02-May-2007 -- After an extremely fast discharging of 15,000 tons of steel billets at Río Haina (Dominican Republic) we are now underway to our second discharge Port Arthur in Texas.
The course from south of Hispaniola to Cabo San Antonio (the westernmost tip of Cuba) brings us to 18N 75W, and thus in the "vicinity" of a tiny uninhabited island of not more than 5 km², but which is an "independent" confluence country... NAVASSA.
Navassa is a coralline limestone formation and from 42 to 72 m high. The interior is a slightly undulating plateau rimmed on all sides by an abrupt escarpment. The plateau and escarpment are fairly densely wooded. The island is completely girt by whitish cliffs, from 9 to 15 m high, which make it inaccessible except from Lulu Bay, - a small indentation on the SW side of the island.
Navassa is situated 32 nautical miles (59 km) west of Cape Tiburon, the SW extremity of Haiti.
The following I have learned from the USGS website:
In 1857, the phosphorite on Navassa was mistaken for guano by a U.S. sea captain who laid claim to the island under the Guano Island Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1855. Between 1865 and 1898 almost a million tons of the phosphorite were strip-mined from the island and shipped to Baltimore by the Navassa Phosphate Co. The island was abandoned during the Spanish American War, but by that time it was firmly established as US territory.
The opening of the Panama Canal put Navassa in the middle of the traffic lanes between the Atlantic and Caribbean, and the Coast Guard built a lighthouse on the island in 1917. Global Positioning Systems eliminated the need for the lighthouse by 1996, and the Coast Guard turned Navassa over to U.S. Department of Interior on January 16, 1997.
Navassa is administered by the U.S. Department of Interior. The USGS participated in two science expeditions to Navassa organized by the Center for Marine Conservation. The first team of 8 scientists spent July 24 to August 5, 1998 on Navassa. The second expedition occurred between April 29 and May 12, 1999 and was supported by a vessel, film crew, and explorers from the Quest, an Australian adventure group and film production enterprise.
The team conducted an inventory of natural resources of the island for the Department of Interior, Office of Insular Affairs. Preliminary results of the inventories have increased the number of terrestrial species known to the island from 150 to more than 650. On the last day of the first trip, the group found a single living specimen of the palm tree Pseudophoenix sargentti saonae var. navassana. Further exploration during the second trip proved the specimen to be the last living example of this endemic palm, which had been common on the island as late as 1928.
The information collected during these expeditions was instrumental in the decision in 1999 to make Navassa a National Wildlife Refuge, under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge was established to preserve and protect the coral reef ecosystems and the marine environment, to restore and enhance native wildlife and plants, and to provide opportunities for wildlife research. This refuge is closed to the public. Landfall on Navassa is not allowed without permission.