Category Archives: Maritime History

China’s Maritime History and Admiral Zheng He’s Treasure Ships

In the last fifteen years, China has made an impressive entrance to the international maritime scene. From chartering and trading to vessel ownership and shipbuilding, China has captured a substantial worldwide market share. As an example, in the following graph, in the newbuilding industry, its worldwide market share by deadweight of newbuilding deliveries went from negligible at the turn of the century to appr. 20% a decade ago and now stands at 40%.

Historical newbuilding deliveries, China (PRC) and world, market share. Graph credit: Karatzas Marine Advisors

To the casual observer, it would seem that the maritime industry is just another industry where China has started dominating the market given some competitive advantage; that China saw a business opportunity in this industry and they just moved in. If clothing and manufacturing for everyday articles can now take place in China, why not for ships?

However, for shipping, one can say that China has had a time-honored relation with the seas and the waters, inland and its two huge rivers, coastal and also ocean navigation. As a short proof for that, one can be reminded that Chinese invented the compass approximately around 200 BC during the Han Dynasty, allowing for the first time ships to navigate away from the coast. Chinese first invented the dry-dock in the tenth century AD, while dry-docks were introduced to European shipbuilding in the late fifteen-century in Portsmouth, England[i]. Similarly, the concept of building ships with watertight compartments (bulkheads) is attributed to shipbuilders of the Ming Dynasty based on their observations that bamboo trees are light and hollow inside and are made of the isolated chambers in the trunk. Only if the shipbuilders of the RMS Titanic had paid closer attention to such seemingly irrelevant observation! 

The Treasure Ships

The Chinese historic navigational achievements that is known in the West are the Treasure Ships of the eunuch Admiral Zheng He who in 1418, in the early Ming Dynasty, reached the east coast of Africa (at Malindi, in today’s Kenya) with an estimated fleet of three hundred boats consisting of vessels as large as four-hundred-foot long with nine-masts (bao chuan or treasure ships) and manned with 28,000 sailors.

The Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama landed on the east African coast in 1498, seventy years after Zheng He’s landing, the first European to reach these parts of the world; de Gama, upon his arrival in east Africa, was regaled by village elders with tales of white “ghosts” of ships with silk sails that had reached their shores several decades earlier.

The treasure ships had watertight bulwark compartments, a Chinese innovation, a stern post and a “balanced” rudder position forward of the stern post, both Chinese naval innovations that were not introduced in the west until many centuries later. The vessels had nine masts and were square-rigged and brightly painted hulls. They had “dragon eyes” on the prow and phoenix patterns on the hull for auspiciousness, the underwater part of the hull was whitewashed and the waterline was painted red with a sun-and-moon frieze. Although treasure ships were equipped with canons, they were primarily intended for luxurious accommodations, literally and figuratively, acting as the flagships of the fleet. The treasure ships were a handful in the fleet, which was dominated by the presence of “horse ships” (eight-masted, some 339 ft long) to carry horses for trading, “supply ships” (seven-masted, some 257 ft long) for food and provisions for the 28,000 crews of the fleet, and “troop transport” ships (six-masted, some 220 ft long) carrying soldiers. In addition, there were escort ships, warships, patrol boats, even tanker boats for the provision of fresh water. Communications at sea among the fleet vessels was via an elaborate system of sight and sound signals, while “teachers who know foreign books” – translators – (tong yi fan shu jiao yu guan) were onboard to facilitate communications with other peoples.

Between 1403 and 1407 under the instruction of the Yongle emperor, 1,681 ocean-going vessels were built at the Suzhou shipyards and Longjiang. Vessels were also built at shipyards in the provinces of Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Hunan and Guangdong. It is estimated that between twenty and thirty thousand people were living and working in the shipyards at the time as carpenters, ironsmiths, caulkers, sail and rope makers.

Zheng He’s treasure ship and Columbus’ St. Maria. Source: When China Ruled the Seas. Image credit: Levathes, Louise: When China Ruled the Waves: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne (1405 – 1433); Oxford University Press, 1994

The treasure ships (bao chuan) or dragon boats (long chuan) of Admiral Zheng He were a combination of previous ship designs of shachuan (sandboats with flattened hull bottom) and fuchuan vessels (dragon ships with a deep keel, partially resembling that of a sailboat); and these treasure ships were grandiose in scale: “44 zhang 4 chi long and 18 zhang wide.” There is a historical discrepancy in terms of the exact size of the vessels, but present estimates place the vessels at approx. 390-408 ft. long and 160-166 ft. wide. In modern terms, such a vessel would have been too big to pass through the old Panama Canal locks, which until a couple of years ago was an industry standard. The dimensions of the treasure ships “444” were symbolic and lucky, four being the symbol of the Earth and its four “corners.” There were four “seas,” four cardinal directions, four seasons, and according to Confucianism, four bonds or virtues (si wei): propriety, integrity, righteousness and modesty.

The scale of the treasure ships was monumental but not unheard of: the ke zhou (guest ships) of the Song Emperor Huizong were 10 zhang long and the shen zhou (spirit ships) for emissarial missions were 30 zhang long; Tang Dynasty ships were 20 zhang long. Ships that Khubilai Khan built had ten sails and could accommodate 1,000 people. For riverboats, during the Song Dynasty, Xihu zhou chuan (West Lake Ships) were longer than 50 zhang.

