Saturday, April 30, 2005

US Navy Hospital Ship Ends Indonesia Mission

A U.S. navy hospital ship will leave Indonesia's quake-hit Nias island on Saturday, marking a final farewell by U.S. troops involved in Indonesian disaster relief work, the U.S. embassy said.
The 270-metre (890-ft) USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrived in Indonesia with the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln after the Dec. 26 Indian Ocean tsunami that left more than 160,000 Indonesians dead or missing. The ship ended in March a one-month mission in Aceh province, the region hardest hit by the tsunami, and was on a humanitarian operation off Indonesia's eastern island of Alor when a deadly earthquake struck Nias on March 28. Since arriving on April 5, doctors in the 1,000-bed ship performed 123 surgeries and conducted more than 19,000 medical procedures at Nias, the embassy said in a statement on Friday. The U.S. military contributed one of the largest troop contingents, numbering in the thousands, to relief efforts in Aceh following the tsunami.
USNS Mercy (T-AH 19)

Friday, April 29, 2005

Tanker & Crew Boat Collide

Sailors & Mariners League has learned one of the four crew members rescued from a capsized boat Thursday morning is in, quote, “extremely critical condition” at a local hospital. The other three members rescued have been treated a local hospitals and released.
The Rene 1
Coast Guard boat crews from Station Sabine, said they rescued three men from the Sabine Channel, and a fourth crewman was rescued by another vessel, after a tanker and a crew boat collided just before noon today. A watchstander at Coast Guard Marine Safety Office Port Arthur received a call at 11:35 a.m. from the Sabine pilot`s association reporting that the 784-foot tanker Genmar Strength and the 101-foot crew boat Rene 1 had collided in the Sabine Channel between the jetties where the channel enters the Gulf of Mexico. The Rene 1 capsized and sank with four Sailors aboard. A boat crew from Coast Guard Station Sabine was immediately dispatched and rescued two Sailors from the water near the Rene I. A third Sailor, found unconscious, was rescued from the capsized boat. The crew of a Sabine pilot boat rescued the fourth crewmember. All were taken to shore where awaiting EMS personnel transported them to local hospitals. The Genmar Strength is at anchor three miles offshore. The Coast Guard says there is no report of pollution or injuries aboard the tanker. The Sabine Ship Channel is closed until further notice. The cause of the collision is under investigation.
The Rene 1 before the collision

Armed Robbers Raid Wheat Ship At Iraqi Port

Security has been tightened at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr after an armed gang raided a vessel carrying Australian wheat, shipping industry sources said on Thursday. The ship, one of three bringing in wheat and delayed by Iraqi authorities investigating alleged cargo contamination, was raided by three armed men on April 22, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said. Crew members were assaulted and robbed of their cash and other possessions. Local shipping agents Gulf Agency Company said security had been bolstered after the attack. The three cargoes are part of a large consignment from Australian wheat exporter AWB Ltd . Iraq complained last month that Australian wheat was overpriced and that shipments were contaminated with iron dust. AWB has rejected both claims. Security was stepped up early last year at Iraq's southern Basra oil terminal after al Qaeda's al-Zarqawi group carried out a suicide boat attack at the terminal.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Navy Corpsman's Remains Recovered From Vietnam

The remains of a Navy Sailor and 3 Marines killed in a Vietnamese firefight nearly four decades ago have been identified and returned to the United States for funerals. Navy medic Navy Petty Officer 3rd class Malcolm "Mac" Miller, who was killed less than a month into his second tour in Vietnam, and two other team members will be laid to rest May 10 at Arlington National Cemetery on the 38th anniversary of their deaths, the Pentagon announced Monday. Miller, 20, was attached to a Marine reconnaissance unit near Khe Sanh in 1967 when the squad on night patrol found an empty Viet Cong bunker on top of a hill and waited for the enemy to return, said Miller's brother Wes, who has reviewed reports of the firefight. The families of the Americans reported missing after the firefight with dozens of Viet Cong were told they were dead but their bodies could not be recovered because of heavy fire.
Navy Petty Officer 3rd class Malcolm "Mac" Miller

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Ho’s Old Ship Attracts Winds Of Controversy

Is it a floating restaurant or a casino in disguise? The $600-million Jumbo Kingdom holds its grand opening Thursday and its owners hope it would soon be one of the featured attractions in the Manila Bay area. The Jumbo Kingdom is a pagoda-shaped ship moored near the Folk Arts Theater in the Cultural Center Complex. It is being promoted as a floating restaurant, continuing the tradition it had enjoyed in Hong Kong’s Aberdeen Harbor as a dining establishment offering Chinese cuisine and Western dishes. But the ship has run into a storm of controversy since it was towed from Hong Kong, and that storm is showing signs of intensifying again. Critics smell something fishy about the Jumbo Kingdom. They suspect the ship, besides serving food, will also cater to the unsatiable appetite of gamblers. Fr. Robert Reyes, the priest who has challenged authorities on a number of national issues, accuses the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) of secretly striking a deal with the gambling mogul Stanley Ho in reviving the moribund Jumbo Kingdom. Reyes said he would not be surprised if the floating restaurant would soon be converted into a full-blown casino. He said Ho’s name cannot be traced to the revival of the Jumbo Palace but Ho’s partner will run the restaurant. The management of Jumbo Palace insists the restaurant has no gaming tables or slot machines and that Ho is no longer connected with its operations. It said the company behind Jumbo Kingdom has no license from PAGCOR to operate a casino. Reyes said, however, Ho can easily get around that requirement. Ho regularly makes it to the list of Asia’s richest businessmen, having made his wealth on the gambling monopoly he has held for more than 40 years in the former Portuguese enclave of Macau. Annual revenue for the Hong Kong-based tycoon’s private company, Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau, is believed to be about $3.2 billion. It runs nine casinos in Macau as well as a jockey club and several lotteries. Ho also has business interests in Australia, with his $4.2 million for a 20-percent stake in Consolidated Gaming Group, which provides both hardware and software for the local gambling industry. Militant groups said Ho might resort to dummy investors to run Jumbo Kingdom because his former investments in the Philippines had gone sour. Ho had bought a 10-percent stake in the Philippine gambling company BW Resources Corp., the then darling of the Manila stock market. BW Resources had been a struggling small-time textile firm until it got the backing of the US-based Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide to buy out a major hotel and shopping mall development near Manila Bay. Two months later BW Resources’ majority owner, Dante Tan, a crony of deposed President Joseph Estrada, secured the license for what has become a widely popular televised bingo game show. BW Resources shares went through the roof. The stock, which started the year at P1.98, hit P93 the day before Ho’s purchase of a 10-percent stake in the company was revealed. But rumors quickly surfaced of improper trading in the company’s stock, prompting investigations by both the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission and the Philippine Stock Exchange. The House of Representatives inquired into the rumors, but Ho has refused to appear before the House Committee on Public Order and Security.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Next Generation Of Navy Aircraft

