Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays from Amver

Amver wishes all of our participants, supporters, survivors, and search and rescue partners a safe and happy holiday and prosperous new year.

Wishing fair winds and following seas...

The Amver staff

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery

The 2008 International Maritime Organization Award for Exceptional Bravery At Sea has been presented to a Brazilian seafarer for his heroic actions saving crew members from an explosive fire on a ship, the IMO reported December 1st.

gCaptain also reported the story and highlights the recipients of the IMO letters of commendation. Among those recipients were six crew members of the Amver participating M/V Horizon Falcon. The Horizon Falcon led a dramatic rescue operation during Typhoon Man Yi ultimately assisting in the rescue of 13 crew of the sunken Chinese vessel Hai Tong 7.

Additionally, Aviation Survival Technician 2nd Class Lawrence Nettles, United States Coast Guard HH-65 Helicopter rescue swimmer, received an IMO letter of commendation for his actions in saving the unconscious master of the grounded fishing vessel Alegria under adverse sea conditions.

Amver salutes Mr. Rodolpho Fonseca da Silva Rigueira of the drill ship Noble Roger Eason, this years recipient of the IMO award, and all of those recognized for their commitment to safety at sea.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Kite Boat Rescue Update

Here are some photos from the recent rescue of a woman attempting to kite surf across the Pacific. Our thank to the crew of the Maersk Mytilini for making the rescue and sending the photos. All photos courtesy of the Maersk Mytilini.




We hope to have some better resolution photos and some video shot by the crew as soon as they can get it sent to us.

In the meantime, Ms. Quereme is a guest onboard the Maersk Mytilini until they pull into Panama on December 13th.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Amver Ship Diverted To Rescue French Kite Surfer Over 1,000 Miles Southeast Of Hawaii

French kite surfer Anne Quemere, adrift and dangerously low on supplies, has decided to abandon ship 1,770 miles southeast of Hawaii. The Maersk Mytilini, an Amver participating container ship, has been diverted to rescue her.

The French adventurer departed San Francisco in a 19 foot kite sailing boat, the Adrien, on Nov. 4 attempting to sail to Tahiti when her sail was damaged and she drifted into an area of the Pacific Ocean with little wind known as the Doldrums. After trying to navigate back into good winds for almost a week Quemere notified French rescue authorities of her situation.

French rescue authorities, recognizing her remote location, enlisted the help of the United States Coast Guard. The United States Coast Guard Fourteenth District Command Center quickly queried the Amver system for participating vessels near the distress location and diverted the Panamanian flagged container ship.

The Maersk Mytilini, managed by the Danaos Corporation of Piraeus, Greece, was advised of the complexity of the situation and is sailing at top speed to rescue the French woman. They are expected to arrive on scene at 8 p.m. EST Dec. 10th.

A Television Can't Save Your Life; A 406 MHz EPIRB or ELT Can!

Here is a guest post courtesy of Captain David McBride, United States Coast Guard Chief of Search and Rescue.

Most of you probably already know that starting in February 2009, over-the-air television broadcasts will be going digital in the United States. This means that if you want to continue to receive free television reception, you must have a newer TV that has a digital tuner or you need to get a digital-to-analog converter box.

But, did you know that there is a critical piece of life-saving equipment that will also be affected with a change from analog to digital transmissions?

If you own or use an emergency distress beacon on a boat or on a plane, you should know that starting on February 1, 2009, the older beacons that transmit only an analog signal (121.5 or 243 MHz) will no longer be “heard” by search and rescue satellites. Just like checking your TV, you need to ensure that your distress beacon is capable of transmitting a digital signal (406 MHz) in order for it to be recognized.

There are three types of emergency distress beacons: EPIRBs (Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacons) for use in the maritime community, ELTs (Emergency Locator Transmitters) found on aircraft and PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons) for individual use. Although PLBs have always been manufactured to transmit to satellites on the 406 MHz frequency, older models of EPIRBs and ELTs were made to transmit to satellites on the 121.5 and 243 MHz frequencies. It should be noted that all 406 MHz beacons in the U.S. also contain a low powered homing signal that transmits on 121.5 MHz. This signal doesn’t reach the satellites, but it allows search and rescue teams to home-in on the beacon once in close range.