While the sheer dimensions of the treasure ships draw our awe today, one has to wonder about the ability of the Ming Dynasty to logistically support such tremendous and elaborate expeditions. As Admiral Zheng He’s last expeditions required close to 30,000 crew, one has to wonder about the planning and ability to support so many people living in the open seas for months at a time, properly provisioned for, managed and led. Several centuries later, building just a ship of war with eight hundred (800) crew was known to be a major undertaking for any king when Britain ruled the waves.

The admiral and captain aboard the treasure fleet were appointed individually by the emperor and were empowered with the right to “kill or let alive.” Unlike the expeditions of Vasco de Gama and Christopher Columbus that involved a handful of small caravels, the treasure ship expedition resembled an autonomous, magnificent force with the intent to explore and trade, but also to impress and convey the power of the emperor in the early Ming Dynasty.

Ships in China prior to the Ming Dynasty

Starting from the Yin people in China, and the Han Empire later, Chinese built lou chuan (castle or deck ships), navy ships with oarsmen believed to resemble ancient Greek triremes; there were also qiao chuan (bridge ships), navy ships that were used as fighting platforms for men and horses. As early as in the early centuries A.D., the Chinese were aware of basic principles of winds and currents in the Pacific Ocean, and there is historical evidence of shipbuilding in the coastal provinces of Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang since the Han Dynasty. In the Tang Empire, Chang’an was established as a mighty metropolis by the Yellow River in north China. However, with active trade with regions in the Indian Ocean such as sandalwood from India and Java, frankincense from Somalia, dates and pistachio nuts from Persia, black pepper from Burma, and the spice ports of Malaya and Sumatra; the Indian Ocean, in general, was an active link for trading China’s porcelain just as overland routes were critical for the silk trading. The Chinese, via the spice ports in the Indian Ocean in the Tang Dynasty, were indirectly exposed to the Persian cultures since the latter was reaching these same ports in the Indian Ocean with their Ceylonese ships (triangular lateen ships). Hence, active trade was during that time that the Bureau of Merchant Shipping was established in the eighth century in Guangzhou to ensure for proper taxation and avoidance of contraband. Around the same time, the Grand Canal was completed linking the north and south and facilitating international trade via the Central Asian Silk Route. River navigation was so active then that during storms in 721 and 751, it was reported that more than 1,000 boats were destroyed on each instance.[ii]

In the Song Dynasty, so-called “sea falcon vessels” were developed, mostly for inland and river navigation; these vessels had a flat bottom and floating leeboards in the shape of a bird’s wings that offered stability and could also be used to navigate the vessel. Improved versions of these vessels had paddle-wheels (probably another Chinese invention.) Navy ships (“flying tiger warships”) had eight wheels that were powered by forty men on treadmills allowing for the vessels to navigate smoothly on the water “like a dragon” and instilling fear in the enemy with their appearance and maneuverability. When gunpowder was invented, these naval ships in the Song Dynasty were the first to utilize gun powder onboard when fighting the enemy.

Ships that were first built at Longjiang to travel from China to Korea in the shallow Yellow Sea during this period were known as shachuan (sandboats) that had flat bottoms to prevent them from sticking in the sand (fang sha ping di chuan, or “flat-bottom-boat-that-prevents-running-into-the sand). However, such vessels were not suitable sailing in the open seas. Shipwrights from the Fujian developed a new technique for a V-shaped hull with a deep keel “sharp like a knife” that could cut through big waves. These fuchuan vessels had four decks, four masts, nine sails, a crew of 250 to 300 sailors, and the prow and the stern were positioned high above the waves. While the deep keel of a fuchuan vessel was referred to as the “dragon bone,” the prow brought the anthropomorphic feature of eyes (“dragon eyes”) so that the vessels could “see” where they were heading.

When the Dragon Throne Met the West

The treasure fleet of Admiral Zheng He and the small fleet of the explorer Vasco de Gama never met in Africa, outside China, although Vasco de Gama got to see for himself China’s fading maritime prowess when he eventually reached mainland China. From a philosophical point of view, however, these are several interesting questions to ponder that could had affected the course of history. Had Vasco de Gama’s and Zheng He’s fleets met in Africa in the early 15th century, would Vasco de Gama and the Europeans simply be intimidated by the strength of the Chinese fleet (hundreds of vessels for a Chinese vs. three battered caravels for the Europeans)? Would the size of the Chinese vessels (approximately five times longer and with nine masts) forced the Europeans to never attempt sail eastwards out of sheer fear of the unknown empire east threaten the Europeans? Would He had been tempted to destroy de Gama’s fleet, and possibly delay at the very least for decades or centuries, Europe’s reach to China? Irrespective of what may had happened if the two fleets had met, Chinese naval superiority at that time was unquestionable, the result of constant progress in trade and engineering in Ming China.


[i] Levathes, Louise: When China Ruled the Waves: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne (1405 – 1433); Oxford University Press, 1994.

[ii] Ebrey, Patricia Bukley, China Cambridge Illustrated History, 2nd Edition, 2010; p120


IMPORTANT DISCLAIMERS:  Vessel descriptions (if any) are provided in good faith and believed to be correct and accurate but no assurances, warranties or representations are made herewith. Vessel descriptions (if any) are provided for entertainment  purposes only. We have no responsibility whatsoever for any errors / omissions in vessel description.

