The Salt of the Earth

There are crocodile tears, but salt tears are always the ones that are genuine, memorable, passionate and sometimes pedagogical. It has been said that the cure for everything is salt, in salt tears, sea water and sweat (Isak Dinesen). Although life cannot exist without salt, for those of us involved with seaborne affairs, whether for business or pleasure, salt has a center place in our lives. It’s not only the washing of a boat off the salt after a sailing excursion, it’s the constant attention to keep up with the rust caused by the corrosive yet life-living sea water effect on the steel – most prevalently seeing in the ballast tanks of ships. The ‘ball’ (Plimsoll Line engraved on the hull of the ships) is another indirect reminder of water salinity affecting trade by affecting the draft of ships. Even the Navy has on occasion used the so-named ‘Salt and Pepper’ uniform (black pants and white shirts for the summer), and more recently ‘SALT’ has become the ticker symbol for a publicly traded shipping company.

Salt everywhere!

Salt (NaCl, sodium chloride) is a mineral substance made of molecules of sodium and chlorine in equal amounts and forming a translucent, white, cubic crystal in its pure form. In strictly chemical terms, salts are created by the neutralizing reaction between an acid and a base. Naturally occurring salt is a crystalline mineral known as rock salt (halite); salt is also readily present in vast quantities in the sea as the main mineral constituent of sea water with concentration in the open ocean of approximately 35 grams (1.2 oz) per liter (3.5% salinity). Salt’s melting point is 801 °C (1,474 °F), its boiling point is 1,465 °C (2,669 °F), its freezing point is −21.12 °C (−6.02 °F at 23.31 wt% of salt), and the boiling point of saturated salt solution is around 108.7 °C (227.7 °F). Salt’s density is 2.17 grams per cubic centimeter and it is readily soluble in water.

Salty Waters in the Caribbean_Karatzas_MAR2014

The Salty Waters of the Caribbean!

Rock salt (sel gemme in French, literally ‘gem salt), produced in salt mines, occurs in vast beds of sedimentary evaporite minerals that result from the drying up of enclosed lakes, playas, and seas. Salt beds may be hundreds of meters thick and underlie broad areas. In the United States and Canada, extensive underground beds extend from the Appalachian basin of western New York through parts of Ontario and under much of the Michigan Basin. Salt domes are vertical diapirs or pipe-like masses of salt that have been essentially “squeezed up” from underlying salt beds by mobilization due to the weight of overlying rock. Salt domes are a gross indication of the presence of trapped crude oil deposits underneath, and they have extensively been used for storage of crude oil underground (such as in the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve). Sea salt, also known as bay salt or solar salt, is produced by evaporation of seawater and primarily used for cooking and flavoring. Sea salt is readily produced in countries around the Mediterranean Sea, where the weather is hot and dry, through ‘salt pans’ (salt evaporation ponds) allowing for the seawater to evaporate. Salt water produced by evaporation can be Fleur del sel, sel gris, esprit du sel, and pink, black, and brown salts. In certain places, such in Kalloni, Lesbos, Greece, sea salt can naturally have higher iodine for the production of the much desirable iodized salt. Saltiness is one the five basic tastes, the rest being sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and umami.

Dissolved salt into water can abundantly be found in the open ocean; however, there are many salt water lakes worldwide with varying degrees of salinity. Most of such lakes (or ‘seas’ as some of them are known) are endorheic lakes (terminal lakes where water can flow in but cannot flow out, and only means of escape for water is by evaporation). The Dead Sea is the most famous of all with salinity ten times higher than ocean seawater where no life can exist; the Great Salt Lake in Utah, US, is considered ‘America’s Dead Sea’ with varying salinity ranging from twice to sevenfold of the open ocean. The Aral Sea in Kazakhstan, Lake Van in Turkey, Qinghai Lake China and Lake Urmia in Iran are other prominent salt lakes of our planet.

Salt has been known to humans from time immemorial, for its taste but also for its many uses and applications in life. Salt has had a prominent stage in different cultures and religions through the ages. 200 million years ago, Switzerland and Central Europe were covered by seawater. Due to tectonic shifts and the creation of the Alps, salt deposits were trapped deep in the mountains. Alpine salt has been mined for centuries in the Salt Mines of Bex. Spring water, traditional salt (Sel à l’Ancienne), taken directly from the saliferous rock, is high in minerals, and it is traditionally dried on larch wood.

Some of the earliest evidence of salt processing dates back to around 6,000 years ago, when people living in Romania were boiling spring water to extract the salts; a saltworks in China has been found dating to approximately same period. More modern records show a widespread culture of salt mining in Central Europe with mining taking place as early as in 800 B.C. Salzburg, Hallstatt, and Hallein lie within 17 km (11 mi) of each other on the river Salzach in central Austria in an area with extensive salt deposits. Salzach literally means ‘salt river and Salzburg ‘salt castle’, both taking their names from the German word Salz meaning salt and Hallstatt was the site of the world’s first salt mine. The town gave its name to the Hallstatt culture that began mining for salt in the area in about 800 BC. Around 400 BC, the townsfolk, who had previously used pickaxes and shovels, began open pan salt making. In the early years of the Roman Empire, roads such as the Via Salaria were built for the transportation of salt from the salt pans of Ostia to the capital. The Via Salaria (salt road) owes its name to the Latin word for ‘salt’, since it was the route by which the Sabines came to fetch salt from the marshes at the mouth of the Tiber, one of many ancient salt roads in Europe. During the first millennium BC, Celtic communities grew rich trading salt and salted meat to Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome in exchange for wine and other luxuries.

The word salary originates from the Latin word salarium (meaning ‘money for salt’) which referred to the money paid to the Roman Army’s soldiers for the purchase of salt. The word salad literally means “salted” comes from the ancient Roman practice of salting leaf vegetables.

