Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7: Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Today is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. On this day we remember the events of December 7, 1941, when Japanese plans attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in the U.S. territory of Hawaii. More than 2,300 Americans were killed in the attack, which also destroyed the U.S.S. Arizona, capsized the U.S.S. Oklahoma, sank three other ships, damaged many additional vessels, and destroyed more that 180 aircraft. The next day President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan and the United States officially entered World War II.

The Stephen B. Luce Library has an ongoing online exhibit on Pearl Harbor and the events and aftermath of the December 7, 1941 attack. The exhibit features late Lieutenant Commander William F. Muir, USNR, New York State Maritime Academy Class of 1939 who survived the Pearl Harbor attack while serving as Senior Assistant Engineer Officer onboard the Ammunition Ship USS PYRO (AE-1). It also highlights selected Internet resources and books available at the Luce Library.
You can view the online exhibit here:

Below are some additional Internet resources from the Library of Congress's American Memory Collection and from the National Park Service.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Remote Access to Library Resources

You don’t have to be in the library to do library research! You can search the online catalog and article databases and read eJournal articles and eBooks from anywhere with an internet connection. Simply follow the steps below to login and begin your research.

The Sextant (library catalog): Search for library books
The Sextant is open access. No login required. Just go here:

Online Journals and eBooks: Search for articles and ebooks.
1. Go to
2. Enter your Maritime College email ID and password
Note: A new page opens with a list of all databases
3. Click on the database of your choice and begin searching

Need Assistance?
1. For help with login username/password: Call Computer Services Helpdesk @ (718) 409-6917 or submit a Login Assistance Request
2. For help with library research: Ask a Librarian!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Database: Marine Technology Absracts

The Stephen B. Luce Library is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Marine Technology Abstracts online. The Marine Technology Abstracts electronic database contains bibliographic information providing a reference and description for over 90,000 technical articles, reports, books, conference and transaction papers and other material on all aspects of maritime technology, dating back as far as 1940 and drawn from all major marine engineering publications, published worldwide in at least 10 languages.

Topics covered include:

  • Ship and vessel descriptions;
  • Design and construction;
  • Ship powering, equipment, maintenance, repair, conversion;
  • Cargo handling/port design and operation;
  • Safety at sea/environmental protection;
  • Coastal and ocean engineering/offshore technology;
  • Fluid mechanics, hydrodynamics, hydraulics and aerodynamics;
  • Ship resistance and propulsion, motions, seakeeping and manoeuvring;
  • Structural response, material properties, corrosion and fouling;
  • Naval vessels and defence technology

To access:
  1. Go to The Library's Website
  2. Scroll your mouse over eRESOURCES and select eJOURNALS from the list.
  3. Select the link for 'Marine Technology Abstracts'
    *Note, if you are accessing this remotely, you will be prompted for a username and password. This is your maritime email and password.

How to use:

  1. The database provides abstracts for many print journals that are held at the Stephen B. Luce library. Use the citation information to locate print journals, proceedings, and books that are held within the library. Electronic resources are also indexed.
  2. Users may perform simple or advanced searches.
  3. If materials cited are not available at the library, they can be obtained via Interlibrary Loan Services. Users may inquire about this service at the circulation desk.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Smooth Sailing

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian, Tuesday, July 7)
As the cruise comes to an end, I can't help but note the fantastic weather that we had for the entire voyage. Except for about 30 hours off Portugal while heading to Iceland, the seas have been remarkably calm. There was very little rolling which obviously held seasickness down to a minimum. We had some morning fog for a couple of days off the north coast of Scotland heading to Belfast and a full day of rain and fog that ruined our last Sunday at sea. Otherwise there was lots of sunshine almost every day(and nights in the Arctic).
I've heard about storms and rough seas on previous cruises. All I can say is that we have been blessed on this one. I just hope I haven't jinxed us for the last two days.

1000 Miles to Home

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian, Monday, July 6)
As I write this (Monday July 6 @ 10:30am) we are about 1000 miles north
east of New York. After yesterday's Independence Day/Sunday at sea
washout, the weather today is gorgeous. Go figure!
It is the last day I am keeping the Library open. For the next several
days I will be packing up all of the items that have to return to shore
and writing my final report of the voyage.

