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(The Week)   The secret world of cargo ships. They are out there. They can't be bargained with. They can't be reasoned with. They don't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And they absolutely will not stop, ever, until they run out of ocean   (theweek.com) divider line 63
    More: Interesting, junior officers, Steven Cohen, Joseph Conrad, trade barriers, air fresheners, oceans  
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5825 clicks; posted to Geek » on 12 Nov 2013 at 8:59 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-11-12 08:43:52 AM  
i39.tinypic.com

I'll be back.
 
2013-11-12 09:02:16 AM  
An article about PAGE NOT FOUND? How interesting.
 
2013-11-12 09:11:19 AM  
Oh, every week there's a canal.

Or an inlet.

Or a fjord.
 
2013-11-12 09:22:32 AM  
Maersk Giganticus.
 
2013-11-12 09:27:01 AM  

grinding_journalist: An article about PAGE NOT FOUND? How interesting.


Works fine for me. Interesting read.
 
2013-11-12 09:30:44 AM  
I read the article last night in the print edition (gasp).
1 cent to ship a can of beer is what struck me.
 
2013-11-12 09:39:14 AM  

HotIgneous Intruder: Maersk Giganticus.


Works now; yes, interesting stuff. Makes an NCB terrorist attack on a US port seem inevitable.
 
2013-11-12 09:48:30 AM  
Containers; our future homes!
 
2013-11-12 09:55:45 AM  
They used to have ships held together with rivets. Rivets! And that's when I stopped reading. That author just assumes he knows what he's talking about because he sat down for a beer once with a ship captain.
 
2013-11-12 10:06:16 AM  
Who will mourn the stevedore?
 
2013-11-12 10:12:59 AM  

Russ1642: They used to have ships held together with rivets. Rivets! And that's when I stopped reading. That author just assumes he knows what he's talking about because he sat down for a beer once with a ship captain.


Why did you stop reading? Don't you like rivets or something?
 
2013-11-12 10:15:04 AM  
I'm forced to wonder: if the Panama and Suez Canals were to be closed, how much would that impact the practice of outsourcing manufacturing jobs?
 
2013-11-12 10:15:12 AM  

Old_Chief_Scott: Russ1642: They used to have ships held together with rivets. Rivets! And that's when I stopped reading. That author just assumes he knows what he's talking about because he sat down for a beer once with a ship captain.

Why did you stop reading? Don't you like rivets or something?


I watched a documentary the other night about how old ships were held together. Riveting.
 
2013-11-12 10:17:21 AM  

Millennium: I'm forced to wonder: if the Panama and Suez Canals were to be closed, how much would that impact the practice of outsourcing manufacturing jobs?


The container ships are already way too big for the Panama Canal. Closing the Suez Canal would probably start World War III.
 
2013-11-12 10:19:27 AM  
Needed to avoid this thread

ecx.images-amazon.com
 
2013-11-12 10:25:19 AM  
it's all about sight lines

i.telegraph.co.uk
 
2013-11-12 10:30:45 AM  

FuturePastNow: Millennium: I'm forced to wonder: if the Panama and Suez Canals were to be closed, how much would that impact the practice of outsourcing manufacturing jobs?

The container ships are already way too big for the Panama Canal. Closing the Suez Canal would probably start World War III.


There are plenty of Panamax container vessels.  And they are building a new set of locks, and have already released the basic specs for the "New Panamax" ship class.
 
2013-11-12 10:41:38 AM  
efficiency in action:

lh3.ggpht.com
 
2013-11-12 10:42:02 AM  

Millennium: I'm forced to wonder: if the Panama and Suez Canals were to be closed, how much would that impact the practice of outsourcing manufacturing jobs?


very little
 
2013-11-12 10:44:41 AM  
My takeaway?

If I'm going to commit a horrifying act of terrorism - say, detonate a series of dirty bombs along major highways in the United States - I'd just ship those bombs in containers, wait for those containers to get loaded onto trucks for shipping, and then detonate them as they approached population centers. Odds are pretty damned good that most, if not all, would make it in, apparently. Who needs to crash a plane?

Heck, why wait? Start blowing cargo ships into the ocean and cripple the global economy. Same bombs, randomly placed by unsuspecting shipping companies all over the world, would make detection & mitigation next to impossible, and cargo ships are expensive as fark. Sink enough of them, and you'll do a lot more harm worldwide, while forcing countries to slow economic progress to a snail's pace to check each and every container.

