Thursday, April 9, 2020

How to escape from a sunken submarine

illustration : Casey Chin

From Wired by Rachel Lance

First of all, you can't just open the hatch when you're trapped at the bottom of the ocean. But there is a way out—it requires physics and some audacity.

Ever since human beings created the first submarines, there have been other, more claustrophobic people who have stared at the devices and thought: “Nope.”
For many, the thought of the pipe- and equipment-filled narrow metal confines is enough to trigger a fear of drowning—even when they’re standing on dry land.
But everyone who has ever looked at a sub, even those of us so enamored with the underwater beasts that we sleep in custom-sewn adult-sized submarine pajamas, has at some point wondered: If the boat goes down, is there any way out?

How to Escape a Sinking Submarine | US Navy Training Film | 1953

Yes! Escape plans and tools are almost as old as submarine technology itself.
Although the odds may always be stacked in favor of the merciless, cold depths of the sea, a few dozen lucky people have taken that unintentional ride down to the ocean floor and lived to see daylight again.
Their stories teach us how to get out.

Adapted from In the Waves: My Quest to Solve the Mystery of A Civil War Submarine, by Rachel Lance. Buy on Amazon. Courtesy of Dutton

In 1851, German submarine inventor Wilhelm Bauer looked at two of his panting countrymen, slumped inside the hull of his creation.
The boxy, 26-foot-long, human-powered early sub model was supposed to help win the ongoing war with Denmark, Germany’s neighbor to the north, but the odds of its successful use were looking grim.
The crew of three had been trapped inside the submarine for hours, sitting and waiting for rescue.

The test day in Germany’s Port of Kiel had started normally.
The men had crawled, as usual, through the hatch in the angular conning tower above the bow and taken their places: Bauer at the controls, and Witt and Thomsen each standing at one of the two massive hamster wheels that powered the boat’s propeller.
Bauer gave the command.
Witt and Thomsen lifted their legs and began to step on the spokes of the wheels, spinning them slowly like a giant human-powered waterwheel.
The submarine began to move forward.

In this training film, see how the U.S. prepares its submariners and submarine support personnel to handle potentially disastrous emergencies.
The USS Balao (SS-285) plays the part of submarine that has had a fire aboard and is now stuck on the sea floor.
Some trapped crew members make individual emergency buoyant ascents via the escape trunk.
In the meantime, the submarine rescue ship USS Skylark (ASR-20), rushes to the scene and uses its Rescue Bell (RC14) to evacuate the remainder of the crew.

Bauer expected a graceful and smooth disappearance beneath the surface of the water, like an elegant metal seal.
Instead the Brandtaucher (“Fire Diver”) plummeted unexpectedly, caroming wildly in an awkward, unstoppable, and rapid descent into a depression in the harbor floor that was 16 meters deep.
As she crashed into the seafloor and shuddered to a final stop, the three men were hurtled unceremoniously into the bow of the boat.
They pieced themselves together, shaken but uninjured.
However, Bauer, Witt, and Thomsen slowly came to the realization that they couldn’t get the boat out of the hole.
They were stuck.

At first, they just waited.
And waited.
For at least five hours, according to them, they sat, wondering when rescue would come.
Their dive had been witnessed by onlookers; they figured it was just a matter of time until the German Navy hauled them back up to safety and fresh air.
Someone had in fact noticed, and eventually the clanking of chains and anchors on the hull indicated that boats and divers were poking around the wreck site.
But Bauer was growing concerned about the air … and the anchors.

All the men were panting hard, pale and sweating.
Bauer himself had a splitting headache and felt like he was about to be sick.
Bauer knew these were the signs of carbon dioxide buildup, caused by the fact that they kept inhaling the oxygenated air they had brought down with them and exhaling noxious CO2.
Their blood was becoming more acidic with every breath from the invisible but dangerous CO2, and he knew that they did not have much fresh air supply left.
He was also concerned about the anchors and chains that were striking the submarine so loudly, because he thought her thin hull might rupture from their repeated hits.
The submarine had an escape hatch, but the pressures of the ocean held it firmly shut.
Bauer reached up a pallid, trembling hand and gripped a seacock valve tightly in his palm, twisting it open.
Water poured in and started to flood the submarine.

Imagine being trapped in a submarine as gallons of water begin pouring in.
There is no escape. In today's educational animated cartoon we look at the daring rescue mission to save the crew of the sinking USS Squalus.

Witt and Thomsen immediately pounced on Bauer, one slamming him down and sitting on his chest, the other scrambling to restrain his arms and close the valve.
Wide-eyed, they yelled that he was trying to commit suicide and drown them too.
But Bauer had opened the seacock because he was a man who wanted to live, and because he was also a man who understood physics.

The pressure inside the submarine was roughly 1 atmosphere because it had been closed and sealed on the surface at 1 atmosphere.
The pressure in the seawater outside, at a depth of 16 meters, was equal to about 2.6 atmospheres.
Therefore, the pressure difference across the hatch of the submarine was about 1.6 atmospheres total.
Converting the units, if Bauer wanted to force open the hatch to escape he would need to be able to move it against the 166 kilopascals of pressure pushing the hatch door closed.

The hatch door had a total surface area of roughly 1.5 square meters.
And 166 kilopascals of pressure from the water times the 1.5 square meters of the door equaled 249,000 newtons of aquatic force shoving against the door.
Let’s put that into relatable units; I choose to describe the force in units of Rachel.
I personally am 160 pounds’ worth of human-being mass, comprised mostly of cake, which in metric units is 72 kilograms.
Therefore, according to Isaac Newton, to calculate the force exerted by me on the Earth, my 72‑kilogram mass gets multiplied by the rate at which Earth’s gravity wants to accelerate me downward, which is 9.8 meters per second squared.
Seventy-two multiplied by 9.8 is a total downward force of 711 newtons.

Therefore, I exert 711 newtons of force on the ground just by standing there, doing nothing productive, converting oxygen to carbon dioxide.
The force on the hatch from the water was 249,000 newtons.
If Bauer wanted to leave the submarine, he would have needed to be strong enough to lift the 350 Rachel Lances standing on the hatch door.

Bauer opened the seacock because he knew that he needed to equalize the pressure differential.
If he could partially flood the submarine and bring the pressure inside up to 2.6 atmospheres, the total pressure difference across the hatch door would drop to zero.
The door would swing open with ease, and all three submariners could swim to safety.
More likely the door would have blown open violently as the buoyant air tried to escape and shoot to the surface, but either way, exit pathway achieved.

Talked down by Bauer and his mastery of the laws of pressure, Witt and Thomsen released their captain and allowed him to flood the sub.
The increase in the partial pressure of the carbon dioxide was temporarily difficult to tolerate, leading to gagging and choking, but the submarine flooded quickly and the pressure was equalized.
The trio got blown out through the liberated hatch door and rocketed safely to the surface like they were the “corks of champagne bottles,” as Bauer later put it.

Bauer, Witt, and Thomsen were the first three submariners ever to successfully escape a submarine.
They did it in the year 1851, and they did it through a mastery of the scientific principles of the underwater world.
The Brandtaucher was plucked out of its mud hole in the ocean and conserved.
It is presently on display in a museum in Dresden, Germany, and is the oldest submarine ever recovered.