From what I've gathered, the plan is for us to reach Montauk sometime
Thursday and anchor to await Admiral Craine, the College's President, and
make the ship presentable for the return celebration. We will then move
on, sailing south of Long Island to the mouth of NY harbor and anchoring
again early Friday morning off Staten Island. There, we will be met by
the new Chancellor of the State University of NY and some other
dignitaries who will accompany us into the harbor and up the East River
for the final leg of the voyage, our grand journey home.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Final Exams

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian, Mr. Delbango; posted July 2, 2009)
It's almost the end of the voyage and that means the end of classes and
final exams. The cadets have been studying diligently in the library, in
the classrooms, in the mess and on the deck (when the weather permits);
anywhere they can find space to lay out their books and notes. They are
also scrambling to finish assignments, some due now and some that were due
weeks ago. The Library has been busy all day but especially so in the
evenings. You can feel tension in the air.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Homeward Bound

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian, Mr. Delbango)
We left Belfast around 17:00 Sunday evening. That was late for a port departure for us, but we had to have a high tide to leave. The tugs hooked up and pulled us out backwards out of the Victoria Channel and then turned us around. As we pulled out, we got a clear view of the now dormant dry dock where the Titanic was built. Steaming ahead, we entered the North Channel, rounded the Ards Peninsula and headed south into the Irish Sea toward the Atlantic and home. By Monday evening, we had past the southern tip of Ireland and left behind our last view of land until we see Sandy Hook. No more ports for us but home.
Everyone is busy finishing up their work. Finals will begin this week for the cadets' classes. Projects are due. Things have to be packed up around the ship. Grades have to be submitted. Final cleaning and repairs have to be done to make us presentable. There is no down time until July 10th. We can rest when we get back to the Bronx.

Around Belfast

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian, Mr. Delbango)
(images from
Belfast was a good walking city, very compact and organized. Unlike Sao
Miguel and Gibraltar, they actually had wide sidewalks and pedestrian
malls. This made walking fairly safe, except for the darn traffic moving
in the wrong direction. Three days isn't enough time to get used to cars
coming at you on the left side of the road.
The busses from the Ship left us in the heart of Belfast, right by the
City Hall and there was plenty to see and do in the immediate area. Most
of the shopping is within several blocks of the City center. There are
two really nice malls right there, Victoria Square and the Castle Court
and several smaller arcades. Most of the shopping district is either new
construction or beautiful restored Victorian buildings. The area has been
re-invigorated since the Peace of 1998 made the area safe again. For
almost 30 years it was an armed camp with roadblocks that wouldn't allow
traffic into the zone and pedestrian checkpoints. Unfortunately, the
re-construction process is continuing and there are lots of what they term
"diversions" (detours) that I had to maneuver around.

Other things I saw nearby were the Albert Clock Tower which is listing to
one side after 120 years like the Tower of Pisa, The St. Anne's Cathedral,
the Linen Hall Library and the Big Wheel Ferris wheel next to the City
Hall that I had to ride.

Outside the City center, in the working-class residential areas of the
west, are the former battle zones of Belfast's religious conflict. Here
are the Peace Walls. These are huge murals painted on the sides of row
houses commemorating events and personalities of what they call "the
Troubles". There are dozens of them. It was a horrible time for the
people of Belfast and it pervades the psyche of the whole population who
lived through it. The murals are mostly in the areas known as Shankill
(the Protestant area) and the Falls (the Catholic zone). I was able to
only get to the Shankill.

In the north part of the Shankill district is the 164 year old Crumlin
Road Prison, now closed but open to the public for tours. It was an
active prison until 1996. I took the tour and it was awesome, especially
the execution room where they hung 13 men over the years.

The north and south of the City are the more upscale residential areas. I
spent a bit of time exploring the north. Here are nice single family
homes and garden apartment complexes with beautifully landscaped grounds.

