June 18, 2018
[the sea] The Thieves Who Steal Sunken Warships, Right Down to the Bolts … Fascinating story which feels like the start of a Dirk Pitt adventure. ‘For the most part, this kind of theft tends to be a low-tech job. Salvagers pose as fishermen aboard ramshackle boats anchored at the site, and then dive the wrecks for particular parts. Sometimes, they’re audacious enough to arrive with a barge and crane and bring up heavier pieces. They make off with valuable parts first, like those made of brass and copper. But even as salvagers move on to less valuable things like aluminum shafts, they’ll leave plenty of debris in their wake—fasteners, broken metal plating, and of course, the hulls of the ships themselves. That’s a huge part of what is so mysterious about these Java sea wrecks: Not a single bolt remains. Highly unusual, even for skilled and ambitious salvagers.’
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.’