 2014. Web. 04 Dec 2014.
^ Hutchinson, John. “Tuscany and Giglio seek £177m in damages over claims that Costa Concordia disaster tarnished their image and scared off tourists.” Mail Online, 18 Nov 2014. Web. 04 Dec 2014.
Moran, Lee. “Italian officials sue Costa Concordia owner for $275 million over ruining local tourism.” New York Daily News, 18 Nov 2014. Web. 04 Dec 2014.
Squires, Nick. “Tuscany demands 30 million euros for Costa Concordia disaster.” The Telegraph, 17 Nov 2014. Web. 04 Dec 2014.
World Maritime News Staff. “Costa Cruises Facing USD 247 Mln in Damage Claims.” World Maritime News, 18 November 2014. Web. 04 Dec 2014.

Greenpeace Activists Injured in Ramming Incident with Spanish Navy

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Image: Screen Capture. “Video: Activist hospitalised after boats rammed during peaceful protest against oil drilling.” Greenpeace International Website, 15 Nov 2014. Web. Accessed 02 Dec 2014.

Dramatic footage of a Spanish navy boat ramming into a Greenpeace vessel during a protest has gone viral. The incident, which occurred off the Canary Islands in mid- November, resulted in injuries to several activists. Kemplon Engineering takes a closer look at this unfortunate event, the substance of Greenpeace’s protest, and consequences of the encounter.

The Protest

In August of 2014, the Spanish government approved oil exploration in the Canary Islands by Spanish energy company, Repsol. According to a Repsol spokesman, the reservoir that they may find can reduce Spain’s energy dependency from 99.9% to around 90%– an import savings of around €4bn. The government approval came on the heels of a favorable environmental impact statement from the country’s environment ministry, as well as the top court’s rejection of seven appeals against the exploration.

Environmental organizations like Greenpecae, WWF, and Friends of the Earth are against the decision, as are local people and island authorities who fear for the area’s prized tourism and fishing industries.

The Ramming Incident

According to the Spanish ministry of defense, the Greenpeace activists did not heed requests to keep out of an exclusion zone, and that the navy crew were tasked with preventing the harassment and boarding of the drilling ship by activists. On the other hand, the Greenpeace captain Joel Stewart had responded to the requests to keep away by emphasizing Greenpeace’s duty to protect the environment.

The unfortunate result of these conflicting objectives? A collision—described by many as appearing deliberate on the part of the Spanish navy—which caused injuries to activists like 23-year-old Matilda Brunetti whose leg had been broken. Three other Greenpeace activists had minor injuries. The organization has since expressed its outrage at what it perceived to be “unjustified use of force.”

What had happened between Greenpeace and the Spanish Navy is a situation no one would want to be in—a Navy following its orders and protecting a ship, a devoted environmental organization willing to risk their safety; a government aiming for better energy independence and a people struggling with possible environmental fallout. We at Kemplon Engineering hope that solutions and fair agreements may be reached by the parties involved so that what is good for a nation can also be good for the environment, and vice versa.

^ AFP. “Spain clears oil exploration off Canary Islands.” The Guardian, 14 Aug 2014. Web. 02 Dec 2014.
^ Associated Press and Damien Gayle. “Spanish navy vessels filmed ‘breaking female Greenpeace activist’s leg’ as they rammed campaigners’ boats during protest by the Canary Islands.” Mail Online, 17 Nov 2014. Web. 02 Dec 2014.
^ Heckle, Harold. “Greenpeace: 4 activists hurt off Canary Islands.” Yahoo News, 15 Nov 2014. Web. 02 Dec 2014.
^ Smith, Isobel. “VIDEO: Spanish Navy rams Greenpeace activists’ RIBs in bid to prevent oil protest.” Yachting & Boating World, 17 Nov 2014. Web. 02 Dec 2014.
^ Vaughan, Adam. “Spanish navy rams Greenpeace boat and injures activists.” The Guardian, 17 Nov 2014. Web. 02 Dec 2014.
^ “Video: Activist hospitalised after boats rammed during peaceful protest against oil drilling.” Greenpeace International, 15 Nov 2014. Web. 02 Dec 2014.