September 21, 2021 / 5:15 PM The monumental construction of the Panama Canal took grit, guts and American spirit under the leadership of President Theodore Roosevelt.

The canal, finally connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, took both American imagination and industry to pull off. Even though the French were first to take on the project, which ultimately failed, Roosevelt was eager to take on the challenge.

"Teddy Roosevelt was sort of the embodiment of the modern presidency in that he was able to sort of use the force of his will to get a lot of projects going," Temple University history professor Alan McPherson said.

According to MS&T engineering professor David Rogers, Roosevelt was deeply appreciative of the U.S. Navy and pushed to get the job done knowing the canal would serve as a speedy shortcut for warships.

"He was the kind of guy that would follow through and if something hadn’t been done before, that didn’t scare him off much," Rogers said. "He was willing to take risk."

The project encountered countless obstacles including first-time mountain excavation and jungle-borne illness. The Panama Canal has been marked in history as one of the largest construction projects, NYU engineering professor Magued Iskander confirmed, and remains to be to this day.

"The scale was simply incredible," McPherson agreed. "It was like nothing that had been attempted before."

Once the threat of diseases like malaria and yellow fever were eradicated, construction workers were reassured of safety and security by engineer John Stevens who built YMCAs for leisure and revamped the railroads. But after six years, Roosevelt was itching to speed up the progress on the canal.

"Roosevelt looked for results," Rogers said. "You had to have your whole heart into the operation or he wasn’t interested in having you on the team."

In 1906, Roosevelt took matters into his own hands and became the first president in history to travel not only to Panama but outside of the United States while acting as president. Once he reached the canal zone, the president also participated in the first photo-op abroad.

"After his visit, there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the project moving ahead," historian Danny Martin said. "And America as a whole really embraces this as their national mission." 

The project was advanced by the modern technology of track shifters and steam shovels which Rogers described as the most "important piece of American ingenuity and hardware."

To prevent damage and death from devastating landslides as the canal was dug deeper and deeper, then-project director General George Washington Goethals resulted to flooding the excavation and dredging which drastically sped up the process.

The canal was nearly finished by the U.S. presidential election of 1912 which Roosevelt lost to successor Woodrow Wilson. On Oct. 10, 1913, President Wilson did the honors of flipping the switch which would detonate the final strip of land signaling the canal’s completion. 

"The Panama Canal ranks as probably one of the largest engineering feats in history, certainly in American history," McPherson said. "Americans are extremely proud of what they’ve done in the canal zone. The canal demonstrates to them that they’ve achieved the status of great power."

September 13, 2021 / 10:25 AM Seably, the global online marketplace for dedicated maritime training is unique in the industry. Launched in 2020, the digital platform was created by The Swedish Shipowners’ Association in response to the strong demand for a better way for seafarers to conduct mandatory and general training.

Seably was three years in development before its launch as a virtual marketplace. A previous website managed by the Association had uncovered gaps in maritime technology, especially in HR, training and personal development. Rich with customer insights, feedback from seafarers and shipping companies, as well as industry expertise, the development tech team started with a clean slate. This allowed them to maximise the new technologies that were emerging in online platforms and virtual training.

David Svensson, Seably Chief Technology Officer formed part of the original team that migrated the concept from a limited website to the rich marketplace it is today. As he said, “Developing the Seably marketplace for the Maritime Industry is an innovation in itself. Our industry is very niched and underserved by technology. Our approach as a digital platform using mobile apps is where our innovation stands out. The cloud-based system does not need to be installed on ship servers which can crash, need expensive satellite connectivity which is not always available to seafarers or out of signal while the vessel is out at sea. This makes Seably extremely agile and highly competitive on price, especially as both setup and running costs are kept very low.”

David continued, “Seably is highly attractive for shipping companies, providing numerous features for data and HR integration, quality content and cutting-edge learning and development for real-life learning, all available almost from the word go. With Seably, a company can subscribe as a customer today and access the content on the vessels the following day. Compare such benefits to setting up a full server on a ship and integrating with systems.”

The technology underwriting the Seably marketplace was developed by a small team initially operating from Gothenburg, Sweden. After the first year, Seably recruited international talent to bring on board the very best app developers. There is now a global and highly skilled team in place that is still growing. Development is ongoing, with planned updates and new features being introduced in the coming months. Seably is also engaged in ongoing discussions on collaboration and innovation with partners and industry suppliers to enhance the richness of the platform and the quality of the content delivered.