Two advanced aircraft that will help the Navy's intelligence gathering and precise targeting of weaponry were celebrated Monday at the Northrop Grumman facility in St. Augustine. Navy officials, joined by U.S. Reps. Ander Crenshaw, R-Jacksonville, and John Mica, R-Daytona, attended a ceremony marking the start of a program to build the first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye plane and the delivery of the third EA-6B Prowler electronic-attack aircraft. The two carrier-based aircraft are part of the Navy's vision of technically advanced future of warfare, called Sea Power 21. The Prowler is the third of 10 improved capability planes ordered by the Pentagon for the Navy and Marine Corps. The first squadron of new Prowlers is expected to be operational this summer. The Navy expects the advanced Hawkeye to help protect the fleet from cruise missiles. Two test aircraft being built at the Grumman plant in St. Augustine are expected to be ready for fight testing in 2007. After testing is complete, the Pentagon expects to order 75 of the aircraft, with production to begin in 2010.
E-2D Advanced Hawkeye & EA-6B Prowler

JFK Carrier Debate

The fate of the carrier USS John F. Kennedy - CV-67 is now the subject of discussions between the House and Senate. They are debating whether the Navy should maintain a 12 carrier fleet. Last week, the Senate voted in a war appropriations bill to include that language. Congressman Ander Crenshaw has been on the frontline keeping the JFK on the front burner. While in Saint Augustine attending a Navy and Northrop Gruman event, Crenshaw told the crowd, "It seems Navy is more important than ever before, so are aircraft carriers." Crenshaw says while Mayport Naval Station's future is with a nuclear carrier, he believes keeping the aging JFK in the fleet is important to national security. Plus, he says it helps buy time for the transition from a diesel powered carrier to nuclear.
USS John F. Kennedy CV-67

Monday, April 25, 2005

Mystery Boat Piques Interest Of Dock Workers

A boat equipped with two large domes on its deck and moored in a secure area of the city´s waterfront has piqued the interest of dockworkers who claim to have never seen a vessel like it. The Sage, an offshore supply ship about 180 feet long, has been parked at Portland Ocean Terminal for three weeks at a cost of nearly $300 a day. But the Ship´s Captain will not talk and has ordered that nobody be allowed near it. "It´s a bizarre-looking boat," said Stephen Phillips, a dockworker at the Portland Fish Exchange. "It´s crazy." The Sage, one of 530 vessels owned by Tidewater, the world´s largest offshore marine services provider, has a registered port of New Orleans. Stephen Dick, the company´s executive vice president, said defense contractor Lockheed Martin has leased the vessel, though he was uncertain what the company planned for its use. Similar domes have covered antennae used to track satellites, and some believe the boat could be used to track the space shuttle Discovery when it launches. Lockheed manufactured the shuttle´s fuel tanks at its New Orleans plant, and because of the destruction of the Columbia in 2003, this Discovery mission will be tracked more than any other shuttle mission, according to NASA. The Discovery´s earliest launch date is May 22. The final date for launch will be June 3 as part of new restrictions that force it to launch and discard the fuel tank jettisoned as the shuttle nears orbit during daylight. The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram contacted officials at NASA over a period of five days, but none said whether the Sage was involved in the shuttle´s mission. Jeff Monroe, the city´s director of ports and transportation, said the parabolic antennae on The Sage are larger versions of the satellite dishes people use to get television signals from satellites. If the antennae are not used for the Discovery, he said perhaps the boat could track communications satellites or global position system satellites. Perhaps the ship is involved in classified missions, he added. "Ultimately, we may be fooled by this," he said. "This may be the most sophisticated TV antenna any ship has ever been equipped with.
The Vessel Sage, with two large domes rising from its aft deck, has been tied up for three weeks in a secure area at a Portland Harbor pier. An official from the ship's owner thinks it has been leased to Lockheed Martin, a defense contractor.