Horrifying, eh? And yet we spent our money on having thieving TSA employees grope the nutsacks of veterans and asses of toddlers every damned day, because it's "too hard" to check the hundreds of thousands of shipping containers that show up in practically undefended ports across the country. It's OK to stomp on the rights of consumers, but we can't disturb the rights of corporations - time is money, and the government can't impede business, otherwise how would consumers get to consume in a timely and efficient manner?

Friggin' stupid.
 
2013-11-12 10:56:05 AM  

dryknife: Containers; our future homes!


It's the Globalist Way (TM)!
 
2013-11-12 10:57:39 AM  

FormlessOne: If I'm going to commit a horrifying act of terrorism - say, detonate a series of dirty bombs along major highways in the United States - I'd just ship those bombs in containers, wait for those containers to get loaded onto trucks for shipping, and then detonate them as they approached population centers. Odds are pretty damned good that most, if not all, would make it in, apparently. Who needs to crash a plane?


This is why there are roll-through radiation detectors at truck weigh stations all over the country and especially ports of entry.
 
2013-11-12 10:59:01 AM  

FormlessOne: My takeaway?

If I'm going to commit a horrifying act of terrorism - say, detonate a series of dirty bombs along major highways in the United States - I'd just ship those bombs in containers, wait for those containers to get loaded onto trucks for shipping, and then detonate them as they approached population centers. Odds are pretty damned good that most, if not all, would make it in, apparently. Who needs to crash a plane?

Heck, why wait? Start blowing cargo ships into the ocean and cripple the global economy. Same bombs, randomly placed by unsuspecting shipping companies all over the world, would make detection & mitigation next to impossible, and cargo ships are expensive as fark. Sink enough of them, and you'll do a lot more harm worldwide, while forcing countries to slow economic progress to a snail's pace to check each and every container.

Horrifying, eh? And yet we spent our money on having thieving TSA employees grope the nutsacks of veterans and asses of toddlers every damned day, because it's "too hard" to check the hundreds of thousands of shipping containers that show up in practically undefended ports across the country. It's OK to stomp on the rights of consumers, but we can't disturb the rights of corporations - time is money, and the government can't impede business, otherwise how would consumers get to consume in a timely and efficient manner?

Friggin' stupid.


When I worked in the Beltway, one of my coworkers had done think-tank work on terrorism.  This was in the late 1980s. He had a very chilling, and very workable idea using container vessels. I thought about posting a summary of it here, but decided against it.

Just be grateful it's hard to build an effective dirty bomb or chem/bio warhead.
 
2013-11-12 10:59:17 AM  

grinding_journalist: HotIgneous Intruder: Maersk Giganticus.

Works now; yes, interesting stuff. Makes an NCB terrorist attack on a US port seem inevitable.


Why bother, though?  The choice of target is limited, the chance of getting caught before the attack succeeds is relatively high, and even if the attack is successful, it will likely happen in some storage area with limited numbers of people around.

My thinking is that something like Japanese balloon bombs would be more practical.  Back in 1945, there was literally no way to control them, outside of a timer.  Now, you can put a GPS on them and if they come within a certain radius of any particular target in an extensive list, then they can drop their little bags of Sarin or Anthrax or even small fin stabilized inert metal rods, or whatever.

If you make the balloon payloads out of largely non-metallic materials, and use careful design of the packaging around the metallic parts, you'd have a very stealthy design.

Something like that, minus the payload, would cost perhaps $300 per balloon to make, and you could set up far away from the intended targets.

This calculator suggests that terminal velocity for an aerodynamic, fin stabilized 8 ounce metal rod 1/4" in diameter would be about Mach 2.6, or around 2,870 fps.  That's a terminal energy of about 64,000 ft/lbs.

For comparison, the .50 BMG everyone craps their pants about has about 12,000 ft/lbs of energy at the muzzle.

Of course, they'd be unguided, but some would likely hit *SOMETHING* because you set the device to only drop them over built-up areas like cities.   You couldn't hear them coming, because they are supersonic.
 
2013-11-12 11:01:39 AM  

Huggermugger: Who will mourn the stevedore?


"We used to make shiat in this country." ~ Frank Sobotka.
 
2013-11-12 11:04:53 AM  

HotIgneous Intruder: Huggermugger: Who will mourn the stevedore?

"We used to make shiat in this country." ~ Frank Sobotka.


