Sea Trial
by Donald E. Bodron

"As long as men continue to go down to sea in ships some... will be careless, negligent or arrogant... trouble due to inexperience... plain run out of luck."

After graduation from New York Maritime College, the author was assigned to serve with the Coast Guard in the Pacific Northwest. He learned firsthand the business of marine inspection. Many of the ships he oversaw repairs on were built for WWII, often suffered damage from the engine to the hull, and had been repaired at least once. Ships were renamed after a major rebuild or purchase by a new owner. The chapter titles are locations where Bodron served.

The author's extensive training enabled him to prevent many shipping disasters over 28 years. His sea trial tales are engaging but none as well-known as the book’s highlight—personal observations of the notorious Exxon Valdez. Bodron arrived in Alaska two weeks after this massive oil spill at Prince William Sound on Easter 1989. He assisted with communications between the Valdez officials and the government during the cleanup of 10.9 million gallons of oil―the spill due to the ship master’s negligence and the third mate’s inexperience. The cleanup strategies applied, more or less successfully, were dispersants, controlled burns, skimmers, and, finally, dredgers. Once the oil spill moved out to sea, damage occurred all along 400 miles of Alaska’s coast.

The reader will become acquainted with the lingo of ships and repair such as when setting safety valves (gunned, blow down, popping pressure) or a snap roll caused by stowage issues (short ton, dunnage, upper tween deck, hatch aft). Bordon references the written rules for marine inspection along with good marine practice and applied common sense. While this is the perfect gift for someone who loves steam power and ships, the author’s ability to tell a good story appeals universally. Bodron begins with himself swept out to sea by an undertow, holding the reader in suspense until the outcome near the end of this 799-page book.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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