I was able to see a lot in three days. It was a great port to just roam

The Giant's Causeway

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian)
(image from
On Friday several cadets and I took the Giant's Causeway tour to the northcoast of the County Antrim. This was an 8 ½ hour tour of the beautiful northern region. Only 13 of us chose to go that day. It was unfortunate for those who didn't come along because we saw some of the most astounding scenery of any of the ports of this cruise. We traveled through peaceful, green farm country passing quaint cottages and farmhouses. Reaching the coast, we traveled though the seaside villages of Portstewart and Portrush and stopped at the ruins of Dunlucie Castle on a cliff overlooking the sea. This castle was the ancestral home of the McDonnell clan, the chiefs of Antrim and my Mother's family.. The day was clear and warm and we could see all the way over to Scotland from the site.
Traveling further west, we came to the Giant's Causeway itself. The causeway is a natural formation of regularly shaped basalt columns formed 60 million years ago by volcanic activity. They extend out into the sea. The weathered tops are so regular in shape that they look like floor tilesmaking up a walkway to the ocean. The legend is that it was created by the giant, Finn McCool so he could walk to Scotland to battle another giant.
After exploring the Causeway for an hour we had a traditional meal of Irish stew for lunch. Our bellies full, we moved on to the adventurous part of the trip, crossing the rope bridge or Carrick-a-rede. The rope bridge was first built centuries ago by fishermen so they could reach their fishing spot on a small, rocky island 70 feet offshore. It hangs precipitously 80 feet above the sea. Walking across on the narrow planking was a harrowing experience to say the least. The bridge shook and swayed while crossing it and some of us managed the crossing better than others. My method was just not to look down. After walking around the tiny island on the other side with cliffs dropping straight down to the sea, we had to make a return crossing to the mainland. It was just as thrilling.
Heading back to Belfast, we took the Antrim coast road passing through the spectacular Glens of Antrim and the lovely seaside towns of Ballycastle,Cushendall, Larne and Carrickfergus. Returning back to the ship that evening, we were exhausted yet invigorated by the beautiful Irish sights we had experienced.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Belfast, Ireland

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian, Mr. Delbango)
(image from Google images)
We pulled into Belfast harbor on Wednesday about 22:00. Darkness actually fell while most of us were still awake for the first time in weeks. We anchored in the harbor and really appreciated the dark because it allowed us to view the City lit up in all its glory. There had been a magnificent sunset over Belfast, and then it just started to glow in the clear night.
We thought we were going to dock about 2:00, but didn't actually dock until about 8:00. We finally got off the ship by 11:15 raring to go.
Once again, because of the distance from the docks to the city center, the College arranged busses for us. They run once an hour to the town and back. This is a real convenience because it is about 3 miles from the Ship to the downtown through a large industrial dock area.
The bus leaves us in a very busy district with plenty to do. There is some great shopping in small stores and two really nice malls re-engineered from old Victorian buildings. There are plenty of places to eat and drink. There is even a huge Ferris wheel right next to the City Hall! Thursday's weather was fantastic, sunny and warm. It was a great day to enjoy a great city.
I am are going on two of the scheduled tours over the next few days. Friday I'm taking an all day tour of the Giant's Causeway and the northcoast and Saturday a 3 hour bus tour of Belfast. Saturday is also the Carnival in town. All in all, it's going to be a busy port.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Passing Shetland Islands

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian)
(image from "")
We passed the Shetland Islands Monday evening and someone started the rumor that you could see the Shetland ponies on the shore. Even if they were, we weren't that close. During the night, we hit the Prime Meridian(0°) and headed south, then back west toward Belfast. In the morning the ship was shrouded in dense fog and we could see nothing. About 11:00 the fog lifted and we saw land on both sides of the ship. We were passing through Pentland Firth, a fairly narrow channel with the Scottish highlands to our port side and the Orkney Islands to the starboard. We're going to continue southwest past Scotland and the Outer Hebrides and down to the North Channel of the Irish Sea to the Irish island, arriving Wednesday night/ Thursday morning ready for our last liberty.

Librarian Joe Williams Presented at SUNYLA 2009

Joe WilliamsJoe Williams At the recent 41st Annual SUNY Librarian’s conference (SUNYLA 2009) held at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, Acquisitions and Collection Development Librarian, Joe Williams, did a presentation on using a scientific approach to assess and analyze libraries' collections in relation to the academic curriculum. This presentation titled “Measuring the Maritime Curriculum: Library Collection Assessment at SUNY Maritime College” explores how to use various factors to determine what an optimal collection should be and then comparing this to the library’s existing collection – a formula based theory to collection assessment. You can read more about Mr. Williams’ research by viewing an abstract and PowerPoint presentation online at Luce Library’s conferences web page. Mr. Williams had a very captive audience who expressed great interest in this topic and shared many questions at the end.

Kudos to Joe for a job well done!

Joe Williams

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On to Ireland

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian, Mr. Delbango)
We are somewhere slightly north of the Shetland Islands, way east of Ireland. As I said earlier, we have time to kill because the trip to Ireland from Iceland was much closer than our original itinerary to Germany planned for. The Captain is taking us over to the coast of Norway and then navigating back west through the myriad of islands north of the British Isles.

