Home' Greymouth Star : September 29th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, September 29, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1399 - King Richard II becomes the first
English monarch to abdicate.
1911 - Italy declares war on Turkey,
eventually conquering Libya.
1923 - Britain begins ruling Palestine under a
League of Nations mandate.
1938 - The Munich agreement is signed
between France, Germany, Britain and
Italy in which the German-speaking part
of Czechoslovakia, the Sudetenland, is
surrendered to Nazi Germany.
1941 - O ver two days, the Germans kill
33,771 Jewish men, women and children in the
Babi Yar massacre at a ravine near
Kiev in World War Two.
1950 - General Douglas
MacArthur hands over Seoul to
President Syngman Rhee of South
1957 - Almost 300 people are
killed when an express train hits a
parked oil train in West Pakistan.
1961 - Syria secedes from the United Arab
Republic and forms the independent Syrian
1979 - Pope John Paul II arrives in Ireland
for the first Papal visit to the country.
1988 - In the first space mission since the
explosion of the shuttle Challenger in January
1986, the shuttle Discovery is launched.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Jacopo Tintoretto, Italian artist (1518-1594);
Robert Clive, English soldier-statesman (1725-
1774); Horatio Nelson, English
admiral (1758-1805); Enrico Fermi,
Italian physicist (1901-1954); Gene
Autry, US actor-singer-businessman
(1907-1998); Greer Garson, British-
born actress (1909-1996); Trevor
Howard, British actor (1916-1988);
Richard Bonynge, Australian
conductor (1930-); Anita Ekberg,
Swedish actress (1931-2015); Jerry Lee Lewis,
US singer (1935-); Silvio Berlusconi, former
Prime Minister of Italy (1936-); Lech Walesa,
Polish leader and 1983 Nobel Peace Prize
winner (1943-); Mark Mitchell, Australian
TV entertainer (1955-); Sebastian Coe, British
athlete-politician (1956-); Julia Gillard, former
Australian prime minister (1961-); Matt Giteau,
Australian rugby player (1982-); Kevin D urant,
US basketballer (1988-).
“ Most of the shadows of this life are caused
by standing in our own sunshine.” — Ralph
Waldo Emerson, American essayist and poet
“ We have gifts that differ according to the
grace given to us.” — Romans 12:6
bound railcar from
into a car which had stalled on a Westport
rail crossing, tossing it about 15 feet through
a fence to the front of a house. No one was
injured. The collision occurred at 8.15am at the
level crossing at Fonblanque Street.
The driver of the vehicle had left his seat by
the time the collision occurred. The passenger
escaped without injury, although the car was
fairly extensively damaged on the right. The
railcar was slightly damaged in the front, but
arrived only 28 minutes late in Greymouth.
Meeting the Queen of England and
welcoming her to the West Coast was a
“terrific ordeal” for Greymouth Mayor Mr
F W Baillie, but he is thrilled with the prospect
that the Q uuen Mother may travel through the
Haast Pass and up the West Coast next year.
Wellington sources suggest that plans for a
West Coast visit by the Q ueen Mother are “on
the drawing board”.
Fate has overtaken the 80-tons of steel that is
the O and K crane which is being used on the
Blaketown reclamation scheme. The crane was
‘walking’ to a new site from where it had been
digging out the new Sawyers Creek channel.
It became bogged down and eventually sank at
the water’s edge.
Harbour board employees tried almost
everything in an attempt to dig the crane free,
to no avail. Yesterday and today they dug well
below the crane so the track drive gear case
can be dropped to free the tracks, allowing the
crane to be dragged to higher ground.
uFood for thought
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Sanctioned shipyard hopes for icebreaker zeal
Helsinki seafront, sparks
fly from steel welding
at the bustling Arctech
shipyard, which seems
insulated from Finland’s
economic recession as it strives to meet an
order book that stretches into 2017.
The world’s biggest manufacturer of
icebreakers, or ships that can navigate
ice-covered waters, Arctech is poised to
benefit from an expected flurry of activity
in the Arctic, which is being reinforced by
United States President Barack Obama’s
As climate change is melting sea ice
and opening the Arctic to more shipping,
mining and oil drilling, icebreakers will
forge water ways for other ships, carry out
rescue missions and do stand-by duties for
oil platforms in the region.
