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The Death of the Herald.

The Chronicle Herald news room employees went on strike today, in advance of management raming through the changes they demanded. In doing so, they have lost the one last thing that was keeping the paper alive. What Follows below is not directed at the actual (now Striking) content creators at the Herald. They do fine work. (I’ve even talked to a few of them about stories http://blog.halifaxshippingnews.ca/p/media.html) No this is directed at Management of the Company.

I used to be a subscriber to the Herald. I like paper – there’s something about reading print that is much more enjoyable then the screen. As a 35 y/o IT professional, that probably makes me some kind of oddity – It also makes me a member of a prime target market for the Herald. But sadly the content I wanted disappeared in the first round of layoffs in 2009. That’s when I canceled my subscription. I could read wire stories for free, and in a more timely manner elsewhere, so absent a value-add opinions and news room, why would I continue subscribing.

Since then, the Herald’s content has gotten thinner, and more advertorial. Real stories often are simply cut up press releases – I Cut up press releases – but I run this blog off the side of my desk in my spare time. I try to be informative, entertaining and factual, but I’ll be the first to admit this site lacks production quality. That’s fine for a blogger – but not a paper of record. slow news days aside, Im sure just as much news worthy stuff happens today as it did in 2008 – there are just fewer people to cover it in any detail – and that shows.

Chronicle Herald, You missed the boat. In the internet age, quality local content is king. You had the quality, but you squandered it through successive rounds of layoffs. A strong regional newsroom, Independent from regional and national corporate interest was your greatest strength. You should have leveraged that to become the dominant content creators and distributors in Eastern Canada but you let that slip away.

Betting the farm on free weekly’s isn’t going to do it either – Just as regularly as one is thrown on my door step, I promptly recycle it – as is, unopened. it is a product without value, that frankly I would rather not receive,  and it is just a matter of time before your advertisers realize there is no value to them. You still get my eyes online, which are marketable eyes to advertisers on your website, but they are likely soon gone, now with the decimation of your news room.

Chronicle Herald, without your newsroom, You have sunk to the level of this blog. I’m Quite Proud of this blog, but I’m not evaluated on, nor due I claim the standards of a professional news organization.  Nope scratch that. if you cant produce news with professional journalists in house, and only bet on advertorial content, then you are no better then a spammy clickbate site.

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Time for Fair Trade Lobster?

Fair trade certified products, are products such as Coffee where the distributors agree to pay the producer a fair price. The idea is that the consumer may pay a bit more, but the Grower gets paid a higher price and is able to make a better living for himself and his family.

The price of lobster allways seems to be even lower then the previous year. Lobseter is now being sold at $3/pound, fisherman are selling out of their trucks in parking lots to get a fair price, typically at around $5/pound. The guy who does the hard work, and assumes the most risk is the one who sees the least reward. Retail Prices have seeming stayed the same.

Is it time for Fair Trade Certified Lobster?

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Bluenose II – Late and Over Budget

The latest news on the Bluenose reconstruction is that it is behind schedule and over budget. This could be forgiven if the work was actually a restoration, and conditions were found to be worse then expected, however, for all purposes the Provence of Nova Scotia decided to build a completely new boat.

Since The vessel is all new construction from the Keel up, the only reason this project could go over budget and run late is poor planning. I suspect the only reason all this is coming to light now was that there was an expected launch date in July, and we are now in July, and there is no launch date.

The launch date is a critical piece of information. The RCMP Project 100,000 people could show up to witness the launch, and I am sure businesses in Lunenberg would like a long lead up to the launch to allow as many people to come as possible. No date means no one can make plans, and people will book their vacations elsewhere.  At this point, the worst  case would be a fall launch, out side the prime tourism season.

The cost so far is 16+ Million Dollars. Joan Roue had plans in 2009 to build the Bluenose IV at a cost of 7 Million. That projects website has gone dormant, and the cost would have surely increased since 2009, but Her price was always cheaper then the numbers the provence floated. I think all Nova Scotian’s and even a majority of Canadians want the Bluenose to be Sailing, but as the project continues, it becomes more clear that the whole Project has been mismanaged by the Provence.

If the Government of Nova Scotia can’t build a wooden fishing vessel, something thats been done in the province since it was founded, on time and on budget, can we trust them to do anything else?