Salt has been having many uses throughout history: seasoning / flavoring, preservation, disinfectant and cleaning agent (soaking / washing infected body parts with salted water or treating a sore throat by gargling with salt water, burial (salt was one of the spices that was traditionally used to prepare a body for burial, in biblical times), unit of exchange (in biblical times, salt was considered quite a valuable mineral, a commodity for trading in the marketplace) and thawing and melting ice (used even in our times for iced roads).

The most important value of salt throughout history has been its use as a preservative (desiccant or substance that promotes drying). Salt has also hygroscopic properties (absorbing moisture from the atmosphere) thus maintaining a dry atmosphere which contributes to preservation most notably in closed environments (caves, underground vaults, etc). Salt also draws water out of cells via the process of osmosis (water moves across a cell membrane in an attempt to equalize the salinity or concentration of salt on both sides of the membrane). As early as 3,000 BC Ancient Egyptians of the Old Kingdom were preserving meat and fish with salt, and the first Europeans in America experienced great commercial success when they learned to salt the fish they caught in order to transport it to their home markets. Some products are preserved using fermentation through salting since salt dehydrates the growing medium and acts to maintain fluids in the yeast or mold growing environment (cheeses, etc). Un-iodized salt, free from anti-caking agents, is used for this type of preservation.

1280px-Última_Cena_-_Da_Vinci_5

Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ – Judas spilling the salt (Image source: Wiki Commons)

Salt in ancient times was a valuable commodity due to its scarcity to the common people and high price, and as such a symbol of trust and friendship. In ancient times, Romans gave salt, and thus wisdom, to newborns. Guests were presented with salt as a gesture of friendship, which may be reflected in Cicero’s ‘Nemini fidas, nisi cum quo prius multos modios salis absumpseris’ (‘trust no one unless you have eaten much salt with him’) – we call it ‘breaking bread’ and ‘business lunch’ in our times. A German proverb held that ‘whoever spills salt arouses enmity’. The 1556 Hieroglyphica of Piero Valeriano Bolzani reports that “salt was formerly a symbol of friendship, because of its lasting quality. For it makes substances more compact and preserves them for a long time: hence it was usually presented to guests before other food, to signify the abiding strength of friendship. Wherefore many consider it ominous to spill salt on the table, and, on the other hand, propitious to spill wine, especially if unmixed with water.” Salt can disappear but cannot de-materialize even when dissolved into a liquid such as water since it will appear once again as soon as the water evaporates, and thus the symbolism of loyalty, trust and friendship. In the ‘Last Supper’ (Il Cenacolo, or L’Ultima Cena) painted by Leonardo da Vinci in 1494 – 1498, Judas Iscariot is tipping over the salt cellar with his elbow. Spilling salt had been a sign of bad luck and also a sign of betrayal referring to the near-Eastern expression to ‘betray the salt’ meaning to betray one’s Master.

Salting the earth, or sowing with salt, had been the ritual of spreading salt on conquered cities to symbolize a curse on their re-inhabitation. It originated as a symbolic practice in the ancient Near East and became a well-established folkloric motif in the Middle Ages. An ancient legend says that Odysseus feigned madness by yoking a horse and an ox to his plow and sowing salt. Tossing salt however can be a favorably superstitious sign in certain cases, to avert the evil omen, as the common contemporary gesture of tossing a pinch of the spilt salt over one’s left shoulder, into the face of the Devil who lurks there.

Great Salt Lake_Image source_NASA

The Great Salt Lake (Image source: NASA)

Salt has also a prominent place in religion as well. Salt is used to make holy water in the Roman Catholic Church rite, and as such figures as a religious symbol of sanctity, associated with exorcism. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ says to His people “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” (Matthew 5:13), meaning that the people of God were to stand out from the rest of the world and impact others in a positive way. In the Old Testament (Ezekiel 16:4) newborn babies were rubbed with salt (“As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths”) meaning that rubbing a newborn with salt is to indicate that the child would be raised to have integrity, to always be truthful. Still in the Old Testament, Genesis 19, when the angel commands Lot and his family to “Flee for your life! Do not look behind you, nor stop anywhere in the Plain; flee to the hills, lest you be swept away”, Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt when she glances over her shoulder to see the destruction (burning sulfur over) of city of Sodom. Sodom, a city close to the Dead Sea, a sea well known through history for its salt rocks and tenfold salinity of the open sea, was enjoying the riches (and much more…) of closeby salt deposits, and Lot’s wife is punished by the same token that made their city notorious. The Scriptures don’t say whether her death was a punishment for valuing her old life so much that she hesitated in obeying, or if it was a simple consequence of her reluctance to leave her life quickly.
Besides having a well-referenced presence in religion, salt has been the cause of political resistance and even revolution through the ages. There was a time when people were paying a ‘salt tax’ (a tax levied directly on salt, usually proportional to the amount of salt purchased – salt was extremely valuable as a preservant, and, in some cultures, nearly worth its weight in gold). How would one ever thought of a ‘salt tax’? But again, today we have no issue paying a ‘federal communications tax’ on our mobile phone bill just to communicate! Salt offered an easy target for taxation for the authorities, but equally well, offered a highly visible target for social effort to dodge paying or even repealing the tax which fuelled human antipathy and revolt on repeated yet different historical circumstances.