“ We are getting inquiries from several
countries who have Arctic regions,
or companies from such countries,”
Arctech’s managing director, Esko
Mustamaki, said sitting in his office
at the vast shipyard as workers nearby
still wearing helmets cycle off for lunch
breaks on the compound.
The yard is currently building six vessels,
four for Russian State-owned shipping
company Sovcomflot and one each for the
Russian and Finnish transport ministries.
One will be for Arctic use and Mustamaki
expects demand to grow.
“It is very possible that in the coming
decades, there will be a lot of activity in
the (Arctic) region,” Mustamaki said.
That should be good for business, but
there is a cloud on the horizon: the yard
is now owned by Russia’s State-owned
United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC),
which was added to a list of US sanctions
against Russia last year in the wake of the
conflict in Ukraine.
The shipyard was once owned by
Nor wegian companies Kvaerner and Aker
Yards, and later by Korea’s STX, whose
financial problems eventually prompted
the deal with Russia, completed last year.
So far Arctech has weathered the impact
of sanctions but they are making business
Nordea, the Nordic region’s biggest
bank, closed Arctech’s account last year
due to US sanctions. Mustamaki said the
shipyard has opened new bank accounts,
declining to name the banks. But accessing
finance now takes more time.
“Banks have compliance rules that
require more checks for us now, so
anything where we need banks takes time.
But so far, it hasn’t affected our order
intake,” Mustamaki said.
“That could happen if a client would
not want to do business with us for that
Shipping sources have said that US
and EU sanctions against the company’s
Russian clients could complicate their
orders in the future.
As the Arctic opens to tourism and oil
drilling and spurs more maritime traffic,
the US lacks Russia’s resources in the
region and President Obama said this
month that it needs to quickly acquire at
least one new icebreaker.
While Russia has 40 icebreakers and
another 11 planned or under construction,
the US Coast Guard has three, only one
of which is a heavy duty vessel, the White
House has said.
For Arctech, sanctions alone would rule
out any business with the US government,
putting potentially some of the industry’s
most lucrative contracts in the next few
years out of reach.
Mustamaki, however, is sanguine,
arguing that even without sanctions, his
company probably would not win any US
orders because the US Jones Act requires
that basically all American vessels must
be built in local shipyards — a law which
he says will force the US to pay sky high
prices for icebreakers.
A Congressional research ser vice report
has put the cost of a new US icebreaker at
about $1 billion.
“That sounds like quite a lot. We are
currently building an icebreaker for the
State of Finland for 123 million euros
($215.7 million),” Mustamaki said.
The Helsinki yard, founded in 1865 and
renamed Arctech in 2010, has built 60%
of all icebreakers operating in the world
— m ost used by Russia, including for
offshore energy production.
While standard shipbuilding has
largely moved to Asia, Arctech’s is one
of a few niche shipyards left in Europe.
Its competitors include Germany’s
Nordic Yards, Nor way ’s Vard and the
The Finnish company is currently
building more energy-efficient ships
able to operate in -35degC and navigate
through 1.5m of ice.
Its icebreaker under construction for
the Finnish transport ministry will be the
world’s first to use liquefied natural gas as
fuel, rather than relying on more polluting
“There are lots of details but no concrete
list for building an Arctic vessel,”
“ It ’s more about tacit knowledge.”
An icebreaker under construction for the Russian Ministry of Transport in the Arctech Helsinki Shipyard in Helsinki, Finland. The world’s biggest manufacturer of
icebreakers, or ships that can navigate ice-covered waters, Arctech is poised to benefit from an expected flurry of activity in the Arctic, which is being reinforced by United
States President Barack Obama’s Arctic push.
Berlin’s ‘phantom’ airport draws tourists
Berlin’s troubled international airport
project, already five years behind schedule,
has been fraught by mismanagement,
fraud and corruption, and a vicious streak
of bad luck.