Andrea Lodolo, CEO of Swedish-owned Seably said, “Having David as part of our highly experienced team, driving the innovation and technology behind the Seably platform, helps us to achieve and maintain the extremely high level of quality in eLearning, training and development and realise the global vision behind the Seably marketplace within the maritime industry”

The Seably story is still at an early and exciting stage. Since its launch, it has signed over 55 companies, has more than 21,000 active users, issued well over 60,000 certificates and is regularly adding new course titles into the marketplace. It is changing the landscape providing company own training, as well as affordable and free access to all the content in marketplace covering the latest training and development; seamless integration to company systems and learning that can be carried out at anytime and anyplace. This is an innovative concept in a sector that is global, and largely tied to regulations and shipping schedules that make learning and career progression hard for seafarers who may be at sea for many months at a time.

Source: Seably


September 7, 2021 / 10:00 AM A major maritime industry association on Monday backed plans for a global surcharge on carbon emissions from shipping as a way to help fund the sector's shift toward climate-friendly fuels.

The International Chamber of Shipping announced that it's proposing to the United Nations that all vessels trading globally above a certain size should pay a set amount per metric ton of carbon dioxide they emit.

The shipping industry is estimated to account for nearly 3% of the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving global warming and projected to rise significantly. Some analysts expect that shipping will account for 17% of emissions by 2050, according to S&P Global. 

Despite the scale of its emissions and its critical role in the global economy, the industry was one of the few left out of the Paris agreement. Upward of 80% of global trade is carried via sea routes, according to Reuters.

Environmental groups welcomed the proposal to the International Maritime Organization, a U.N. body, but cautioned that it doesn't specify what carbon price would be supported by the group, which represents commercial shipowners and operators covering over 80% of the world merchant fleet.

"We will know they are serious about real progress when they embrace a level of ambition consistent with what climate vulnerable island nations have already proposed," said Aoife O'Leary, director of global transportation at the Environmental Defense Fund.

The Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands, two nations with large shipping fleets whose territories are severely threatened by climate change, have suggested a carbon levy starting at $100 per ton.

"This proposal sets out how to practically create a market-based measure for the global shipping industry, in order to quickly move towards an effective price," said Guy Platten, secretary-general of the International Chamber of Shipping. "Rather than make guesses for PR purposes, we want to come to a number that will decarbonize the sector without disenfranchising huge proportions of the developing world on the way."

The group said it opposed piecemeal regional measures, such as those proposed by the European Union, and called for the money generated from the levy to go into a climate fund that would subsidize clean alternatives such as hydrogen until they become competitive with conventional fuels.

But some shippers have announced their own decarbonization plans. AP Moller - Maersk, one of the world's largest shipping companies, has said it plans to have a carbon-neutral fleet by 2050. The company has vowed to launch its first carbon-neutral vessel by 2023.

September 2nd, 2021 / 12:40 PM More than two dozen oil vessels were clustered off Louisiana seaports on Tuesday as the U.S. Coast Guard and port operators assessed damages wrecked by Hurricane Ida, according to sources and Refinitiv Eikon data.

Dozens of ports from Louisiana to Alabama closed as Ida tore through the Gulf of Mexico and slammed into the coast on Sunday. A few have reopened with restrictions on vessel drafts.

Ida made landfall at Port Fourchon, Louisiana, packing 150-mile-per-hour (240 km-per hour) winds that knocked out power to a substantial part of the state. The outages have slowed port, refinery and pipeline operators' ability to resume operations.

Some 30 tankers remained moored off the Louisiana coast waiting to load or discharge cargoes, with the largest bottlenecks near Baton Rouge and Lake Charles. Refiners served by those ports include Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and Citgo Petroleum Corp (PDVSAC.UL).

The ports of Lake Charles and Cameron in Louisiana, and Biloxi and Pascagoula in Mississippi, reopened this week to vessel traffic.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), the only deepwater port that accommodates supertankers, remained closed, although an initial review found no major damage to marine operations, a person familiar with the matter said.

The Louisiana ports of Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Plaquemines, South Louisiana, St. Bernard, Venice, Houma, Morgan City, Port Fourchon and the SouthWest Pass Lightering Area, remained shut to vessel traffic. A portion of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway off Mobile, Alabama, was also closed, the Coast Guard said.

Most of the anchored tankers were waiting outside the Mississippi River, the United States' most important commercial waterway. Power lines from a downed transmission tower near Avondale, Louisiana, were still in the river on Tuesday.

Analysis firm ClipperData said on Monday it expects no oil imports to be discharged at the affected ports in the coming days. Several refineries this week have said they were working on re-establishing basic operations after shutdowns.

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