“Below the 40th parallel, there is no law. Below the 50th parallel, there is no God.”
Cape Horn, the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago is located at 56 degrees south latitude, making a circumnavigation of Cape Horn particularly difficult. At Cape Horn, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet – and that’s what made the circumnavigation such a challenge. Extreme low-pressure systems swirl across the sea, creating the dreaded williwaw winds. These gusts come suddenly, frequently, and are unpredictable – and with bigger winds come bigger waves. To sail from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the only sea route was around Cape Horn. The Strait of Magellan was difficult to pass because of the wind and current conditions.
There are plenty of phrases we have integrated into our daily use of language so that we no longer even know where they actually come from and what meaning they originally had. We would like to introduce to you seven sayings of maritime origin and explain their meaning.
Sailing under a false flag
This refers to deceptive maneuvers or covert operations conducted by another third party to conceal identity. The action is thus actively attributed to an uninvolved third party for appearances. The actual actor is thereby acting “under a false flag.” In English, the much-publicized deceptive maneuver is also called “sailing under false colors,” while a courageous flagger is sailing with true colors.
There is no clear explanation but there are different theories we want to introduce you to in this article.
1. Personal relationship
English grammar states that we use it when referring to things, while he and she are personal pronouns and should only be used for persons. However, when the relationship to the subject is personal, it is extremely common to use he or she for animals, depending on their gender, or even for inanimate objects. Ship as a feminine noun first appeared when shipping came along, that is, in the early 18th century, when it was more than normal for only men to be aboard ships. Ancient sailors were known as “married to the sea” and often named their ships after the women they loved to compliment them.
In our maritime knowledge base, you will find many exciting articles on maritime terms and expressions. If you’d like to contribute to this section, just get in touch with us and submit a question or marine topic that you would like to add to FleetMon’s Marine Knowledge Library. This article explains why the command center of a vessel is called the bridge.
A modern bridge contains all the necessary elements for the control of the ship.
In the early days of sailing, the rudder was connected to a tiller, which was operated by a helmsman. The term helmsman translates as “servant of the boat”. The tiller was located in the so-called cockpit, a pit in which the steering elements of the boat were located. Over the years, the tiller was replaced by a wheel. This was not connected directly to the rudder but was connected by ropes and pulleys. This allowed the wheel to be moved. Ships became larger and were built with more and more decks. The largest deck was the main deck. The ship’s steering wheel was located on the quarterdeck. The raised profile of the aft deck allowed the captain to walk around and have a good view of the entire ship as well as the sea around it. As he walked around, he could give verbal orders to the helmsman.
In the vast ocean, the Automatic Identification System (AIS) provides the identification of the ships. Under AIS, there are transceivers installed on ships that provide information such as unique identification of vessel, speed, course, position, true bearing, radio call sign, ETA, etc. on the electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS). This set of information is used to track ships and monitor their movement for better navigation, avoiding collision, grounding, managing traffic in congested areas, and even identifying ships in distress.
In the age of ultrafast communication and GPS, it is hard to imagine that sailors once relied on the sky (i.e. constellations) to navigate their vessels in the high seas. However, not every sailor was a Viking, and this led to high chances of the ship landing somewhere it is not supposed to be (read: Christopher Columbus).
Fast forward to the 21st century, and we can do nothing but look back in awe at all the challenges sailors used to face back in the days. Since the 1990s, navigation in itself and shipping at large have undergone sea changes, thanks to the rampant evolution in AIS tech.
Now, humans have the rightful luxury of tracking their fleets on the seven seas with the help of a single click in real-time.
What was initially developed to function as a simple collision avoidance tool has now spiraled to form the heartbeat of global ship navigation? Yes, it is the Automatic Identification System (AIS) that we are talking about.
Currently, over half a million vessels actively use AIS for transmitting vessel data (mainly their location), which then gets collected by a receiver network deployed across the globe. FleetMon alone has a humongous database of over half a million vessels with users across 164 countries using FleetMon.com to track vessel movement.
Gone are the days when AIS used to be a tool for accident prevention. It is now a proven source of information for a wide variety of individuals ranging from maritime businesses that leverage its data to predict their growth, to researchers and analysts monitoring the supply chain.
As such, it is ever more important to know about AIS, at least the basics of it. The blog has been engineered for the same purpose, covering the 10 most important points about AIS and how you could benefit from it.
Navigation in itself is a multi-century old phenomenon, which has been there since mankind discovered what they could do with a piece of wood. However, modern ship navigation has experienced a lot of changes, and subsequent ‘rebirths’, over the last couple of decades.
One such year of rebirth was 1952: For the very first time, vessel routing services got introduced into the industry. 1952 is when vessels were retrofitted with a prototype that would later evolve into the Automatic Identification System (AIS) in the late 90s, something that ushered a new era in maritime navigation so to speak.
AIS data, when clubbed together, gives us all-around insights into the vessel involved, its speed, position, ship dimensions, as well as its draft, helping us identify when the ship was loaded or unloaded with its designated cargo. However, the last point is an application of various data points obtained via AIS, and not available via raw data obtained from the systems onboard.
AIS, as stated above, was originally meant for ensuring navigational safety, but has quickly proved to be a vital source of business intelligence for maritime personnel.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unparalleled impact on global mobility – on land, at sea and in the air. The severe restrictions on human movements, changes in consumption and the economic impact of lockdowns and reduced demand due to increased unemployment or short-time working hit the global economy hard, though with greatly differing impacts on national economies. So how has the pandemic affected maritime logistics?
Let me tell you a story from an upcoming John McTiernan movie: A ship is sailing peacefully 200 nautical miles off the Nigerian coastline, literally being in the middle of nowhere. Out of the blue, pirates manage to strike the ship and end up boarding it eventually. The crew, in their natural response, gather in a safe room, fearing their safety.
However, the pirates set aloof in their efforts in entering the ship’s bridge. It takes them six hours to bypass the Citadel, but they do it eventually. The pirates manage to kidnap 15 crew members and unfortunately, kill one member in skirmishes. How will they be saved? And most importantly, who will save them?
Think this is a plot good enough to be a sequel to Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips? Well, think again.
Evidently, I lied to you before when I told you it was going to be the next John McTiernan classic. It isn’t. This happened in real life on board the containership MOZART, which, unlike its namesake musician, wasn’t very lucky. FleetMon reported about the piracy attack in Jan 2021.
So, welcome to the Gulf of Guinea, where militant activities, armed robberies, crew killings, and tanker boardings are as common as the morning light. Before delving deeper into the possible remedies to these acute problems and the factors behind them, let’s break the situation down to you so you have a coherent understanding of the same.
The French philosopher Voltaire gave this as a reference to the famed shipwrecks in the Bay of Biscay, a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea, off the coast of Spain.
The history of human navigation extensively documented shipwrecks off the infamous Spanish Bay, known to many as “The Valley of Death,” “The Vomiting Venus,” and “The Trunk of the Atlantic U-Boat Menace.”
Albeit with the advent of modern technology, improved vessel route prediction, as well as improvements in vessel designing, the number of fatalities in the Bay has considerably reduced. But this shouldn’t stop us from delving into the past! But before we do that, let’s explore the historical context so you know just why the Bay became so infamous among the sailing community back in the days.