"We still make shiat in this country.  Mainly, in Detroit" ~ dittybopper
 
2013-11-12 11:08:37 AM  
I'm about to go on watch in a container ship's engine room right now, so I'm really getting a kick out of these replies.

/true story
//csb
 
2013-11-12 11:18:42 AM  

dittybopper: HotIgneous Intruder: Huggermugger: Who will mourn the stevedore?

"We used to make shiat in this country." ~ Frank Sobotka.

"We still make shiat in this country.  Mainly, in Detroit" ~ dittybopper


"We still make shiat in this country.  We just don't need 50 million semi-skilled laborers to do it" ~ francofile
 
2013-11-12 11:18:52 AM  
 
2013-11-12 11:25:23 AM  

dittybopper: Why bother, though?


NCB= Nuclear/Chemical/Biological

The point would be to shut down the port, or in some cases the strait/inlet/canal.

Completely shutting down, say, Rotterdam, even for a few days, would cost corporations and nations billions of dollars, and wreak economic havoc.
 
2013-11-12 11:28:36 AM  

grinding_journalist: dittybopper: Why bother, though?

NCB= Nuclear/Chemical/Biological

The point would be to shut down the port, or in some cases the strait/inlet/canal.

Completely shutting down, say, Rotterdam, even for a few days, would cost corporations and nations billions of dollars, and wreak economic havoc.


Ditto Long Beach, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Busan, Yokohama, Miami, Baltimore, NY/NJ, London, Marseilles, etc.
 
2013-11-12 11:29:43 AM  
Little boxes on the cargoship,
Little boxes full of Chinese crap,
Little boxes on the cargoship,
Little boxes all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all full of Chinese crap
And they all look just the same.
 
2013-11-12 11:35:47 AM  

grinding_journalist: dittybopper: Why bother, though?

NCB= Nuclear/Chemical/Biological

The point would be to shut down the port, or in some cases the strait/inlet/canal.

Completely shutting down, say, Rotterdam, even for a few days, would cost corporations and nations billions of dollars, and wreak economic havoc.


I knew what it stood for, though I'm more used to the construction NBC (Nuclear/Biological/Chemical).

And it wouldn't really do as much damage as you'd think.  Plus, the mechanics of doing it in a way that doesn't get detected early enough to stop it are relatively tough.

And yeah, it would cost money, but it wouldn't really effect everyday people.  Think about it:  What if the 9/11 attackers had crashed their aircraft into the port facilities in Northern New Jersey/NYC instead of the Twin Towers?  It would have cost a lot of money to fix, but casualties would have been light, few people not in the planes would have died, and the container ships enroute would have been rerouted to different ports.

No, if you are going for terror, port facilities aren't the place to do it.  They are generally remote enough that "ordinary people" won't be in danger.

The better plan from a "spreading terror" point of view is to attack places that "normal" people go.  Places where they work, play, or live.
 
2013-11-12 11:47:40 AM  

dittybopper: And yeah, it would cost money, but it wouldn't really effect everyday people


If you shut down any of the major oil/CNG/other energy trading routes, you can be damn sure it'd affect normal people, at the very least by causing a spike in energy prices, which affect most other things.

Kinda like that Bond movie except way less hokey. Even a low-kiloton range device, if it went critical, would be devastating. The EMP alone would disable the port until all of the electronics could be replaced, which wouldn't be expedient.

Not to mention the social effects, security overreactions, media frenzy, global political repercussions, etc. I'm pretty sure it'd be a big deal.
 
2013-11-12 12:00:57 PM  
dittybopper:

I knew what it stood for, though I'm more used to the construction NBC (Nuclear/Biological/Chemical).


One is a terrible bomb capable of affecting millions of people, the other stands for Nuclear/Biological/Chemical.
 
2013-11-12 12:08:28 PM  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendly_Floatees

This reminds me of the great Friendly Floatees disaster of 1992.
 
2013-11-12 12:22:11 PM  
megalawlz.com

/needed
 
2013-11-12 12:25:11 PM  

dittybopper: No, if you are going for terror, port facilities aren't the place to do it. They are generally remote enough that "ordinary people" won't be in danger.

The better plan from a "spreading terror" point of view is to attack places that "normal" people go. Places where they work, play, or live.


