2017-09-06 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Safe Operation Of Ships

To The Editor:

As a former Navy enlisted man (1950s) and naval officer (Navigator and Officer of the Deck, 1960s), I am quite concerned with the recent collisions by our warships in Asian waters. We lost seven sailors in the collision of the USS Fitzgerald and another ten sailors in the collision of the USS John S. McCain. Two guided missile destroyers are out of service and need extensive repairs.

There are many factors that could contribute to collisions between ships, including enemy acts, weather, fatigue, missed or erroneous ship handling commands, and equipment malfunctions, but the one overriding factor leading to collisions is typically inattention to surrounding circumstances while operating in close proximity to other ships and relying solely on technology to keep them safe.

Many ships employ the latest technologies in ship handling, navigation and communication systems, but maritime personnel have to properly utilize the systems. They have to augment these systems by using their training and skills to safely operate the ship in accordance with the nautical “rules of the road.”

When two ships approach each other they are supposed to abide by the rules of the road. The ship overtaking another ship is burdened and has to maneuver to avoid the overtaken ship, usually turning to starboard or slowing down. Two ships approaching bow on should each turn to starboard. When a ship approaches another ship that is to its starboard side, it is the burdened ship and it has to turn to starboard or port and pass under the stern of the other ship. Proper whistle signals must be used, which comprises one short blast for a turn to starboard, two short blasts for a turn to port, three short blasts for backing down, and five short blasts (international waters) for danger.

When a US Navy ship is operating in or near shipping lanes in close proximity to many ships, the three naval officers who are critical to the safe navigation of a ship are the commanding officer (captain), navigator, and officer of the deck (OOD). The navigator determines positions and tracks for the ship. The OOD, who stands four hour watches, is in command of the ship and has the conn, unless the captain is on the bridge. At night, when the two collisions occurred, the captain was probably sleeping and the OOD was in charge of the ship and responsible to maneuver the ship as necessary and keep the captain informed of the status of the ship and other vessels in the area. If the ship was operating in potentially difficult situations, then the captain should have been on the bridge and maneuvering the ship.

In addition to using radar at night to track other ships, visual sightings are always used to track ships. All ships have port (red) and starboard (green) running lights and white masthead and range lights. By viewing these lights on other ships, the OOD can determine the approximate track of other ships and whether another ship is on a collision course with his/her ship.

Hopefully, the naval inquiries will determine why the ships collided, and they will implement corrective actions to improve ship handling operations.

Donald Moskowitz
Londonderry, NH
Former AG2 & LT, US Navy
Penn State NROTC
(From The Fleet)

Happy Anniversary, ‘A’ Train!

To The Editor:

On September 10, 1932 service started on the “A” train, which originally ran between 207th Street in Upper Manhattan and Chambers Street in Downtown Manhattan. This was the first city-owned and built IND subway line. At the time, it was considered state of the art with rattan seats, metal straps, overhead fans, and providing speedy service. The subway cars were so well built, many ran over 40 years into the early 1970s. The basic design of these cars served as the foundation for future generations, right up to the present day. IND stations on the A line were built to accommodate up to 11 car lengths. During the 1930s, the city began building and financing construction of the new IND (Independent Subway – today’s A, C, E, F and G lines). This new municipal system completely subsidized by taxpayers dollars would provide direct competition to both the privately owned IRT (Interboro Rapid Transit – todays’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 lines) and BMT (Brooklyn Manhattan Transit – today’s B, D, J, L, M, N, R, Q and Z lines).

The original base fare of five cents was established in 1913. Municipal government forced both the BMT and IRT into economic ruin by denying them fare increases, in future decades, that would have provided access to additional, badly needed revenues. Big Brother, just like The Godfather, eventually made them “an offer they couldn’t refuse.” The owners folded and sold out to City Hall in 1940.

The A train became famous in the 1940s when jazz musician Duke Ellington wrote “Take the A Train.” The A line was extended in 1936, as the “Fulton Street branch” running through Brooklyn and terminating at Lefferts Blvd. in Queens. When the Long Island Rail Road abandoned the Rockaway Beach branch in the 1950s, the A line was extended to provide new service to the Rockaways which began on June 28, 1956.

In 1953, the old NYC Board of Transportation passed on control of the municipal subway system, including all its assets to the newly created New York City Transit Authority. Under late Governor Nelson Rockefeller in the 1960s, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was created. The governor appointed four board members. Likewise, the mayor appointed four more and the rest were appointed by suburban county executives. No one elected official controlled a majority of the votes. As a result, elected officials have historically taken credit when the MTA or any operating subsidiary such as New York City Transit would do a good job. When operational problems occurred or fare increases were needed, everyone could put up their hands: “Don’t blame me, I’m only a minority within the board.” Decade after decade, NYC mayors, comptrollers, public advocates, City Council presidents and members, and borough presidents would all play the same sad song: “If only we had majority control of the board,” things would be different. All have long forgotten that buried within the 1953 master agreement between the City of New York and NYC Transit is an escape clause. NYC has the legal right at any time to take back control of its assets which includes the subway and most of the bus system as well. Actions speak louder than words. If municipal elected officials feel they could do a better job running the nation’s largest subway and bus system, why not step up to the plate now and regain control of your destiny?