The Salt War of 1540 was a result of an insurrection by the city of Perugia against the Papal States during the pontificate of Pope Paul III (Alessandro Farnese). Pope Paul III decided to levy a new tax on salt for all his subjects, revoking treaties between Perugia and previous popes, treaties which Paul III had confirmed at the beginning of his pontificate. Perugian protests were to no avail and the Perugians decided to rebel. On on 4 June 1540, papal troops, led by the pope’s very own son (Pierluigi Farnese), forced Perugias to surrender. Shortly thereafter, the enormous fortress Rocca Paolina (Pauline Fortress) was constructed not to protect Perugia, but, in Julius III’s words, “to slow down the burning of the Perugians and get rid of the opportunity to rebel against the Holy See”. The fort was for centuries a symbol of oppressive papal rule, and despite the fact that a later Pope, Julius III, gave the Perugians back a semblance of local rule in 1559, the city became part of the Papal States and remained so until Italian unification in 1860.

The Salt Riot, also known as the Moscow Uprising of 1648, started because of the government’s replacement of different taxes with a universal salt tax for the purpose of replenishing the state treasury after the Time of Troubles. This drove up the price of salt, leading to violent riots in the streets of Moscow. The riot was an early challenge to the reign of Alexei I, eventually resulting in the exile of Alexei’s advisor Boris Morozov. Salt tax was a factor of the French Revolution as well: the gabelle (from the Italian gabella (a tax), itself from the Arabic qabala) was a very unpopular tax on salt in France before 1790. In France, gabelle was originally applied to taxes on all commodities, but was gradually limited to the tax on salt. In time it became one of the most hated and most grossly unequal taxes in the country. It was abolished in 1790, then reinstated by Napoleon in 1806; abolished briefly by the French Second Republic, and then finally abolished permanently in 1945. Salt taxation was also a point of the events during the Swiss Peasant War in 1653.

Salt played a role during the Civil War in the United States as well. Salt not only preserved food in the days before refrigeration, but was also vital in the curing of leather. Union general William Tecumseh Sherman once said that “salt is eminently contraband”, as an army that has salt can adequately feed its men. The most important saltworks for the Confederacy were at Saltville, Virginia. In late 1864, the Union army twice advanced to capture the saltworks, as it was the last prominent source of salt for the eastern Confederate states. The October 1864 Battle of Saltville I saw the Confederate able to repulse the charge, but the next December in the Battle of Saltville II Union forces under George Stoneman managed to destroy the vital saltworks. Two months later the salt works were back to work for the Confederacy, although the destroyed railroad system around the area hampered its distribution. It is said that Florida’s greatest contribution to the Confederate war effort was in producing salt. Floridian salt plants worked 24 hours a day employing 5,000 workers (a popular profession at the time since they were immune to drafting) boiling salt from sea water, mostly in the area between Saint Andrews Bay and St. Marks, Florida.

The Salt March, better known as the Salt Satyagraha, began with the Dandi March on 12 March 1930, and led to the Indian independence movement. Mahatma Gandhi led the Dandi march from his base, Sabarmati Ashram near Ahmedabad, to the coastal village of Dandi in the state of Gujarat. As he continued on this 24-day, 240-mile (390 km) march to produce salt without paying the tax, growing numbers of Indians joined him along the way. It was a direct action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly in colonial India, and triggered the wider Civil Disobedience Movement. When Gandhi broke the salt laws, it sparked large scale acts of civil disobedience against the British Raj salt laws by millions of Indians. The campaign had a significant effect on changing world and British attitude towards Indian independence and caused large numbers of Indians to join the fight for the first time.

No wonder that in the Malagasy language (in Madagascar) they have the same word for ‘salt’ and ‘sacred’: fanasina. Salt sacred for the existence of life itself, and sacred for its flavor to life and all the pleasures and endeavors herewith, from sailing ships to swimming in the salty cobalt waters of the Pacific, the jade and turquoise waters of the Caribbean to the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea!

Navagio

Greek blues! Enough salt to flavor a lifetime!

Idioms and Expressions of Salt:

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary and old salt is an experienced sailor, a seafaring man. An ‘old salt’ in the English speaking naval services is often a raconteur, or teller of sea stories. Much of the history and traditions of the naval services are passed from generation to generation of service members by these sea stories as told and retold by old salts.

Back to the salt mines: time to return to work, school, or something else that might be unpleasant conjuring the image of the image of menial labor working in salt mines.

To eat someone’s salt: to be someone’s guest. (Example: The least you can do when you’re eating someone’s salt is to help them out around the house.)

Salt of the earth: the most worthy of people; a very good or worthy person. (A biblical reference, Matthew 5:13.)

To take something with a pinch / grain of salt and take something with a grain of salt: to listen to a story or an explanation with considerable doubt.

Worth one’s salt: worth (in productivity) what it costs to keep or support one.

To sit below the salt: To be of a low social rank. This phrase, first seen in print around 1597, comes from European dining halls where the host sat at the head of the dining table, and his guests were seated in order of importance along the sides. The salt cellar was placed in the middle of a dining table, which caused another division. Those seated below this point were considered the lowest ranking people at the table.

To salt away: to put money in savings, wherever it comes from. In ancient times, salt was very valuable and was used to pay soldiers in the Roman army. Our modern word “salary” comes from the Latin word for salarium (paying in salt).

To have something hung up and salted: to know everything about something. (Often meant ironically)

To salt something down: to place salt on something, such as icy roads

Please, pass the salt!


 

© 2013-2014 Basil M Karatzas & Karatzas Marine Advisors & Co.  All Rights Reserved.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:  Access to this blog signifies the reader’s irrevocable acceptance of this disclaimer. No part of this blog can be reproduced by any means and under any circumstances, whatsoever, in whole or in part, without proper attribution or the consent of the copyright and trademark holders of this website. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that information here within has been received from sources believed to be reliable and such information is believed to be accurate at the time of publishing, no warranties or assurances whatsoever are made in reference to accuracy or completeness of said information, and no liability whatsoever will be accepted for taking or failing to take any action upon any information contained in any part of this website.  Thank you for the consideration.

