M/V Rena, New Zealand’s worst environmental Disaster

New Zealand is contending with what, for them, is their worst ecological disaster ever, as a result of a container ship running aground on the East Coast of their North Island in the vicinity of some of the vacation beaches. gCaptain updates the story:

Much of the damage has been done. At least 350 tons of oil has already leaked from the boat and 88 containers which have fallen off the ship are now washing ashore.

An earlier report expressed concern regarding, “four containers of ferrosilicon, a solid matter that can give off hydrogen and cause a fire risk if it comes into contact with water.”

There is some Video here, and more here.

Icebreaker Envy

Ryan Erickson has published the Arctic SAR boundaries on the Naval Institute Blog. Looking at this chart got me thinking about ice capable ships. That of course lead to looking for similar information on Antarctica, so this is going to be a survey of What nations are interested in the Polar regions? and What do their ice capable fleets look like?

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A Call for More Coast Guard in the Pacific

The US has the largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world (roughly 12,000,000 sq.km.), and roughly a fourth of it is in the Pacific, far south of Alaska, and west of Hawaii, in fact much more of it than is in the Arctic. While warming Arctic waters have been attracting a lot of press, if not much substantial action, the Central and Western Pacific EEZ has received relatively little attention, maybe because they don’t have any Congressional representation. I don’t have good figures on this, but looking at this chart of the US EEZ, its apparent that if Coast Guard assets were distributed on the basis of size of the EEZ, about 80% of the Coast Guard would be based in the Pacific.

Each little island out there, if it is more than 400 nautical miles from the nearest land, is surrounded by at least 125,664 square miles (431,000 sq.km) of territorial sea, contiguous zone, EEZ, and perhaps some additional continental shelf.

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, has called for greater cooperation between the US and New Zealand. Specifically he is calling for more USCG activity in the South Pacific to stop illegal fishing and drug smuggling, “I believe the time has come for New Zealand, the US and Australia to dramatically step up our collective surveillance activity in the region to provide a comprehensive assault on illegal activity…”

Apparently, talks are in progress now.

A lot of old CG icebreaker sailors have pleasant memories of Christchurch, New Zealand. Relations with New Zealand have been cool for decades because of a ban on nuclear weapons in New Zealand waters and a refusal by the US to “confirm or deny” the presence of nuclear weapons on our ships (I think once we refused to answer if the Eagle had nuclear weapons on board and she was denied permission to enter a New Zealand port).

That may be changing, as in Costa Rica, it looks like while the US Navy may not be welcome in New Zealand, the Coast Guard may be.

In addition to Guam, US territories and possessions in the Pacific include:

The other nation in the area with substantial assets and interests is France.