The decision to stop satellite processing of the 121.5 and 243 MHz frequency bands was made by the International Cospas-Sarsat Program with guidance from the United Nations. 406 MHz distress beacons have been used successfully for over 15 years now and they have proven to be more powerful, more accurate, and they are verifiable. Because of the digital nature of 406 MHz beacons, every beacon in the world has a unique ID encoded in its signal. As long as the beacon is registered (which is required by U.S. law), search and rescue forces can quickly confirm that the distress is real and have access to important information about the beacon owner.

When a person in distress activates an EPIRB, ELT or PLB (or an EPIRB automatically activates when a vessel sinks or an ELT automatically activates when an aircraft crashes), a signal is transmitted to search and rescue satellites. This “alert” is then relayed to a network of ground stations on Earth. If the signal originates in the U.S. the alert is sent to the U.S. Mission Control Center (USMCC) operated by NOAA. The USMCC processes the alert then distributes it to a U.S. Coast Guard or U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center depending on if the location is in a maritime or inland environment. In the past five years (2003-2007), 406 MHz beacons have directly contributed to the saving of 1,224 lives in the U.S. alone.

Mariners should know that 121.5 MHz EPIRBs became prohibited for use in January 2007.

Aircraft owners and operators should be aware that, although 121.5 or 243 MHz ELTs still meet FAA carriage requirements, the distress signal will not be automatically sent to search and rescue personnel. The only way an alert will be realized is if a radio in close proximity to the beacon is tuned to the 121.5 or 243 MHz frequency and the operator passes the alert information to proper authorities. Even if this takes place, without the amplifying information provided by 406 MHz beacons, the results of a successful search are greatly diminished. That being said, pilots and other aviation interests should increase their attention to monitoring the 121.5 MHz frequency any time they have the chance to do so.

If you decide to replace an old 121.5 MHz EPIRB or ELT, please make sure you disable it by removing and properly disposing of the batteries. Also, remember to register your 406 MHz beacon in the United States 406 MHz Beacon Registration Database System. Registration is free, easy to do and mandatory. You can include and update important information anytime such as emergency contact numbers, a description of your boat or aircraft, a person’s medical condition, or even a simplified float or flight plan—anything to make it easier for us to find you!

All beacon owners and users should check their beacons (just like those TV sets) before the switch to digital takes place in February 2009. Your life may well depend on it!

This information is provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Search and Rescue.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Amver; Now More Than Ever

The recent announcement by United States Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen regarding our High Endurance Cutter sustainability, coupled with the recent report of a passenger vessel grounding in Antarctica, where a vessel in the vicinity helped the distressed ship, underscores the continued need for, and use of, the Amver system.

Amver remains a force multiplier, immediately enhancing rescue authorities ability to respond to maritime emergencies in their areas of responsibility. On December 4 there were 3,543 vessels on the Amver plot available to divert and assist around the world. Imagine, over 3,000 additional life saving resources sailing the world's oceans.

So far this year 194 lives have been saved by Amver participating ships. International rescue coordination centers continue to utilize the online Amver surface picture request form to get the information necessary to divert vessels in their own search and rescue regions. In fact, the first people saved by the enhanced Amver surface picture request happened to be a couple that own a small cafe down the road from MRCC Falmouth; the same coordination center that requested in information!

Amver's benefits reach beyond the obvious lives saved. The operating costs of United States Coast Guard surface and air assets commonly used in blue water search and rescue missions exceed $10,000 an hour. Imagine a case well off the Atlantic or Pacific coasts lasting over 10 hours. By maximizing the use of Amver participants, in lieu of United States Coast Guard assets, the savings can quickly exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Multiply the savings by the 159 Amver cases this year and Amver becomes a significant cost saver allowing limited Coast Guard resources to focus on other missions.

While pundits may question the continued relevance of Amver as new vessel tracking technologies emerge, Amver remains ready to provide immediate search and rescue data. There are currently no plans to discontinue the Amver system in light of these new technologies. Commercial ships, recognizing the importance of Amver, continue to enroll in Amver at a rate of over 100 per month.