USS „Texas” (BB-35)

Images of historic Battleship USS „Texas” (BB-35)

Present Location:
3523 Independence Parkway South
LaPorte, TX 77571

Name: USS Texas
Namesake: State of Texas
Ordered: 24 June 1910
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding Company
Cost: $5,830,000
Laid down: 17 April 1911
Launched: 18 May 1912
Sponsored by: Claudia Lyon
Commissioned: 12 March 1914
Decommissioned: 21 April 1948
Struck: 30 April 1948
Nickname: Big T, Old T
Honors and
awards:
5 Battle Stars
Status: Museum ship at San Jacinto State Park

According to Wikipedia, USS „Texas” (BB-35) is a New York-class battleship launched on 18 May 1912 and commissioned on 12 March 1914.

Soon after her commissioning, USS „Texas” saw action in Mexican waters following the “Tampico Incident” and made numerous sorties into the North Sea during World War I. When the United States formally entered World War II in 1941, USS „Texas” escorted war convoys across the Atlantic, and later shelled Axis-held beaches for the North African campaign and the Normandy Landings before being transferred to the Pacific Theater late in 1944 to provide naval gunfire support during the Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. USS „Texas” was decommissioned in 1948, having earned a total of five battle stars for service in World War II, and is now a museum ship near Houston, Texas.

Among the world’s remaining battleships, USS „Texas” is notable for being the only remaining dreadnought battleship, though she is not the oldest surviving battleship; Mikasa, a pre-dreadnought battleship ordered in 1898, is older than USS „Texas” . She is also noteworthy for being one of only six remaining ships to have served in both World Wars. Among US-built battleships, USS „Texas” is notable for her sizable number of firsts: the first US Navy vessel to house a permanently assigned contingent of US Marines, the first US battleship to mount anti-aircraft guns, the first US ship to control gunfire with directors and range-keepers (analog forerunners of today’s computers), the first US battleship to launch an aircraft, from a catapult on Turret 3, one of the first to receive the CXAM-1 version of CXAM production radar in the US Navy, the first US battleship to become a permanent museum ship, and the first battleship declared to be a US National Historic Landmark.

Official Website at Texas Parks & Wildlife website, please click here!


 

USS TEXAS 1

Historic Battleship launched in 1912 USS „Texas” at LaPorte, TX in the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. http://www.karatzas.com

USS TEXAS 2

Historic Battleship launched in 1912 USS „Texas” at LaPorte, TX in the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. http://www.karatzas.com

USS TEXAS 3

Historic Battleship launched in 1912 USS „Texas” at LaPorte, TX in the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. http://www.karatzas.com

USS TEXAS 4

Historic Battleship launched in 1912 USS „Texas” at LaPorte, TX in the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. http://www.karatzas.com

USS TEXAS 5

Historic Battleship launched in 1912 USS „Texas” at LaPorte, TX in the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. http://www.karatzas.com

USS TEXAS 6

Historic Battleship launched in 1912 USS „Texas” at LaPorte, TX in the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. http://www.karatzas.com

USS TEXAS 7

Historic Battleship launched in 1912 USS „Texas” at LaPorte, TX in the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. http://www.karatzas.com

USS TEXAS 8

Historic Battleship launched in 1912 USS „Texas” at LaPorte, TX in the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. http://www.karatzas.com

USS TEXAS 9

Historic Battleship launched in 1912 USS „Texas” at LaPorte, TX in the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. http://www.karatzas.com

USS TEXAS 10

Historic Battleship launched in 1912 USS „Texas” at LaPorte, TX in the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. http://www.karatzas.com

USS TEXAS 11

Historic Battleship launched in 1912 USS „Texas” at LaPorte, TX in the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. http://www.karatzas.com

USS TEXAS 13

Historic Battleship launched in 1912 USS „Texas” at LaPorte, TX in the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. http://www.karatzas.com

USS TEXAS 14

Historic Battleship launched in 1912 USS „Texas” at LaPorte, TX in the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. http://www.karatzas.com


© 2013-2014 Basil M Karatzas & Karatzas Marine Advisors & Co.  All Rights Reserved.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:  Access to this blog signifies the reader’s irrevocable acceptance of this disclaimer. No part of this blog can be reproduced by any means and under any circumstances, whatsoever, in whole or in part, without proper attribution or the consent of the copyright and trademark holders of this website. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that information here within has been received from sources believed to be reliable and such information is believed to be accurate at the time of publishing, no warranties or assurances whatsoever are made in reference to accuracy or completeness of said information, and no liability whatsoever will be accepted for taking or failing to take any action upon any information contained in any part of this website.  Thank you for the consideration.

M/Y ‘HARMONY’

Originally posted on Shipshape Photos & Maritime Imagery:

M/Y ‘HARMONY’

Harmony is a 50m motor yacht delivered by Westport in 2010. She’s a typical ‘Westport 164’ (50 meters) tri-deck design, the top of the line in the Westport Series.

She can accommodate up to twelve guests in six staterooms including an on deck master suite, a bridge deck VIP suite, two king bedded cabins below aft, a twin bedded cabin forward to port and a convertible gym forward to starboard with a Pullman berth. Crew accommodation is for up to twelve with the captain’s cabin on the bridge deck and five double cabins below deck.

She features an elevator that services all decks, while propulsion is delivered by two modern four stroke, 16 cylinder diesel engines providing 3650hp each.

M/Y ‘Harmony’ is presently listed for sale with an asking price of US$ 33,750,000 (€25,000,000).