Order of the Bluenose

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian)
A mysterious scroll appeared in a bottle found on deck Friday evening. It
was a summons from one Davey Jones for all onboard to appear on deck
Sunday afternoon before the presence of King Neptune and his court. The
summons said the King would induct all who have crossed into his icy realm
into the Order of the Bluenose if they proved worthy. Amazed, no one knew
what to make of it, so they posted the scroll for all to see.
On Sunday at 13:00 everyone on the ship gathered in anticipation around
the aft hatch. Rising from the sea came the royal procession and
magnificent it was. There was the King's burly Sergeant at Arms with a
squad of the King's police, the Kings Barber, Davey Jones, the beautiful
but terrifying Sea Hag and, in all his glory out of the mist, was King
Neptune himself.

The King demanded certain sailors to come and kneel before him and to
answer the questions of the Sea Hag. Those failing to do so were made
slaves. They were bound, shaved and then forced to crawl through the
belly of the King's pet polar bear. Those making it through then had to
be cleansed by the sea to make them true seamen. After their cleansing
they were declared worthy to toast the King and partake in a feast
prepared by his cooks. Finally, the King's fools painted the noses of all
who survived, blue.

When the slaves had completed their trials, all of the crew who had never
previously been honored, were asked to endure the same. Many rose to the
occasion. With all those brave enough to step foreword finished, the King
bade us all farewell and disappeared back into the sea leaving everyone
with the question; "Did that really just happen?" Then they looked around
at all the blue noses of their fellow sailors and knew it did.

Monday, June 22, 2009

SUNY Maritime Library Adds Over 700 E-Books to Our Catalog!

Over 700 scholarly and popular e-books are now available through the library’s catalog, The Sextant. Maritime faculty, students and staff have access to these full-text, fully searchable online books from any computer 24/7. For off campus access you will need your SUNY Maritime email address and password to connect. The e-books cover a wide variety of subjects, including business and commerce, computer technology and software guides, contemporary literary criticism, health and wellness, and a variety of topics in history.

There are two easy ways to browse the Netlibrary e-books. From the Sextant’s search screen, enter “Netlibrary” into the search box and you will retrieve a list of titles. OR, to see the entire collection of over 1400 e-books, click the eResources/eBooks link on the Library’s homepage. For additional information or questions please email [] or call (718) 409-7231.

Navigate Your Course @Your Library

Friday, June 19, 2009

Crossing the Artic Circle

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian, Mr. Delbango)
(Image from "")
This morning sometime I crossed the Arctic Circle for the 2nd time in my life and entered "the Realm of the Polar Bear" or what is scientifically called The Frigid Zone. I haven't seen any Polar Bear yet, or for that matter, the icebergs they float on. The dictionary defines the Circle as "an imaginary line drawn parallel to the equator, at 23 degrees 28' S(outh) of the North Pole". It is the furthest northern limit of the circumpolar sun. We are traversing the upper coast of Iceland, heading west into the Norwegian Sea.

Frigid zone is an apt name. It is chilly out there today, probably in the
upper 30's. All the while it was sunny all night long.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Farewell to Iceland

(Excerpts from Ship's Librarian, Mr. Richard Delbango)
We left Reykjavik harbor this morning about 9:00, saying goodbye to that beautiful country and heading north to cross the Arctic circle. All of Iceland is slightly below the circle, so for the crew to join the "Order of the Bluenose", we have to take a northern detour to get to our next destination; Belfast, Northern Ireland. We have plenty of time because our original itinerary called for us to go to Kiel, Germany on the Baltic coast. Belfast is much closer so the Captain plans to steam around the Norwegian and North Seas, past the Faroe, Ornkey, Shetland and Hebrides islands and the coast of Norway. It is the journey that is important for these cadets, not the destinations.
The last destination though, was spectacular. On Monday, I went on the 8 hour "Golden Circle" tour to the east of Reykjavik. This guided tour took us out to the stark countryside to see some of the natural wonders of this country. We drove through treeless, rocky plains that streched on forever to distant walls of soaring mountains. Our first stop was a gorge that is actually the splitting point of the American and European tectonic plates. Near the gorge was the Parlimentary Plain, where the ancient Icelandic tribes met to form a nation. Heading further east, we stopped at the Goldfloss waterfall, not as big as Niagra, but impressive just the same. Our final stop was the town of Geyser and guess what they had there? GEYSERS, and a great lunch..The only thing I'm sorry I didn't get to see was a glacier upclose, although I did see one in the distance.
Tuesday was white water rafting day. It was cold and windy and everyone got wet, some more than others. I didn't realize that the guides' goal was not to keep us in the rafts, but to get everyone in the water at somepoint. Brrrr. At least they gave us hot soup and coffee to warm us up when done.
Captain Smith decided to stay in Reykjevik an extra day that will be deducted from our next port. It was a good decision because the 17th was their Independence Day and it was quite a party. They closed off the whole town to cars and there were thousands of people in the streets. There were booths and rides and music. They started after midnight the night before and were still going strong when I left at 10:30 PM. Bjork was a no-show, but it seemed that every other Icelander was there. The only thing missing in their Independence Day from ours was fireworks. They wouldn't have been any good since there was no darkness. They save their firework displays for New Years when it is dark all day.
It's back to work today until we dock in Belfast next Thursday.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Iceland - The Blue Lagoon