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 herewithin 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.

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Images of Lighthouse ‘Nobska Light’ at Woods Hole, Cape Cod

Year Station Established: 1829
Year Present Tower Built: 1876
Year Automated: 1985                                                                                                                               Location: Nobska Rd., Falmouth, Massachusetts
Coordinates: 41°30′59″N 70°39′27″W
Area: 2.1 acres (0.85 ha)

Architectural Style: Italianate, Federal Revival
NRHP Referece No: 87001483

Construction Materials: Cast iron with brick lining
Auxiliary Buildings Still Standing: 1876 keeper’s house, oil house, storage building, radio beacon house.

Tower Height: 40 feet
Height of Focal Plane: 87 feet
Earlier Optic: Fifth-order Fresnel lens
Present Optic: Fourth-order Fresnel lens (1888)                                                                                     Characteristic: Flashing white every six seconds with a red sector
Fog Signal: Two blasts every 30 seconds

Active U.S. Coast Guard aid to navigation. 

In April 2016 the Town of Falmouth was granted a license by the Coast Guard to care for the light station property.  A nonprofit, the Friends of Nobska Light, has been formed.

Nobska Light, originally called Nobsque Light, also known as Nobska Point Light is a lighthouse located at the division between Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound in Woods Hole, Massachusetts on the southwestern tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It overlooks Martha’s Vineyard and Nonamesset Island. The light station was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Nobska Point Light Station in 1987.

The original Nomination Form from June 1987 with the National Register of Historic Places Inventory, along with useful background information on lighthouses, can be found by clicking here!

Visitor Information: The tower and dwelling are not opened to the public currently, but Friends of Nobska Light plans to open them in the future. The lighthouse is owned by the Town of Falmouth. Grounds open, dwelling/tower closed.

Credit: various sources including Wikipedia, National Register of Historic Places, Massachusetts Lighthouses, Friends of Nobska Light. Images Credit:  Karatzas Images.

Nobska Lighthouse under the sun of a summer sunset. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Nobska Lighthouse under the sun of a summer sunset. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Nobska Lighthouse under the sun of a summer sunset. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Nobska Lighthouse under the sun of a summer sunset. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Nobska Lighthouse, made of cast iron and standing 40 ft high, under the sun of a summer sunset. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Nobska Lighthouse, made of cast iron and standing 40 ft high, under the sun of a summer sunset. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Nobska Lighthouse, made of cast iron and standing 40 ft high, under the sun of a summer sunset. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Nobska Lighthouse, made of cast iron and standing 40 ft high, under the sun of a summer sunset. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Nobska Lighthouse, made of cast iron and standing 40 ft high, under the sun of a summer sunset. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Nobska Lighthouse, made of cast iron and standing 40 ft high, under the sun of a summer sunset. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Top of the cast iron tower where the fourth-order Fresnel lens is situated. Nobska Lighthouse, made of cast iron and standing 40 ft high, under the sun of a summer sunset. Image credit: Karatzas Images

A U.S. Coast Guard active aid to navigations, flashes white light with red sector every six seconds. Nobska Lighthouse, made of cast iron and standing 40 ft high, under the sun of a summer sunset. Image credit: Karatzas Images

A U.S. Coast Guard active aid to navigations, flashes white light with red sector every six seconds. Nobska Lighthouse, made of cast iron and standing 40 ft high, under the sun of a summer sunset. Image credit: Karatzas Images

The lighthouse in action. Nobska Lighthouse under the sun of a summer sunset. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Facing west, the lighthouse in action. Nobska Lighthouse under the sun of a summer sunset. Image credit: Karatzas Images

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMERS:  Vessel descriptions (if any) are provided in good faith and believed to be correct and accurate but no assurances, warranties or representations are made herewith. Vessel descriptions (if any) are provided for entertainment  purposes only. We have no responsibility whatsoever for any errors / omissions in vessel description.

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 herewithin 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.

Images posted on this blog are available for purchase at www.karatzas.nyc 

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Images of Explorer Ship MS ‘Nordstjernen’ in Hamburg

Explorer Ship MS ‘Nordstjernen’ pictured upstream and downstream Elbe River, Hamburg Vessel is designated national heritage by the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage (Riksantikvaren)

MS Nordstjernen
History
Name: MS Nordstjernen
Owner: 1956–1979: Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskap
1979-2006 Troms Fylkes Dampskibsselskap
2006–2012: Hurtigruten
2012–2013: Vestland Rederi
2013–2014: M/S Nordstjernen AS c/o RS Platou Finans
Operator: Vestland Marine
Port of registry: Bergen
Route: Norway and Spitsbergen
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Steinwerder
Yard number: 787
Launched: 26 October 1955
Completed: 24 February 1956
Identification:
Call sign: LATU3
IMO number: 5255777
MMSI number: 257276000
Status: In service

General characteristics
Tonnage: 2,191 GT
Length: 88.78 m (291 ft 3 in)
Beam: 12.64 m (41 ft 6 in)
Decks: 4 passenger
Speed: 15 knots (27.78 km/h; 17.26 mph)
Capacity:
400 passengers
149 berths

MS Nordstjernen (Norwegian: “The North Star“) is a vessel constructed in Hamburg, Germany in 1956, and used on the Hurtigruten coastal service until 2012. It was the oldest operational ship in the Hurtigruten fleet at the time of its withdrawal, and is the ship with the longest history of Hurtigruten service. In 2012, she was protected as a national heritage in Norway.

