Monday, January 30, 2012

Save Transit City - email Councillor Karen Stintz, Chair of the TTC

I Posted a vesion of this on my Facebook wall. Better here, where Everyone can see it.

The text comes partly from a recent email from CodeRedTO - the new Toronto Lobby to get TransitCity back on track.(

If you like my text, COPY and paste and email it to the Chair of the TTC. No matter what Ward you live in, as Chair of the TTC, Councillor Karen Stintz is responsible to all Torontonians.

Use this link - - to go to the Ward Map
(click on your Ward to find the name and email address of your City Councillor)
 - add your city councilor email in the cc line
 - make the change to the third line of the letter and the last line
 - and send it off.

Councillor Karen Stintz, Chair,Toronto Transit Commission 
(cc your Councillor)

As a resident of the city of Toronto I agree with CodeRedTO who are strongly recommending that as part of a smart transit solution we "..focus on Eglinton LRT + Scarborough RT replacement, and Finch West LRT or Upgradable BRT first."

Finch is extremely important in my opinion. Public Transit is a great leveler - I think it is crucial we invest in our poorly served neighbourhoods.

We can't find the money needed for subway expansion - but right now nearly $8 Billion is waiting in Provincial coffers for City Council to say GO to a LRT solution.

Your Name 

(street is good)
Sign up for Twitter to follow #CodeRedTO (@CodeRedTO). A call for a rational, affordable, and achievable rapid transit pl


Sunday, January 29, 2012's Stop Online Spying Campaign Video

This video lays out the issue really well - as a citizen in a liberal democratic state you owe it to yourself and your children to get informed - and then act to stop this legislation.

(Un)Lawful Access: Experts Line Up Against Online Spying

OpenMedia's Stop Online Spying Petition -

More video's on this -


OpenMedia's "Stop The Cell Phone Squeeze" Campaign


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Diver's video footage from inside capsized Costa Concordia

Video from Diver's head-cam as search for bodies continues off the Tuscan Island of Giglio - inside capsized Mega Cruise Ship, Costa Concordia.

Via The Telegraph UK - "Cruise disaster: new rescue diver video shows inside Costa Concordia" -

Also from The Telegraph UK, " Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino 'under intense pressure to sail close to Giglio' " -


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Making "Mega" Cruise Ships Safer

In the Costa Concordia disaster lauching lifeboats from the badly listing ship turned out to be almost impossible - half the lifeboats were never even launched. Hundreds of passengers were stuck for an hour or more in dangerously tipping lifeboats stuck half way down the Port side of the ship. Eventually rope ladders had to be flung down the side of the ship to evacuate passengers from stuck life boats - as well as hundreds of the passengers and crew waiting at their Muster Stations. Boats from shore were stationed under the ladders eventually, and passengers - including ambulatory challenged seniors, very young children and parents with babies, had to climb down these precarious ladders to evacuate the ship.

In the future, if any one of the 100 Mega Ships Carnival Corp runs around the world needs to be evacuated far out at sea, lifeboats from shore won't be there. A Ship's lifeboats need to work or people will die. See Reuters - "Analysis: Italy disaster shows Titanic lifeboat issues linger" -

The Costa Concordia sinking is gift from Neptune to all of us. Ship line owners need to learn from this and implement changes that official investigations will high-light in a sinking just metres from land, in calm and in relatively warm seas.

Mark Dickinson the head of the Nautilus International - a union of maritime professionals - has already proposed that some sort of system for lauching lifeboats off badly listing ships is desperately needed.
"Attention needs to be paid to existing evacuation systems and more innovative systems for abandonment," said union general secretary Mark Dickinson in a statement. Dickinson said the magnitude of modern cruise ships may be the problem. "The sheer size and scale of such ships presents massive challenges for emergency services, evacuation, rescue, and salvage -- and we should not have to wait for a major disaster until these concerns are addressed,"
(From Cruise Critic's "After Concordia: What's Next for the Cruise Industry?" (January 23, 2012) under the sub-heading "Safety Toll: What Happens to Industry Regulations?"

Here's a statement from Nautilus International, published on there site:


The rush to judge the actions of the master and crew before a proper investigation into the grounding of the Italian-flagged cruiseship Costa Concordia, may obscure serious and profound safety lessons, warns Nautilus International.

Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson, said while the union was shocked and saddened at the tragic incident and loss of life, it was also extremely disturbed to see the rush to judgement over the action of the crew – and the master in particular.

‘It is highly regrettable that the master is being singled out for blame before the results of the maritime and criminal investigations are available,’ he said. ‘In this the centenary year of the loss of Titanic, there is a danger that just blaming individuals will obscure the serious and profound safety lessons that may need to be learned, as well as the matter of justice and a right to a fair trial.’

Nautilus believes that as well as determining the causes of the accident, the investigation should also focus on how cruise ships are designed, managed, regulated and run.

Senior national secretary, Allan Graveson, said ‘We should not just look at narrowness of human error, but do a full scientific investigation and apply any lessons to future ship building and operation.’

‘We have moved to economy of scale. There is nothing wrong with that, we do need a sustainable and vibrant cruise industry. There are many good ships being operated extremely well, but there are some elements that do need to improve.’