The USS Tang has been sunk by a Japanese gunboat, but a handful of its crew remain alive inside. Their only chance of survival is to open the hatch and swim 180 feet to the surface.

Not all of the submariners from that early generation learned the counterintuitive undersea physics required to execute a daring escape, however.
A few years later, in the fall of 1863 and during the heat of the American Civil War, Confederate privateer Horace Hunley found himself clawing at the conning tower hatch of a small hand-cranked submarine that would soon be renamed in his memory.
Three Rachels of force were pushing the small oval door closed, and Hunley did not think to equalize the pressure like Wilhelm Bauer did.
Hunley was unable to bash his way to freedom, and the hatch door remained firmly sealed.
All eight of the crew asphyxiated inside.

Starting around the early 1900s, submariners looking for a way out became less reliant on the savvy wits of a lone scientific hero among the crew.
Instead, the more modern boats came fully equipped to let everyone out in a semi-organized fashion, through double sets of doors known as locks.
Locks allow submariners to escape by first climbing through an inner door or hatch and sealing it tightly behind themselves.
They then partially flood the small volume before the outer hatch will swing open, but this two-door system means they do not need to flood the entire boat.
Once they swim out safely, the outer hatch is resealed against the ocean, the flooded volume of the small escape trunk is drained and opened, and a new set of escapees can climb in.

However, even with submarines designed to provide an easier exit, submariners of the early 1900s still faced the fundamental problem of being humans and not fish, and militaries everywhere began to design escape “lungs” to solve that problem.
The lungs were devices that recycled an escapee’s breath, using a chemical reaction to remove carbon dioxide and adding more gas as needed.
The lungs began to become standard, and were routinely stashed onboard submarines like the HMS Thetis.

In June 1939, a thick slathering of sticky grease covered the nearly naked bodies of British naval officers Captain Harry Oram and Lieutenant Frederick Woods, who stood in front of their crew wearing only trousers.
The layer of grease was supposed to provide them with some insulation against the frigid waters of Liverpool Bay, where their submarine had sunk during a sea trial conducted amidst the first rumblings of the war to come with Hitler.
They were ready to show their compatriots on the downed submarine HMS Thetis that the Davis escape lungs they were putting on, which were untested in a real sunken submarine scenario, did indeed work as promised.
The two men applied their nose clips and began breathing out of their mouths and directly into the square airtight bags strapped against their chests.
They climbed into the lock of the flooded and crippled submarine, past the inner door.
By this time all of the crewmen were nearly debilitated from the excruciating effects of their own exhaled carbon dioxide, but Oram had a plan to save them, which he had written down and tied around his wrist in case he ended up floating dead on the salty waves above.

The inner door was sealed behind Oram and Woods, imposing a robust metal barrier between them and their crew, and confining them in the small cylindrical volume of the escape trunk.
With the inner door sealed, the outer hatch, held shut by the ocean, was all that remained between them and freedom.
Water began to flood the trunk.
The pressure began to equalize.
Their Davis lungs recycled their breathing gas as planned, giving them new oxygen and removing their carbon dioxide even when submerged underwater.
Once the pressure equilibrated to zero across the outer hatch door, the men pushed it open and swam the remaining 20 vertical feet between them, sunlight, and safety.

Four lucky sailors made it out of the HMS Thetis.
However, a failure of the outer hatch door meant that 99 more would die inside.
A few years later, nine Americans would execute a similar getaway when they used Momsen lungs, the American parallel to the Davis lung, to escape the downed USS Tang in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of China.

The Momsen and Davis lungs provided the crucial gas supply that allowed escapees to become fish, to let them rocket for the surface and freedom without the need to grow their own gills, even for those who did not know how to swim.
The design worked.
But the grease was a rudimentary plan at best, and the hypothermia that later destroyed the escaped crew of the Soviet submarine K-278 Komsomolets in 1989 emphasized that the ocean still had ways to win.
The Komsomolets crewmen were able to climb out of their vessel while it floated on the surface of the Barents Sea before sinking, but they died waiting for a rescue that did not find them quickly enough.

The SEIE suit is an ingenious pressurized suit designed to permit escape from stricken subs up to a depth of 183 meters. Rising at a speed of up to three meters per second, the number one rule of submarine escape is "never ever hold your breath."

Modern-day submariners are equipped with full-body waterproof suits called SEIE suits, an acronym that stands for Submarine Escape Immersion Equipment and is pronounced “sigh.”
They are brightly colored fabric pods that look a bit like inflatable Minion costumes, except orange.
To break free from a downed vessel, each sailor dons one and waits patiently inside the escape trunk with a partner, staring at the rising water and each other through the clear plastic panels in the front that provide viewports out of the poofy heads of the suits.
The hatches of the locks are controlled by someone else now—too many times has the panicked, premature release of one hatch door rendered the entire lock useless—and when the outer hatch opens, the inexorable, extraordinary positive buoyancy of the fully inflated suits rockets the escapees forcefully toward the sky.
The submariners pop up two at a time, and each suit unfurls its own personal flotation raft, also bright orange, until from above they look like a smattering of neon orange sprinkles bobbing placidly across the surface of the ocean.
At least in theory, assuming the submariners weren’t blocked from getting to a hatch by the mangled wreckage of their sub’s new, more twisted form, and they weren’t incapacitated by rising levels of CO2.

 The Royal Navy Submarine Escape Training Tank in Gosport is a 30 metre deep pool with hatches to "escape" from at 9m, 18m and a mock submarine tower at 30m.
The purpose of the training is to give submariners the confidence to escape from a stricken submarine if it has sunk.
The escapees do not use any diving equipment to breathe but due to the expanding volume of gas in their lungs as the pressure reduces, it is possible to continue breathing out all the way from 30m to the surface.
This video also shows a demonstration of the Submarine Escape Immersion Suit that would be worn.

Today’s submarines can withstand pressures well above those caused by a thousand feet of seawater; that’s more than 6,000 Rachels to immobilize any moderately sized hatch.
The first and preferred plan is to wait for rescue, but the physics of the undersea world—along with some modern technological innovations—does in fact provide another way back to the surface.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Norway (NHS) layer update in the GeoGarage platform

163 nautical raster charts updated

Wangensteens kart over Norge fra 1761

First global VDES satellite network to launch in 2022

MARIOT (Maritime IoT)

From New Electronics by Neil Tyler

A newly established consortium is going to develop a network for low Earth orbit satellites delivering ice chart data to ships at sea.

The network of satellites will significantly improve navigation for ships in rough seas and raise security for the crew on board.
The network will also allow the satellite operator Sternula to launch its first out of a total of fifty small satellites.

A research project called MARIOT (Maritime IoT) will look to develop a low Earth orbit satellite network based on the new VDES (VHF Data Exchange System) technology.
The network will be the first of its kind and establish a stable, low-cost data connection for maritime safety and navigation services.

The consortium behind the project is headed by the Danish satellite operator Sternula.
The satcom developers GateHouse, Space Inventor, and Satlab as well as Aalborg University, and the Danish Meteorological Institute will also participate in the project which will initially focus on the need for improved communication and navigation services in the Arctic Ocean.