History

Nordstjernen was mainly used for the Hurtigruten coastal service and for cruises to the Svalbard archipelago. She was extensively refitted in 1980. From 2010 to 2012 she operated continuously on the Hurtigruten coastal service. In March 2012, she was withdrawn from the coastal service, and was replaced by MS Finnmarken, which came back in Hurtigruten service after it was in Australia. Hurtigruten was using her for Svalbard cruises in the summer of 2012. In November 2012, the ship was bought by Vestland Rederi AS. In connection with the sale, she was protected as a national heritage by the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage (Riksantikvaren). Nordstjernen’s new home port is Bergen, as it was with her original owner Bergen Steamship Company (Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab, BDS). From the end of 2012 to July 2013, she underwent an extensive restoration in Gdańsk, Poland, which was subsidized with 2.5 million Norwegian krones by Riksantikvaren. After coming back to Norway and taking part in the Fjordsteam festival in Bergen in the first days of August 2013, the new owner market her as a hotel ship and for charter cruises. Finally she left Gdańsk on 9 November 2013. On her way back to Norway, she ran aground in the Karmsund strait on 11 November 2013. There was damage to the ship which was repaired at a dockyard in Ølensvåg, and at the end of January 2014, Nordstjernen left the dockyard. Since 2015, Hurtigruten has chartered  the ship they formerly owned and they deploy it under their own cruiseship fleet.


Information on the cruises ship MS ‘Nordstjernen’ has been reproduced from Wiki Commons under the entry SS Stettin, as accessed last on May 27th, 2017. Wiki Commons is the Copyright owner for the text hereabove, and the information is hereby reproduced solely for education purposes. However, copyright for the images published here belong exclusively to Karatzas Images.


A Norwegian-designated cultural heritage vessel, MS ‘Nordstjernen’, built in 1955 by Blohm + Voss in Germany and registered in Bergen, seen here upstream the Elbe River at Hamburg on a sunny, early summer evening. Image credit: Karatzas Images

A Norwegian-designated cultural heritage vessel, MS ‘Nordstjernen’, built in 1955 by Blohm + Voss in Germany and registered in Bergen, seen here upstream the Elbe River at Hamburg on a sunny, early summer evening. Image credit: Karatzas Images

A Norwegian-designated cultural heritage vessel, MS ‘Nordstjernen’, built in 1955 by Blohm + Voss in Germany and registered in Bergen, seen here upstream the Elbe River at Hamburg on a sunny, early summer evening. Image credit: Karatzas Images

A Norwegian-designated cultural heritage vessel, MS ‘Nordstjernen’, built in 1955 by Blohm + Voss in Germany and registered in Bergen, seen here upstream the Elbe River at Hamburg on a sunny, early summer evening. Image credit: Karatzas Images

A Norwegian-designated cultural heritage vessel, MS ‘Nordstjernen’, built in 1955 by Blohm + Voss in Germany and registered in Bergen, seen here upstream the Elbe River at Hamburg on a sunny, early summer evening. Image credit: Karatzas Images

A Norwegian-designated cultural heritage vessel, MS ‘Nordstjernen’, built in 1955 by Blohm + Voss in Germany and registered in Bergen, seen here upstream the Elbe River at Hamburg on a sunny, early summer evening. Image credit: Karatzas Images

A Norwegian-designated cultural heritage vessel, MS ‘Nordstjernen’, built in 1955 by Blohm + Voss in Germany and registered in Bergen, seen here upstream the Elbe River at Hamburg on a sunny, early summer evening. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Two days later, downstream the Elbe River at Hamburg, under strong showers. A Norwegian-designated cultural heritage vessel, MS ‘Nordstjernen’, built in 1955 by Blohm + Voss in Germany and registered in Bergen. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Two days later, downstream the Elbe River at Hamburg, under strong showers. A Norwegian-designated cultural heritage vessel, MS ‘Nordstjernen’, built in 1955 by Blohm + Voss in Germany and registered in Bergen. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Two days later, downstream the Elbe River at Hamburg, under strong showers. A Norwegian-designated cultural heritage vessel, MS ‘Nordstjernen’, built in 1955 by Blohm + Voss in Germany and registered in Bergen. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Two days later, downstream the Elbe River at Hamburg, under strong showers. A Norwegian-designated cultural heritage vessel, MS ‘Nordstjernen’, built in 1955 by Blohm + Voss in Germany and registered in Bergen. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Two days later, downstream the Elbe River at Hamburg, under strong showers. A Norwegian-designated cultural heritage vessel, MS ‘Nordstjernen’, built in 1955 by Blohm + Voss in Germany and registered in Bergen. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Two days later, downstream the Elbe River at Hamburg, under strong showers. A Norwegian-designated cultural heritage vessel, MS ‘Nordstjernen’, built in 1955 by Blohm + Voss in Germany and registered in Bergen. Image credit: Karatzas Images

Two days later, downstream the Elbe River at Hamburg, under strong showers. A Norwegian-designated cultural heritage vessel, MS ‘Nordstjernen’, built in 1955 by Blohm + Voss in Germany and registered in Bergen. Image credit: Karatzas Images


© 2013 – present Basil M Karatzas & Karatzas Marine Advisors & Co.  All Rights Reserved.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMERS:  Vessel description is provided in good faith and is believed to be correct and accurate but no assurances, warranties or representations are made herewith. Vessel description is provided for entertainment  purposes only. We have no responsibility whatsoever for any errors / omissions in vessel description.