'Westport 164' Layout (Image source: courtesy of Westport Shipyards)

‘Westport 164′ Layout (Image source: courtesy of Westport Shipyards)

WESTPORT 164 | 50 METERS

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Museum Ship SS „Hellas Liberty”

We often tend to pay special honors, and rightly so, to the crucial battles that took place at decisive moments and changed the course of a war or possibly history, and we often tend to put special emphasis on the bigger than life generals and admirals who were the protagonists and their landmark battlefields and flagships, while the ‘smaller’ efforts and ingenuity to make the battleships and flagships victorious are often referred to the little known minutia of great story telling and away from the attention of the headlines. While we were celebrating ‘D Day’ recently and the landing of the Allied forces at the beaches of Normandy, and while in Greece attending Posidonia, we had the serendipitous opportunity to attend a special event and visit a ship that perfectly fits the concept of the ‘unsung hero’.

During World War II, Nazi U-boats sank in the Atlantic about 3,000 Allied ships, about 2,800 of which were merchant ships; assuming that WWII lasted six years, the rate of casualties were almost one ship per diem in the Battle of the Atlantic. With the US as the only Allied power with its infrastructure intact, there had to be a quick way to move troops, ammunition, provisions, equipment, etc across the Atlantic and to the battlefields, in a sort of a floating pipeline, despite the efforts and successes of the Nazi U-boats to keep supplies short. The answer to a seaway ‘conveyor’ was to keep building cheap ships fast; actually keep building them faster than the Nazis could sink them.

Cargo ships that were built during WWII under the directive to supply the Allied forces eventually came to be known as ‘Liberty Ships’. At a nominal cost of $2 mil (about $34 mil today), 2,710 such vessels were built in eighteen shipyards in the US. The original design was based on British vessel designs developed in the late 19th century; however, adapting the design in the US, several modifications were adopted in order to make the vessels slightly larger, but more importantly, cheaper and easier to build. Riveting in the original design gave place to welding, thus providing one-third savings in labor costs. Two oil-fired boilers were installed and the engine was a simple triple expansion steam engine of 2,500 hp output that could propel the 10,000 dwt vessel at 11 knots (steam turbines engines were known at the time, but they more complicated to build as more precise, and such building capacity was reserved for navy ships). These US-modified ships were designated as ‘EC2-S-C1′: ‘EC’ for Emergency Cargo, ‘2’ for a ship between 400 and 450 feet (120 and 140 m) long (Load Waterline Length), ‘S’ for steam engines, and ‘C1′ for design C1.

Approximately 2,400 Liberty Ships survived WWII and more 800 of them used afterwards as cargo / merchant vessels. Three of these Liberty Ships survive today in whole: two of them are fully operational and used as museum ships (SS „John W. Brown” in Norflok and SS „Jeremiah O’Brien” in San Francisco), and a third vessel has been fully restored – but not operational as a ship, in Piraeus, Greece: SS „Hellas Liberty”, originally built as SS “Arthur M. Huddell”.

Greek shipowners acquired about 525 of the remaining ships after WWII, on favorable terms as compensation for their and Greece’s heavy casualties in shipping during the war (the exact circumstances of the transfer can be debatable), and these vessels constituted the ‘seed fleet’ of many Greek owners and their springboard to the top leagues of world shipping. Onassis, Livanos, Niarchos, Theodoracopoulos, Goulandris are a few of the well-known shipping names acquiring Liberty Ships. The truth is that these ‘ugly ducklings’ were built in less than ten days on average, and they were never intended to be quality ships; they were the original ‘disposal’ items of our society when it was expected that most of them would not last more than two-three crossings of the Atlantic, so no special attention was given to quality and durability. When Greek owners were buying them on preferential terms, they were cheap ships expected to last a few years and not the several decades that some of the Greek owners managed to squeeze out of them.

It’s natural then that ‘Liberty Ships’ have a special place in the Greek shipping psyche.

SS HELLAS LIBERTY_article 2

The bow of SS „Liberty Hellas”

Upon efforts initiated by shipowner Spyros Polemis of Remi Maritime, and after significant lobbying in the US, President Bush 43rd signed legislation passing ownership of the vessel SS „Arthur M Huddell” to the Greek committee in 2008. The vessel had been at lay-up since 1984 and he was in severe state of decay in Norfolk, Virginia, when ownership was passed to the Greek committee; further, the vessel had been cannibalized for parts, including losing her rudder and propeller, for the surviving vessels SS „John W Brown” and SS „Jeremiah O’Brien”. The Greek committee had to arrange for ocean-going towing at its own cost and risk to bring the vessel to Greece in late 2008 and eventually the vessel finished restorations in 2010. Many people in Greece and abroad, in shipping and in other industries, gave generously of their time, efforts, love and money for the vessel to be restored with Captain Vassilis Konstantakopoulos (now deceased) founder of Costamare being instrumental in the efforts, including providing most of the funding, rumored to be approaching $10 million.

SS HELLAS LIBERTY_article 1

A deck from another age…

The keel of SS „Arthur M Huddell” (IMO No 5025706) was laid in late October 1943 and the vessel was launched in December of same year from St. Johns River Shipbuilding, Jacksonville, Florida. She’s 441 ft 6’’ long (134.6 m) with a molded beam of 56 ft and 10.75’’ (17.3 m) and draft of 25ft and 3.25’’ (7.7 m). Typical to a ‘Liberty Ship’ arrangement, she has five cargo holds which were sub-sectioned, almost similar to a tweendeck vessel, with the lower section of the holds able to store either dry bulk or liquid cargoes. Once upon her delivery, she carried explosives to Europe during her first voyages, and later in 1944 she was partially converted to a pipe carrier by modifying her two aft cargo holds. The vessel was used under the PLUTO operation, laying an undersea pipeline between England and France during WWII in order to provide fuel the armies following the Normandy landing. After the end of the war, the vessel was laid up until 1956, when chartered to AT&T and converted to a cable laying vessel. SS „Arthur M Huddell” had been in cold lay up from 1984 until her donation to the Greek committee in 2008. The vessel, unlike most of the Liberty vessels, has remained under the ownership of the US government throughout her life and she has never been sold and being part of the world merchant marine.