Toxic Ship Lands At Alang

A ship carrying hazardous waste which reportedly gave Danish authorities the slip last month, landed at Alang on Friday night but Customs and pollution control authorities have kept it under watch as Danish environment minister had warned India about it well in advance. The 4,000-tonne ship has no cargo and sports a different name ‘Riky’ in an attempt to mislead Customs and Gujarat Maritime Board authorities. The ship started its journey as King Frederik IX and later changed its name to Frederik before settling for Riky during transit. Danish Environment Minister Connie Hedegaard had written to her Indian counterpart A Raja on April 15 warning about the arrival of a 51-year-old ship carrying asbestos at Alang to be dismantled. ‘‘It’s a small ship and was probably used as a floating museum,’’ a top Customs official told Ahmedabad Newsline on Saturday after a preliminary inspection. All the 17 crew members are Indian. On the face of it, the ship contains no toxic material. Maybe, it was stripped of traces during transit because its arrival had been highlighted, sources said. ‘‘We are no experts so we have informed pollution control authorities,’’ the official said. ‘‘Despite the new name we found it was the same ship from the history of ownership,’’ the official said. Two days ago, the Environment Ministry had written to authorities in Alang in Bhavnagar district asking them to be on the look out for such a ship. Normally, only two Customs officials visit a ship before it’s given permission to berth. On Friday night a team of eight customs officials, including two superintendents and four inspectors, inspected the ship. On Saturday, the customs got in touch with Gujarat Pollution Control Board and Central Pollution Control Board. A joint inspection will be carried on Monday and the proceedings will be videographed. The ship has been ordered to be kept as it is till then. The crew led by a captain hailing from New Delhi have not been detained as the duty was paid. There were no instructions either to detain the crew or to send the ship back. Quoting the UN Basel Convention which prohibits transboundary movement of hazardous substances without prior notification, the Danish minister had requested Raja to send the ship back to Denmark to strip it off hazardous waste. The Basel Convention and European Union Laws implementing it define ships destined for breaking as hazardous wastes if they contain harmful waste substances. The ship had left Denmark after a heated debate about its destiny. The seller had stated his intentions to scrap it and several bids had been given by Danish scrapping companies. Despite this, the ship was sold to a company in St Vincent and the Danish port authorities could not prevent it from escaping.
ALANG the world's largest ship breaking yard

Sunday, April 24, 2005

President Nominates Admiral Giambastiani To Be Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman

The President said he was nominating Admiral Edmund P. Giambastiani, Jr., United States Navy, to be Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Admiral Giambastiani currently serves as Commander, United States Joint Forces Command and Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. He previously served as Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense. Prior to that, he was Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Resources, Warfare Requirements, and Assessments. Earlier in his career, Admiral Giambastiani was Commander, Submarine Force, United States Atlantic Fleet. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with leadership distinction in 1970. Early sea assignments included USS Puffer, USS Francis Scott Key, and Commanding Officer of the USS Richard B. Russell.
Admiral Edmund P. Giambastiani, Jr.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Bush Nominates Marine To Head Joint Chiefs

President George W. Bush has tapped a Brooklyn-born Marine General to be his next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Marine General Peter Pace, 59, is currently the Vice Chairman and has already helped shape the Pentagon's role in protecting the United States in the years since the September 11th attacks. Pace says he would be honored to become the next chairman. "This is an incredible moment for me; it is both exhilarating and humbling," said Pace. "It's exhilarating because I have the opportunity, if confirmed by the Senate, to continue to serve this great nation. It's humbling because I know the challenges are formidable, but I have great faith in our ability to meet those challenges." Pace is expected to be easily confirmed. He'll succeed Air Force General Richard Myers, who is due to retire in September after four years on the job. Pace would be the first Marine to be chairman.
General Peter Pace

Friday, April 22, 2005

Toxic Ship Syndrom

unsubstantiated rumors that Danish authorities have alerted India about a toxic ship that gave them the slip and is now heading towards Gujarat's Alang ship breaking yard, says "Greenpeace" India. The environmental advocacy agency said in a release that Danish Environmental Minister Connie Hedegaard has sent a fax letter to her Indian counterpart A Raja warning him that a toxic ship-for-scrap carrying carcinogenic asbestos insulation is expected to arrive in India this week. The ferry ship Kong Frederik IX (now known as Frederik) left Denmark on March 16 and was headed to the Alang yard, 220 kilometre from here, for breaking, the letter sent last Friday stated. "The ship owners escaped Danish authorities, misleading Danish officials that had ordered the Kong Frederik IX to remain in Denmark until it had been decontaminated. "Instead, the ship slipped out of a Danish port, and quickly changed its flag and name (to Frederik) and headed straight to Alang for breaking. The Danish Minister is asking India to consider this ship illegal traffic under the Basel Convention and have it returned to Denmark so it can be stripped of hazardous substances," the release said. Under the Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and the Basel Ban Amendment decision, both fully implemented by the European Union, Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries like Denmark are prohibited from exporting hazardous wastes to non-OECD nations. The letter from the Danish authorities also reminds Indian authorities of the Indian Supreme Court order prohibiting the import of hazardous wastes, and requiring India to participate in international negotiations with a clear mandate for the decontamination of ships of all hazardous substances prior to export. "In the case of ships-for-scrap, this order has only been observed in the breach," said Ramapati Kumar, toxics campaigner of Greenpeace India. "Instead of enforcing full decontamination, the Indian Government has shown remarkable leniency towards ship-breakers who violate the law by importing ships containing hundreds of tons of toxic substances including asbestos and chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls. "The Basel Convention rules are clear - they demand that India respect Denmark's request to declare the ship illegal traffic and refuse to allow it to be dumped in India," he added.
The Kong Frederik IX
~No alert received from Denmark~
India will ensure full regulatory compliance regarding a toxic ship reported to be sailing towards Gujarat though no alert has been received from the Denmark government, an environment ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday. "At this point, we have no record of a formal request from the Danish government to stop the entry of any Danish ship into Indian waters. Nevertheless, the regulatory requirement applicable in India will be fully ensured," the official told reporters. According to two media reports, including one based on a statement from Greenpeace India, the Danish authorities have alerted India about a toxic ship that gave them the slip and is now heading towards Gujarat's Alang ship breaking yard. The environment ministry has clarified that "under the Basel Convention (on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and the Basel Ban Amendment decision), there is no legal obligation or power with the government of India to send back a ship sailing under its own power containing asbestos in a functional role in its ship structure." The official statement clarified that India's environment regulatory procedure requires that if a ship contains hazardous material as its cargo, it cannot enter Indian territorial water. "If it contains hazardous material, for which the handling facilities are available in India, as part of ship structure, then during the process of ship breaking these material are removed and sent to a secure landfill," the ministry said.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