(Photos and Excerpt from Ship's Librarian, Richard Delbango)
We docked in Iceland at 8:00 today sailing in past some fantastic scenery. At 10:00 we were on our way to The Blue Lagoon. The Lagoon is a man made hot pool fed by the runoff from the geothermal power station. It is huge and absolutely beautiful. It was about an hour drive from our dock through some of the most stark countryside you have ever seen. Huge fields of black volcanic stone with green lichens growing on them, surrounded by volcanic hills. After a mandatory shower, we entered the lagoon area and were totally amaze. The water looked like blue milk. We jumped in and were instantly relaxed by the steaming hot water. We had to partake in the ritual of smearing ourselves with pure white silica mud that was supposed to be good for our skin. Everyone looked like ghosts covered with this stuff. There were steam and sauna baths as well as a bar right in the pool. A total relaxation experience. Even though it was about 45 degrees outside, no one cared. We stayed about 2 hours and were amazed by the experience. On the bus back, almost everyone fell asleep. As I said: total relaxation.

Approaching Iceland

(Excerpts from Ship's Librarian)
The seas calmed down last night. We are about 200 hundred miles south east of Iceland and will be there sometime tomorrow, June 14. We've already entered the "land of the midnight sun". Last night the sun went down after midnight and rose this morning at about 3:30! The days will get even longer the further north we
travel and the closer we get to the summer solstice. It was freaky
getting out of the Library after my shift ended at 23:00 and the sky was
still bright.

They are arranging tours of Iceland for us. There's going to be a trip to
the Blue Lagoon which is the world's largest hot tub. It is a
geothermally fed pool that can hold about 1,000 people. There is also
supposed to be a whole Iceland tour to take us to the glaciers, geysers
and waterfalls that the country is noted for. Another tour is a
whitewater rafting expedition. There will also be plenty to see in the
city of Reykjavik within walking distance of our dock.

Rumor is we are staying in Iceland an extra day because the 17th, the day
we were going to leave, is their Independence Day. It is supposed to be
one big party. If so, we will take a day off our next port which has
changed from Kiel, Germany to Belfast, Northern Ireland instead.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Calm Seas???

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian)
So much for the calm seas we had for our first 3 weeks out. The ocean
turned a little rough as we reached the northern coast of Portugal and the
weather has been cloudy and rainy ever since. Nothing too bad. Just
enough to make life interesting. You try to secure everything, but
something always escapes and rolls across the deck.

At Sea Again

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian, June 9)
We left Gibraltar at 8:00 yesterday morning. Rounding the point, we left the beautiful calm Mediterranean and headed north in the Atlantic toward Iceland. We skirted the coast of Portugal close enough to see lights last night. About 11:00pm the seas started getting a little rough and we rocked and rolled all night long.

Exploring Gibraltar

(Excerpts from Ship's Librarian, June 7)
I took a cable car to the top of the Rock on Friday, about 1,200 feet up. The view was spectacular, but the most interesting thing up there is the colony of monkeys. The little buggers are everywhere. They are cute, but will try to rob anything you have loose.

We also went to St. Michaels cave near the top. It is a beautiful, large cave with many natural water formed features. There is a natural concert hall inside with great acoustics.

