Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Unit Load Devices? Would they work?

The most promising idea thus far has been looking at the Unit Load Devices currently in mostly airline use. They are far smaller then the typical TEU container. And clearly would offer a dual plus of remaining usable in aviation as well as shipping. They also come in specialized versions for cold food or medical shipping.

 The problem then will be to identify which containers would offer the most benefit per size. Clearly if one is using Marine shipping, having the largest handy size is a must. And for ease of handling by ground crew and smaller aircraft, having a smaller unit in two weight ranges opens up flexibility. For the forseeable future I can not envision aviation not being the best choice for food and medical transport.

 Potentially I find most use for three different specific units. The LD-3. A smaller unit, likely more handy for use on smaller outport stops and also general jet aviation operations. The LD3-45. Which is a slightly lighter version of the same container. But carries less then the 3000 pound load common to many small STOL aircraft. And lastly the LD-11. The largest rectangular unit that conveys better then 6000 pounds payload.

 Mind you, I think it prudent that limited TEU container capability should still be called for. In both 20 and 40 foot sizes. But it should not be the only choice. I am thinking a ship carrying 4 to 8 40 footers at most. Plus at least a dozen 20 footers too. Apart from a bevy of all three types of LD container.

 In this way we are maximizing our investment in LD containers. Which could simply be handled with standard commercial fork lifts. And toss in a four wheel dolly and you could also tow them off with a normal pick up truck, large snow vehicle or tractor. With the added plus they are only 65 inches high. Meaning pulling one in a building would be easy if desired. Try that with a Sea-can.

A LD-11 dolly:

An LD-11 Diagram:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Divergent, possibly aberrant thought

Once more the situation in the Arctic gives pause for thought. With freight cost causing insane food prices and locking Inuit Economic development in a vice of death; new thinking is called for. Often I have heard from many those dwelling in the North want freight and personal transport a certain way. And that it must be unified. For many reasons I do not accept this premise. Depending on the current Ro-Ro oriented passenger Ships is a formula for expensive operations. Which in itself creates a rare niche of very large and over-powered ships. Which are expensive to build. Drink fuel like there is no tomorrow. And are costly to maintain to multiple tough standards. Suffering a triple whammy of passenger regulations, Ice classed Standards, and Cargo regulations.

 For these reasons I find the best long term solution would be to exercise the recruitment of various ice classed General Cargo Ships. Preference being given to having at least a 30 ton crane and tween decks. And leaning to some Ro-Ro capability. But here we only derive a partial solution. As the short shipping season rears it's ugly head. A big problem, especially in terms of financing ships of Ice Classed operations. Essentially dictating any ship plying these routes carry a big mortgage payment to start with.

 In the past this would have been seen as a problem. And it is to a degree. But in seeing another common complaint, we might have a silver lining. This complaint being the use of Sea-cans...err rather TEU containers that are in use everywhere. The problem being the poor state of containers. The rather bad loading and sorting of them. And the total lack of container handling equipment in nearly all ports they abandon them in.

 This means two things. A) We need to examine smaller container types. And B) With a smaller container use, we can look at smaller, more fuel efficient ships. Now add in the desire to extend the shipping season past what mother nature allows and we have a new opportunity.

 What is needed is a ship sometimes. And sometimes as mother nature permits; an Air cushioned Vehicle. And in this case I would propose a ship that in ice season, modularly becomes an Air Cushioned Vehicle. Not one we know in the common sense. But one that could make way in heavy winds at a leisurely pace, not much faster then it is normally accustomed to. Having enough installed power to push her over terrain it needs to tackle. In this case perhaps around some shorelines and beaches to avoid winter storms.

 Yes. I know. It sounds daft at first, but more is yet to come on this line of mental gestation.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The sad state of shipping redux in Labrador

Well some things change yet; some things remain the same. Reading Nain Bay blog ; it appears the M.V. Northern Ranger is yet again having problems getting to sea.

Sometimes one wonders if the first Northern Ranger suffered these same maladies:

It seems the ship annually fails to deploy. Or if she does, problems arise and she gets stuck in route. According to her Wiki, she is a small coastal ferry:
Type:Ice-breaking coastal ferry
Tonnage:2,340 GT
Length:72 m (236 ft 3 in)
Beam:15.6 m (51 ft 2 in)
Draft:4.25 m (13 ft 11 in)
Speed:14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Capacity:131 passengers

Naturally she is run by Woodard. A company that seems to walk hand in hand with sub-standard equipment and poor maintence. Quite differently then the sunny and paradoxic appraisal of  running history given here at this tourism site. I guess I can't fault them too much, they are trying to attract tourist. Though I doubt they would ever return if they actually ran the boat.

Worse news still. The Canadian Coast Guard is looking to decommission the CCGV Harp based out of St. Anthony currently. The rational given the ship is too slow/ they want to privatize bouy tending. This is bad news since the Harp routinely plies off Labrador. It seems the Maritime situation gets worse every day for Nunatsiavut

Friday, June 08, 2012

Really wanting to blog today. Can't settle on a subject. I blame this on this pain in the wrist from yesterday's Carpal Tunnel surgery. One gift to humanity on this subject. If they give you a choice of the procedure with or without Bier Block; take the Bier Block. Far less pain I promise you. It is not tooo bad though.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Russia finally orders Antonov AN-70

Well it was a painful birthing process, but the Russia's VTA (Military Transport Service) has finally ordered 60 of the outstanding AN-70 Air Freighters.

Coverage is here.

 It is great to see politics laid aside and a worthy global competitor un-leashed on the STOL market. Particularly for heavy lift capabilities. Congratulations to Antonov and here is wishing the VTA a great success with their new aircraft.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Sorry folks. Been recreating and saling this weekend. As usual we made it to our favorite Saltwater venue. That being Jekyll Island Georgia. I guess we need to shell out $40 bucks and buy the annual pass. We are almost there now in trips this year. What is great about Jekyll is it has a lot of moderately upscale places, plus affordable things too. There is a good wiki on the island . We like it because there are so many areas you can fish. While some are very touristy and crowded(the north pier comes to mind); there are a number of spots that are still not well known to non-locals. (one of our secret spots below)

 The crabbing can be very gratifying. While numbers are not great, the size of the crabs is excellent. Yesterday for instance we landed the largest Stone crab I have ever seen in 40 plus years of salt fishing. But we also landed half a dozen Blue Crabs over 7 inches. And better then a dozen over 5 inches, which are legal keepers. Maddingly though you invariably throw back many just under legal length.

 We also landed 11 small Black Tip sharks.

 Over a dozen Southern King Whiting. 5 Atlantic Croakers. And a quite nice Black Drum that I caught on my Ultra Light rig. Which was a lot of fun. We lost a goody number of fish. Mostly on Oyster bar or piling snags. Poor Homer( My girlfriend Teresa's son). He turned his back for just a second and his brand new $80 Ultralight pole became a sacrifice to Neptune. Despite about an hour's worth of effort trying to snag it with a cast net. I am still stewing about the monster fish that hit my Ultralight just before leaving. He darn near snapped it in half. And stripped line of my fine little Shimano effortlessly. Knocking down four poles and ultimately snagging the dock. I will be back for you with more Electric Chickens my son!