Many are too young to remember that up until the 1970s NYC Transit extended E line service which ran express in Brooklyn, providing supplemental service to the A line during rush hours to the Rockaways. Riders up until the early 1970s had to pay an extra fare when traveling beyond Broad Channel to any other station in the Rockaways. For off-peak and late night service, there was the old HH local shuttle from either Rockaway Park or Far Rockaway to Euclid Avenue Station, which was the first stop in Brooklyn.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Evacuation Plan For Elderly

To The Editor:

It is absolutely horrible to hear of ladies in wheelchairs in a nursing home sitting in dirty flood water in Texas. All nursing homes, hospitals and senior living places must have an evacuation plan since their residents are disabled, vulnerable, frail and elderly, and cannot fend for themselves. Preparedness is so important in case of fire, flood, emergency or other disasters for these facilities.

Trump should have visited Houston, where over 9,000 people are housed in the convention center. Also, he should not have waited so long and cared more. I am proud of the citizens of Texas for helping church members, as well as proud of our first responders who worked on the pile after 9/11 to save lives, and who are going to Texas to save lives. Disasters bring out the best in people. Let us pray that this too shall pass.

The very fact that the awful Hurricane Harvey inflicted such enormous amounts of rain in record amounts shows that the climate is changing, and in the future the rainfall from Harvey will be considered a small amount. So our president must get on the ball and admit that there is global warming and climate change and not withdraw our country from the Paris climate accord. I am so glad that our governor and our mayor are sending help and all cities throughout our nation are as well. We are one country and in times of disaster we all must join together. Disaster is not a Republican or Democratic party issue and it shows that Trump must stop the stupidness in his actions and act like a president and unify our nation.

Again I hope that the government will not be shut down. The debt ceiling must be raised. This will cause financial havoc if this does not happen.

North Korea must be stopped and they must not be treated lightly or gently. They are a menace and threat.

Glad that there is now ferry service from Astoria to Wall Street.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

Input On Liquor Licensing

Dear Friend:

I am a firm believer that when the New York State Liquor Authority is processing a liquor license for a bar, club or restaurant, the voices of our communities need to be heard and considered. This is why I introduced a bill in the State Senate calling for the establishment of the State Liquor Authority (SLA) Community Liaison for each of the city’s community boards.

Under my proposal, the SLA will appoint a community liaison to ensure that each community board receives all notifications and input relative to the issuance or renewal of liquor licenses. My bill makes sure the SLA is aware of disorderly, non-complying establishments before their liquor license is renewed.

I understand that a vast majority of the venues are good neighbors and enrich our neighborhoods; however, there are a few bad apples that disrupt the quality of life of our communities. There is a clear need to protect the community and prevent noisy establishments from giving a bad name to our neighborhoods.

I urge the Assembly to pass my proposal and make the SLA community liaison a reality. Our neighborhoods are vibrant, and together, we must continue to work to improve the quality of life of residents as well as visitors.

For more information, do not hesitate to call my office at 718-205-3881.

Jose Peralta
NYS Senate

Trump’s Tax Reform

To The Editor:

Today President Trump reaffirmed his commitment to stimulate the economy and create jobs by fundamentally reforming our tax code. From a community banker’s standpoint, a reduction in the federal tax rate to 15% would have a dramatic stimulative impact.

Community banks crave capital for growth. By reducing the federal rate by 20%, banks will have the opportunity to increase their capital via the additional resultant retained earnings and leverage that newly found capital to fund loan growth. This, in turn, will fuel the bank’s staffing/employment requirements as well.

Remember, for every dollar of capital a bank retains, it can lend $10 to $12 to businesses and consumers. What does that mean? Consider this simplified example: A community bank has $5 million in pretax earnings. A federal tax cut of 20% will result in the bank being able to create an additional $1 million in capital. This will result in $10 to $12 million in new lending capacity. And, incidentally, that net interest income earned by the bank on this new lending capacity will be federally taxable and thus generate a return to the taxpayers.

At the end of the day, it’s very simple: reduced taxes equals capital growth, which produces the increased lending opportunities and employment growth that stimulate the economy and produce a higher federal tax base!

Steven Schnall
Quontic Bank Chair and CEO

Helping Our Neighbors

To The Editor:

Texans have shown their true grit in the midst of great devastation and destruction of Hurricane Harvey. Newspapers and television showed neighbor helping neighbor and strangers helping strangers. So far 20 have died, 3,500 have been rescued and thousands are in shelters. More must be done and that means we must all, if we can, donate to the American Red Cross. And I ask the many who can’t, to please pray for these brave Texans who are suffering from the worst storm imaginable. When bad things happen to people it is up to the kindness of strangers that often shines through. Remember this too: Evil thrives when good people do nothing!

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

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