For why calling this project a restoration is Dubious, See The Bluenose II(I?)
Again, I believe the LSA Are building a ship all Nova Scotian’s can be proud of. I think their workmanship is excellent, However the owners, the Provence of NS Have been less then up to the task.

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Replacing Preserver and Protectur

The Protectur Class AOR’s were commisioned in 1970. Now over 40 years old, they are Long in need of replacement, and in 2006 the first RFP went out.

 Act 1. “Aircraft Carriers”

Panned by the oposition and the media as Aircraft Carriers, the Joint support ship as originalay envisioned would serve not just the Replenishment Role, But would also feature a Hospital, Command and Control Capabilities, Helecopter Faclities, and a Landing Dock able to deploy vehicles.

Around the same time, the Dutch undertook a simalar program, and developed a simalar set of requirements. They Came up with the Karel Doorman class support ship. Canada Balked at the Cost, The Dutch Went ahead. The first Dutch vessel will be Delivered in 2014.

 Act 2. “what do our friends use?”

With the JSS Now too expensive, The government went looking for Other options. They First found the Berlin Class, in use by the German Navy. They are mostly a traditional AOR, but have a hospital, can carry cargo, and have a flight deck. Option 2 was the Cantabria Class, in Use with the Spanish Navy. it is simalar in features to the Berlin Class, though slightly smaller. Negotiations to secure one of these designs for Canadian use failed, and with that, on to act 3.

Act 3. “Finally!?” 
New Design Contracts were awarded to BMT Fleet Technology of Kanata, ON and TysenKrupp (TKMS). BMT will be designing a new vessel, which will likely be a a variation of their AEGIR-18 Design, while TKMS will offer a Modified version of the Berlin Class. The Winner of this Competition will be Built by the Vacouver shipyard under the National Ship Procurment Strategy.

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Ships Start Here – Money Well Spent?

The Nova Scotia Government Spent $600 thousand dollars on the recent Ships Start Here campaign, with the Irving’s and others spending another $500 thousand. Recent comments by the Defence Minister Peter Mackay, indicate he believes that the Ships Start Here campaign was a waste of money because it did not influence the national ship building procurement strategy bid process. This is true. All parties seem to believe the process was fair, and contracts were awarded on merit, however, perhaps influencing the Decision makers was not the main purpose of the campaign…

Nova Scotia has a long history of shipbuilding. The Halifax Shipyard has existed, in some form, at its present location for over 100 years. Nova Scotia Built the Bluenose, Ships built there were involved in every major conflict of the 20th Century, But in our current times, shipbuilding is viewed as a quaint activity from our past – A sunset industry, in the eyes of the previous Liberal Government.

The ships start here campaign brought to the forefront of every Nova Scotian’s mind that we are maritimers, and we build ships. It didn’t matter if you are a banker in an office tower or a Clerk at a connivence store, the lawn signs, stickers and pins turned us all into shipbuilders, and we all wanted the prize. The Campaign United us all – people who never thought or cared about shipbuilding now wanted to win, and win badly. Not only did Nova Scotian’s Embrace the campaign, but so did people from across the country. Canadians from sea to sea to sea were pulling for us.

In the end Nova Scotia won. We beat the competitors, and came out on top. We beat them fairly and without political influence or meddling. Our product, our people, and our facilities were judged to be the best and most capable. And now the entire province celebrates, United, as we are Are Nova Scotians, and we are Built to Build Ships.

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The Bluenose II(I?)

There has been much debate about whether the current Bluenose hull is a restoration or a replacement. Transport Canada has evidently allowed the Bluenose to carry the Builders plate of the 1963 hull, and will treat it as the same ship. But is it really?

First – the original bluenose was built in 1921 and Designed by William Roué as a fishing schooner. Schooners became obsolete for fishing, and she was eventually sold as a freighter. She Survived the second world war, but sank after foundering on a reef off Haiti in January 1946.

The Bluenose II was built in 1963 by the Oland Family to sell beer. (There is the Oland brewery in Halifax, now owned by Labatt, However the family still owns Moosehead in NB) it was later transferred to the Province of Nova Scotia for $1, and operated as the provincial sailing Ambassador.

Wooden Ships have issues as the age – timbers need to be replaced, they need to be painted and require constant maintenance. Wooden ships also Hog. Hogging is when a ship starts to bend – the keel develops a curve, and the frames begin to sag. Left unchecked, that can lead to failure of the Hull. Hogging was the main justification for the restoration work recently undertaken.