Today, the satellite communication networks used by ships in high-latitude seas are often expensive and not suitable for small amounts of data, and, in some cases, do not even cover seas in remote regions.
This is an issue where optimised navigation services can significantly reduce the length of shipping routes, e.g. by placing routes closer to the Arctic, says Business Development Manager at GateHouse, Per Koch.

VDES is the next generation of the popular AIS technology. VDES adds new two-way data channels to AIS, enabling e.g. efficient delivery of weather and ice services integrated with onboard electronic charting systems (ECDIS).
The new allocation of radio frequencies for VDE-SAT means that sailors all over the world will now get access to a range of global e-Navigation services over standard AIS/VDES equipment. 

VDES technology is the second generation of the Automatic Identification System (AIS).
Today, the AIS standard is used to monitor marine traffic by more than 200,000 ships.
However, AIS has a limited reach of only 30 nautical miles and is also limited to transfer on only certain types of data.
VDES will enable global connectivity through satellite networks as well as efficient transfer of more data types.

VDES is able to offer a faster and more efficient data connection compared to other satcom services and after the VDES standard was assigned global radio frequencies last year, it is now possible to develop the first global VDES network improving navigation services and security for ships.

Besides shipping companies operating in the Arctic Ocean, the VDES network is also relevant for maritime security and navigation services, e.g. for sailing directions and coastal monitoring, and can also be used by the maritime industry to monitor marine engines and critical equipment on board.

The contribution from GateHouse is mainly related to data communication.
More specifically by ensuring that data can be communicated to and from the individual satellites to the ground station.
This include inter-satellite capabilities and advanced algorithms for data routing in satellite constellation.

GateHouse, Space Inventor, and Satlab will develop the hardware and software components for the project while Aalborg University - based on its extensive experience with launching smallsats - will contribute with technology and expert knowledge.
The Danish Meteorological Institute will participate with its ice chart service, which is in development and will be tailored to the VDES network.
The MARIOT project will be managed by Sternula and is sponsored by the Danish Innovation Fund.

Links :

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The changing face of e-navigation

From Safety4Sea

During his presentation at 2019 SAFETY4SEA Hamburg Forum, Capt. Mark Bull, Director, Trafalgar Navigation, gave an insight concerning e-navigation, pointing out that we are on the threshold of a major change in our industry; it has already started and it is now picking up speed.

Good afternoon, risk and safety.
In 1997, the worst peacetime maritime disaster occurred and that was the collision between the tanker Vector and the passenger roll on roll of ferry Doña Paz.
4,387 people lost their lives the vast majority were burnt alive in the water where they ended up after the two ships collided.
In 2012, the Costa Concordia incident occurred, and it cost the insurance industry an excess of 1 billion dollars just to remove the wreck.
Groundings have resulted in massive pollution incidents.
We can start with the Torrey Canyon and move on to Exxon Valdes, the Braer, the Sea Empress, the list is never ending but it has cost the industry dearly.
So, they are all results of navigational accidents.
Navigation has been practiced for years, but in the last two or three years the face of navigation is changing considerably.

A ship’s bridge traditionally consisted of a chart room and the wheelhouse.
Later this changed slightly to a wheelhouse with a chart space.
Officers would then move backwards and forwards between the two places for plotting the ship’s position and checking the progress of the ship.
Now with the introduction of ECDIS, which is located in the wheelhouse and the transfer of other instruments to the forward console, the chart space is becoming redundant.

There are many designs of bridges; a typical one now incorporates ECDIS and the ARPA display side by side, occasional bridges have an integrated bridge screen display in the center.
The latest navigation; bridges are rapidly approaching the appearance of an aircraft cockpit.
However, we still have on the deckhead various displays which are prescribed by regulation in SOLAS, but perhaps would be better being re-located.
There is another problem with this type of bridge and that is total internal reflection, which, depending upon where you are stood may affect.

Nowadays, we use the terms “back of bridge” and “front of bridge2 and not charts space because there are no more charts.
There are all contained in the ECDIS as NCs - electronic navigation charts.
As you can see from the slide there are still instruments on the wooden bulkhead but otherwise that place is unused.

Here is an example of what navigation looks like in practice; that display shows three independent navigation systems displayed simultaneously at the same time.
The first one is GPS position, following the track is mapped on the ENC and the little black dots behind are the records of where the ship was; the brightly yellow color is known as the radar overlay and marked on the ECDIS alone but not measured there is a blue dotted line which is the parallel index line.

The fourth and final system is visual when we can see things.
Because for years, we have been trying to resolve the problem of bad visibility by radar and we now have so much experience with radar, that I argue strongly and with many senior captains that visual means of navigation instrumentation has now been replaced by instrumentation navigation.

GPS and radar are two continuous positioned monitoring systems, so that if one fails, we just continue with the other one, it’s not a big deal.

Nowadays, digital displays are very clear.
Slowly manufacturers are introducing these displays with exceptionally good clarity enabling an officer of the watch, a pilot or a master to see at a glance the information he/she requires.

The following is a digital analog display of the engine controls.
Notice the clarity here.
It would be so good if we could get all information displays to be the same.
It would make the life of the Master, OOW or pilot so much easier.
Instead of having to run around to find this information in the bridge, if it’s put in the right place, they can stay in one location and monitor the situation continuously.
(Improved situational awareness?)

Nowadays, we even have course recorders that do not have paper but the manufacturers have adopted them so you can write on the screen and then download it to a USB stick.
We also have bridge wing cameras allowing the navigation bridge to be smaller and with simpler construction to save a lot of money.
Also, in the old days we used to have books on the bridges sailing directions, light lists, radio signals.
Today these are all digital.

The benefits are huge, with massive cost reductions in both construction and maintenance.
But the increased benefit provided by hugely improved situational awareness is much, much more and unquantifiable in costs.
The navigator now has more information at his fingertips to make informed decisions.
We need to be very careful because there are regulations in existence that will stop progress.
There are regulations about locating instrumentation on the deck head which is no longer required if we design our bridge correctly and of course, we need to consider the layout and the construction of the bridges itself.

You can see from this photograph there are some clear problems.
It is so bad that the helmsman has to stand in front of a radar to steer the ship.

and here trying to just operate equipment, this officer can barely reach the instrument at the back of the chart table, and she had great problems reaching one on the central bridge console.
Absolutely madness in design.

In light of the above problems, some companies are now investing a lot of money in navigation for a more ergonomically efficient bridge with the object to enhance safety of navigation and avoid groundings, collisions, ice damage and heavy weather damage.

Above text is an edited version of Capt. Mark Bull’s presentation during the 2019 SAFETY4SEA Hamburg Forum.
You may view his presentation here.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Oceans can be restored to former glory within 30 years, say scientists

Phytoplankton blooms are visible from space in this 2017 satellite image taken of the Gibraltar strait. Photograph: Suomi/VIIRS and Modis/Nasa

From The Guardian by Damian Carrington

The glory of the world’s oceans could be restored within a generation, according to a major new scientific review.
It reports rebounding sea life, from humpback whales off Australia to elephant seals in the US and green turtles in Japan.

