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03-13-2011, 04:33 AM   #1
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Quake-Tsunami Maritime Reaction

Something you won't hear about anywhere else, as it is a total non-story. But making it a non-story involved quite a lot of very quick coordination on the part of the Japan Coast Guard and the officers and crews of hundreds of vessels and I thought I'd share a little bit of it here in the form of an iPhone screenshot (from the app "Fleetmon") together with the text I wrote up for it when I posted it to Flickr:





This is an iPhone screen capture the day after the large earthquake showing ships taking shelter from tsunami as deep inside the protection of Tokyo Bay as they could get. The ships' positions are GPS positions as reported in real time by the ships themselves and shows only ships of over 300 tons which operate internationally. The very considerable amount of strictly domestic shipping (of all displacements) does not show up here, as they are not required to carry the necessary gear or participate in the system.

Red ships are tankers. Green ships are other cargo ships of various types. Dark blue indicates ferries and harbor cruise ships. Light blue icons represent tugboats. One of the purple vessels is Kaiwo-Maru, a tall-masted training vessel.

It is normal to see quite a few off-hire ships riding at anchor in the open anchorages around Yokohama, but I have NEVER seen ships anchored in Tokyo Bay like this. Normally, ships that have some business at some point this far up in the bay steam in, dock, do their business, and steam out again; Tokyo Bay is not a place where ships anchor and loiter.

I know from my Navy experience that some harbors have marked on their charts pre-designated anchorages, sometimes with mooring bouys, in much the same way a parking lot will have parking spaces clearly marked off for cars. I am not aware if Tokyo Bay has such designated anchorages or not. But even if they do, it is hard to imagine they had this many anchorages marked out.

Getting this many large ships into safe anchorages in such a short time (I first noticed this about six hours after the quake) and almost certainly on an ad hoc basis had to require tremendous effort from the Coast Guard officials who work traffic control in harbor They deserve a very large round of applause for the fact that we didn't have to hear about it on the news; the potential for something disastrous to take place under these conditions was huge, even without a tsunami.

03-13-2011, 06:19 AM   #2
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That definately is impressive and you have to admit that Japan sure looks like it has its ducks in a row when it comes to emergency prepairedness. Lets hope that nothing else major really happens at the plants that are in trouble.
03-13-2011, 06:33 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
It is normal to see quite a few off-hire ships riding at anchor in the open anchorages around Yokohama, but I have NEVER seen ships anchored in Tokyo Bay like this.
Agreed. In all of my flights in an out of Haneda I can't recall having seen more than a sparse handful of anchored ships there. I've frequently cycled to many of the points of land around the bay and it often struck me that Vancouver had far more anchored ships than Tokyo Bay...

QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
Getting this many large ships into safe anchorages in such a short time (I first noticed this about six hours after the quake) and almost certainly on an ad hoc basis had to require tremendous effort from the Coast Guard officials who work traffic control in harbor They deserve a very large round of applause for the fact that we didn't have to hear about it on the news; the potential for something disastrous to take place under these conditions was huge, even without a tsunami.
Indeed! Nice find, Mike.
03-13-2011, 08:17 AM   #4
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Well-done. We could really learn a few things about disaster preparedness from Japan.

Though, could they possibly have had enough time between the quake and the first tsunami to physically move all those ships that quickly? Or was this afterwards?

03-13-2011, 09:48 AM   #5
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03-14-2011, 09:58 AM   #6
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Wow, that's indeed impressive, Mike. I would have thought, though, that it would be safer to ride out any waves in open sea, rather than a bay, even a protected one. Or were these short moves from dock to anchor, just to get them away from the piers in a short time?

PS- glad your area was pretty well spared...

Jim
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