During restorations at Salamis and Perama in Greece, several hundred tons of bird droppings had to be removed from outdoor and indoor areas, several tons of steel plate had to be replaced, several original, vintage or comparable parts from the era had to be sourced, as well as a new propeller and rudder (not original design however). The engine has been restored but presently not operational. The cargo hold immediately aft of the accommodation has been arranged as exhibit space, while cargo hold #3 immediately forward of the accommodation has been arranged to a reception hall for conferences and receptions.

The vessel is presently docked within the property of the Port of Piraeus and open to the public. Still minor restoration work takes place and the ship is in the process of gearing up to fully operational status as a museum ship. A tour of SS „Hellas Liberty” offers an opportunity to transcend time and travel through history, to times when ships were much simpler than today’s, when navigation was a skill indeed and dependent on rudimentary instrumentation and natural observations; bridge officers had to make do with a wheel, a gyrocompass and a magnetic compass and no more; next to the wheelhouse, on each side, one can observe the chart-room and another hot room filled with bulky equipment from where the ship’s ‘Marconi’ could communicate wirelessly with the outside world. In today’s ships, neither of these functions commands much space as charts now are in digital form and displayed on a screen and the communications room has shrunk to a couple of satellite phones.

Liberty ships had been silent but instrumental factors for the outcome of the war effort. This out-of-necessity heavy ‘investment’ by the US-government in shipbuilding won the war effort, but also had many complimentary desirable effects; a small example: modifications for more efficient design and a streamlined production process allowed famous naval architect William Francis Gibbs to fine tune his approach to shipbuilding that eventually led to the construction of his masterpiece, SS „United States”. Liberty ships through private ownership after the war have been instrumental in rebuilding the world economies, primarily the European ones, and Greek shipowners and Greek shipping owe a great amount of debt to the circumstances and the design of these ships that provided the springboard to the world shipping stage. And, the efforts to save and restore the vessel to her original condition is testament to the historical value as her whole class.

It has been a journey for the ship worth the costs and efforts and the visit to the ship worth a profound maritime lecture.

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Museum Ship SS „Hellas Liberty”


 

© 2013-2014 Basil M Karatzas & Karatzas Marine Advisors & Co.  All Rights Reserved.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:  Access to this blog signifies the reader’s irrevocable acceptance of this disclaimer. No part of this blog can be reproduced by any means and under any circumstances, whatsoever, in whole or in part, without proper attribution or the consent of the copyright and trademark holders of this website. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that information here within has been received from sources believed to be reliable and such information is believed to be accurate at the time of publishing, no warranties or assurances whatsoever are made in reference to accuracy or completeness of said information, and no liability whatsoever will be accepted for taking or failing to take any action upon any information contained in any part of this website.  Thank you for the consideration.

A Reflection on Posidonia 2014

In ancient Greek mythology, Posidon (also spelled as ‘Poseidon’ and known as Neptune in the Roman mythology) was a major god of the Olympian Pantheon protecting the waters and seas. Posidon, although not as temperamental as his more famous older brother Zeus, was known from time to stir the waters for fun or just to raise hell – so to speak; his weapon was the three-pronged trident which not only caused major storms in the sea but also could shake the earth and cause earthquakes.

It’s only logical that Posidon’s name is metaphorically associated today with shipping endeavors, and a biennial conference in Greece in named in his honor. This year’s Posidonia was consummated shortly ago, and the waves of Posidon’s trident have yet to settle.

Posidonia_logo14For once, the attendance according to un-official reports has set a new high and reconfirmed Posidonia as the premier event of the shipping industry, and by association, Greece as a major shipping cluster. Close to 20,000 attendees visited the Expo where 1,843 exhibitors from 93 countries presented their businesses and products. It can be said with confidence that there has been an equally impressive amount of guests who never made it to the Expo and tried to enrich their visit by staying at the south suburbs, attending the many corporate events, enjoying great food and libations and talking shop and massaging deals at the deck of a yacht or the veranda of a private bungalow at the Astir Palace complex.

The mood was positively optimistic as the bottom of the market has definitely been considered to be behind us. While at Posidonia 2012 were still doubts about having found the market bottom, now the debate has been centered on where on earth the expected recovery is! The buoyancy and improvement of the freight markets in the second half of last year have really convinced market players that the market definitely was not dead at all but a fundamental rally was underway. As a reminder, last summer freight rates for capes VLCCs were well below operating expenses and well below $10,000 pd while by the end of the year rates has bounced fivefold. If an anemic market can bounce that strongly, what else could be the cause besides a fundamental rally? Asset prices improved by 10-50% depending on asset class from summer till spring this year and newbuilding orders were placed by the dozen, like the good old days of 2008. The rally had been impressive and the market slowdown since Easter has not been considered menacing, just a ‘breather’ for the market. A few hopeful IPOs failed to obtain a listing in the spring as well, but that’s part of the game, no more.