Through rampant overfishing, pollution and coastal destruction, humanity has inflicted severe damage on the oceans and its inhabitants for centuries.
But conservation successes, while still isolated, demonstrate the remarkable resilience of the seas.

The scientists say there is now the knowledge to create an ocean renaissance for wildlife by 2050 and with it bolster the services that the world’s people rely on, from food to coastal protection to climate stability.
The measures needed, including protecting large swathes of ocean, sustainable fishing and pollution controls, would cost billions of dollars a year, the scientists say, but would bring benefits 10 times as high.

However, the escalating climate crisis must also be tackled to protect the oceans from acidification, loss of oxygen and the devastation of coral reefs.
The good news, the scientists say, is a growing awareness of the ability of oceans and coastal habitats such as mangroves and salt marshes to rapidly soak up carbon dioxide and bolster shorelines against rising sea levels.

“We have a narrow window of opportunity to deliver a healthy ocean to our grandchildren, and we have the knowledge and tools to do so,” said Prof Carlos Duarte, of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, who led the review.
“Failing to embrace this challenge, and in so doing condemning our grandchildren to a broken ocean unable to support good livelihoods is not an option.”

Prof Callum Roberts, at the University of York, one of the review’s international team, said: “Overfishing and climate change are tightening their grip, but there is hope in the science of restoration.
“One of the overarching messages of the review is, if you stop killing sea life and protect it, then it does come back.
We can turn the oceans around and we know it makes sense economically, for human wellbeing and, of course, for the environment.”

 Fishing below an ocean’s maximum yield allows faster recovery of fish stocks.
Photograph: Manu San Felix/NG/KAUST

The review, published in the journal Nature, found that global fishing is slowly becoming more sustainable and the destruction of habitats such as seagrass meadows and mangroves is almost at a halt.
In places from Tampa Bay, Florida to the Philippines, the habitats are being restored.

Among the success stories are humpback whales that migrate from Antarctica to eastern Australia, whose populations have surged from a few hundred animals in 1968, before whaling was banned, to more than 40,000 today.
Sea otters in western Canada have risen from just dozens in 1980 to thousands now.
In the Baltic Sea, both grey seal and cormorant populations are soaring.

Sealife shows some signs of recovery across the globe

“We’re beginning to appreciate the value of what we’re losing and not just in terms of intrinsic beauty of the wildlife but in terms of protecting our livelihoods and societies from bad things happening, whether that be poor water quality in rivers and oceans or sea level rise beating on the doorstep of coastal areas,” said Roberts.

However, progress is far from straightforward.
Pollution from farms and plastics still pours into the oceans, the waters are reaching record high temperatures, and destructive fishing is still taking place in many places, with at least one-third of fish stocks overexploited.

“The Mediterranean is still pretty much a basket case,” said Roberts.
“And there is horrendous overfishing throughout large parts of south-east Asia and India, where fisheries are just catching anything they trawl on the seabed to render into fish meal and oil.”

The global heating of the oceans has driven the few hundred surviving northern right whales along the coast of the western Atlantic.
Here, amid busy shipping lanes and lobster fisheries, they are killed by collisions or drowned in a tangle of ropes, according to Roberts, though new regulations are starting to help.

The Gulf of Mexico suffers massive dead zones owing to huge amounts of manure and fertiliser running off midwest farms, and elsewhere albatrosses continue to be snared by long-line fishers, despite simple solutions being available.

 Healthy coral reefs are highly productive and support high biomasses of top predators.
Photograph: Manu San Felix/NG/KAUST

But examples of the benefits of restorative habits were growing, Roberts said, from the return of once abundant oyster beds that can clean huge volumes of water, to marine protected areas that can boost fishery catches nearby, such as by the Scottish island of Arran.

“When I started working on the science of marine protected areas in the early 1990s.
it was very much a niche interest,” said Roberts.
“Now it’s being discussed at the top level internationally and we have many countries signing up to expand protection to 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, with the UK among the early adopters of the target.”
Marine protected areas have risen from 0.9% of the ocean in 2000 to 7.4% now, though not all are fully implemented.

The scientists’s review concludes that restoring the oceans by 2050 is a grand challenge that, with a global redoubling of conservation efforts, can be achieved: “Meeting the challenge would be a historic milestone in humanity’s quest to achieve a globally sustainable future.”

Links :

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Canada (CHS) layer update in the GeoGarage platform

57 nautical raster charts updated

Antarctic : beyond the dream

A video of our 2018 expedition to Antarctica on Sailing Vessel Spirit of Sydney, an aluminium 60-footer built in 1986 for Australian Ian Kiernan's BOC Challenge.
Filmed and edited by Captain Leo Tabourel and first mate Isaac Chambers, mixing Sound & Nature footages.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Rare sea angel spotted off Russian Coast

Sea angels mating

From National Geographic by Heather Brady

Two mating sea angels flutter through the deep waters of the Arctic Ocean off the coast of Novaya Zemlya, an archipelago near northern Russia, in recently captured footage.

In the video, which was filmed by marine biologist Alexander Semenov, a single clearly visible sea angel is joined by a second one.
The pair of sea slugs then swims through the water side-by-side in a flowing mating ritual that resembles a dance.

When two sea angels find each other, they turn out their reproductive organs and attach themselves to their partner’s body with a sucker to stay together during the mating process.
This attachment leaves scars on their bodies, and some adult sea angels have up to four scars, which can indicate frequent mating rituals.

The fertilization process can last up to four hours, and while it happens, the sea angels stay connected to each other, swimming gracefully through the water with the help of all four of their wings.
Semenov says their mating ritual doesn’t affect their appetite, and sea angels can hunt for prey while they are attached to each other.

Once the mating ritual is complete, the sea angels move in a spiral shape in order to disconnect.
“This miniature creature is an incredibly graceful swimmer; watching it is a complete pleasure,” says Semenov. "They seem to float in the air, slowly waving their wings.”

Sea angels, so named because their shape resembles a snow angel, have translucent white bodies that are long, with a wing-like structure on both sides of their bodies.
Because they are semi-transparent, it is easy to see the coral-pink and yellow coloring of their internal structures.

Sea angels’ lovely outward appearance and name belie their status as a kind of sea slug, related to other forms of snails in the gastropod class.
They inhabit the frigid waters of the Arctic, subarctic Atlantic, and Pacific oceans, and prey on sea butterflies—specifically a small type of sea snail called Limacina helicina.
Some sea snails have even developed small tentacles with which they can catch their prey and hold it while they eat.

Scientifically named Clione limacina, they are protandrous hermaphrodites, which means they are both male and female during their life cycles, according to Semenov.
Young sea angels start out as males, developing eggs as they grow into adults.
Mature sea angels have both eggs and spermatozoa in their bodies.

Links :

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Ocean gets Big Data

A new array of cameras, vehicles, and sensors promises to change ocean science
Credit: bestdesigns/iStock/Getty Images Plus

From Nautilus Magazine by Claudia Geib

“Ithink that for some people,” says Peter Girguis, a deep-sea microbial physiologist at Harvard University, “the ocean seems passé — that the days of Jacques Cousteau are behind us.”
He begs to differ.
Even though space exploration, he says, “seems like the ultimate adventure, every time we do a deep sea dive and discover something new and exciting, there’s this huge flurry of activity and interest on social media.”
But the buzz soon fizzles out, perhaps because of ineffective media campaigns, he says.
But “we’re also not doing a good job of explaining how important and frankly exciting ocean exploration is.”