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 herewithin 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.

Images posted on this blog are typically minimally processed gpeg images of lower resolution. Original images are typically shot in RAW format, which can be provided upon special request.

Images of Museum Ship SS ‘Stettin’ in the Port of Hamburg

Images of Museum Ship SS ‘Stettin’, an ice breaker, in the Port of Hamburg

SS Stettin
Status: Museum ship
Owner: Association Dampf-Eisbrecher Stettin e.V.,Hamburg
Builder: Stettiner Oderwerke
Yard number: 769
Launched: 7 September 1933
Christened: 16 November 1933
Out of service: 1981

General characteristics
Class and Notation: Germanischer Lloyd 100 A5 K E
Tonnage: 783 tons
Displacement: 1,138 tons
Length: 51.75 m
Beam: 13.43 m
Height: 6.45 m
Draught: 5.40 m
Installed power: Steam, 2,200 hp at 115 rpm
Propulsion: 3-cylinder-expansion steam-piston engine with Stephenson ex-center-control
Crew: 22


Stettin is a steam icebreaker built by the shipyard Stettiner Oderwerke in 1933. She was ordered by the Chamber of Commerce of Stettin (until 1945 Germany, since 1945 Szczecin, Poland). The economy of the city of Stettin strongly depended on the free access of ships to and from the Baltic Sea. Therefore, icebreakers were used to keep the shipping channels free from ice during the winter.

For the first time in Germany, the construction was characterized by a new bow design called Runeberg-bow. This new bow design broke the ice using a novel method. It was not broken by the weight of the ship but by a sharp cutting edge. Future development of icebreakers was influenced by this bow form.

Although diesel-engines were already in wide use by 1933, Stettin was equipped with a steam piston engine. Unlike diesel engines, steam piston engines can be reversed within a very short period of approximately 3 to 4 seconds. This was important during manoeuvres of the ship under icey conditions in order to liberate the ship if it were to get stuck. The icebreakers of Stettin were handled by the shipping company Braeunlich, which ran a seaside resort ferry service along the coast during the summer. Its other ships had similar engines, so a single technical staff could be employed year round. Stettin was run by a crew of 22 men. This system was in place until the end of World War II.

With the special hull design and an engine power with a maximum horsepower of 2200, measured at the cylinders, Stettin was able to break ice up to a thickness of half a meter, at a constant speed of one to two knots. Thicker ice could only be broken by boxing. Boxing was a process in which the ship ran several attacks until the ice gave way.

From 1933 to 1945, Stettin was used on the Oder River between Stettin and Swinemünde (Świnoujście), as well as on the Baltic Sea, in German Navy (Kriegsmarine) service. On the night of 8 April 1940, Stettin participated in the capture of Copenhagen by participating in a surprise landing of German troops in Copenhagen together with the railway ferry/minelayer Hansestadt Danzig. Stettin is also one of two or three surviving vessels of the east Prussia evacuation fleet. From 1945 on, she was used by the waterway and navigation authorities in Hamburg on the river Elbe.

In 1981, Stettin was slated to be scrapped due to uneconomic costs. With the establishment of a development association, thousands of working hours, and support by generous sponsors, the ship was saved. Today, she is a technical culture monument. Her homeport is the museum port of Oevelgoenne in Hamburg, Germany. During summertime, Stettin cruises with guests on occasions like “Hamburg port birthday,” “Hansesail Rostock,” and “Kieler Woche,” and is also used as a charter vessel.


Information on the ice breaker SS ‘Stettin’ has been reproduced from Wiki Commons under the entry SS Stettin, as accessed last on May 25th, 2017. Wiki Commons is the only and absolute holder of the Copyright, and the information is hereby reproduced solely for education purposes. However, copyright for the images published here belong exclusively to Karatzas Images.


Rare sight of a museum ship sailing: vintage icebreaker SS ‘Stettin’ enjoys the calm waters of the Elbe River on a sunny early summer evening, far away from its intended ice-infested seas. Retirement well earned! Image credit: Karatzas Images.

Rare sight of a museum ship sailing: vintage icebreaker SS ‘Stettin’ enjoys the calm waters of the Elbe River on a sunny early summer evening, far away from its intended ice-infested seas. Retirement well earned! Image credit: Karatzas Images.

Rare sight of a museum ship sailing: vintage icebreaker SS ‘Stettin’ enjoys the calm waters of the Elbe River on a sunny early summer evening, far away from its intended ice-infested seas. Retirement well earned! Image credit: Karatzas Images.