But while the site has become a laughing
stock for Germans, the consortium behind
it has turned a disaster into something
of an opportunity, with guided tours that
have become an unexpected hit with the
More than one million people have
visited the “phantom” facility since the
two-hour tours began in 2007.
Interest has taken off since the planners
blew past the 2012 opening date, driven
by a particularly Germanic love of
technology, bafflement at the money pit
consuming their taxes, and perhaps just a
touch of schadenfreude.
At 10 euros ($17) per person, the
tours are a minimal source of income,
just as the budget for what many call a
“ boondoggle” has ballooned to more than
five billion euros — about three times
more than the 1.7 billion euros originally
On a recent scorching summer’s day,
instead of going for a swim in one of the
region’s many lakes, two dozen paying
guests listened in rapt attention to an
eye-wateringly detailed description of the
technical specifications going into the 21st
A guide led the group on a coach
to a viewing tower, empty gates with
expectant jet bridges, a dedicated power
plant and the gleaming glass-and-steel
terminal building at the heart of the
project ’s woes.
Inside, the smell of sawdust hung in the
air, cables dangled from the ceiling and
a surprisingly small number of hard-
hat-wearing workers, given the building
delays, shuffled in and out of the sliding
The squeak of a rolling wheelbarrow,
the low moan of a drill and the thud of
a distant hammer echoed through the
cavernous hall as the guide shepherded the
After an hour and 15 minutes on the
tour, Austrian retired social worker Sylvia
Groth, 60, finally mentioned the elephant
in the room.
“Could you please say something about
the delays? What led to them? When
will the airport open? Has anyone been
The guide took a deep breath and began
to explain serious technical flaws —
especially in the fire safety and smoke
extraction system which must be able to
alert both “flames in an ashtray and flames
spreading through the terminal”.
“ We had an architect who wasn’t a
technician,” he added.
“Politicians did not pay close enough
attention to who was doing what.”
But the problems seem to be too
complex for an afternoon stroll.
There is no mention of the manager in
charge of the ventilation system who was
convicted last October of taking bribes,
or of the recent bankruptcy of a major
contractor at the site, the German division
of Dutch group Royal Imtech.
The official opening is now slated for late
2017, although locals say they will believe
it when they see it.
Guessing the actual inauguration date
has become a kind of parlour game in the
A 41-year-old civil ser vant who gave her
name as Dorothea joined colleagues on a
team outing to the airport armed with a
“It is rather embarrassing that it is taking
so long,” she said.
“We wantedtotake alooktosee ifwe
could figure out what the hold-up is.”
Moving on, the tour came to empty lifts
quietly shuttling up and down between
the departures floor and an underground
rail station where a “ghost ” train makes
the trip into the city centre a few times a
Neither carry passengers; they must
simply keep moving to avoid falling
A 61-year-old health practitioner named
Heidi noted the absurdity of a giant,
expensive sculpture of a flying carpet
suspended from the ceiling and gathering
dust while money poured into the
perpetual construction site.
“ I wanted to see this chaos for myself,”
“ We’ve become a country where big
projects just don’t seem to work, whether
it’s BER or the concert hall in Hamburg,”
she said, referring to a similarly long-
delayed and wildly over-budget prestige
Manfred Mattick, 73, a retired Berlin
government worker, came to the tour with
his young grandson, whom he called “an
airport enthusiast ”.
He described the debacle at BER as
“rather embarrassing for a country that
claims to be a global leader in industry”.
Mattick had his own theories about what
had gone so terribly wrong.
“ I think the architect had an ambitious
vision of a light, airy palace and the
technology was supposed to play along.
Unfortunately that ’s not how buildings
work, certainly not airports,” he said.
Groth later said that she found the
answers given during the tour convincing
but wished the guide had been more
“ He should have broached the subject
himself,” she said.
“There’s been a lack of transparency from
the beginning here and sometimes you
have to take the initiative in explaining to
people what happened. ”
Beyond bus tours, visitors can also sign
up for year-round bicycle rides at the site,
or a half-marathon in the spring across the
wind-swept runways. — AFP
PICTURE: Getty Images
Construction workers move building materials outside the terminal building of the still-unopened Berlin Brandenburg
International (BER) airport.
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