Visiting Morocco

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian, June 7)
I went for a day trip to Morocco yesterday. What a trip it was! After dealing with border crossing into Spain, we took a 2 hour ferry ride across the Straits of Gibraltar to Tangier. I, along with 100 cadets, had a guided tour of the city. The city is an ancient crossroads of Asia, Afica and Europe and very international...We went to the Casbah to shop and what an experience. I now know what a Thieves Market means. From the second we stepped off the bus, we were hassled to buy every kind of trinket unimaginable, NON-STOP. The tour took us to a local restaurant where we had a lunch of kabob and coucous accompanied by Moroccan music. Afterwards, our guide took us through the winding streets filled with stalled and street sellers, to a sort of department store where we could shop in relative peace, at a higher cost of course. The trip was about 10 hours in total and we made it back safely in the evening.

Gibraltar, the Rock

(Excerpt from the Ship's Librarian, June 4)
We’ve been in view of “The Rock” for several days doing maneuvers. Gibraltar is just that, a giant rock rising up from the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea pushed up by the collision of Africa and Europe. It is attached to Spain but owned by the British where they have used it as a naval base to protect their interests for hundreds of years. As such, English is the mother tongue making communication a little easier than in the Azores.

We docked at the main dock at 8:00 Friday. Many times the ship docks miles away from anything and the logistics of getting around can be complicated. This time we are once again lucky because, like Ponta Delgada, we are docked right near the center of town.

Today I’m doing a tour of the rock. There are intricate caves dug into it by generations of defenders. At the top there are huge defensive guns for its protection. And then there are the infamous monkeys who roam the summit. These are the wild Barbary Apes brought here as pets by British Sailors. Supposedly, they are the biggest crime threat on the island. They are notorious for stealing sunglasses, hats, cameras, etc. It’s going to be interesting.

I’m taking a tour over to Morocco on Saturday. The ship is arranging tours for each of the days in port. It’s about a 10 mile ferry ride from Gibraltar and then I’ll have set foot in Africa for the first time. This should be a real adventure. I’d love to get over to Spain too, maybe on Sunday.

Approaching Gibraltar/ More Safety Drills

(Excerpt from the Ship's Librarian, June 3)
We arrived at the calm waters off Gibraltar on Tuesday morning June 2 about 6:00, but we won’t anchor until Friday. As I said in an earlier post, the Captain has gotten us out of bad weather approaching the Azores where we were supposed to do more safety drills. We are instead doing them here. We’re going to be doing man-overboard, fire and equipment drills.

It is a tease being so close to land and not being able to go ashore. Many of the people on the ship have cell phones that are European compatible and now we are in range, are using them constantly calling home.

The regimental staff is planning various tours for when we get to land. One I hope to go on is to Morocco, a short ferry ride across the narrow mouth of the Mediterranean to north Africa. I am also considering going into Spain somewhere on the Costa del Sol. There are beautiful beaches and towns there. I’d like to get to Malaga about 50 miles away. There is the Picasso Museum there among some others. I want to see some original flamenco dancing as well.

Lifeboat Drills

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian, June 2)
We just had another lifeboat/safety drill. By Coast Guard regulations, we have to have one a week and the Captain likes planning them for calm waters. When the alarm sounds, you have to drop everything. You have to get your gear and to go to your assigned lifeboat station wearing a jacket, hat, life vest and carrying ID, a knife and flashlight. The drills usually last ½ hour or so. Today we had an added lesson on how to use a “Gumby Suit”. This is a floatable, thermal protection outfit that helps you stay afloat and avoid hypothermia in case you have to go directly into the water if the ship’s going down and you can’t use the lifeboats. You look like “Gumby” when it is all zipped up, Also demonstrated was a mylar sleeping bag-like device to keep you warm in the lifeboat.

There are 6 lifeboats on board of 2 different kinds with more than enough capacity to hold everyone. The traditional type, like the one we all know from movies like “Titanic,” is open and holds 145 people. The second kind looks like a large orange boot. It is completely enclosed and able to stay afloat in the roughest seas. You may have seen this type recently on the news. It was the type the Somali pirates were killed in during the recent standoff. I’m assigned to the former this cruise, but I think I’d prefer to be in the latter.
It’s a bit disconcerting to think about having to abandon ship, but it is comforting to know that we are well prepared to do so if we had to.


(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian)
Food, glorious food! They feed us like kings here. There are about 50 food service staff who work about 20 hours a day cooking, baking, serving and cleaning. One whole deck is taken up with food storage, kitchens and the Cadet mess.