That might change with the launch, this month, of the Ocean Observatories Initiative, an unprecedented network of oceanographic instruments in seven sites around the world.
Each site features a suite of technologies at the surface, in the water column, and on the seafloor.
Buoys, underwater cameras, autonomous vehicles, and hundreds of sensors per site will collect data on ocean temperature, salinity, chlorophyll levels, volcanic activity, and much more.
Using this set of systems, oceanographers hope to address the limitations imposed by working on a ship or a single site for a limited period of time.

OCEAN EXPLORER: Peter Girguis thinks there is still much to be learned in the deep sea.
Photo: Rose Lincoln/Harvard News Office

“What that means is, in general, we’re very good at doing one of two things: studying the ocean spatially, such as studying the same process as you cross an ocean, or temporally, studying one point over time,” says Girguis, “But going back to about 20 years ago, scientists began to say, maybe there’s a way to do both of these better.”

Getting the Initiative off the ground (or, rather, in the water) has taken 10 years and $386 million, and the launch is only the beginning: Operational costs will comprise about a sixth of the National Science Foundation’s annual ocean sciences budget, and the ocean’s tendency to rust metals and fry wiring could lead to higher maintenance costs over time.
With data now flowing, the questions that have followed the Initiative’s development are once again bobbing to the surface: Will it work? Will it be useful? And will the millions of dollars that taxpayers have provided be worth their investment?

We sat down with Girguis to talk about the worth of the Ocean Observatories Initiative and its place in modern marine science.

Why haven’t there been many large-scale commitments to ocean science, like this initiative, in recent years?

When they landed a spacecraft on the moon, all they had to do to keep the astronauts at one atmosphere was design a spacecraft that could tolerate one atmosphere of pressure.
Outside of the ship it’s simply zero atmospheres — that’s a difference of one.
When we dive in the submersible Alvin, routinely, to go to our study sights, Alvin has to withstand 250–300 atmospheres.
And the ocean is a harsh environment.
Alvin has to battle corrosion, electrical shorts; we have to keep from getting stuck on deep sea corals; and around vents, we have to keep from having the plastic windows — which, yes, they are plastic — from melting in water coming out that’s 300 degrees Celsius.

The fact that this seems routine to us scientists is a tribute to the engineers that make it happen.
But the fact that the public thinks it is routine means we scientists should be doing a better job of explaining the adventure of it, and also the deep and profound importance that our ocean has in keeping our planet healthy.

Does having the Ocean Observatories Initiative arrays in only seven places limit what they can tell us about the ocean?

This project is by no means comprehensive.
I don’t think anybody would say we are comprehensively studying the ocean.
That does not mean that it is meaningless.
We have, as a community, tried to judiciously pick sites that could tell us something about the other areas of the ocean.
Think of them as good representatives of wider-spread environments.

Additionally, those arrays are, to a degree, moveable assets.
They are essentially giant moorings, which in some point in the future could be picked up and moved to another locale.
But these seven sites are chosen because they’re good representations of important regions of the ocean — not only for natural scientists but also for applied scientists, like those trying to understand fisheries and fish stocks, and how the ocean responds to humans.

SECRETS OF THE DEEP: A deep-sea Ocean Observatories Initiative camera trained on a sea floor chimney located 5,000 feet down off the coast of Oregon.
Photo: NSF-OOI/UW/CSSF; Dive R1730; V14

How can researchers use the Initiative’s data in their work?

One example: By co-localizing these sensors, researchers can help monitor when phytoplankton — which make, by the way, half the oxygen you breathe — bloom, and grow to huge numbers.
When they do that, it’s not always clear what causes it.
By having sensors and samplers co-located, you can start to make correlations that help you identify a cause.
And I chose that phrase carefully: Correlations are easy to come by, but it’s only when you have a really good data set that you can really move from a correlation to a cause.

How will the array aid in your research?

I work primarily in the deep sea, at the hydrothermal vents in the Northeastern Pacific off the coast of Oregon, Washington, and Vancouver.
By deep sea, I mean the part of the ocean that is perpetually dark, which is 80 percent of our planet’s habitable space.
What happens in the deep sea is very much influenced by what happens in the surface waters, because that’s where most of the food in the deep sea comes from.
Conversely, we now finally have the data to support some long-standing questions and ideas we had about how processes in the deep sea influence what happens on the surface.

Hydrothermal vents, for example, are a major ocean source of iron and trace minerals.
They’re kind of like the ocean’s multivitamin.
You don’t need a lot of this stuff, in the same way were not guzzling pounds of iron, but you need just enough to stay healthy.
And that’s what hydrothermal vents provide.
By studying the processes on the surface, and concurrently studying processes in the deep sea, we can start understanding the ocean as a system, and not as a bunch of compartmentalized ecosystems.
I’m excited about using the observatories to look at the linkages among all of these processes — biological, chemical, and physical.

Are you concerned that the high price of the project will lead to fewer exploratory projects?

That is a really big question now.
I think scientists owe it to the taxpayers to make best use of these assets, and best use of the money, and to provide an explanation for the value of our work.
But the Ocean Observatories Initiative has the potential to bring together different federal and non-government agencies to look at the relationships that we have not previously considered.
So, a hypothetical example — as the ocean’s multivitamin, hydrothermal vents could stimulate phytoplankton in the Northeast Pacific.
How does that influence commercial fisheries, like salmon or tuna?
That’s a question nobody really knows the answer to.
And it could bring interest from agencies outside of the National Science Foundation, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geologic Survey, the Environmental Protection Agency, even commercial fisheries.

Expand it even further — Google is always interested in providing real-time information on traffic.
It’s not unreasonable that commercial entities could make use of some of these systems, to provide information for commercial operations.
The question should not be limited to what we can do with our current sensors, but rather:
What is it that we’re not doing yet that would change the way we think about our oceans?
And, how do we develop the tools and methods to change that?
So it’s my hope that the observatories expand well beyond the scope of the National Science Foundation, and well beyond their sole dependence for support.

Links :

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Satellite sleuthing detects underwater eruptions

On 21 August 2019, a pumice raft close to the Exclusive Economic Zone border between Fiji and Tonga was visible from space.
Satellite data, combined with seismic readings, helped locate the undersea volcano that was the source of the pumice.
Credit: European Space Agency, Copernicus Sentinel-2, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

From EOS by Philipp A. Brandl

Satellite data helped scientists locate the volcanic source of a pumice raft floating in the South Pacific Ocean, illustrating their promise in locating and monitoring undersea eruptions.

In August 2019, news media reported a new pumice raft floating in the territorial waters of the South Pacific island kingdom of Tonga.
This visible evidence of an underwater volcanic eruption was borne out by seismic measurements, but conditions were less than ideal for using seismic sensors to precisely locate the source of the eruption.
My colleagues and I eventually traced the source of the pumice raft to a submarine volcano referred to as “Volcano F” using a combination of satellite and seismic data (Figure 1), demonstrating remote sensing’s potential for locating and monitoring underwater volcanoes [Brandl et al., 2020].