The United States Coast Guard, and its sister services around the world, will continue to face the challenge of having limited resources to manage many missions. Continuing to use the Amver system will help lighten the load ensuring no call for help goes unanswered.

2008 Safety at Sea Awards

Earlier this year Lloyd's Register Fairplay hosted the annual Safety at Sea International Awards in conjunction with Safety at Sea and Marine Electronics Exhibition and Conference in Brighton, United Kingdom.

Safety at Sea Magazine has long supported the Amver award and 2008 was no different. This year the Motor Vessel Prabhu Yuvika was the recipient of the Safety at Sea International Amver Award.

Mr. Benjamin Strong, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, received the award on behalf of the master and crew of the Prabhu Yuvika from Mr. Peter Cardy, Chief Executive of the United Kingdom Maritime and Coast Guard Agency, during the awards dinner.

The Amver participating ship Prabhu Yuvika rescued 11 crew members of the bulk carrier Unicorn Ace which sank in the South China Sea. The Unicorn Ace was carrying lumber products from Malaysia to Taiwan when it encountered bad weather.

The Prabhu Yuvika, an Indian flagged bulk carrier, was diverted at the request of the Hong Kong maritime rescue coordination center. Upon arriving on the scene they discovered a life raft from the sunken vessel and immediately rescued the 11 crew members.

Captain Gurvinder Singh, following instructions from rescue aircraft on scene, continued to carry out search and rescue operations until released by the Hong Kong rescue coordination center, he stated in a message to the United States Coast Guard Amver center. Captain Singh poses (center photo) with surivors of the sunken Unicorn Ace.

The Prahuh Yuvika sailed to Manila where the Chinese survivors were met by Philippine Coast Guard authorities.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Greek Amver Award update

The Propeller Club, Port of Piraeus pulled out all the stops for this years annual Amver Awards dinner at the Interncontinental Hotel in downtown Athens. The Propeller Club had plenty to celebrate. Besides the 50th anniversary of the United States Coast Guard's Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System, the Greeks made it a point to celebrate their lead in earning Amver awards. Greek vessels earned more Amver awards than any other country in the world. The United States Coast Guard recognizes the incredible contribution Greece has made in supporting Amver.

Here are some more photos of the award winners.

Rescue awards for the vessel AEGEAN ANGEL of ARCADIA SHIPMANAGEMENT Co
The M/V Aegean Angel, of Arcadia Shipmanagement, receives their rescue award.

Rescue Awards for the vessel MV PARTHENON for TSAKOS SHIPPING & TRADING sa
The M/V Parthenon, of Tsakos Shipping, receives their rescue award for rescuing several Swedish sailors in distress off the coast of Portugal in a recent case.

The M/V Omega Lady Sarah, of Omega Navigation Enterprises, receives their rescue award.

The M/V Ioannis K, of Marmaras Navigation, receives their rescue award for the rescue of 14
Philippine ferry passengers in the Sulu sea.

16Euronav Ship Management(hellas)Ltd
Euronav Ship Management (Hellas) Limited receives their annual Amver awards.

15Olympic Shipping and Management sa
Olympic Shipping and Management receive their annual Amver awards.

13Chartworld Shipping Corp
Charworld Shipping Corporation receive their annual Amver awards.

11Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Ltd
Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Limited receive their annual Amver awards.

And the annual Amver awards in Greece wouldn't be complete, in fact Amver itself would not be whole, without the participatin of Tsakos vessels.
1Tsakos Shipping and Trading Sa
Tsakos Shipping and Trading receive their annual Amver awards.

Finally, the Propeller Club, Port of Piraeus could not host such an incredible event without the support of the shipping community. They would like to recognize their sponsors:





Thursday, November 20, 2008

USCG Innovation Expo; Collaboration Fuels Innovation

Amver has had the privilege of exhibiting at the 2008 United States Coast Guard Innovation Expo this week. Besides having an opportunity to see some of the Coast Guard's greatest new ideas we have been able to educate many people that Amver remains a reliable, relevant force multiplier for search and rescue.