Breakfast begins at 6:15 until 8:00, a little early for me with my late hours. We have custom omelets, eggs, cereals, pancakes, waffles, French toast as well as selection of fresh fruits, cereals rolls and pastries. Lunch is at 11:30 until 13:00 and consists of a hot dish, soup, a salad bar and a selection of cold cuts and salads for sandwiches. Dinner is 17:00 to 19:00 is always some delicious hot dish, pasta, soup and salad bar. Portions are as big or small as you want. They usually bring up pizza and popcorn around 20:00 each night. A refrigerator is left fully stocked in the Officer’s mess galley for crew who are on overnight shifts or anyone else who wants to indulge any time of the day.

Then there are the desserts. Fresh baked pastries and cakes are left out for us 24 hours a day. The ice cream freezer is also available all of the time. I could get used to this life.

Day at Sea

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian, Sunday, May 31)
Another Sunday at sea and life is good. We’ve been blessed for the whole journey so far with calm seas and sunny warm weather. Today is no exception. I work a shorter day on Sundays; open 9 hours instead of 12-13. The cadets are on a regular class/work day today to make up for the day we lost, but the Sunday barbecue took place as scheduled. We had burgers, franks and sausages for lunch cooked on large grills on the deck. Dinner was steaks, burgers, corn-on-the-cob and baked potatoes with sundaes for dessert. Yum!

With the cadets working and eating all day, the Library was a little slower. Tonight’s showing of “The Transformers” in the lounge next door should be packed.

Back to Sea

(Excerpt from Ship's Librarian, Saturday, May 30)
We left the Azores at 8:30 am on May 30th heading into what looks like rough seas. We were supposed to cruise slowly around the Azores a couple more days for drills and maneuvers, but now we are going to steam towards the calmer Mediterranean around our next port, Gibraltar, and do them there.

Everyone is exhausted from shore leave. I walked through Ponta Delgada for hours each day, up and down its hilly, narrow streets. I was able to get in as much of the town as possible in 3 days, even with taking the 4 hour tour on Thursday to the west of the Island and the 7 hour tour to the east and north on Friday. The scenery here was amazing to behold.

Exploring the Azores

(Excerpts from the Ship's Librarian, Thursday, May 28)
I am having a great time exploring Sao Miguel. The ship is docked right in the center of downtown Ponta Delgada. The town is a mix of the modern and the ancient. There is a small mall as well as many shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.

Yesterday, I walked about 5 miles around the town taking in the sites. Most of the architecture is Mediterranean in style with some contemporary “Euro-Trash” thrown in. The main street, along the water, is a wide boulevard. The older streets, uptown, are extremely narrow and dangerous for pedestrians, with tightly packed 2 & 3 story apartment buildings. It always amazes me how with so much land, people choose to live on top of one another. I visited 2 of the 3 largest churches in town, both over 400 years old. They were beautiful examples of rococo architecture. I ate dinner in a small restaurant, a delicious mixed grill of 5 kinds of fish with potatoes.

My dreams of beaching it were dashed by the cool temperatures in the low 70’s. Today I along with 50 cadets and Fr Farrell the chaplain, took a 4 hour tour of the volcanoes in the western part of the island. Passing through dairy farm land, the bus climbed to the summit of the volcano to a vista spot. Inside of the volcano are 2 lakes, one blue and the other green, called “The Twins”. We travelled into the volcano to the lakes and rested at a small town with coffee and Portuguese pastries. Returning to Ponta Delgada, we stopped at a pineapple plantation where some of the cadets, not me, sampled their pineapple liquor.

Tomorrow I’m joining a 7 hour tour of the east coast that includes a visit to a tea plantation, a swim in a hot spring and a lunch steam cooked for us in a geyser. Then it’s back to sea(and back to work) on Saturday heading for Gibraltar.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Arriving at the Azores

(Excerpts from the Ship's Librarian, Wednesday, May 27)
We were able, even with some engine problems, to make up for some of the time lost at Montauk. We reached the Azores, a volcanic archipelago in the east Atlantic, on Tuesday night rather than the morning as scheduled. Unable to dock in the dark, we anchored then docked Wednesday morning at 10:00am.

I sailed around the Azores on my last cruise in 2002, but we didn’t land then. I am looking foreword to actually going ashore this time. I want to go swimming in the beautiful azure (thus Azores) water and soak up the rays on a sandy black beach. Yes, the beaches are BLACK because these beautiful islands are really volcanoes, dormant ones. Maybe I’ll also get some hiking in up the flower lined trails of the volcanoes.