Nautilus had been expressing concern for a number of years about the operation, construction, design of cruise ships – some of which have doubled in size in the last ten years. The technology of evacuation likewise needs looking at because of the acknowledged shortcomings of lifeboats and liferafts.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), also urged caution until the causes of the accident are established.

‘IMO must not take this accident lightly,’ said general secretary Koji Sekimizu. ‘We should seriously consider the lessons to be learnt and, if necessary, re-examine the regulations on the safety of large passenger ships in the light of the findings of the casualty investigation.’

Nautilus International's newspaper, "Telegraph" has a full report on the capsized cruiseship in their February issue - which is available online on the first busines day of the month -

Below is a quick sketch I made that shows how one might design a reliable lifeboat launching system for these 'floating city' or 'Apartment Building' Mega Ships.

Each lifeboat sits in a holding 'cup' which pivots on an axis and is carried by a chassis with wheels that follow a track down the side of the ship to below the waterline - to under the ship. As the lifeboat reaches the water it floats out of it's 'cup' - which lowers well below any conceivable water line on a badly listing ship.

At this publishing 16 bodies have been recovered from the Costa Concordia - 20 passengers and crew are still unaccounted for, including Americans, French and Italians.
(Telegraph UK - "Costa Concordia: 16th body found" -

More than a week after the sinking, divers are still searching the submerged parts of the ship cabin by cabin in THE MOST DANGEROUS diving conditions there are. At a certain point officials may decide recovering bodies is too dangerous and wait until the ship is re-floated to check the rest of the ship.

Listen to an interview with the Deputy Mayor of Giglio who boarded the capsized ship soon after it beached and before it started listing dangerously - from BBC radio show "Outlook", 19 January 2012 -

"Rocker-Bogie" suspension developed by Don Bickler
and later patented by JPL in June 1989
Via -
1:45pm - 24 January 2012 - Thinking again ... what about a boat which is sinking for example, to the stern - and pitching the bow high? Or a combination of pitches? Perhaps a similar lifeboat lowering system but without wheels in tracks - but rather with a Mars Rover "Rocker-Bogie" suspension system which can descend at any angle and bridge any gap it might encounter.

Here's a clearer image of a "Rocker-Bogie" suspension system. This is built to be as light as possible because it costs a lot to launch things out of earth's gravity well. As well it is highly articulated.

Via -

On a Cruise Ship those are not important, they would travel in a straight line and encounter bumps and gaps. Weathering and salt corrosion are important on a sea going vessel - so plastic, aluminum or stainless steel. 


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Costa Concordia - First Sinking of 'Apartment Building' type Ship

In a blog I posted on January 14th and 15th on the Costa Concordia sinking - the first sinking of these 'Apartment Building Ships' - I warned people that these ships are dangerously top heavy and that the extreme listing that the Costa Concordia experienced immediately after hitting a sunmerged reef made abandoning the ship extremely difficult.

In another incident in Feburary 2010, the captain of another Costa Cruise Lines ship, the Costa Europa, used the ships ballast tanks to list the ship in order to lift a breach above the water line.

Costa Europa lists to port while docked at Sharm el-Sheikh - 26 Feb 2010. The Captain listed the ship to port in order to keep 20 metre starboard breach above the water line.
Image coutsesy The Sun UK -

By some accounts the Costa Concordia listed to port immediately upon impact with the submerged rock -  which sliced into the hull to the stern of midships. The impact caused the bow of the ship to turn to port and caused the coincident list to port. As the ship stopped turning on the reef it became apparent to the Captain that the ship was taking on water. I think, as per normal procedure on Costa Cruise ships, the Captain ordered the starboard ballasts filled to right the ship -- but by the time this was done there was already so much water in the lower decks that the maneuver basically sunk the ship.

Here's a radio conversation between the Captain of the Italian Coast Guard at Livorno, Captain Del Falco, and the Captain of the Costa Concordia, Captain Francesco Schettino - about 2 hours into the sinking, at approximately 11:00PM local time Friday 13 January 2012.

During the conversation he tries to deflect criticism of why he is not on board directing the the evacuation of the Costa Concordia,  by revealing that the ship’s 2nd officer Dimitri Christidis, and 3rd officer Silvia Coronia are also with him on the same life boat. ???

Question:  How does a 14 year old get to be the Captain of one of the biggest passenger ships in the world?

Next question: We now know Captain Francesco Schettino has taken this bravado route between the Island of Giglio and the rock outcrop just outside the  Port of Giglio at least 4 times (see video). Was Costa Cruise Lines aware of this? If so, what steps did they take to make the Captain stick to the programmed route? And as well, was the Captain and/or Costa Cruise Lines taking this dangerous route in order to sell cruise tickets to wealthy tourists that frequent this elite Tuscan coast island?
Via "daiquiri" at "Boat Design Forum" -

Engineering and Design
Join Date: May 2004 Rep: 2261 Posts: 2,426
Location: Northern Italy (lake Garda) and Croatia (Istria)

It turns out that it was a deliberate passage of the ship close to the Giglio island, and it has been done several times in the past for the joy of islanders. This is video shows the same ship doing the same thing last summer:

Excess of confidence?

Video via "CorriereTV" -