Today is the last day of the exposition. If you are a member of the Coast Guard, or Coast Guard Auxiliary, I would strongly encourage taking advantage of the free pass to enter the exhibition floor. You never know who you will run into. We suggest having your 2 minute elevator pitch ready, you may just have an opportunity to get the ear of senior leadership.

Come by and visit us at booth 424.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Amver Awards in Singapore

As reported by the United States Coast Guard Fourteenth District, the U.S. Embassy in Signapore, in conjunction with U.S. Coast Guard officials, recognized more than 434 ships from 51 Singapore-based companies at an official ceremony celebrating their work in maintaining safety of life at sea.

At a ceremony at the Marina Mandarin Hotel Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008, the commanding officer of the Coast Guard's Activities Far East (FEACT) unit, and other Coast Guardsmen, paid tribute to the crews and shipping companies for their participation in the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (Amver) System last year.

"We are proud to recognize these partners," said Capt. Gerald Swanson, FEACT commanding officer. "It is our privilege to bring together those who are part of the Amver program and thank them for their diligence and professionalism and commitment to safety of life at sea."

U.S. Coast Guard Activites Far East is headquartered in Tokyo with offices in Singapore and Seoul, and is a multi-mission unit responsible for international port security, maritime safety and engagement throughout a 41-nation Asia-Pacific region.

Recently a Singapore managed ship, the M/V Navig8 Stealth II, managed by Navig8 Ship Management, rescued 6 sailors from the sunken fishing vessel Jose Almuina.

We congratulate the Singapore Shipping Association on their achievement and thank Singapore for supporting Amver.

Above: Representatives from six Singapore-based shipping companies receive Amver Plaques signifying 15 consecutive years of voluntary reporting to Amver. Mr. Daniel Shields (left), Charge d' Affairs, US Embassy Singapore (left) and CAPT Gerald Swanson, US Coast Guard Activities Far East look on. (USCG photo)

Above: CAPT Gerald Swanson presents representatives from three Singapore-based shipping companies with Amver Plates signifying 20 consecutive years of voluntary reporting to Amver. (USCG photo)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Maritime Administration Advisory

Considering the recent spike in maritime piracy, especially in the Gulf of Aden, the United States Maritime Administration has issued this MARAD Advisory regarding Gulf of Aden piracy countermeasures.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Unsung Heroes

The Guardian, surfman, coxswain, rescue swimmer. Those words bring to mind what most people think of when they picture the United States Coast Guard and search and rescue. What is often forgotten, however, is just how did those rescuers learn about the distress? From the search and rescue controller.

Often hidden in dark windowless command centers the search and rescue controller receives the distress and sounds the alarm. It is the search and rescue controller that makes the phone call in the middle of the night alerting a family their loved one is missing, overboard, adrift or deceased.

It is the search and rescue controller that is the calm during the storm. No matter how difficult a case may be, no matter how big the waves or how hard the wind blows, the search and rescue controller must remain calm and coordinate multiple resources with the single purpose of saving lives.

Last week several search and rescue controllers from the United States Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command Center managed a case over 1,000 miles east of Bermuda. Because of their hard work 7 crewmen are alive today.

Unsung Heroes

Amver salutes the controllers pictured above: LTjg Chris Porter, OS2 Faith Wisinski, OS1 Rich Hynson, Mr. Geoff Pagels, Mr. Matt Brooks, LTjg Jon Parker. Missing from the photo but also involved in the case were LTjg Matt Brinkley, LTjg Ryan Erickson, OS1 Eric Gentry, and OS2 Cullen Rafferty.

Thank you search and rescue controllers, thank you.

Amver Awards in Greece

Once more the International Propeller Club of the United States, Port of Piraeus in cooperation with the American Embassy and the United States Coast Guard, organized the Amver Awards Dinner.

The ceremony took place on the 23rd of October at the Intercontinental Hotel. During the event 120 Greek shipping companies received 836 awards on behalf of their vessels which participate in the Amver system.