World War II Hero Wheeler Lipes, Performed Surgery on Sub, Dies at 84

Wheeler Lipes, a World War II pharmacist's mate who performed an emergency appendectomy aboard a submarine with makeshift instruments such as bent spoons, has died at 84, two months after receiving belated honors for his feat. Lipes died Sunday after a battle with pancreatic cancer, said his brother-in-law, Chris Doney. Lipes used bent spoons for retractors and alcohol from torpedoes for sterilization in 1942 when he removed the appendix of sailor Darrel Dean Rector aboard the USS Seadragon, 120 feet below the surface of the South China Sea.
Darrel Dean Rector and Wheeler Lipes aboard the USS Seadragon
Lipes, then 22, and an assistant wore sterilized pajamas in place of operating room gowns. Rector was too tall for the makeshift operating table, so Lipes put the patient's feet in the drawer of a cabinet. Lipes stood with his knees bent throughout the two-hour operation because the table was bolted to the floor. Lipes had witnessed several appendectomies before deciding Rector needed surgery. "I always thought he was the guy who had the courage," Lipes said. "I've asked myself, `Would I have gotten up on that table and let someone do the same thing to me?' He was one of the most courageous people I've ever met." Rector, whose swollen appendix had several inches of blackened tissue, was back on duty in 13 days. The emergency procedure was recounted in reporter George Weller's Pulitzer Prize-winning article in the now-defunct Chicago Daily News, and inspired a movie starring Cary Grant and a Navy-produced film titled "The Pharmacist's Mate." But there was also anger over Lipes' actions among physicians from the Navy Medical Corps and talk of a court-martial by the U.S. surgeon general, who was forced to set protocols for appendectomies on submarines. Lipes went without honors until Jan Herman, historian of the Navy Medical Department, began looking into his case. He received the Navy Commendation Medal in February. Lipes retired to North Carolina in 2002 after a long career as a hospital administrator. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Wheeler Lipes, shown in this December 2002 file photo in New Bern, N.C., talks about performing surgery on a submarine during World War II. The veteran who performed life-saving procedure has died of cancer, two months after he won belated honors from the Navy for the feat. He died Sunday night, April 17, 2005. and is to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The LST-325, Haze Gray And UnderWay

The World War II vessel LST-325, which drew wide notice when an aging crew of veterans sailed it across the Atlantic, is to depart May 17 on a journey to Boston and back, its last voyage before leaving for its new home port in Indiana. "We're going to escort the USS Constitution on June 11 in Boston Harbor," said Robert Jornlin, of Earlville, Ill., the Captain of the LST-325. Jornlin said a crew of about 40 volunteers will man the LST-325 on a trip around the southern tip of Florida and up the Atlantic Coast to Boston. It will escort the USS Constitution, which was built in 1797 and is the oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy, on one of its rare excursions across the harbor. The LST-325 is scheduled to return to Mobile on July 4. Jornlin said he's hoping to take the LST-325 out of Mobile "sometime in the middle of July" to its new home port at Evansville, Ind. The World War II ship arrived to a cheering throng in Mobile on Jan. 10, 2001, after a 6,400-mile voyage from Greece that included a dangerous winter crossing of the Atlantic -- all with a crew of 28 whose average age was 72.
The LST-325

Diving "O.K." Near Blackbeard's Pirate Ship

Recreational divers will be allowed to explore near a wreck some archaeologists believe is Blackbeard's Pirate Ship despite concerns about looting.
The state program, called Dive Down, would allow 320 divers a year to visit the wreckage off Atlantic Beach on trips arranged through dive shops. Officials of the state underwater archaeology branch said the supervised dives, which begin this fall, will boost tourism and knowledge about the historically valuable shipwreck. They believe the wreckage is that of Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge, sunk in 1718. "It's not a glamorous site," said Mark Wilde-Ramsing, manager of the state's Queen Anne's Revenge project. "It's really built on history." Mike Daniel, a Florida diver who helped discover the shipwreck in 1996, believes the state should recover more artifacts before allowing sport divers to visit. He's worried divers will pilfer the shipwreck, which he and partner discovered while searching for a gold-laden Spanish ship. Donny Hamilton, director of the nautical archaeology program at Texas A&M University, has complained to North Carolina legislators that the state is not doing enough to recover, promote and protect the shipwreck. He said opening the site to recreational diving is yet another threat to the site. Daniel said there is not enough security at the site, about a mile off the Atlantic Beach shoreline, and laws governing it are inadequate. Some divers could learn the layout of the site and return without supervision, he said. "I know divers who work only at night," Daniel said. "There are people like that." State officials say the wreck site is under regular surveillance by the Coast Guard and state agencies. Diving, anchoring and trawling are prohibited in a 300-yard area surrounding the shipwreck, which the state has established as a "protected area of primary archaeological and historical value." Wilde-Ramsing said divers would be supervised and would not be allowed to handle artifacts on the ocean bottom. The two anchors, cannons, ship rigging and ballast stones protrude 2 or 3 feet off the sea floor in a 20-by-30-foot area. A $500 fee for would-be visitors will cover a two-day program that includes classes on archaeology and the natural environment. Wilde-Ramsing said those fees will cover only costs. Plans are to allow 320 people a year for five years, with dives scheduled between September and November.
Blackbeard's Pirate Ship: Queen Anne's Revenge