However, given that BDI has dropped by about 45% since March 20th (at 1621) to date (906 at present), Posidonia’s optimism had to be qualified. Yes, there has been abundant optimism that better days are ahead of us, but … several shipowners, including high profile publicly traded shipowners, openly admitted at panel discussions their disappointment with the freight market  and confessed that they were not expecting such low rates at this time of the cycle. The fact that we are heading to the summer, which seasonally is a weak freight period, it means that there may be two more months of weak earnings before the market shows any improvements. And, the rally since last year has not been ‘money in the bank’ in the traditional sense: the strong cash generated in last year’s rally has partially been used to make current shipping loans or was deployed as down-payment for newbuilding orders, thus, no excess cash has been preserved for a prolonged weak market. There even has been mentioning that some shipowners may be hitting the ‘panic button’ if the market ends the summer in such a malaise. But again, there has been the argument that trading patterns have been shifting and most of the trade takes place in the second half of the year in the last few years – such as Chinese re-stocking of inventories causing last year’s rally– and thus that no need to write off 2014 yet as not a good year for shipping; optimism has been strong that the second half of the year will be another strong positive surprise for owners and charters alike.

The optimism for the market could be sensed in the expectations for strong capital markets as basically every investment banker from New York active in shipping was in attendance and lots of meetings were noted on and off premises with IPO hopefuls. Apparently expectations are high that strong freight will return soon, and given the environment of exceptionally low interest rates and $780 billion ‘dry powder’ by the institutional investors in North America, IPO hopefuls should be ready on the runway for take off. The few IPOs that failed to obtain listing in the spring are considered one-off events and not a trend.

Private equity funds have been focal during Posidonia for the deals they have done so far in the Greek market but mostly for the ‘noise’ without deals that have done. It’s always great to have a rich partner to bankroll a venture, but there has been abundant complaining that ‘funds do not get shipping’; on the other hand, curiosity has been high on whether funds are done investing in shipping and what may be the ‘next big thing’ they may be looking in shipping: a neglected sub-sector, a local market, possibly a service industry possibly?

The strange thing is that since Posidonia 2012, the BDI has been literally flat at just above 900 points, despite some volatility within this interval. However, despite the freight market moving sideways, about 3,400 vessels have been ordered since the last Posidonia, that is about FIVE vessels each single day in the last two years.  No much happened about freight as far the indices are concerned, but tonnage supply has made a great jump.

One has to be an optimist in shipping, whether for Posidonia or not!


 

© 2013-2014 Basil M Karatzas & Karatzas Marine Advisors & Co.  All Rights Reserved.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:  Access to this blog signifies the reader’s irrevocable acceptance of this disclaimer. No part of this blog can be reproduced by any means and under any circumstances, whatsoever, in whole or in part, without proper attribution or the consent of the copyright and trademark holders of this website. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that information here within has been received from sources believed to be reliable and such information is believed to be accurate at the time of publishing, no warranties or assurances whatsoever are made in reference to accuracy or completeness of said information, and no liability whatsoever will be accepted for taking or failing to take any action upon any information contained in any part of this website.  Thank you for the consideration.

MUSEUM SHIP SS ‘HELLAS LIBERTY’ (Images, Part II)

MUSEUM SHIP SS ‘HELLAS LIBERTY’ (ex- SS ‘Arthur M. Huddell’)

SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ in Piraeus Port, Greece after major restoration (2010)
Namesake: union leader Arthur M. Huddell (1869-1931)
Ordered: MCE hull 1215
Builder: St. Johns River Shipbuilding, Jacksonville, Florida
Laid down: 25 October 1943
Launched: 7 December 1943
Christened: SS ‘Arthur M. Huddell’
Refit: 1944
Sold for preservation to Greece in 2008, and after extensive restoration was converted to museum ship, re-flagged under the Flag of Greece and re-named SS ‘Hellas Liberty’. Presently moored at the Port of Piraeus, Greece.

General characteristics
SS ‘Arthur M Huddel’, IMO: 5025706, is a Liberty ship built by St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company with keel laid 25 October 1943 and the yard workers working overtime to launch on 7 December 1943 and complete outfitting nine days later.                                                             Type: General cargo

Displacement: (as built) 14,257 (fl) tons
Length: 441 feet 6 inches (134.6 m)
Beam: (molded) 56 feet 10.75 inches (17.3 m)
Draft: (as built) 25 feet 3.25 inches (7.7 m)
Installed power: Two Combustion Engineering oil-fired boilers
Propulsion: Filer and Stowell triple expansion, reciprocating engine; 2,500-shaft horsepower (shp)
Speed: 11 knots
Range: 19,000 nautical miles

SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ is one of three Liberties remaining afloat, with the others being SS ‘John W. Brown’ and SS ‘Jeremiah O’Brien’ in the United States.


 

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Museum Ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ – Liberty Ship built in 1944 at St. Johns River Shipbuilding, USA; restored and converted to museum ship in 2008 – 2010 in Greece.

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Museum Ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ – Liberty Ship built in 1944 at St. Johns River Shipbuilding, USA.

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Museum Ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ – Liberty Ship built in 1944 at St. Johns River Shipbuilding, USA; restored and converted to museum ship in 2008 – 2010 in Greece. (Portside view looking aft)

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Museum Ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ – Liberty Ship built in 1944 at St. Johns River Shipbuilding, USA. (Portside view looking forward)

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Museum Ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ – Liberty Ship built in 1944 at St. Johns River Shipbuilding, USA; restored and converted to museum ship in 2008 – 2010 in Greece.