The island we have come to is called Sao Miguel. The Azores is a Portuguese owned group of islands located approx. 2400 miles east of NY and 950 miles west of Lisbon, Portugal. We docked at Ponta Delgada, the largest town with a population of about 45,000 people. These islands are actually the tops of volcanoes jutting up from the ocean floor. They were uninhabited until discovered and subsequently colonized by the Portuguese in 1427. Fantastic natural beauty.

The Librarian's Cabin

(Excerpts from the Ship's Librarian)
My cabin is on the Cabin deck, the second highest deck up right below the Bridge Deck where the ship’s controls are. Back in the day when the Empire State VI was a merchant cargo vessel run by the defunct Moore-McCormick lines this deck was for passengers the ship routinely carried along with cargo. That was a common practice then allowing for more economical travel than on a liner. It also allowed people to travel to spots not serviced by liner traffic. Air travel and efficiency of cargo carrying with container ships has pretty much killed this kind of service. As such, the cabins on my deck are more luxurious than the officer’s cabins on the rest of the ship with wooden bunks and dressers.

There are 2 bunks in my cabin that I am sharing it with Tim K. a rep of NOAA (National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Agency). Tim has a dual faceted job on board; he teaches weather at sea and also takes readings that he relays back to NOAA. Tim will only be on for ¾ of the cruise, leaving me to a private room if no one else joins the cruise on its last legs.

I have a large window with a beautiful view of the sea from one angle. Unfortunately, a big orange lifeboat obscures views from the other angles. That’s OK because I’m not in the cabin much spending most of my time 7 decks below in the Library. When I’m not at work, there is a beautiful Officers Lounge right outside my cabin as well as multiple outside decks to relax on and take in the fantastic, infinite ocean views and a night sky filled with more stars than you thought possible. A ladder (stairway) near my room takes me directly to the Officer’s Mess, convenient for mealtime or the snacks available there 24/7. Not luxury, but not bad either

The Ship's Library

(Excerpts from the Ship's Librarian)
I’ve been working long hours keeping the Library open from 10:00am to at least 10:30 pm. I have been able to hire 2 cadets to help me run things, giving me a chance for additional breaks without closing. The Library patrons consist mainly of pleasure readers and of study groups using the navigation table books that we provide to determine where we are and where we’re going. Even though these tables are on the PCs in the Library, they want to use the books! I don’t have many electronic resources since we have no internet, just some specialized digital sources the land library was able to load on the ship library’s network. The rest is done with books. Remember those? It’s like doing reference in the early 90’s. Reference questions have been minimal, but steady. I do everything here; reference, readers advisory, circulation, cataloging, ...

Another duty of mine is as the ship’s Audio Visual person showing 2 movies a night in the Cadet Lounge next to the Library where they can relax after a day’s work. A new video system with a 52” flat screen TV and surround sound was installed days before we left. We have about 350 mostly current DVDs to choose from and the programming is left up to me. The hardest thing is keeping the running times of the 2 films to about 3 ½ hours so I can close as close to 10:30 pm as possible. I also run the occasional educational film for classes held during the day.


(Excerpt from the Ship's Librarian)
The sail so far has been great. I write this on Sunday May 24, 2009. We’ve traveled over 1,600 miles toward our first port, the Azores. The weather has been fantastic, warm and sunny outdoors with calm or just lightly rolling seas. As I write this we’re waiting for the barbecue grills to heat up for our all-day Memorial Day feast of steaks, burgers, hot dogs, salads and ice cream floats.

On to the Azores.

Departure Day, May 18 @ 10:00AM

(Excerpts from the Ship's Librarian)
The Ship departed from Fort Schuyler in the Bronx at exactly 10:00am on Monday May 18. The departure was spectacular with throngs of loved ones lining the sea wall near the Maritime dock to wish all their sailors Bon Voyage.

The tugs that would pull us out under the Throgs Neck Bridge arrived about 9:30am as did a NY Fire Department rescue boat with an honorary spraying salute to our departure. By about 10:30am, we were underway sailing east through the Long Island Sound. We had to anchor off Montauk Point to dispatch some inspectors and College personnel not doing the cruise.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Blogging @ Luce Library

Welcome to the Stephen B. Luce Library Blog. Read news, announcements, research tips, commentaries, and lots more about Luce Library at Fort Schuyler and Ship's Library onboard TS Empire State. Many interactive features are available, including ability to leave comments (all comments are reviewed prior to posting), email blog posts to anyone, and subscribe to blog feed to stay alerted on any new blog posts. Thank you for visiting.