Monday, April 18, 2005

Drunken Sailors Vandalise The QE2

A priceless tapestry of the Queen commissioned to mark the launch of the QE2 is believed to have been thrown overboard by drunken crewmen during a mid-Atlantic staff party. Two other tapestries were damaged. The three large works, all showing scenes from the ship’s history, were by the Swedish-born artist Helena Barynina Hernmarck, and hung in the liner’s stairwell. A portrait of the Queen was also badly damaged during the wrecking spree, which left the cruise liner with thousands of pounds worth of damage. Three crew members were detained onboard and arrested when the ship docked at Southampton on Saturday at the end of a three-month world cruise. The men, one aged 23 and the others 22, were released on bail yesterday. A spokesman for Cunard, the liner’s owner, confirmed that the three men had been dismissed. Last night, police appealed for anyone who may find the tapestry to contact them. The vandalism, which took place at about 2:30am last Thursday, also resulted in damage to the ship’s entertainment area, toilets and a lifeboat. A spokesman for Cunard, said: "We can confirm that an incident occurred onboard during the night of 14 April. Three crew members were subsequently dismissed." Inspector Graham Norman of Hampshire Police said: "The three crew members were held in custody yesterday in Southampton and they have now been bailed to 26 May pending inquiries." He said the chances of recovering the tapestry were "small". The damage followed a staff party held on the crew deck of the vessel as it made its way back from the Caribbean. Hernmarck, 64, was a rising star in the art world when her work was chosen to grace the walls of the Cunard flagship. Her work is shown in the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Museum of American Art in Washington DC and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The artist, who lives in the United States, was awarded Sweden’s prestigious Prins Eugen Medal in 1999 and elected Swedish American of the Year in 2000. On Saturday the 70,327-ton QE2 docked alongside the Queen Mary 2 in Southampton on their first UK visit of the year. It was only the second time the two ships had been in their home port together.
The QE2

Giant Wave Hits Cruise Liner

A cruise ship bound for New York City from the Bahamas was diverted for repairs to South Carolina after it was struck by a huge wave, which broke windows, flooded cabins and caused minor injuries to four passengers, according to the operator, Norwegian Cruise Line. The Norwegian Dawn, a cruise ship that can carry more than 2,000 passengers, left the Bahamas on Thursday. Encountering what the company called "extremely rough weather," the ship was "hit by a freak wave that caused two windows to break in two different cabins." That resulted in the flooding of 62 cabins, it said. The injured passengers sustained cuts and bruises, and when the sea became calmer at dawn, the ship was directed to the Port of Charleston for repairs, the company said. It arrived in Charleston yesterday afternoon. The ship had been scheduled to arrive in New York today, but the company said last night that it would arrive about noon tomorrow.

Norwegian Dawn

Vital Statistics:
*-Entered service: December 2002
*-Gross tonnage: 91,740-grt
*-Length: 965 feet
*-Width: 105 feet
*-Propulsion: 2 Diesel electric – Azipod system
*-Maximum Speed: 25 knots
*-Decks: 15
*-Cabins: 1,120
*-Passenger Capacity: 2,224 double occupancy
*-Crew capacity: 1,318
*-Flag: Bahamas

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Worst Locks On The Mississippi River

A river group has listed five locks on the Mississippi River, including two on the Iowa side, as needing urgent attention to allow an increase in barge traffic. The Midwest Area River Coalition 2000 lists the locks at Dubuque and Keokuk on its top five list. The others are in Clarksville, Missouri; Welch, Minnesota; and Granite City, Illinois. The U-S Army Corps of Engineers has pursued the idea of lengthening the locks for more than a decade. Randy Simmons is with the American River Transportation, which has fleet service in Dubuque, Cassville and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. He says if one gate goes down, it shuts down the whole system. Not everyone agrees the locks need updated. Mike Breitbach of Dubuque is with Mississippi River Revival, an environmental watchdog group. He's a vocal critic of the corps' plan, saying it's a waste of money. He also scoffed at the list.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Excitement In Duluth Minnesota

The pictures below were taken early evening on Tuesday, April 12th. They show the Algolake departing Duluth and the Alpena approaching. We could have used a little less excitement. Eventually, both boats got where they were going.
Algolake - Alpena
The Alpena decided to decline entering the ship canal on this pass and made a turn in front of the piers to make another approach.
Back to normal