For a second year Greece was No.1 in number of awards. It is worthy mentioning that this year the Amver System celebrates 50 years of ensuring no call for help goes unanswered.

Before the presentation of the Amver awards the president of the International Propeller Club of the United States, Port of Piraeus, Nikolaos Tsavliris, presented special rescue awards certificates to TSAKOS SHIPPING and TRADING S.A, ARCADIA SHIPMANAGEMENT Co.Ltd, MARMARAS NAVIGATION Ltd, OMEGA NAVIGATION ENTERPRISES Inc., OSG SHIP MANΑGEMENT (GR) Ltd, as the crews of their vessels participated in rescue cases and saved 58 lives.

The Amver Awards were presented by the Deputy Minister of Merchant Marine, Aegean & Policy Islands ,Panos Kammenos, Deborah McCarthy, Deputy Chief of Mission of the American Embassy ,by Rear Admiral Theodore Rentzeperis Commandant of the Greek Coast Guard and Captain John Koster, Commander of the United States Coast Guard Activities Europe.

At the end of the ceremony Nicholaos Pappadakis, President of Intertanko and 1st Vice President of the Propeller Club, Port of Piraeus presented a commemorative plaque to Captain John Koster on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Amver System.

Present at the dinner were George Gratsos President of the Greek Chamber of Shipping, Ioannis Halas ,General Secretary of P.N.O. ,shipowner Nikos Tsakos and his wife Mrs.Sylia Tsakos, shipowner Evan J. Breibart, Markos Foros International Second Vice President of the Propeller Club of the United States, Vassilis Logothetis of Empros Lines, Ioannis Platsidakis of Anangel Maritime Services, Mr. Pavlos Stratis Andreadis of the Commercial Trading and Discount Co. , Mr. Costis Constantacopoulos of Costamare, Mr. George Prokopiou CEO of Dynacom Tankers, Mr. Marcos Tripolitis of Majestic International Cruises, Alexandros Tourkolias, General Director of Corporate and Investment of NBG, Demetrios Vassilakos, Director of Department of Shipping Business of NBG, Mr. Antonios Stamos, Faraklas of the Chartworld Shipping Corp., Despina Foros-Tsirozidis, General Secretary of the Board of Governors of the Propeller Club, Μr. Iakovos Perantinos of Atlantic Bulk Carriers, John Kalafatides of Chevron FAMM Hellas , Demetrios Zorbalas, members of the club, members of the Board of Governors, representatives of the shipping, banking community and press.

Amver thanks the Propeller Club, Port of Piraeus and the entire Greek shipping community for their support and dedication.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Amver Rescues 7 From Sunken Fishing Vessel 1,000 Miles East Of Bermuda

Seven crewmen were rescued by two Amver ships November 6, 2008 1,000 east of Bermuda when their fishing vessel, the Jose Almuina, sank in rough weather. Four crewmen remain missing as the international search effort continues.

At approximately 2:30 am (EST) Thursday, the United States Coast Guard Atlantic Area Rescue Coordination Center received an emergency signal from the sinking fishing vessel and quickly diverted two Amver vessels, the tankers Navig8 Stealth II and SKS Mosel, to assist.

Amver, sponsored by the United States Coast Guard, is a unique, computer-based, and voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea.

The Marshall Island flagged tanker Navig8 Stealth II, under the command of Captain S. S. Ghuman, was approximately 35 miles from the distress location when it battled strong winds and 15 foot seas to divert. Once the Navig8 Stealth II was within 5 miles of the sinking fishing vessel the crew sighted a flare shot from a life raft. Within seven hours of receiving the distress call the Navig8 Stealth II, managed by Navig8 Ship Management of Singapore, had rescued several survivors.

“We managed to rescue six survivors from the life raft,” Captain Ghuman stated in an email to rescue authorities, “all six are being treated for shock and being given food.” Shortly thereafter, the Norwegian flagged tanker SKS Mosel rescued another survivor clinging to a piece of debris.

The United States Coast Guard, in cooperation with search and rescue authorities from Britain, Spain, and Canada, is continuing to coordinate the search for the missing fishermen. The Amver ship Red Lily, a Panamanian flagged bulk carrier, has also been diverted to the scene.