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Museum Ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ – Liberty Ship built in 1944 at St. Johns River Shipbuilding, USA; restored and converted to museum ship in 2008 – 2010 in Greece. (Funnel)

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Museum Ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ – Liberty Ship built in 1944 at St. Johns River Shipbuilding, USA; restored and converted to museum ship in 2008 – 2010 in Greece. (Funnel)

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Museum Ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ – Liberty Ship built in 1944 at St. Johns River Shipbuilding, USA; restored and converted to museum ship in 2008 – 2010 in Greece. (Main deck looking forward)

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Museum Ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ – Liberty Ship built in 1944 at St. Johns River Shipbuilding, USA; restored and converted to museum ship in 2008 – 2010 in Greece. (Main deck looking aft)

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Museum Ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ – Liberty Ship built in 1944 at St. Johns River Shipbuilding, USA; restored and converted to museum ship in 2008 – 2010 in Greece. (Main deck looking forward)

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Museum Ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ – Liberty Ship built in 1944 at St. Johns River Shipbuilding, USA (Wheelhouse essentially equipped)

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Museum Ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ – Liberty Ship built in 1944 at St. Johns River Shipbuilding, USA (View of the portside stern)

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Museum Ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ – Liberty Ship built in 1944 at St. Johns River Shipbuilding, USA (detailed view of propeller; not original propeller)


 

© 2013-2014 Basil M Karatzas & Karatzas Marine Advisors & Co.  All Rights Reserved.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:  Access to this blog signifies the reader’s irrevocable acceptance of this disclaimer. No part of this blog can be reproduced by any means and under any circumstances, whatsoever, in whole or in part, without proper attribution or the consent of the copyright and trademark holders of this website. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that information here within has been received from sources believed to be reliable and such information is believed to be accurate at the time of publishing, no warranties or assurances whatsoever are made in reference to accuracy or completeness of said information, and no liability whatsoever will be accepted for taking or failing to take any action upon any information contained in any part of this website.  Thank you for the consideration.

 

MUSEUM SHIP SS ‘HELLAS LIBERTY’ (Images, Part I)

MUSEUM SHIP SS ‘HELLAS LIBERTY’ (ex- SS ‘Arthur M. Huddell’)

SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ in Piraeus Port, Greece after major restoration (2010)
Namesake: union leader Arthur M. Huddell (1869-1931)
Ordered: MCE hull 1215
Builder: St. Johns River Shipbuilding, Jacksonville, Florida
Laid down: 25 October 1943
Launched: 7 December 1943
Christened: SS ‘Arthur M. Huddell’
Refit: 1944
Sold for preservation to Greece in 2008, and after extensive restoration was converted to museum ship, re-flagged under the Flag of Greece and re-named SS ‘Hellas Liberty’. Presently moored at the Port of Piraeus, Greece.

General characteristics
SS ‘Arthur M Huddel’, IMO: 5025706, is a Liberty ship built by St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company with keel laid 25 October 1943 and the yard workers working overtime to launch on 7 December 1943 and complete outfitting nine days later.                                                             Type: General cargo

Displacement: (as built) 14,257 (fl) tons
Length: 441 feet 6 inches (134.6 m)
Beam: (molded) 56 feet 10.75 inches (17.3 m)
Draft: (as built) 25 feet 3.25 inches (7.7 m)
Installed power: Two Combustion Engineering oil-fired boilers
Propulsion: Filer and Stowell triple expansion, reciprocating engine; 2,500-shaft horsepower (shp)
Speed: 11 knots
Range: 19,000 nautical miles

SS ‘Hellas Liberty’ is one of three Liberties remaining afloat, with the others being SS ‘John W. Brown’ and SS ‘Jeremiah O’Brien’ in the United States.


 

SS HELLAS LIBERTY 1

In Piraeus Port, impeccably restored museum ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’, one of the last three surviving ‘Liberty Ships’ of WWII – A vessel design intended to bring supplies for a prompt end of war in Europe but indadvertedly launched many a great shipping fortunes.

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In Piraeus Port, impeccably restored museum ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’, one of the last three surviving ‘Liberty Ships’ of WWII.

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In Piraeus Port, impeccably restored museum ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’, one of the last three surviving ‘Liberty Ships’ of WWII.

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In Piraeus Port, impeccably restored museum ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’, one of the last three surviving ‘Liberty Ships’ of WWII – A vessel design intended to bring supplies for a prompt end of war in Europe but indadvertedly launched many a great shipping fortunes.

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In Piraeus Port, Impeccably restored museum ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’, one of the last three surviving ‘Liberty Ships’ of WWII – A vessel design intended to bring supplies for a prompt end of war in Europe but indadvertedly launched many a great shipping fortunes.

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In Port of Piraeus, impeccably restored museum ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’, one of the last three surviving ‘Liberty Ships’ of WWII.

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In Port of Piraeus, impeccably restored museum ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’, one of the last three surviving ‘Liberty Ships’ of WWII.

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In Port of Piraeus, impeccably restored museum ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’, one of the last three surviving ‘Liberty Ships’ of WWII.

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In Port of Piraeus, impeccably restored museum ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’, one of the last three surviving ‘Liberty Ships’ of WWII.

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In Port of Piraeus, impeccably restored museum ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’, one of the last three surviving ‘Liberty Ships’ of WWII.

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In Port of Piraeus, impeccably restored museum ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’, one of the last three surviving ‘Liberty Ships’ of WWII.

SS HELLAS LIBERTY 12

In Port of Piraeus, impeccably restored museum ship SS ‘Hellas Liberty’, one of the last three surviving ‘Liberty Ships’ of WWII.


 

© 2013-2014 Basil M Karatzas & Karatzas Marine Advisors & Co.  All Rights Reserved.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:  Access to this blog signifies the reader’s irrevocable acceptance of this disclaimer. No part of this blog can be reproduced by any means and under any circumstances, whatsoever, in whole or in part, without proper attribution or the consent of the copyright and trademark holders of this website. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that information here within has been received from sources believed to be reliable and such information is believed to be accurate at the time of publishing, no warranties or assurances whatsoever are made in reference to accuracy or completeness of said information, and no liability whatsoever will be accepted for taking or failing to take any action upon any information contained in any part of this website.  Thank you for the consideration.