Dit Dit Dit Dah Dah Dah Dit Dit Dit

A passing tropical depression brought strong winds and buckets of rain over the last few days. From Thursday night the storm crescendoed through the day and into Friday night with winds of 50 kph with gusts over 80 (30 mph - 50 mph). Our house is tight but the constant noise of the wind ripping over the tile roof was nervewracking. I was glad that I had installed Momo's winter windows, but by 8 PM the wind was so fierce and so much debris was blowing around I decided to bring her in the house and make her a bed in the laundry room. She seemed grateful.

By Saturday morning about 3 am the wind and rain had subsided and Momo asked to go back to her house. Saturday was one of lighter winds and gradually clearing skies with crystal clear air and unlimited visability. Aside from some lost sleep and a messy yard to clean up, we weathered the storm well. Not so far away, others were not as fortunate.

You may recognize the title of this post as international Morse code for S.O.S. - the distress call. These days a distress call may come by voice over the radio saying "Mayday Mayday Mayday" (from the French word m'aider - help me) or even by cell phone. Sometimes it doesn't come at all. This storm took a toll in Japan. We had a shipwreck occur right off our coast here in Kashima City on Friday.

The 98,000 ton ship "Giant Step" with a crew of 26 and a cargo of 190,000 tonnes of Australian iron ore, to feed the steel works here, was riding out the storm outside Kashima Port. (A line of ships can often be seen off shore of Kashima, waiting their turn to offload cargo in the port.) The heavy wind and seas sent the Giant Step aground and she broke in two sending thirteen crewmembers into the sea. Of those, three have been rescued and one man was pulled from the sea but died in hospital. Thirteen others who were on the vessel were rescued. As of this writing, sixteen have been rescued, there is one known death, and nine men are still missing.

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The ship Giant Step in port.

Globally, literally hundreds of ships are lost each year. You could safely bet that at any given time, somewhere in the world a ship is sinking. The sea is unforgiving.

Also on Friday, a large fishing vessel was lost off Miyagi prefecture, 300 km or so to our north. The crew of 16 are still missing. They called for help by cell phone. Thirteen abandoned ship and three remained with her. The ship and its emergency raft have since been found capsized, but no crewmembers.

A pleasure fishing boat capsized off of Niijima, an island south of Tokyo in the Izu Island group. Eight people were rescued, but seven are missing. Seas in the area were reported to be 5 meters in height (16 feet).

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Wreck of the Giant Step

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who biddest the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Follow up post: Wreck of the Giant Step


Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

We didn't hear that story on our news. I guess it isn't relevant to the newscasters here! Why were the ships out to sea? Perhaps they just couldn't get into port in time.

One of our friends was a chaplain in the Mission to Seamen in Geelong and we visited their place occasionally and became more aware of the dangerous life seamen have. We also occasionally meet the crew of the Captain Cook - which picks up wheat and rice here after delivering coconut oil.

Best wishes with the clean-up after the storm. Poor little doggie must have been scared!

Pandabonium said...

Wendy - Ship wrecks are nearly daily occurance in the world, so unless there are many passengers on board, such as the ones earlier this year in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, or it involves a big oil spill, they don't report them other than locally.
It is a dangerous business.

The port is a small one and it is usual to have several ships off shore waiting to enter, unload, and depart in turn, in any weather. I don't know what went wrong Friday, but the sea, like the skies, is relentless and utterly unforgiving of the slightest error or neglect. It cares not of man's wishes and does not hear his prayers.

As for the yard, thanks, but just leaves and small branches, nothing major. Momo seemed happy to be indoors. She bed down quietly in the laundry room, something she usually takes time to adjust to.

Anonymous said...

I eat my words. The TV did run the story - last night.
Watching the daily TV news these days isn't very helpful for the spirit - it's one death or disaster after another. Lists of bad news.
My Mum used to watch four different TV news one after the other!
We need to know, I guess, what happens in the world, but it does make us feel powerless most of the time.

Pandabonium said...

Wendy - TV news has become part of the entertainment industry, so it no longer informs but just keeps us watching. At times is jsut propaganda and as such there is a purpose to making us feel powerless.

The internet allows us to read almost any print news in the world and nice part with printed news is that we can choose what to read and what to ignore.

Robin said...

oh dear.. how no one was hurt in this.

and insurance will pay for expense.. zero nett sum?

still it must be traumatic

we need some of that rain (in a smaller scale please) in SE Asia, the Haze is killing us

Pandabonium said...

Sadly there is at least one death and probably more to come as crewmen are still missing.

The haze! It is said that the cause is is clearing for palm oil farms. So how hard can it be to find the people responsible? It would be the same people that later farm the burned land, right? DUH!!

Pressure should be put on the Indonesian government to STOP this crap (pardon my French).

Lina said...

We lost a friend on the Giant Step, Shem Samuel. We continue to pray for the families of the other crew members and hope that survivors can be found, and that those lost are at peace.
Thank you for posting the US Navy Band's version of "Eternal Father Strong to Save." That is the most beautiful hymn, especially these days. Thanks for posting on this tragedy as we've been searching for news from very far away. Take care and God bless.
(you have a very nice blog)

Pandabonium said...


Thank you for your comment. I am sorry about your friend. I have since learned that the ship had been waiting eleven days to get a berth in port (it is a small port and very busy) and that a fire had broken out on board.

The words to that hymn were written by a minister in England in 1860 for a student who was going to sail to the USA. The music was written the following year. Not sure when the two were put together. I've always liked it and felt it was appropriate here.

Take care.

Lina said...

Hi again Pandabonium,
Are you in the area of Kashima port? We are trying to do anything that might help with the search for the remaining crewmembers of the Giant Step... I believe there are 2 remaining missing? The information we have received (via family of our friend, the Indian consulate in Japan, and other contacts) seems to indicate that the search has been called off... if you know anything different or have any local information, additional photos, theories, anything... we would appreciate it so very much.
It is indeed a humbling experience to see these images. Thank you for sharing them and giving it a much more human perspective than the news has.

Pandabonium said...

Dear Lina,

We are sorry this incident goes on for you and others who know crewmembers.

We do live near Kashima Port - about ten miles from it - and would be happy to relay anything we learn.

Rather than communicate in these comments, please use the link near the top of the righthand column of the blog that says "got a question? email me". We can get back to you directly by email. No one will see your email address, and of course we will keep it confidential. (our email address is also listed below)

Let us say here, we don't have a lot to add, but can share what up to date details we do know and perhaps be of some small help in your quest for information.

As for the news media - we don't have much respect for them. There was a major earthquake in Hawaii early today - where Pandabonium has family - and we are not impressed with the way they have handled that news either -lots of sensation, few facts. Happily, in that case, everyone is OK.

We'll be looking for your email,
- Pandabonium & K