The Port of Seattle - the nation's 10th largest port and is a stone's throw away from the downtown core, and directly adjacent to the stadiums for the Mariners (~50,000 capacity) & Seahawks/Sounders (76,000 capacity).
farm3.staticflickr.com

/you were saying?
 
2013-11-12 12:32:13 PM  

Russ1642: They used to have ships held together with rivets. Rivets! And that's when I stopped reading. That author just assumes he knows what he's talking about because he sat down for a beer once with a ship captain.


Riveting tale, chap.
 
2013-11-12 01:02:12 PM  

Old_Chief_Scott: Russ1642: They used to have ships held together with rivets. Rivets! And that's when I stopped reading. That author just assumes he knows what he's talking about because he sat down for a beer once with a ship captain.

Why did you stop reading? Don't you like rivets or something?


OMG, you won't believe it but did you know that [something]? Yes, everyone but you you knows that so tone down the WOWs and the OMGs because you look stupid.
 
2013-11-12 01:18:01 PM  
 
2013-11-12 01:28:05 PM  
The fastest way for goods to get from China to Europe, is fast container ship the the US West Coast,  Train across the country to the East Coast, Another container ship to Europe.

Union Pacific has plans to expand the East West line about 1 mile from my house to 2 lines in the next 5 years.  They ship that much freight that they need an east only rail and a west only rail.
 
2013-11-12 01:34:01 PM  
When the ship runs out of ocean
And the vessel runs aground
Land's where we know the boat is found
Now there's nothing unexpected
'Bout the water giving out
Land's not a word we have to shout
 
2013-11-12 01:39:08 PM  

MrSteve007: dittybopper: No, if you are going for terror, port facilities aren't the place to do it. They are generally remote enough that "ordinary people" won't be in danger.

The better plan from a "spreading terror" point of view is to attack places that "normal" people go. Places where they work, play, or live.

The Port of Seattle - the nation's 10th largest port and is a stone's throw away from the downtown core, and directly adjacent to the stadiums for the Mariners (~50,000 capacity) & Seahawks/Sounders (76,000 capacity).
[farm3.staticflickr.com image 640x427]

/you were saying?


What about it?

Those stadiums are largely empty 99% of the time.

Here are the specific problems:

1. You can't guarantee your container will be in that yard during the time frame when there is a game.  You can't even really guarantee it will be in that yard:  Based on a quick eyeballing, it's more likely to end up in the Industrial Park West container yard, which is larger and holds more containers, or on Harbor Island, which again is larger and holds more containers.

2. You can't guarantee that the weather will cooperate with a wind blowing from west to east.

3. There is at least 300 yards separating the containers from the nearest stadium.  That means any agent you might use is going to be very dispersed by the time it gets to that area.  Even if you get it in that yard, you might be as much as 500 yards from the stadiums.

4.  Even if you could guarantee all that, you have the problem of actually setting it off when you want it to go off:  A simple timer won't work, because you'd have to set it when you seal up the container and the vagaries of transportation mean that you don't know if it's going to be where you want it to be.  You can't remotely detonate it via a cell call, because they are made of metal and block radio signals, which is why you can't use a passive GPS, either.  In order for either of those to work, you need some sort of external antenna, which is likely to be noticed as unusual.

Plus, we regularly talk about shipping container security.  It gets talked about, and there are security programs in place even if they are inefficient.

Also, you have to design a bomb of some kind strong enough to significantly breach the containment that the container itself provides so that you can spread your agent, and by necessity, they are relatively strong.  Either that, or you have to come up with a mechanism that can spray.  That's going to mean orifices of some sort, again, something that might be noticed.

Plus, we have another problem:

www.dallaslogisticshub.com

What if your special container happens to be the one at the bottom of the pile?  All that effort will be largely wasted.   Heck, it might hours, or even a day or two, before anyone even notices something is wrong.

No, for a terror attack to work, you have to go where the people is.  You don't even have to be very effective, necessarily, just very *PUBLIC*.  Look at the Boston Marathon bombing:  Very few people were actually killed or seriously injured.   There have been worse traffic accidents.  But it dominated the news cycle, because it was very, very public, and it happened where there were a bunch of people around, and of course, there was plenty of video of the event.

Some container randomly blowing up in a remote corner of a container yard, or releasing some agent that is so dispersed by the time it gets to a populated area that there are no noticeable health effects really isn't going to grab the public's attention, and that is precisely the purpose of a terror attack.
 
2013-11-12 02:20:46 PM  

FormlessOne: My takeaway?