Rare sight of a museum ship sailing: vintage icebreaker SS ‘Stettin’ enjoys the calm waters of the Elbe River on a sunny early summer evening. Detail of the innovative bow design at the time, Runeberg-bow, for breaking ice not by the weight of the ship but by a sharp cutting edge. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

Rare sight of a museum ship sailing: vintage icebreaker SS ‘Stettin’ enjoys the calm waters of the Elbe River on a sunny early summer evening. Detail of the innovative bow design at the time, Runeberg-bow, for breaking ice not by the weight of the ship but by a sharp cutting edge. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

Rare sight of a museum ship sailing: vintage icebreaker SS ‘Stettin’ enjoys the calm waters of the Elbe River on a sunny early summer evening, far away from its intended ice-infested seas. Only ice concerns now are for the ice used for cocktails served onboard! Image credit: Karatzas Images.

Rare sight of a museum ship sailing: vintage icebreaker SS ‘Stettin’ enjoys the calm waters of the Elbe River on a sunny early summer evening, far away from its intended ice-infested seas. Retirement well earned! Image credit: Karatzas Images.

Rare sight of a museum ship sailing: vintage icebreaker SS ‘Stettin’ enjoys the calm waters of the Elbe River on a sunny early summer evening, far away from its intended ice-infested seas. Retirement well earned! Image credit: Karatzas Images.

Rare sight of a museum ship sailing: vintage icebreaker SS ‘Stettin’ enjoys the calm waters of the Elbe River on a sunny early summer evening, far away from its intended ice-infested seas. Retirement well earned! Image credit: Karatzas Images.

Rare sight of a museum ship sailing: vintage icebreaker SS ‘Stettin’ enjoys the calm waters of the Elbe River on a sunny early summer evening, far away from its intended ice-infested seas. Retirement well earned! Image credit: Karatzas Images.

Rare sight of a museum ship sailing: vintage icebreaker SS ‘Stettin’ enjoys the calm waters of the Elbe River on a sunny early summer evening, far away from its intended ice-infested seas. Retirement well earned! Image credit: Karatzas Images.

Rare sight of a museum ship sailing: vintage icebreaker SS ‘Stettin’ enjoys the calm waters of the Elbe River on a sunny early summer evening, far away from its intended ice-infested seas. Retirement well earned! Image credit: Karatzas Images.

© 2013 – present Basil M Karatzas & Karatzas Marine Advisors & Co.  All Rights Reserved.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMERS:  Vessel description is provided in good faith and is believed to be correct and accurate but no assurances, warranties or representations are made herewith. Vessel description is provided for entertainment  purposes only. We have no responsibility whatsoever for any errors / omissions in vessel description.

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 herewithin 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.

Images posted on this blog are typically minimally processed gpeg images of lower resolution. Original images are typically shot in RAW format, which can be provided upon special request.

Poseidon’s Temple at Cape Sounion

Cape Sounion, at the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula, is a promontory located appr. 70 kilometres (45 mi) south-southeast of Athens, Greece. The cape is the point for ships to enter the Saronic Gulf and reach the Port of Piraeus and the city of Athens and it’s an approximate cut-off point of the Aegean Sea.

According to Greek mythology and the founding myth of the city of Athens, Cape Sounion is the spot from where King Aegeus of Athens, leapt to his death off a cliff and thus giving his name to the sea. The Aegean Sea has been the backdrop of the Greek culture since historical records exist. It’s the sea where many city-states on smaller islands flourished, where great trade took place among Hellenistic and foreign peoples. To ancient Greeks in Athens, the Aegean Sea was the window to the world of the Dardanelles and the Black Sea (Hellespont, etc) to the north, to the eastern Mediterranean Basin (Phoenicians, Egyptians, etc) and to the western Mediterranean Basin (Romans, Carthaginians, etc) The Aegean Sea was the life and the blood of the ancient Greece (and of course, of the modern Greece).

What a better place for a temple to the god of Poseidon, brother of Zeus and a major deity among the Olympian gods, and the god in charge of keeping the seas and the waters in control? Cape Sounion is the location of a majestic temple to god of the seas, a great place from where to oversee his kingdom and stay in touch with his subjects, nested atop steep cliffs of appr. 60 meter high (200 ft), a place with commandeering views and fantastic sunsets, at the crossroads of the trading routes and still, a place close enough to the city of Athens.

Archaeological finds on the site date from as early as 700 BC. The original, Archaic-period temple of Poseidon on the site, was probably destroyed in 480 BC by Persian troops during Xerxes I’s invasion of Greece. The later temple at Sounion, whose columns still stand today, was probably built ca. 440 BC. This was during the ascendancy of the Athenian statesman Pericles, who also rebuilt the Parthenon in Athens. In 413 BC, during the Peloponnesian War against the Spartans, the Athenians fortified the site with a wall and towers to prevent it from falling into Spartan hands. This would have threatened Athens’ seaborne grain supply route from Euboea.

The temple of Poseidon was constructed in 444–440 BC, over the ruins of a temple dating from the Archaic period. The design of the temple is a typical hexastyle, i.e., it had a front portico with six columns. It has been hypothesized that it would have closely resembled the contemporary and well-preserved Temple of Hephaestus beneath the Acropolis, which may have been designed by the same architect.

