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Deepest blue hole found in South China Sea

In case you aren’t already well versed in the realm of deep blue holes, aka oceanic sinkholes, there’s a massive one near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea scientists recently measured to be 987 feet deep. Dubbed the “Dragon Hole,” it’s 300 feet deeper than Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas, leading researchers to believe it could be the deepest blue hole on the planet.

A blue hole is a large marine cavern or sinkhole, which is open to the surface and has developed in a bank or island composed of a carbonate bedrock (limestone or coral reef).

 

Because a hole of that depth is far too pressurized for a diver to fully explore, the Sansha Ship Course Research Institute for Coral Protection used a robot with a depth sensor to get an accurate measurement. In addition to calculating depth, researchers were able to identify 20 fish species located mainly in the upper 300 feet of the hole since little to no oxygen exists deeper than 330 feet.

Sure, they’re mesmerizing to look at, but what’s the point of deep blue holes, scientifically speaking? According to Huffington Post, Ocean University of China Professor Yang Zuosheng explained their significance to CCTV, saying:

    “Research into a blue hole can provide detailed records of how the climate or water level changes over tens of thousands of years. Once we have that data, we can deduct the pattern of evolution for climate change in the South China Sea, including its ecosystem, hydrological system, and its landform.”

Officially named the Sansha Yongle Blue Hole, local administrators say they intend to “protect the natural legacy left by the Earth,” Sansha City vice mayor Xu Zhifei told China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua.

While the Dragon Hole is now the world's deepest "blue hole," it's not the world's deepest sinkhole. That distinction belongs to the Pozzo del Merro in Italy, the deepest underwater vertical cave in the world with a depth of 1,286 feet.

Though the Dragon Hole’s depth will have to be independently verified if it wants to solidify its title as deepest blue hole in the world, considering there are likely many others out there that have yet to be identified. With so much ocean yet to explore, why not pitch in yourself? According to CNN, you can buy your own underwater drone for less than $1,000 dollars and explore the seas to your heart’s content—all from the comfort of your living room. How’s that for a modern-day Captain Ahab?

Sources: GOOD, YouTube, mnn

Attempted Mutiny Leads to Grounding

On Thursday, the geared bulker Benita went hard aground on reefs near the small city of Mahebourg, Mauritius – reportedly due to an attempted mutiny and a brawl among her 23 Taiwanese and Filipino crew.

Armed members of the Mauritius National Coast Guard responded to reports of a violent fight and attempted to board the grounded vessel via helicopter. Mauritius' Defi Media reports that the helicopter operations were hindered at first by citizen-operated drones. "The police helicopter has great difficulty because there are drones flying over the area . . . the police appeal to people who run these drones to avoid flying [them]," said a police press officer in a local radio address.


Once aboard, the coast guard team entered the engine room, which had been barricaded, and arrested the chief engineer, who was the suspected leader of the fight aboard the ship. He was evacuated for medical treatment; local reports indicate that he had been shot. The remainder of the crew are safe.

Investigators are still looking into the exact cause of the fight and the grounding.

Five Oceans Salvage has been contracted to remove the vessel from the rocks. One towing vessel, the Five Oceans anchor handling tug supply ship Ionian Sea Fos, attended the 45,000 dwt Benita as of Friday evening. The Fos, stationed in Port Louis, Mauritius, has a 100 ton bollard pull, and is equipped with salvage pumps, fenders, welding machines, pollution control supplies, and a full set of diving equipment for two.

The Benita was empty at the time of the grounding, and has 145 tonnes fuel oil and 30 tons diesel aboard. No pollution has been observed.

source: The Maritime Executive

 

USACE Dredge Potter at Work

Great footage of the USACE dredger "Potter" working near the conjunction of the Illinois river into the Mississippi.

 

Vessel History
The Dredge Potter is a dustpan dredge. The dustpan head is submerged toward the river bottom and water jets stir up the sand gravel on the bottom of the river. This material is then vacuumed up and flows through 800 feet of pipe to be discharged somewhere outside the channel.

Named after Brig. Gen. Charles Lewis Potter, an engineer for the Memphis District from 1900 to 1903, and then President of the Mississippi River Commission from 1920-1928, the Dredge Potter was built in 1932 by Dravo contracting Co. in Pittsburg, PA at a cost of $520,000.

No major updates to Potter's deckhouse had been done since its original all-riveted steel construction in 1932. This project consisted of removing the original deckhouse fromt the upper deck above, including the pilothouse and installing new deckhouse sections and a new fully-outfitted pilothouse. The dredge pump was replaced, the existing air controls from the hauling and dredging ladder hoisting winches were replaced with electrical controls. The Potter arrived in Hauma, La., on January 1st to be "refitted" and returned to St. Louis District on August 17th.

The "Potter" was originally assigned to the Memphis District and was transferred to St. Louis in 1979. In 2001, it was converted from steam to diesel for $20M by Halter Gult Repair in New Orleans, LA.
The Dredge Potter has a total of 50 employees, all separated into three waches: A, B, and C watches. Everyone works 12 hour shifts and there are two crew member in at all times, 24 hours a day. There is one First Mate and three Second Mates. Hour Deckhands are on watch at all times. There are 6 galley (kitchen) employees, 3 tender boat operators, and 11 engine room personnel. There are 3 Dredge Engine operators, 2 on 24/7 and one for the night shift watch. The normal shift is from 6AM to 6PM and from 6PM to 6AM


Vessel Info
Vessel Owner: United States Army Corps of Engineers
Vessel Builder: Halter Marine Inc., Gulfport, MS.
Project Management Team: USACE Marine Design Center and St. Louis District
Vessel Operation Team: USACE St. Louis District, St. Louis, MO

Vessel Particulars
Length Overall: 240' - 6"
Breadth: 46'
Hull Depth: 9'- 9"
Draft: 7' - 6"
Displacement: 1600 Ltons
Fuel Capacity: 30,000 Gal.
Potable water: 10,000 Gal.
Accommodations: 45 Crew
Original Year Built: 1932
Suction Pipe Dia.: 38"
Discharge Pipe Dia.: 32"

New Machinery, Equipment, and Special Features
Main Generators: (3) Cat 3516B 1825 kW 600V
Propulsion Motors: (2) GE Electric Motor 1200 hp ea.
Propulsion Reduction Gears: (2) Philadelphia Gear -Ratio 4.6:1
In-Port Generator: Cat 3408C 365 kW, 480V
Motor Generator Set Reliance: 365KW, 600Vinput 480V output
Steering: Marine One. (4) Flanking & (2) Steering Rudders
Dredge Pump Motors: (2) GE Electric Motors 1200 hp ea.
Dredge Pump Reduction Gear: Philadelphia Gear Dual Input, Single Output - Ratio 4.496:1
Dredge Pump Impellor: Mobile Pulley Super Vane
Propellers: (2) 5-Bladed, 81 inches Dia. (Kort Nozzles)
Stern Section: Frames 0-30 replaced with Towboat style stern and Kort Nozzles

Sources:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUVVM4qELNE
http://www.nap.usace.army.mil/Missions/Factsheets/FactSheetArticleView/tabid/4694/Article/490718/usace-dredge-potter.aspx
http://mvs-wc.mvs.usace.army.mil/arec/Dredging.html