When the restoration began, Nobody was surprised when all the fittings were removed from the Hull and put in storage. The shock came when it was reported that the hull was disassembled, and the wood shredded and sent for recycling, and a New one would be built in its place. Despite the re-use of some fittings, this is a New Hull, and should not be Called the Bluenose II it simply isn’t.

First – the 1963 bluenose was built based off the original William Roue Drawings. It was not an exact replica, but it wasn’t intended to be. The 2011 hull is being built with drawings that were prepared by Marine Architects, and were done so without the use of the original Roue Drawings – the 2011 Hull is therefore not to the same design as the 1963 Hull.

Second – The 2011 Hull is made from Modern Laminated Lumber, of tropical origin. The Bluenose and the 1963 Hull were made from Locally available lumber. Its not the same plan, its not the same materials, how can this be a restoration.

Lets look at a Couple of Restorations.
The Japanese have several pagodas made of wood, that date back to 706ad. The likelihood that any part of the original temple is still there is slim, however the temple is continually refreshed, and bad pieces replaced with New. So while no single piece actually dates back to 706, each piece shares a lineage and existed with other pieces at a moment in time. The temple is not periodically torn down and replaced every 40 years when some rot shows up. The bad pieces are refreshed.

The Government even uses this lineage principle, when attempting to justify that this is a restoration, and not a replacement, when they refer to the original masts being reused. The masts they refer to are not the original 1963 masts – One of those can be found flying the Nova Scotia Flag at Historic Properties in Halifax, however they shared a lineage with the rest of the vessel. Unfortunately it is too simplistic to refer to the hull of the Bluenose as just another component. The Hull is the Ship, and everything else are simply fittings. This would be like taking Julies cloths and jewelry, putting them on Jennifer, and calling her Julie. Call her what you want, but Jennifer is not Julie.

On a more appropriate scale, Lets look at the restoration of the whale ship Charles W. Morgan at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. The Charles W Morgan was badly hogged – this has been removed with the careful use of jacks. Rotten Frames and Hull timbers need to be replaced, and they are, with traditional methods (though modern tools) and where possible with lumber originally cut in the same era (thanks to a lumber cache found underwater at the former Boston Naval Yard). What makes the Charles W. Morgan restoration all the more impressive is that it is being completed by a non profit organization, with donations and volunteer labour (though not all). Oh – an the Charles W Morgan’s maiden voyage was in 1841. She worked for 80 years, and has been a Museum ever since. The Goal of the restoration is to take her on her 38th voyage.

So, despite what the politicians say, The 2011 Bluenose is clearly a replacement, as no effort was made to perform the work actually required to fix her. Her 2011 hull shows no lineage or connection to the 1963 hull, is not made to the same drawings, or with the same materials and methods. It is hard to say which Bluenose, One or Two, came to the more tragic fate. I say Bluenose II has the more tragic ending, as she met the wood chipper, whereas the Bluenose died as a working ship. So, lets just call the 2011 Hull the Bluenose III, so we can all reflect on the shortsightedness of destroying a piece of Nova Scotia goodwill, and replacing it, with a modern product. The province already owns the Name Bluenose III anyway.

One last footnote, This Piece is intended to be critical of the decisions of the owners of the Bluenose. The Lunenburg Shipyard Alliance is building an excellent ship, and I’m sure It will be an excellent Sailing Ambassador for Nova Scotia, and I hope this generates much additional work for them. I think, that if you are going to build a new vessel, you should use modern materials and methods – which is what they are doing – however it is disingenuous to say it is a restoration, when its a new build.

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The Sewage Plant

This is a blog about the comings and goings in the harbour – since January this has included raw sewage which is once again being dumped into the harbour since a power interuption caused a failure at the halifax sewage plant, filling it with sludge.

For those who want the latest, I suggest keeping tabs Via Google News

Allow me to add my $0.02 about the situation:

To the Mayor Peter Kelly – Last summer you took credit for the plant cleaning up the harbour, now you must also wear its failure. Do your Job, Read the report, find out what happened and how to prevent it, and most of all, GET IT FIXED, as in Yesterday.
If it takes a year to fix, then either your not working hard enough, or you built a flawed system, and should fire the people responsible, and resign yourself.

Lets hope the Chronicle Herald can get to the bottom of this.

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