The Poseidon building, with a southeastern orientation, is rectangular, with a colonnade on all four sides. The total number of original columns was 34; only 18 columns still stand today. The columns are of the Doric Order. They were made of locally quarried white marble. They were 6.10 m (20 ft) high, with a diameter of 1 m (3.1 ft) at the base and 79 cm (31 inches) at the top.

At the center of the temple colonnade would have been the hall of worship (naos), a windowless rectangular room, similar to the partly intact hall at the Temple of Hephaestus. It would have contained, at one end facing the entrance, the cult image, a colossal, ceiling-height (6 meters (20 ft)) bronze statue of Poseidon. Probably covered in gold leaf, it may have resembled a contemporary representation of the god, appropriately found in a shipwreck, shown in the figure above. Poseidon was usually portrayed carrying a trident, the weapon he supposedly used to stir up storms. On the longest day of the year, the sun sets exactly in the middle of the caldera of the island of Patroklos, the extinct volcano that lies a mile offshore, suggesting astrological significance for the siting of the temple. The temple of Poseidon was destroyed in 399 by Emperor Arcadius.

Archaeological excavation of the site in 1906 uncovered numerous artifacts and inscriptions, most notably a marble kouros statue known as the Sounion Kouros and an impressive votive relief, both now in the Athens National Archaeological Museum. A column from the temple can be seen in the British Museum.


Certain material on the blog has been reproduced by Wikipedia; an article on Poseidon and images of a marble statue of the god (Poseidon of Milos) from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens can be found at a previous posting on this blog.


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Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion. As seen from the east side. Image credit: Karatzas Images

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Background info from the Department of Culture. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

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Additional background information. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

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Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion. As seen from the east side; view of the portico. Image credit: Karatzas Images

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Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion. As seen from the east side; the south colonnade. Image credit: Karatzas Images

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Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion. The south colonnade. Image credit: Karatzas Images

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Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion. As seen from the east side; the south colonnade and the portico. Image credit: Karatzas Images

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Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion. As seen from the east side; the south colonnade. Image credit: Karatzas Images

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Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion. As seen from the east side; south colonnade and portico. Image credit: Karatzas Images

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Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion. As seen from the west; south colonnade. Image credit: Karatzas Images

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Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion. As seen from the west; south colonnade and partial view of the north colonnade. Image credit: Karatzas Images

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Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion. Detail of a column head from the south colonnade. The simplicity of the Doric Order is imposing. Image credit: Karatzas Images

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Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion. As seen from northwest. Image credit: Karatzas Images

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Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion. As seen from northeast. Image credit: Karatzas Images

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Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion. As seen from the east with a typical sunset. A god would be pleased only with the very best! Image credit: Karatzas Images

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I would not mind a temple with such a view every evening! Image credit: Karatzas Images


© 2013 – present Basil M Karatzas & Karatzas Images.  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.

Poseidon – The Olympian God of the Sea

According to Greek mythology and the story of the genesis of the gods of Olympus (Olympian Gods), Poseidon was the god of the sea and protector of all aquatic features. He spent most of his time in his watery domain, although he was officially one of the supreme gods of Mount Olympus. Also, while there were various rivers personified as gods, these would have been technically under Poseidon’s sway. Similarly, Nereus, the Old Man of the Sea, wasn’t really considered on a par with Poseidon, who was known to drive his chariot through the waves in unquestioned dominance. Poseidon had married Titan Oceanus‘ daughter, and sea-nymph Amphitrite.

Poseidon was a son of Cronus (the youngest of the 12 Titans) and of Cronus’s sister and consort Rhea, a fertility goddess. Poseidon was a brother of Zeus, the sky god and chief deity of ancient Greece, and of Hades, god of the underworld. When the three brothers deposed their father, the kingdom of the sea fell by lot to Poseidon. Zeus became ruler of the sky, Hades got dominion of the Underworld and Poseidon was given all water, both fresh and salt. Poseidon was widely worshipped by seamen.

His weapon and main symbol was the trident, perhaps once a fish spear, with which he could make the earth shake, causing earthquakes, and shatter any object. According to the Greek poet Hesiod, Poseidon’s trident, like Zeus’s thunderbolt and Hades’ helmet, was fashioned by the three Cyclopes. He was second to Zeus in power amongst the gods. He was considered by Greeks to have a difficult quarrelsome personality. Combined with his greed, he had a series of disputes with other gods during his various attempts to take over the cities they were patrons of.

In dividing heaven, the watery realm and the subterranean land of the dead, the Olympians agreed that the earth itself would be ruled jointly, with Zeus as king. This led to a number of territorial disputes among the gods. Poseidon vied with Athena to be patron deity of Athens. The god demonstrated his power and benevolence by striking the Acropolis with his three-pronged spear, which caused a spring of salt water to emerge. Athena, however, planted an olive tree, which was seen as a more useful favor. Her paramount importance to the Athenians is seen in her magnificent temple, the Parthenon, which still crowns the Acropolis. The people of Athens were careful, all the same, to honor Poseidon as well.

At one point , Poseidon desired Demeter. To deter him, Demeter asked him to make the most beautiful animal that the world had ever seen. So, in an effort to impress her, Poseidon created the first horse. In some accounts, his first attempts were unsuccessful and created a variety of other animals in his quest; thus, by the time the horse was created, his passion for Demeter had diminished. Poseidon himself fathered many horses, best known of which was the winged horse Pegasus by the Gorgon Medusa.

