A hundred or more years ago when engines took over from sailing ships, there was no great interest in returning to sail as a means of transport. It was slow, too weather dependent and needed a large able bodied crew to hoist and trim the sails. Good for explorers and pirates of the past but, quite surprisingly, they are not just elderly relics of times that have passed.
Tall Ship the Kalmar Nyckel, Chesapea…
Scott T. Smith
Their filled sails, massive masts and lengthy wooden hulls still draw flag waving crowds at the increasing number of sailing events designed for them and hosted in ports far and wide. As a result, a new tall ship industry has developed and grown to meet the needs of adventure-thirsty sailing enthusiasts who love things from the past.
The 2012 nautical calendar shows how appealing these vessels are.
Only a month ago, a whole fleet of tall ships sailed into Manhattan Harbour in the USA in an awe inspiring celebration that remembered 200 years since the 1812 war, which was the basis of the 3-year conflict that raged between America and the ailing British Empire.
Firework Display at Belfast Tall Ship…
Only a week passed by and,. in Britain, Queen Elizabeth II was out celebrating her Diamond Jubilee watching a huge flotilla of 1,000 vessels, which included many tall ships.
Maritime fanatics who plan to visit London throughout the Olympics will have the opportunity of sailing down the river Thames and passing key Olympic venues on the way on one of the 16 tall ships that have been commissioned for the extravaganza.
The largest will be the 3 masted “Oosterschelde”, a 1918 Dutch cargo carrier that was subsequently adapted in the 1930’s to a modernised sailing boat.
These types of events aren’t the only times the onlooker can encounter a tall ship as there has been a mushrooming in enterprises offering holidays on such boats. The fastest selling sailing excursion this year takes its passengers from Newfoundland to Britain, calling at Greenland and Iceland. The tall ship is the 55 meter-long replica of an old barque named “Lord Nelson.” Once advertised, the trip was sold out in just 3 days. Another popular trip is a two-month sailing journey from Latin America to South Africa with a visit to Antarctica.
This year, in July, heralds the 20th year of “Les Tonneres de Brest,” a famous maritime festival taking place in Brittany. Here, tall ships line the horizon in a manner rarely seen today in the maritime world. It proves to those lovers of the sea and its maritime heritage that has staged wars, carried explorers and ferried passengers to far-flung places that their history has not been forgotten and will live on like the great oceans that have been sailed with winds as their gift.
Recent news reports have revealed that there are many Filipinos caught up in ship piracy in the Indian Ocean. A Captain of a ship registered in Liberia and crewed entirely by Filipinos was kept in captivity by Somali pirates for four months this year while his wife and newly born child waited in earnest back in the Philippines.
The ship had been hijacked by Somali pirates as it entered the Gulf of Aden, even though the ship is substantial in size there was no way it could overpower the Somali speedboat which was heavily armed.
This particular captain and his crew are not the only Filipinos affected by piracy. As they commonly crew ships for big companies, they inevitably form parts of the crew.
Statistics reveal that since 2006, almost 750 Filipinos, working on more than 60 freighters, have been captured in this way.
Filipinos are not being particularly singled out by the pirates; it is just that so many people from the Philippines work in the maritime industry.
Capt Caniete’s torment started on a tranquil clear day in the middle of December. He first spotted the pirate boat when it was a long way off from his own ship, and stared with fear as it gathered speed and became close.
“I was extremely nervous and my total body was trembling,” he recollects. “They were continually shooting at the ship. They got on the radio and said Captain, you have not stopped so you will be killed.”
After more than five hours of a cat and mouse pursuit, the pirates then hauled themselves up onto the ship, and holding up their AK-47’s they soon overcame the captain and crew, making them take the ship to the coast of Somalia.
The Filipinos on the vessel were held on board, with hardly any food, while dialogue was underway.
Capt Caniete was forced to make a phone call to his company to inform them that he would be shot if a ransom was not paid.
He was severely beaten by the pirates as they were suspicious that a coffee pot he had brought along with him onto the ship was really a satellite telephone. But it was a present from his wife that he cherished.
In the end and after four months, the pirates departed without a word. And Capt Caniete assumed a solution had been found enabling their release.
With this increase in involvement of Filipinos as pirate fodder, The Philippines does not have the money for extra security for their crews but they are conducting anti piracy exercises. Every Filipino seafarer goes through compulsory anti-piracy lessons before they go out to sea.
Several hundred Filipinos have been held by Somali pirates in recent years and in spite of the increasing danger of piracy, there never seems to be any lack in the number of Filipinos wishing to enlist in a crewing job in the maritime trade.
The wages paid out by the shipping corporations offer a favourable quality of living, and offer one of a small number of paths out of poverty for numerous Filipino families. In the last year, Filipino seagoing workers were able to send nearly two and a half billion pounds back to their homes which make up a crucial component of the country’s economy.
With estimated losses in the range of US$13-16 billion per year, pirate attacks have been rapidly increasing in frequency. Levels of violence and use of heavy weapons by pirates have also been rising at alarming rates, which unfortunately also means more hostages are being killed as a result of attacks. It’s only in more recent times that international anti-piracy forces have formed and have begun to take the threat very seriously.
