September 7, 2023
[titanic] The ‘Titan’ Submersible Disaster Was Years in the Making, New Details Reveal … A great read on the background story to the Titan submersible implosion. ‘As chief pilot and the person responsible for operational safety, Lochridge had created a dive plan that included protocols for how to approach the wreck. Any entanglement hazard demands caution and vigilance: touching down at least 50 meters away and surveying the site before coming any closer. Rush disregarded these safety instructions. He landed too close, got tangled in the current, managed to wedge the sub beneath the Andrea Doria’s crumbling bow, and descended into a full-blown panic. Lochridge tried to take the helm, but Rush had refused to let him, melting down for over an hour until finally one of the clients shrieked, “Give him the fucking controller!” At which point Rush hurled the controller, a video-game joystick, at Lochridge’s head. Lochridge freed the sub in 15 minutes.’
February 24, 2023
[disaster] Fight the Ship – Death and Valor on an American Warship Doomed by its Own Navy … A long read on the collision of US Destroyer and a Container Ship near Japan.

On the Fitzgerald, the list of maintenance jobs ran into the hundreds. Most of them were minor: a request for new coolant for a refrigeration unit, another for a certain type of washer.

But a dozen or so were considered more serious. They included problems with the ship’s primary navigation system. It was the oldest such system among destroyers based in Japan. It was running on Windows 2000, even though other ships had been upgraded. It could not display information from the AIS.

The broken email system had a “major impact” on the ship’s day-to-day operations. Microsoft Outlook did not work. Nor could commanders communicate over a classified email system. The ship’s entire network was suffering. Officers could not access sailors’ work profiles, order parts or even keep track of new repair requests.

Technicians were constantly fixing the SPS-73, the other main navigational radar on the Fitzgerald. Sometimes, the radar would show the destroyer heading the wrong way. At other times, it simply locked up and would have to be shut down. The SPS-73’s antenna was nearing the end of its life, and had been scheduled for replacement in April. But the maintenance had been delayed when the Fitzgerald was assigned to patrol North Korea.

A third radar, used for warfare, was slow to acquire targets, but technicians had installed a temporary fix that became permanent. “Problem known since 2012. Declared hopeless,” read notes attached to the repair report.

August 9, 2021
[life] Fake iceberg injures guests at Titanic museum‘In the most compelling evidence to date that the universe is controlled by a malevolent overlord who takes sick joy in our species’ misfortunes, visitors at a Titanic museum in Tennessee have been injured after a fake iceberg fell on them…’
June 18, 2020
[chernobyl] The Age of Forever Crises … This analysis of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl seems somehow relevant during Covid-19. ‘Chernobyl, in this sense, is a crisis that has never stopped unfolding, or as Brown puts it, it is a calamity “with no perceptible end.” It is just as much an environmental disaster as a crisis of information; Cold War politics prevented the free exchange of scientific knowledge, making a bad situation infinitely worse. Brown explains how, in 1986, Russian scientists asked UN officials for “precise information” about how the “Life Span Study” of Japanese survivors of the nuclear bomb was carried out; they were instead presented with data about a chemical explosion in Italy.’
October 11, 2018
[tech] Reboot Your Dreamliner Every 248 Days To Avoid Integer Overflow … Why Boeing 787s need to be rebooted regularly to avoid integer overflows. ‘Basically it says that all Boeing 787 Dreamliners have to be switched off every 248 days. If they are not reset then the generator control units GCUs will go into failsafe mode and the plane will lose all electrical power. Why exactly? To quote the FAA directive: This condition is caused by a software counter internal to the GCUs that will overflow after 248 days of continuous power. We are issuing this AD to prevent loss of all AC electrical power, which could result in loss of control of the airplane.’
April 11, 2018
[sos] “The Clock Is Ticking”: Inside the Worst U.S. Maritime Disaster in Decades … William Langewiesche on the sinking of the cargo ship SS El Faro. ‘As is usually the case, the catastrophe was unfolding because of a combination of factors that had aligned, which included: Davidson’s caution with the home office; his decision to take a straight-line course; the subtle pressures to stick to the schedule; the systematic failure of the forecasts; the persuasiveness of the B.V.S. graphics; the lack of a functioning anemometer; the failure by some to challenge Davidson’s thinking more vigorously; the initial attribution of the ship’s list entirely to the winds; and finally a certain mental inertia that had overcome all of them. This is the stuff of tragedy that can never be completely explained.’