The Navig8 Stealth II is a new Amver participant having enrolled in April. The SKS Mosel has been an Amver participant for five years while the Red Lily enrolled four years ago.

The survivors aboard the Navig8 Stealth II are bound for a U.S. port in the Gulf of Mexico while the SKS Mosel is set to dock in Corpus Christi, Texas with one survivor.

Photos courtesy of the crew of the M/V Navig8 Stealth II.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

M/T Parthenon Rescue update

The M/T Parthenon rescued four Swedish sailors off the coast of Portugal on September 28, 2008. The case was highlighted in an Amver press release and covered by the Euroweekly. To get an idea of the difficult weather conditions encountered by the survivors and rescuers watch this exclusive video shot from the bridge of the Parthenon.

Parthenon is owned and managed by the Tsakos Group of Athens, Greece. Tsakos is a strong supporter of Amver and we are grateful for their contribution of this dramatic rescue footage.

Amver Awards in Turkey

Many thanks to LCDR Daniel Van Buskirk, the US Coast Guard International Port Security Program representative based in Rotterdam, and Consul General Sharon Wiener for coordinating an Amver awards ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey October 8, 2008. The ceremony was held at the Consul General's residence.

Cornships Management; Deniz Nakliyatı T.A.Ş:; Geden Lines; Sunset Maritime Ltd.; and YaSa Shipping all received Amver awards. Geden Lines participated in the first Amver rescue of 2008 with the rescue of a 65 year old British sailor 655 miles north east of Bermuda. The story gained international media attention because the yachtsman called his favorite pub to report his distress.

Amver congratulates the Turkish award recipients and encourages other Turkish shipping companies to enroll.

Monday, November 3, 2008

New Amver Participants

It's time once again to welcome the new participants who joined the Amver system in the past month. Here is the list of ships enrolling in October. 118 ships joined the ranks of mariner helping mariner.

Thank you to all the new participants to the Amver system. Because of your dedication Amver had an average of 3,597 vessels available to divert in October. That is the largest number of Amver vessels on the monthly plot in our 50 year history!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

M/V Vecchio Bridge rescue update

A few weeks ago the M/V Vecchio Bridge rescued a solo sailor about 700 miles off the coast of San Diego, CA. The rescue was highlighted in an Amver press release and in several sailing blogs.

The case came to a conclusion on October 21 when the Vecchio Bridge docked in Shanghai, China. On hand to meet the master and crew of the Amver vessel were representatives of the U.S. Consulate General Shanghai and United States Coast Guard. They presented an Amver pennant and certificate of merit to the master and crew for their efforts in the October 10th rescue.

Pictured from left to right are USCG Captain Bighaman, Captain O. Kyun (Master of the Vecchio Bridge), USCG Captain Vance, and Mr. Michael Layne of the U.S. Consulate General.

This case highlights the continued relevance of Amver. We are thankful for the cooperation of the USCG Liaison Officer to China, Captain George Vance, USCG Activities Far East, the U.S. Consulate General Shanghai staff, United States Coast Guard Pacific Area and Headquarters staff, and the Fukujin Kisen Company, managers of the Vecchio Bridge, for helping us organize this recognition ceremony.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's official, Amver is now blogging! We wouldn't be here without the inspiration of several bloggers like the Unofficial Coast Guard Blog and Admiral Allen's blog. There is so much to talk about and share. To start with we will be posting our recent press releases on the blog.

There has been considerable coverage of Social Media, Web 2.0, and the Federal government's use of these media. Amver's use of Facebook was covered in both Federal Computer Weekly and on Federal News Radio. Amver has also branched out and is using Twitter.

We will also share stories of interest on current maritime issues such as the Arctic (Lloyd's List subscription required), safety, and other matters that relate to Amver.

Feel free to leave comments and feedback. Our hope is to make this informative and lively.

Amver has relied on technology from its first vacuum tube computers to today's automated vessel messages received from Polestar. Blogging is the next step forward and we invite the shipping community to join us.