Fig. 1 The drift of the pumice raft between 8 and 14 August 2019 following the 6–8 August eruption at Volcano F.
Dots represent locations of pumice on the sea surface and other observations reported by the ROAM catamaran.

Volcanoes that breach the sea surface often provide clues to impending eruptions, and the events during and after eruptions demonstrate the hazards that marine volcanoes can pose to communities nearby.
For example, after several months of growth, a large sector of the south flank of Anak Krakatau, a volcanic island situated in the Sunda Strait of Indonesia, suddenly collapsed into the sea on 22 December 2018.
The resulting tsunami killed more than 430 people in nearby coastal areas of Java and Sumatra; it also injured 14,000 people and displaced 33,000.
This cascade of events was not totally unexpected because the part of the island above water was clearly visible and was being monitored [Walter et al., 2019].

Unlike events above the sea surface, landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other geological events below sea level are seldom observed as they are happening, but they can also wreak havoc on vulnerable coastal communities.
Despite the hazards they pose, assessing the natural hazard risk and mitigating the aftereffects of submarine events remain major challenges.
In many cases, the events themselves are hidden beneath the water, and only their direct aftermaths are visible.
Recent advances, especially in remote sensing techniques, may enable scientists to identify potential underwater hazards and areas at risk in the near future.

The Challenge of Underwater Eruptions

Landslides and earthquakes are particularly hazardous when they occur not as isolated events but as parts of cascading natural disasters.
When these events occur underwater, the disaster might not be evident until it is well under way.
Landslides can be directly located only if they are associated with seismicity or are not exclusively submarine.
And although global seismic networks can precisely locate earthquakes, determining the details of fault motion, which can influence whether quakes trigger subsequent hazards like tsunamis, requires knowledge of the local seafloor geology and tectonic structure.

Mapping the seafloor for potential hazards will remain challenging because water rapidly absorbs the electromagnetic waves used in satellite remote sensing methods used to map land surfaces.
In most cases, submarine volcanic activity thus stays obscured from our eyes.
This is especially true if an eruption is effusive rather than explosive or if an eruption does not breach the sea surface to produce a detectable volcanic gas plume in the atmosphere.
Visible eruptions from submerged volcanoes are the exceptions.These include silicic eruptions at island arcs, which are often explosive and eventually eject matter into the air.
They also include eruptions of pumice, a highly porous, low-density abrasive volcanic rock that can float on the sea surface [Carey et al., 2018].
Large volumes of pumice can aggregate into rafts that drift with the wind, waves, and currents and that present hazards for ships.
But these rafts also provide clues to recent submarine eruptions.

Scientists currently rely on in situ methods to track floating pumice rafts, but improved Earth observation from space, coupled with automated image analysis and artificial intelligence, could further enable tracking, ultimately allowing us to trace them back to their volcanic sources if weather permits.

Sourcing the Tonga Pumice Raft

During the August 2019 eruption that produced the pumice raft near Tonga, two stations of the global seismic network located far out in the Pacific Ocean on the islands of Niue and Rarotonga recorded T phases, low-frequency sound waves related to submarine volcanic eruptions.
Under ideal conditions, such seismoacoustic signals can be transmitted over very long distances because they couple into a specific layer of the ocean water column, the sound fixing and ranging (SOFAR) channel, which acts as a guide for sound waves.
Sound waves reach their minimum speed within the SOFAR channel, and these low-frequency sound waves may travel thousands of kilometers before dissipating.
T phases from the 2011 submarine eruption of the Monowai volcanic system, for example, were transmitted in the SOFAR channel over more than 15,000 kilometers.

However, under less favorable conditions, seismoacoustic signal transmission may be more limited.
The Tonga Ridge is one example of where such unfavorable conditions prevail because the ridge sits in shallow water and breaches the surface in some places, thus blocking seismoacoustic signal transmissions in some directions.
During the August 2019 eruption, it was not possible to use triangulation to define the precise location of the source because only two stations recorded the relevant T phases.
This difficulty clearly emphasizes the need for increased sensitivity of the global seismic network in this part of the world, which is particularly important with respect to submarine natural hazards.

Seismoacoustic signals may be directly linked to an active submarine eruption, but seismic precursor events may also hint at increasing activity within a volcanic system.
In the case of the 6–8 August eruption of Volcano F, eight earthquakes of magnitude 3.9–4.7 were detected in the vicinity of the volcano in the days and hours prior to the eruption.
However, given the tremendous amount of seismic activity in this area and the related mass of data under normal conditions, events of this scale usually trigger interest only when followed by a larger and more significant geohazard.

Thus, submarine volcanic eruptions may go unnoticed unless boats and ships report encountering pumice rafts or surveillance flights report visual observations of eruption plumes.
In this respect, recent advances in the quality, quantity (e.g., daily coverage), and availability (e.g., the open-source data of the European Union’s Copernicus program) of satellite observations have greatly improved our ability to visually detect ongoing volcanic eruptions and their immediate aftermaths, thus representing an important addition to monitoring capabilities.
Satellite data may include, among other things, visual observation of the sea surface and spectral detection of volcanic gases or temperature variations in the atmosphere.

This satellite imagery shows the sea surface on 6 August 2019 following the eruption of Volcano F.
Abbreviations are UTC, coordinated universal time; Bft 5, Beaufort scale category 5 winds, corresponding to 29–38 kilometers per hour.
Credit: European Space Agency, Copernicus Sentinel-2, modified by Philipp Brandl

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Sentinel-2 satellite, for example, captured a plume of discolored convecting water, volcanic gas, and vapor about 1.2 kilometers wide coming from the shallow submarine eruption of Volcano F.
By combining data from Sentinel-2, available through Copernicus, and from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) system, we tracked the daily dispersal and drift of the related pumice raft.

Gathering Data from Many Sources

Because these satellite techniques are restricted to studying the sea surface, we may still miss many volcanic eruptions in the deep sea.
Only hydroacoustic techniques deployed from ships or autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are capable of surveying the ocean floor at needed resolutions, so increased marine research focused on rapid response to submarine eruptions and landslides could strengthen our ability to predict potential natural hazards in the deep sea.

Ship-based multibeam mapping (which can achieve resolutions down to about 15 meters) of submarine volcanoes can help constrain eruption dynamics and volume and monitor morphological changes of volcanic edifices during or after an eruption.
And developments in robotic technology for seafloor mapping, such as unmanned surface vehicles and improved AUVs, which could extend resolution to less than 1 meter, may soon lead to significant advancements in our marine remote sensing capabilities.
But currently, the limited coverage of these techniques—less than about 30% of the ocean floor has been mapped by ship-based multibeam sonar—means that only a few areas exist where repeated multibeam surveys allow us to analyze changes in bathymetry over time.

