Should the Master Go Down with the Ship?

By John A. C. Cartner

Should the Master Go Down with the Ship?

There has been a good deal of press on the subject of the pseudo-moral duty of the master to go down with his ship after a particularly bad maritime accident. There is a rampant folk notion popularized by the lay press – and I have even seen some lawyers of lesser ability sincerely argue the point -- in the affirmative. While vaguely amusing, when any person, lay or legal, tries to argue seriously the notion it loses any value and indeed the argument becomes an obscenity. 

I will say right here: the concept that the master should somehow or the other sacrifice himself when in the command and custody of a mere chattel which has found itself in bad straits is counterproductive, immoral, not required by any law and in some jurisdictions likely unlawful if the master with intent suicides after the fact. 

Read more and watch the video after the jump.

Identity and Kings Point – The Real Question

Identity and Kings Point – The Real Question

The press has reported an ongoing existential debate as to the US Merchant Marine Academy. Recently, there seems to have been a focus on matters of leadership and the necessity to train students at the Academy in that art – both in definition and practice.  

The Kings Point debate is necessary and indeed healthy. It will bring about a much stronger school. However, the debate is not new. We must remember that the first inklings of the confusion in the government about the training of merchant shipping people arose in the Grant administration when money was set aside for the US Navy to provide us with their version of training in proper seamanship and in vessel operations. How quickly we – and they – forget. The US Navy-sainted John Paul Jones was a pretty competent commercial shipmaster fewer than one hundred years before the training concept was funded and before he put on the RN-copied uniform and his silly two-ended hat. But that is another story. 

... Read more and watch the video after the break

Oil Prices and Their Impact on Shipping

Oil Prices and Their Impact on Shipping
The precipitous decline of oil prices in the past six months worldwide is a tectonic shift in the energy market.  The principal reasons for the decline are the glut of high-quality crude oil supply and demand which is not keeping up with supply. The supply is increasing because of the new technologies being applied to the extraction of oil from shale beds. All crude oil is held in shales which are a product of ancient seabeds and marine organisms. Over gological time some oil under pressure is excreted from the shale matrix and pools upward in more accessible loci, usually under impervious domes such as salt domes. From these accumulations past drilling has been able to extract the oil fairly easily. Now technology has advanced such that in shales not having readily accessbile oil, a combination of water and sand and some chemicals forced into the beds creates fractures which allow the oil to be released, follow the fracture lines and accumulate near the proximate start of the fractures. The sand holds the fractures open for the seepage. This process is relatively inexpensive for each well. Exacerbating the problem is the political maneuvering within he OPEC cartel as it disintegrates.  The change in prices has extraordinary implications for the world economy of the future but immediate and in general beneficial implications for blue water and brow water shipping although some sectors of the industry will be hurt.

... Read more and watch the video after the break

The Challenges (and Folly?) of Drone Ships

The Challenges (and Folly?) of Drone Ships

The maritime press has presented two recent projects on unmanned ship remotely controlled. Rather than drone on about these notions, I will say why I believe them quite technologically possible and feasible but practically unworkable. I can think of some immediate reasons why these are the cases and can also think of another technology which is a much greater threat to shipping as a whole. Both drone technology and the other threat are long-term and not immediate concerns. Nothing in shipping happens overnight. We must recall that the ship cycle is 20-25 years from newbuilding and that the electronic cycle, while interesting, still has not met the test of cost of maintenance required for commercial service.  


... Read more and watch the video after the break

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Maritime TV 'Conversations with Cartner'
A weekly discussion on maritime industry issues of the day with Shipmaster and Maritime Lawyer, Dr. John A.C. Cartner.


The opinions expressed by Dr. John A.C. Cartner in the ‘Conversations with Cartner’ Video Series and accompanying blogs are the opinions of Dr. Cartner and do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff and management of Maritime TV, or its parent network, TV Worldwide, Inc.

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