The Romans’ name for Poseidon was Neptune.


On a recent summer visit at the National Archeological Museum in Athens, we have had the opportunity to take several pictures of the statue of Poseidon of Melos. According to Wiki Commons:

The Poseidon of Melos is a statue of Poseidon in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens (NAMA), with the inventory number 235, which is dated to the last quarter of the second century BC.

The statue was found in 1877 on the island of Melos. It is made of Parian marble and has a height of 2.35 metres, which makes it more than lifesize. The statue was found in several pieces, which have been reattached to one another. Portions of the left foot and of the himation are modern recreations. Parts of the nose, beard and hair are missing.

The sea god is depicted naked to the waist in an awe-inspiring pose, with his muscular right arm raised, probably in order to hold a trident (now lost). His himation hangs around his hips, covering his legs and genitals; he holds it in place at his side with his left hand. His back is also partially covered; a bit of cloth lies, mysteriously suspended, on his left shoulder. His weight rests on his right leg, his left leg is left free. The musculature of his arms and his body generally are very finely worked. The head is slightly tilted to the left and his gaze is directed into the distance. There is a dolphin behind the statue to the right, which serves as an additional support for the weight of the statue. The pose is a standard one for Poseidon, Zeus and Hades.

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Image of Olympian god Poseidon: larger-than-life statue made of Parian marble, known as ‘Poseidon of Melos’. Discovered in shipwreck in 1877. ca 125-100 BC. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

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Plaque at the base of statue ‘Poseidon of Melos’. Discovered in shipwreck in 1877. ca 125-100 BC. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

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Image of Olympian god Poseidon: larger-than-life statue made of Parian marble, known as ‘Poseidon of Melos’. Discovered in shipwreck in 1877. ca 125-100 BC. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

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Image of Olympian god Poseidon: larger-than-life statue made of Parian marble, known as ‘Poseidon of Melos’. Discovered in shipwreck in 1877. ca 125-100 BC. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

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‘Poseidon of Melos’. Throwing his trident. Upper torso detail. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

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‘Poseidon of Melos’. Upper torso detail. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

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‘Poseidon of Melos’. Upper torso detail. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

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‘Poseidon of Melos’. Upper torso detail. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

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‘Poseidon of Melos’. Detail of the head. ca 125-100 BC. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

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‘Poseidon of Melos’. Detail of the dolphin by the right foot of the statue. ca 125-100 BC. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

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‘Poseidon of Melos’. Detail of left hand supported at the waist, counter-balancing the right hand’s cast of the trident. ca 125-100 BC. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

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‘Poseidon of Melos’. View from the back. ca 125-100 BC. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

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Image of Olympian god Poseidon: larger-than-life statue made of Parian marble, known as ‘Poseidon of Melos’. Discovered in shipwreck in 1877. ca 125-100 BC. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

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Image of Olympian god Poseidon: larger-than-life statue made of Parian marble, known as ‘Poseidon of Melos’. Discovered in shipwreck in 1877. ca 125-100 BC. Image credit: Karatzas Images.

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Temple of the god of the sea Poseidon propitiously situated at Cape Sounion, a sharp promontory ca 65 km south of Athens. Image credit: Karatzas Images.


© 2013 – present Basil M Karatzas & Karatzas Images.  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.

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Key West Beach Rules

Treasure Hunting in Key West, Florida…

Of writers and poets and pirates                                                                                                           who walked the dirt beneath this path                                                                                                  each carrying a pocket full of dreams.                                                                                                    And none as unusual as yours,                                                                                                              but all of which came true.                                                                                                                                                  David L. Sloan                                                                                                                                                

Kew West_There's no place I'd rather be

Key West, There’s no place I’d rather be

Of poets and dreamers_SLOAN

Of writers, poets and pirates…

Write your worries in the sand

Write your worries in the sand… and let the sea wash them away

You can shake the sand off your shoes

Sand never leaves the soul…

Happines is

Toes in the water…

Home is where the ocean meets the shore

Where the ocean meets the shore…

sandy toes and salty kisses

Sandy toes and salty kisses!

Go jump in the ocean

Go jump in the ocean! – Can never be taken as an insult!

If you are lucky enough to be at the beach

if you are lucky enough to be at the beach…

On beach time

On beach time…

Beach rules

Beach rules…

Beach rules 2

And, more beach rules…

Captain's Rules

And, some Captain’s rules…

Crew knows best

The crew knows best!

same ship...different day

Same ship…different day! Not a good motto for a shipbroker!

No working on drinking hours

No working during drinking hours! – Well, how a shipbroker is supposed to get anything done then?

Dream require wide open seas

Wild dreams, open seas!

Inner compass

Inner compass!

Best ships are friendships

Best ships are friendSHIPS!

Shell warehouse

She sells sea shells by the sea shore! Key West!

Bart Roberts

‘In an honest service there is thin commons, low wages and hard labor; in this plenty and satiety, pleasure and ease, liberty and power… No, a merry life and a short one will be my motto.’                                                                                  Captain Bartholomew ‘Black Bart’ Roberts, Pirate

As legendary Steve Jobs once said: ‘It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the Navy’!


 

© 2013-2015 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.