Naval Security Reviewed Over Ship Intruder

A review of security at a major British naval base has been carried out after an alleged intruder was found on board a visiting American aircraft carrier. The alleged trespasser was discovered on board the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), anchored off Stokes Bay, Gosport, on Saturday night during a week-long visit to Portsmouth Naval Base. A Navy spokesman said the man had allegedly passed through Royal Navy security and US Navy security to get on board passenger boats used to ferry crew back and forth from the visiting warship. It is understood that the man's identity was not checked by the Royal Navy security guards - as the base's rules dictate - with the responsibility being left to the American guards on duty at the gate. The spokesman added that a thorough review of security had been carried out at the naval base since the incident and a number of changes implemented. The spokesman explained that the jetty for the boats was very close to the public area in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard museum complex and the large number of visiting sailors from the US aircraft carrier had caused the confusion. "I wouldn't want to talk about embarrassment but we are taking it very seriously, as we would any security breach," the spokesman said. "Our main focus at the moment is to put everything right and to improve our arrangements." A Hampshire Police spokeswoman said that 37-year-old Abdoul Masmoud Yessoufou, from West Africa but of no fixed abode, had been charged with trespass. The spokeswoman said that Yessoufou was originally held under the Terrorism Act 2000 but had since been released into normal police custody. The USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), which arrived at Portsmouth last Monday, departed on schedule on Sunday.
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

How To Simulate The Life Of A Navy Sailor

Buy a steel dumpster, paint it haze-gray inside and out, and live in it for six months.

Run all the pipes and wires in your house exposed on the walls.

Repaint your entire house every month. Color Choices-Haze Grey or Dark Grey

Renovate your bathroom (and henceforth always refer to it as the "head"). Build a wall across the middle of the bathtub(shower-stall) and move the showerhead to chest level. When you take a shower, make sure you turn off the water while you soap down. (Wet down, turn off water, soap down, Turn on water rinse down! Navy Shower) (Hollywood Showers are showers that last more than one(1) Minute)

Raise the thresholds and lower the headers of your front and back doors so that you either trip or bang your head every time you pass through them.

Disassemble and inspect your lawn-mower every week.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, turn your water heater temperature up to 200 degrees. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, turn the water heater off. On Saturdays and Sundays tell your family they use too much water during the week, so no bathing will be allowed. (call it "water hours")

Raise your bed to within 6 inches of the ceiling, so you can't turn over without getting out and then getting back in. Put all your clothes under your mattress to press them!

Sleep on the shelf in your closet. Replace the closet door with a curtain. Have your spouse whip open the curtain about 3 hours after you go to sleep, shine a flashlight in your eyes, and say "Sorry, wrong rack."

Make your family qualify to operate each appliance in your house -dishwasher operator, blender technician, etc. (call it "PQS- Qualifications")

Have your neighbor come over each day at 6 am, blow a whistle loudly, and shout "Reveille, reveille, all hands heave out and trice up."

Have your mother-in-law write down everything she's going to do the following day, then have her make you stand in your back yard at 6 am while she reads it to you. (call it "Morning Muster Call")

Submit a request chit to your father-in-law requesting permission to leave your house before 3 pm. (call it "Early-Liberty")

Empty all the garbage bins in your house and sweep the driveway three times a day, whether it needs it or not. (Stop referring to the garbage bins as "SHIT-CAN's")

Have your neighbor collect all your mail for a month, read your magazines, and randomly lose every 5th item before delivering it to you. (call it "Mail Call")

Watch no TV except for movies played in the middle of the night. Have your family vote on which movie to watch, then show a different one. (call it "Movie Call")

Make your family menu a week ahead of time without consulting the pantry or refrigerator.

Post a menu on the kitchen door informing your family that they are having steak for dinner. Then make them wait in line for an hour. When they finally get to the kitchen, tell them you are out of steak, but they can have dried ham or hot dogs or a horse cock sandwich . Repeat daily until they ignore the menu and just ask for hot dogs.( Horse cock= BOLOGNA)

Bake a cake. Prop up one side of the pan so the cake bakes unevenly. Spread icing real thick to level it off.

Get up every night around midnight and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich OR HORSE COCK on stale bread. (Midrats=MIDNIGHT RATIONS)

Set your alarm clock to go off at random times during the night. At the alarm, jump up and dress as fast as you can, making sure to button your top shirt button and tuck your pants into your socks. Run out into the backyard and uncoil the garden hose. (call it "FIRE DRILL")

Every week or so, throw your dog in the pool and shout, "Man overboard port side!" Rate your family members on how fast they respond.

Put the headphones from your stereo on your head, but don't plug them in. Hang a paper cup around your neck on a string. Stand in front of the stove, and speak into the paper cup "Stove manned and ready." After an hour or so, speak into the cup again "Stove secured." Roll up the headphones and paper cup and stow them in a shoebox. (SOUND-POWERED TELEPHONES)

Place a podium at the end of your driveway. Have your family stand watches at the podium, rotating at 4 hour intervals. This is best done when the weather is worst. January is a good time. (call it "QUARTERDECK WATCH")

When there is a thunderstorm in your area, get a wobbly rocking chair, sit in it and rock as hard as you can until you become nauseous. Make sure to have a supply of stale crackers in your shirt pocket and a bucket so you can puke in it.

Make coffee using eighteen scoops of budget priced coffee grounds per pot, and allow the pot to simmer for 5 hours before drinking. Or go to boiler room for some BT (Boiler Tech) coffee made from feed water, nasty tasting stuff, but you get used to it, drinking hot coffee when in 145 down there in front of the boilers, that's a cool day! In the Persian Gulf it gets hotter!

Have someone under the age of ten give you a haircut with sheep shears, and tell the barber just a little off the sides.

Sew the back pockets of your jeans on the front.

Lock yourself and your family in the house for six weeks. Tell them that at the end of the 6th week you are going to take them to Disney World for "liberty." At the end of the 6th week, inform them the trip to Disney World has been canceled because they need to get ready for an inspection, and it will be another week before they can leave the house because you failed inspection, or you have ORI coming up.

Have you wife press your skivvies, no starch!