Several segments of the East Pacific Rise, of the Galápagos Spreading Center, and of the Juan de Fuca Rise are examples of areas where detailed bathymetric maps have been used to monitor volcanic activity.
In the southwestern Pacific, well-mapped areas include arc volcanoes such as those in the Tofua-Kermadec Arc, the Monowai Volcanic Center, the Havre and Brothers volcanoes, and West Mata.
Repeated phases of growth and partial collapse of the edifice of the Monowai arc volcano have been well monitored [Watts et al., 2012].
However, this level of monitoring has been possible only through repeated bathymetric surveys (1978, 1986, 1998, 2004, 2007, and 2011) that together integrate to an important time series.

During a cruise in 2018, my colleagues and I “accidentally” mapped the flanks of Volcano F (it was not the focus of our cruise).
By combining our data with preexisting data from an Australian cruise, we created a combined bathymetric map (Figure 2) that could serve as a basis for future changes in bathymetry due to volcanic activity [Brandl et al., 2020].

Fig. 2. Composite bathymetry of Volcano F from ship-based multibeam data collected by R/V Sonne cruise SO267 and R/V Southern Surveyor cruise SS2004/11.

At present, the risk potential of cascading events in the submarine realm is poorly understood, mainly because of the lack of data and monitoring.
Studies like those described above would be of great value in assessing the risks of cascading natural disasters elsewhere—for example, at the many arc volcanoes whose edifices are composed of poorly consolidated volcaniclastic material rather than of solid masses of rock.
Volcanic growth can lead to a buildup of material that if followed by partial sector collapse, can trigger a tsunami—this was the case at Anak Krakatau in 2018.

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning could fill an important gap.
Proactive automated processing of data from global seismic networks could help to identify clusters of increased seismicity that could be precursors to volcanic eruptions.
The locations and timing of these clusters could then be used to pick out features in hydrophone data from the same times and places that correlate with submarine eruptions.
Earth and computer scientists are currently developing techniques for automated image analysis and data processing as well as the use of artificial intelligence for pattern recognition and the proper identification of submarine volcanic eruptions.

Moving Beyond Accidental Discovery

Currently, submarine eruptions from island arc volcanoes and mid-ocean ridges are observed mainly by accident or when their eruption products breach the sea surface.
Thus, we likely never see a significant proportion of submarine volcanic eruptions.
And we lack the ability to monitor submarine volcanic activity on a global scale, which limits our ability to assess risks related to underwater volcanic eruptions, sector collapses, and cascading events.

Remote sensing techniques that collect data from space and at sea may provide us with more powerful tools to detect and monitor this volcanic activity and to project associated risks in remote areas.
Recent advances in data processing may also greatly improve capabilities in this field.
And compiling existing data and collecting new data related to submarine volcanic activity in a dedicated open-access database should help researchers estimate risk potentials as the first step toward forecasting natural hazards.

The experience with the 2019 eruption of Volcano F shows how important the integration of open-source and interdisciplinary remote sensing data is for the monitoring and management of natural hazards.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

China chases Indonesia's fishing fleets, staking claim to sea's riches

An Indonesian fishing boat heads out to sea in domestic waters, where they have seen their catches dwindle since Chinese fishing boats have been fishing closer to Indonesian water, near Natuna, Indonesia, in January.
Photographs by Adam Dean

From NYTimes by Hannah Beech and Muktita Suhartono

The Indonesian government appears to have backed away from confronting China, its largest partner.
"Our fishermen feel scared,", one official said

Dedi knows where the fish run strongest in Indonesian waters off the Natuna islands.
The Chinese know, too.
Backed by armed Chinese Coast Guard ships, Chinese fishing fleets have been raiding the rich waters of the South China Sea that are internationally recognized as exclusively Indonesia’s to fish.

While Mr. Dedi catches the traditional way, with nets and lines, the steel Chinese trawlers scrape the bottom of the sea, destroying other marine life.
So not only does the Chinese trawling breach maritime borders, it also leaves a lifeless seascape in its wake.
“They come into our waters and kill everything,” said Mr. Dedi, who like many Indonesians goes by a single name. “I don’t understand why our government doesn’t protect us.”

Wary of offending Indonesia’s largest trading partner, Indonesian officials have played down incursions by Chinese fishing boats, trying to avoid conflict with Beijing over China’s sprawling claims in these waters.
But with the Chinese presence growing more aggressive, fishers in the Natunas are feeling vulnerable.
“There was a vacant period, then China came back,” said Ngesti Yuni Suprapti, the deputy regent of the Natuna archipelago.
“Our fishermen feel scared.”

The latest episode occurred in February, fishers said, when Chinese fishing boats flanked by Chinese Coast Guard vessels dropped their trawl nets yet again.
It seemed as if the coronavirus outbreak peaking in China at the time hadn’t diminished the country’s global ambitions.

A crew heading out to sea.

The Indonesian fisheries ministry, however, denied any intrusion by the Chinese.
The Indonesian government does not provide data on incursions by foreign fishing boats.

China’s illegal fishing near the Natunas carries global consequence, reminding regional governments of Beijing’s expanding claims to a waterway through which one-third of the world’s maritime trade flows.
But local leaders in the Natunas don’t control what happens near their shores.

“We only have authority over our land,” said Andes Putra, the head of the Natunas’ Parliament.
“The provincial and central governments handle the seas.”

Yet with multiple agencies responsible for protecting the seas — the navy, the coast guard, the marine police and the fisheries ministry, to name a few — decision-making is diffuse, analysts said.

“There is a lack of a single coherent lead agency or a single coherent policy for maritime security,” said Evan Laksmana, a senior researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital.
“The Chinese can take advantage of that.”

Idil Basri, the captain of a Natuna fishing boat.

Chinese impunity was on full display in January when President Joko Widodo of Indonesia visited the Natunas.

“There is no bargaining when it comes to our sovereignty,” Mr. Joko said.
Earlier, Indonesian fighter jets buzzed the sky, while warships patrolled the seas.

But the day after Mr. Joko left the Natunas, the Chinese showed up again.
Its fishing fleet, backed by the Chinese Coast Guard, took days to leave the area, local officials and fishers said.

The fisheries ministry denied that any such incident had taken place.

On Chinese maps, a line made of nine dashes scoops out most of the South China Sea as China’s.
One of the dashes slices through waters north of the Natunas.

 by The NYTimes

While Beijing recognizes Indonesian sovereignty over the Natunas themselves, the Chinese Foreign Ministry describes the nearby sea as China’s “traditional fishing grounds.”

“Whether the Indonesian side accepts it or not, nothing will change the objective fact that China has rights and interests over the relevant waters,” Geng Shuang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in January.

In 2016, an international tribunal dismissed the nine-dash line as legally baseless.
The Chinese government ignored the ruling.

Instead, Beijing continued turning contested atolls and islets into military bases from which China can project its power across the South China Sea.
“Little by little, I think the Chinese will take the Indonesian sea, the Philippine Sea, the Vietnamese sea,” said Wandarman, a fisherman in the Natunas.
“They are hungry: oil, natural gas and lots and lots of fish.”

The Chinese fishers are helping feed the country’s growing appetite for seafood by trawling the South China Sea.

But they are also serving a broader purpose.

“Beijing wants Chinese fishers to operate here,” said Ryan Martinson, an assistant professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute at the United States Naval War College, “because their presence helps to embody China’s maritime claims.”