In an effort to step up anti-piracy efforts, and Edina, Minnesota company called ReconRobotics, Inc. has signed an agreement with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Pacific, to develop a pirate-hunting, marine version of their already successful Recon Scout reconnaissance robot.
The Recon Scout is already being used in law enforcement and disaster response as an extremely lightweight (1.2 pounds), 2-wheeled mini-robot with advanced video surveillance capabilities, including infrared night vision. Resembling a dumb-bell on a leash, the Recon Scout can survive being thrown up to 120 feet, or even more impressively, dropped from an aerial drone.
With the new maritime version being developed, crews wont even have to bother throwing it onto a ship. Magnetic wheels will allow this pirate hunting version of the Recon Scout to easily climb up and over the side of a ship to provide real time information to anti-piracy forces. “We believe that this micro-robot platform could help mitigate maritime piracy threats and protect the lives of naval personnel and anti-piracy teams,” said Alan Bignall, President and CEO of ReconRobotics.
While getting real-time intelligence from the deck of a ship full of pirates is great, the Recon Scout, with its magnetic wheels, should be able to navigate below-decks and even down stairs. Having a tool that may even be able to provide specific locations on both pirates and crew is of extremely high value to anti-piracy forces, and makes rescue scenarios all the more feasible.
The key to deploying such a robot, specifically in a hostage situation is stealth. If the pirates see a drone drop a robot onto the ship it could potentially jeopardize negotiations, not to mention the likelihood of the pirates finding it and simply tossing it overboard. To address the need for a stealthy insertion, the (SSC) Pacific and ReconRobotics will be building a deployment system specifically designed to help get the Recon Scout aboard the vessel undetected.
Their new launch platform which they refer to as the “marsupial robot deployment system”, provides a way to get the Recon Scout into hostile or dangerous environments. While vague on the specifics regarding the deployment system, they do describe it as a system allowing a larger robot to deploy a smaller robot downrange.
Alan Bignall, President and CEO of ReconRobotics is quoted as saying “We hope to collaborate with SSC Pacific within the mandates of our CRADA to further develop this robot and quickly bring it and the marsupial robot deployment system to market. In the future this system might also include other payloads and sensors which would increase its versatility and expand its mission profile.”
A unique blend of Dutch maritime history and offshore cruising
For those who seek to combine sailing with maritime history, Den Helder offers the perfect blend. A major port town of 60,000 inhabitants, just 80 km north of Amsterdam, Den Helder is the Netherlands’ no. 1 seaport for offshore yachting. But take a step back in time, and Den Helder offers you breathtaking maritime monuments and naval fortifications, dating back to Napoleonic times and even the Republic’s Golden Age.
Den Helder is the homeport of the Royal Netherlands Navy, has major fishing and offshore industries and offers no less than six marinas.
During The Tall Ships’ Races 2008, more than 90 vessels of the STI fleet will find a vintage berth in and around Oude Rijkswerf Willemsoord, once the ancient Napoleonic dockyard of the Royal Netherlands Navy, now fully restored as a nautical theme park. Offering museums, dry-docks, cinemas, restaurants and a marina in a beautifully restored historical setting, Willemsoord is a maritime monument of truly European stature.
Den Helder is a port well-known to many Tall Ships and other sailing vessels that took part in our 1993 and 1997 Sail events. Captains and crews may well remember the quality of our liaison service, our technical facilities and the extensive programmes for trainees, crews and officers.
From Wednesday August 20 till August 23 the regional television company “Radio & Television North-Holland” will broadcast journals every day at 20.25 hours, but via our website you can also see everything: www.rtvnh.nl
The International Summer Festival of Tall Ships, traditional ships and yachts.
More than 250 large tall ships were built here. And more than seven million emigrants set off from here for the New World. This is where German deep-sea fishing began; it is a centre of polar, marine and climatic research. Bremerhaven is Europe’s largest producer of deep-frozen foods, the home of the NationalGermanMaritimeMuseum, the leading international harbour for the import and export of cars and one of the world’s largest container terminals. When it comes to superior maritime achievements, Bremerhaven is top of the league worldwide.
Maritime tradition for a successful future.
It all started in 1827 with the foundation of the City of Bremerhaven as a harbour for the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen. The same year saw the establishment of the first harbour, where the museum fleet of the GermanMaritimeMuseum is docked today as well as the construction of the first of a total of 250 large tall ships launched up to 1927. Some of these, for example the four-mast barque “Kruzenshtern” (ex “Padua”) or the barque “Statsraad Lehmkuhl” (ex ”Großherzog Friedrich August“) are still sailing the world’s oceans. Others are docked as museum ships in international harbours.
Bremerhaven not only cultivates its maritime traditions but is keeping them alive for the future. The best example of this is the new tourism resort Alter/Neuer Hafen (old/new port). In the largest maritime resort for leisure and tourism, history and tradition link up closely with the modern Bremerhaven of science and research, tourism and maritime economy.