Get drunk and wind up in a tattoo parlor getting a tattoo on your wife's butt cheeks or a Choo Choo train coming out your butt hole.

Eat your meal in less than 5 minutes to keep in practice, chewing not required!

Shout out every time a women comes into your room, "female in quarters"!

Ahh, The Good Old Days

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Ten Dead In Shipwreck Off Algerian Coast

Eight Sailors and two rescue divers were killed when a North Korean-registered cargo ship broke up and sank in heavy storms off the Algerian coast, state radio said on Tuesday. Rescue services and coast guard officials aided by helicopters rescued 14 of the 22-member crew of the Lujin II, after the 121-metre (397 ft) vessel hit a reef. It had been heading to the port of Bejaia 250 km (155 miles) east of Algiers. The survivors, from Romania, Lebanon and Syria, have been taken to local hospitals in the region. Two Algerians died in the rescue operation. The ship's main engine stalled and began drifting early on Monday when it was hit by storms and 8-metre-high (26 ft) waves in the Mediterranean sea near Algeria's 335,000-barrels-per-day oil refinery port Skikda. The Lujin II was transporting 5,618 tonnes of timber and sodium chloride, the official APS news agency said. The Algerian authorities said the breakup of the ship had caused no environmental damage. The incident comes a few months after about 20 sailors died when a ship sank in severe storms just off Algiers' port. The authorities have pledged to boost surveillance and the capability of the rescue services equipment the 1,200 km (746 miles) coastline.

Death Ship Trial Under Way After Many Years

A Scottish trawler owner has gone on trial at a court on the Isle of Man, accused of the manslaughter of seven crewmen who drowned in the Solway Harvester disaster in the Irish Sea five years ago. Richard Gidney, 41, the sole director of Jack Robinson Trawlers, the company which owned the Solway Harvester, is accused of causing the deaths of all seven members of the crew, who perished when the Kirkcudbright-registered scallop dredger sank in heavy seas off the Manx coast on 11 January, 2000, while attempting to head for shelter at Ramsey Bay in the Isle of Man. The disaster, the worst tragedy in the Scottish fishing industry for more than a decade, claimed the lives of two brothers and one of their cousins and completely devastated the tiny fishing hamlets of Garlieston, Whithorn and the Isle of Whithorn in the remote Machars area of the Solway coast. Drowned in the tragedy were The Skipper, Craig Mills, 29, his brother Robin, 33, their cousin David Mills, 18, and Martin Milligan, 26, David Lyons, 17, John Murphy, 22, and Wesley Jolly, 17. Robin Mills, whose wife Karen was pregnant with their second child at the time of the tragedy, stepped in to make up the crew’s full complement after another member of the crew, James Gorman, missed the fateful trip through illness. And Wesley Jolly and David Lyons had left school only shortly before the tragedy. Gidney, from Gatehouse-of-Fleet in Dumfries and Galloway, has denied the seven counts of manslaughter. A jury of nine men and three women was selected yesterday on the opening day of the trial at the Manx courts of justice in Douglas. The prosecution is expected to outline its case to the jury today before the first witness is called tomorrow. The case has been the subject of numerous delays and postponements. Gidney first appeared in court in the Manx capital on manslaughter charges almost three years ago. He is accused of breaching a duty of care, owed to the boat’s crew, by failing to ensure that the vessel was operated in a safe manner and allowing the Solway Harvester to go to sea in an unseaworthy state. The decision to proceed with a criminal prosecution against Gidney was taken by John Corlett, QC, the Attorney General of the Isle of Man, after divers had recovered the bodies of all seven fishermen and the Manx Government funded the £1 million operation to raise the sunken 75 ft dredger from the seabed, 11 miles off the island’s east coast. The boat was raised from the seabed 169 days after the disaster. A crowd of 2,000, many of them weeping, lined the quayside at Ramsey on the Isle of Man as the stricken vessel was eventually towed into the harbour. The massive operation to lift the Solway Harvester, lying 35 metres below the surface of the Irish Sea, allowed the police to carry out a detailed forensic examination of the wreck as part of their investigation into the sinking of the £1 million dredger. An interim report into the tragedy, published in June, 2003, by the British Government’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch claimed that the boat capsized and sank after its fish room flooded and a defective bilge alarm failed to go off. The report said: "Examination of the wreck by the MAIB demonstrated that the Solway Harvester capsized. However, in theory, a vessel like Solway Harvester should have been able to cope comfortably with the seas that night." MAIB investigators also claimed: "The safety management system in Solway Harvester was shown to be inadequate in the condition of the life-rafts and their securing arrangements, the absence of distress flares, a missing ice scuttle cover, a failed main bilge pump and a missing protective cover over the starboard side of the fish room slush well." A full report into the reasons behind the Harvester’s sinking will not be released until after the completion of the criminal proceedings against Gidney. A memorial to the seven crewmen who died - a rock of Galloway granite surmounted by a metal anchor - was dedicated in January of last year at a private ceremony attended by bereaved relatives at Cairn Head, Isle of Whithorn. A claim for damages against Gidney has been launched by the families at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. A total of 127 witnesses have been cited to give evidence at the trial which is expected to last up to eight weeks.
The Solway Harvester reaching Ramsey, Isle of Man, in 2000, after she was lifted from 35 metres under the sea

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Navy Names A Ship After Air Force Airman Who Saved A Navy SEAL