During Mr. Joko’s first term, his fisheries minister, Susi Pudjiastuti, stood up to China and other countries illegally operating in Indonesian waters.

A fish market in Natuna.

The navy fired warning shots at Chinese fishing boats.
Ms. Susi ordered the seizure of foreign boats.
She had dozens blown up.

One, a Vietnamese trawler, still slumps half submerged in a Natuna harbor.

As a result of Ms. Susi’s boat-sinking policy, the Chinese boats stopped intruding in large numbers, fishers in the Natunas said.
“She protected us, and she protected Indonesia,” said Idil Basri, the captain of a Natuna fishing boat.

But Ms. Susi’s stance, while popular with the public, irked others in government, who found her too confrontational, political analysts said.
When Mr. Joko chose his ministers for his second term last October, Ms. Susi, a fishing magnate, was gone, replaced by a minister considered more conciliatory to China.

In the Natunas, the change was almost immediate, fishers said.

“The Chinese boats came back,” Mr. Dedi said.

In late October, one day after Mr. Joko’s new cabinet was installed, Mr. Dedi’s boat was well within the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone in which only Indonesians are permitted by international law to fish.

A Chinese Coast Guard vessel appeared, then another.
Mr. Dedi scrambled to record video of his boat’s coordinates, 72 nautical miles north of the Natunas.

While it is not illegal for foreign military vessels to transit through these waters, the coast guard ships were protecting Chinese trawlers.

A fisherman rides his scooter down a fishing dock.

After handing over his video to local maritime authorities, Mr. Dedi waited for action.
Nothing happened, so he posted it on Facebook.
Indonesian security services called him, he said, and sounded vaguely threatening.
Mr. Dedi continued to have run-ins with Chinese boats through February.
In one case, he was in a standoff with the Chinese for an hour before he turned around for lack of Indonesian backup.

“We left, but they were still there in Indonesian waters,” Mr. Dedi said.

A Vietnamese fishing boat caught fishing in Indonesian waters is seen sunk off the coast of Natuna.

China’s buildup on disputed outposts in the South China Sea has boosted the ability of its coast guard to ply the waters near the Natunas.
During storms, Chinese fishing boats can shelter at these artificial islands, too.

In 2016, as Indonesian authorities tried to tow in a Chinese boat operating off the Natunas, a Chinese Coast Guard ship nosed in and broke the towline, allowing the Chinese fishers to flee.

To counter China’s presence, Indonesia began building a military base in the Natunas four years ago.
Today, the facility is moldering, empty of all but a few soldiers.

Jakarta’s latest tactic is to relocate hundreds of fishers from the populous Indonesian island of Java to the Natunas to act as maritime sentries.
But fishers in the Natunas oppose the idea, since the Javanese are subsidized by the state and do the same destructive bottom trawling as the Chinese.

Mr. Wandarman said that because of the profusion of foreign boats in recent months, his catch had declined by half.
But fishing is his livelihood, Mr. Wandarman said.
The island he lives on has only two traffic lights, and not much to support it economically besides the sea.
“Our boats are small and wooden, and the Chinese Coast Guard is armed and modern,” Mr. Wandarman said.
“My fear out there is bigger than the sea is big.”

The crew of an Indonesian fishing boat heads out to sea.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The incredible autonomous ships of the future: run by artificial intelligence rather than a crew

The Incredible Autonomous Ships Of The Future:
Run By Artificial Intelligence Rather Than A Crew
Adobe Stock/ Bernard Marr

From Forbes by Bernard Marr

There has been a lot of discussion about autonomous vehicles on the land and in the air, but what about on the sea?
While the world got the first glimpse of a fully autonomous ferry thanks to the collaboration between Rolls-Royce and Finferries, the state-owned ferry operator of Finland, there’s still quite a bit of work to be done before we can expect the world’s waterways to be overtaken with autonomous vessels.

Levels of Autonomy

Even though we might be years or even decades away from the majority of vessels becoming autonomous, there are certainly artificial intelligence algorithms at work today.
A fully autonomous ship would be considered a vessel that can operate on its own without a crew.
Remote ships are those that are operated by a human from shore, and an automated ship runs software that manages its movements.
As the technology matures, more types of ships will likely transition from being manned to having some autonomous capabilities.
Autonomous ships might be used for some applications, but it's quite possible that there will still be crew onboard some ships even if all hurdles to acquiring a fully autonomous fleet are crossed.

Autonomy in Ships

As we saw with the Finnish ferry, the first autonomous ships will be deployed on simple inland or coastal liner applications where waters are calm, the route is simple, and there isn't much traffic.

There’s also an inland electric container ship, Yara Birkeland, under construction that is expected to be completed in 2020 and fully autonomous by 2022.
Some companies are building fully autonomous ships from scratch, while other start-ups are developing semi-autonomous systems to be used on existing vessels.
When Rolls-Royce sold its autonomous maritime division to Kongsberg, it gave the Norwegian company a boost in its goal of being a leader in the autonomous shipping industry.
Samsung is another company that uses machine learning, augmented reality, analytics, and more to create a smart shipping platform through its Samsung Heavy Industries division.

Existing cargo ships have the chance to get retrofitted with autonomous technologies thanks to the efforts of start-ups such as San Francisco-based Shone.
Shone’s technology helps crews with piloting assistance and to detect and predict the movement of other vessels in the waterway.

Benefits of Autonomous Ships

Just as artificial intelligence and autonomy promise in other applications, it is expected that autonomous ships can improve safety, increase efficiency, and relieve humans from unsafe and repetitive tasks.

According to a study by Allianz, between 75% and 96% of maritime accidents are caused by human error.
If autonomous and semi-autonomous systems can help reduce the reliance on humans that can make mistakes due to fatigue or bad judgment, autonomous ships could eventually make our oceans safer.
Even if a crew is on board, the data gathered from the ship’s sensors combined with artificial intelligence algorithms will help the crew make better-informed decisions.

A reduction or elimination of crew reduces the personnel and auxiliary costs (such as onboard provisions and insurance) on a voyage.
Typically, crew-related expenses account for 30% of the budget.
There are also efficiencies realized in ship design and use of fuel.
One study projected savings of more than $7 million over 25 years per autonomous vessel from fuel savings and crew supplies and salaries.

Hurdles to Overcome

Since there are significant safety concerns especially with the enormous size of most ships operating in congested waters, there is a lot more testing to be done and regulations to be sorted out before we will see fully autonomous vessels operating without a crew.
Much more likely is that automated technologies will be used to reduce crews and to help the crew onboard make effective decisions.
In addition to ensuring the safety of ships, there needs to be a resolution about the regulation of our shared water.
Existing international conventions were created under the assumption a crew would be on board.
In response, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has kicked off its work to assess and update conventions to ensure safety in a new reality when AI is the captain instead of humans.

Until there is significant interest in fast-tracking research, development, and updates to regulations for autonomous ships, the industry will likely learn from the decisions made on land regarding autonomous cars and then apply that to autonomous ships.
Adoption and acceptance of autonomous cars in the coming years may put pressure on finding the same solutions for the sea.

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