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Thoughts from the trenches

By UncleGeorge ·
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Disaster on the Bering Sea.

by UncleGeorge In reply to Thoughts from the trenche ...

<p class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Here's a little story from the Bering Sea and some lessons learned the hard way. </font></p>
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<p class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">The Anacortes, Washington fishing family had been very successful in the late 1980's. Early 1990 saw four brand-new crab boats ready to plunder the king crab population in an area the coast guard describes as 'the major leagues' compared to North Atlantic fishing ground conditions. Not too far out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, two of the boats capsized, killing all 15 crew members aboard, including the son of a surviving skipper on another of the four boats. Photos of the loaded boats taken shortly before their doomed departure showed nothing visible to point toward load instability. Investigations, of course, followed the disaster. Over a year later, as the investigation was closing without answers,<span>  </span>a shipyard worker approached one investigator, with an afterthought.</font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">"I don't know if it really matters, but we had some extra bottom paint, and we added an extra 12 inches around the hull of both boats", he told them. </font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Anti-fouling bottom paint, used to combat the growth of marine organisms, makes a distinct waterline on the hull of a vessel, as it is typically an off color from the upper hull. Normally, this would be considered a 'bonus' for an owner. This time, however, was different. </font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">The engineering specifications had the craft designed with bottom paint to a certain level on the hull. The 25 year-old skipper had loaded the crab pots *to the waterline as indicated by the additional 12 inches of paint*. No one, not the planners, not the skipper, not the investigators, had thought that the paint-line, so visible in the after-the-fact photos, was twelve inches over the specifications. Twelve inches deeper on a 150 foot boat equals tons of additional displacement. Both vessels flipped like tops; there wasn't even time for a 'mayday'. </font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Closely following the design and engineering specification isn't an optional task, it is an exacting and unforgiving duty.<span>  </span>While we in IT seldom make decisions involving the loss of birthdays, nonetheless, we need to remain highly aware of the entirety of our networks, and the consequences of implementing decisions we make.<span>  </span>Administrators must remain diligent in documenting network topology, organization, and operations of the entire data-communications service.<span>  </span>Like the "restore" part of data backups, simply documenting isn't enough.<span>  </span>You must ensure that the documentation is distributed, read, and understood by those key personnel who need the information. </font></p>
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<p class="MsoNormal"><font size="3"><font face="Times New Roman">Maybe a veteran skipper might have calculated the weight of load, instead of using the waterline.<span>  </span>There is something to be said for experience, and more experience may have prevented this disaster.<span>  </span>If you are managing a complex network, how diligent are you in managing your load?<span>  </span>Have you calculated the weight of each of those 800 lb. crab pots?<span>  </span>Or have you just looked at the waterline and guessed that all is well?<span>  </span></font></font></p>
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<p class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Happy sailing.</font></p>
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<p class="MsoNormal"><font size="3"><font face="Times New Roman">Best, UncleG.</font></font></p>
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