If I'm going to commit a horrifying act of terrorism - say, detonate a series of dirty bombs along major highways in the United States - I'd just ship those bombs in containers, wait for those containers to get loaded onto trucks for shipping, and then detonate them as they approached population centers. Odds are pretty damned good that most, if not all, would make it in, apparently. Who needs to crash a plane?

Heck, why wait? Start blowing cargo ships into the ocean and cripple the global economy. Same bombs, randomly placed by unsuspecting shipping companies all over the world, would make detection & mitigation next to impossible, and cargo ships are expensive as fark. Sink enough of them, and you'll do a lot more harm worldwide, while forcing countries to slow economic progress to a snail's pace to check each and every container.

Horrifying, eh? And yet we spent our money on having thieving TSA employees grope the nutsacks of veterans and asses of toddlers every damned day, because it's "too hard" to check the hundreds of thousands of shipping containers that show up in practically undefended ports across the country. It's OK to stomp on the rights of consumers, but we can't disturb the rights of corporations - time is money, and the government can't impede business, otherwise how would consumers get to consume in a timely and efficient manner?

Friggin' stupid.


Call in the Linatrons

www.worldsecurity-index.com
 
2013-11-12 02:27:14 PM  

FrancoFile: dittybopper: HotIgneous Intruder: Huggermugger: Who will mourn the stevedore?

"We used to make shiat in this country." ~ Frank Sobotka.

"We still make shiat in this country.  Mainly, in Detroit" ~ dittybopper

"We still make shiat in this country.  We just don't need 50 million semi-skilled laborers to do it" ~ francofile


"Who the fark wants to run a machine lathe all farking day" - Simon Moon

But seriously, in United States history the job of the stevedore was so dangerous that SLAVES weren't allowed to do it. Slaves cost money, where Irish, Poles, Italians and Mexicans were basically free to kill in industrial accidents. I think the trade off between that and bored, grey-collar sea captains is definitely worth it.
 
2013-11-12 02:42:45 PM  

dittybopper: What about it?

Those stadiums are largely empty 99% of the time.

Here are the specific problems:


I came up with a very detailed reply, listing out why you're wrong on almost every point, giving links and examples as to why. Just before I hit send, I realized that it probably isn't a very good idea (both for regional security and not wanting to be visited by black helicopters) to walk you through how someone may go about terrorist attack like that.

But the short version, it's at most 1,500 feet away from a major population, sports, & transport centers, you can be guaranteed of one specific shipper who only uses that terminal, timing of events is trivial, historic attacks reaching well beyond the range and historical on-shore weather patterns of that location.
 
2013-11-12 02:53:08 PM  
dittybopper:
And yeah, it would cost money, but it wouldn't really effect everyday people. Think about it: What if the 9/11 attackers had crashed their aircraft into the port facilities in Northern New Jersey/NYC instead of the Twin Towers? It would have cost a lot of money to fix, but casualties would have been light, few people not in the planes would have died, and the container ships enroute would have been rerouted to different ports.

You're assuming a standard explosive or a really ineffective dirty bomb.

On the other hand, if someone gets hold of a really primitive (seventy year old technology) first-generation nuclear bomb and sets it off in the middle of the ship channel between New York and New Jersey, it would certainly affect everyday people. Lots of them. As in millions in the direct blast radius, plus fallout.

This is almost a "best case" scenario, by the way (short of a fizzle or misfire). Small (15 kilotons) single weapon in one city. Using a shipping container as a limiter, very large fusion weapons would be possible. As in Tsar Bomba sized weapons. One of those would fit nicely, down to the weight limit.

Security? Not so much. Most of our efforts happen after the ship has docked and unloaded. Those big piles of containers you talk about in a different comment would help cover up any obvious radiation leaking past the shielding in the initial container. A small bribe or a true believer in the right position would guarantee that the bomb would be below the water line, with lots of things stacked on top of it. Another bribe (or a suicide crew member or a stowaway) would make sure the trigger was pushed at just the right moment.

The real experts talk about this all of the time - they admit that there's nothing we could do about it, except to promise to eliminate any country that was part of the scheme... after the fact.
 
2013-11-12 03:09:37 PM  
I recommend reading some of these stories..

http://www.cargolaw.com/gallery.html
 
2013-11-12 03:16:49 PM  
We're lucky those things don't operate inside the environment.

bigpicture.typepad.com
 
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