The Navy has named a massive ammunition ship vessel in honor of an Air Force combat controller who risked his own life trying to rescue a Navy SEAL. During a ceremony on Friday, the Navy named the ship after the late Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, 36, of Windber, Pa. Chapman was in a helicopter flying over Afghanistan on March 4, 2002, when it came under attack. When the helicopter was hit by a grenade and a Navy Seal team member fell from the aircraft, Chapman volunteered to rescue him. The helicopter landed safely a few miles away and Chapman asked to go back for his missing team member. Chapman and a rescue team came under attack while trying to locate the SEAL. Chapman killed two enemy fighters before dying from multiple wounds. The SEAL who Chapman was trying to save also died. Chapman earned the Air Force Cross, the second highest honor the service can bestow. Chapman left behind his wife, Valerie N. Chapman, and their two daughters, Madison, 8, and Brianna, 5. Gen. John P. Jumper, the Air Force chief of staff, said naming the ship after Chapman was an appropriate honor. "John, like all of our battle field airmen, bring high tech to the battlefield, but they do it the old-fashioned way, with raw guts and courage and honor," Jumper said.
MV TSgt. John A. Chapman will be used to preposition Air Force ammunition at sea, adding greatly to the U.S. military's combat readiness. The civilian-crewed ship is owned and operated for the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command by Sealift Inc.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. John A. Chapman was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2002 and was posthumously awarded an Air Force Cross for his heroism.

18 North Koreans Missing After Ship Sinks

Rescuers searched Monday for 18 North Korean crew members missing after their iron-ore laden cargo ship sank, the government said. Twelve surviving crew members and the recovered bodies of five sailors returned to North Korea on Sunday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The freighter sank Wednesday night with 35 crew aboard about 60 miles from Dandong, one of China's main gateways for trade with the isolated, impoverished North. The vessel was en route from the North Korean port of Nampo to Dandong with a cargo of iron ore. Xinhua said the chances of survival for the missing crew members "are believed to be slim."

Monday, April 11, 2005

Missing Tugboat Operator Identified

The U.S. Coast Guard has identified a Tugboat Captain missing since his ship sank near the entrance to the Oakland-Alameda Estuary Tuesday night as Kevin Campbell. Campbell and another crewmember, Albert Apazaza were tossed from the tugboat, "Sunshine State" on Tuesday as it sank near the entrance to the Oakland-Alameda Estuary around 8 p.m. The crew of a nearby dredge barge immediately rescued Apazaza, but Campbell was not visible in the water. Multiple Bay Area agencies searched for Campbell until Wednesday afternoon when investigators learned he rarely wore a lifejacket. Two life jackets, one belonging to Apazaza, the other to Campbell, were found on the tugboat after it was raised on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard did not release Campbell's age or city of residence.
The tugboat Sunshine State is lifted fromthe San Francisco Bay by crane

One Body Found From Capsized Boat

One body was recovered Friday and a second Georgia fishermen remained missing after their boat capsized a day earlier in high seas about three miles off this Florida Panhandle city. The crew of a Coast Guard helicopter spotted the body of Julian Lee Jr., 50, of Fayetteville, Ga., eight miles south-southeast of Destin, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Capt. Brad Williams in a news release. Still missing was Dennis Herring, 46, of Riverdale, Ga. Their 27-foot fishing boat, My Girl Too, transmitted a distress signal at 4:22 p.m. Thursday after departing from Destin. The capsized vessel was located just over an hour later. Seas in the Gulf of Mexico were running 6 to 8 feet Thursday but had calmed to 3 to 4 feet Friday under sunny skies. An Air Force AC-130 gunship from nearby Hurlburt Field helped with the search Thursday night. The Coast Guard dispatched a rescue boat from Destin, the 87-foot Cutter Coho from Panama City, a helicopter from New Orleans and a jet from Mobile, Ala. An Okaloosa County sheriff's dive team searched the partly submerged boat but found neither man. A Conservation Commission boat was attempting to recover the drifting vessel and secure it near shore.
My Girl Too

Warship Ship Cardigan Bay Finally Enters The Water

The latest warship to be built on the River Clyde has been successfully launched at the second attempt. Bad weather had forced defence company BAE Systems to postpone the launch of RFA Cardigan Bay from the Govan yard on Friday morning. Its naming ceremony went ahead however, with a special religious element to mark the death of Pope John Paul II. Strong winds and low tides kept the vessel on the slipway for an extra 24 hours. About 8,000 people had travelled to the shipyard for the original planned launch of the ship on Friday. Strong northerly winds caused a half-metre drop from expected water levels, which meant it was not safe to launch the vessel, experts said. The new ship's sponsor, Lady Jan Stanhope, wife of Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, still named the ship by breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow. And it finally found its way into the water on Saturday shortly before 1400 BST. Vic Emery, managing director at BAE Systems naval ships, said: "The launch was flawless and a testament to the skills and professionalism of all involved. "This ship, and the others in construction, demonstrate our capabilities as a 21st century business." Cardigan Bay is a 176-metre long landing ship dock (LSD), which will weigh 16,000 tons when fully loaded. It is capable of carrying 500 troops and 32 Challenger tanks. It has also been designed to move troops and supplies in support of amphibious landings. The vessel is a second wave assault ship which has a secondary role in supporting humanitarian missions and disaster relief.
The Cardigan Bay was finally launched on Saturday afternoon
RFA Cardigan Bay is readied for her launch

Sunday, April 10, 2005

American Sailor Dies In Victoria British Columbia

A U.S. Coast Guard Sailor who was found in downtown Victoria British Columbia earlier this week suffering from severe head injuries has died in hospital. Seaman James Asnin, 23, was spotted by a passer-by lying in a pool of blood in the lower parking lot outside a nightclub in the 1200-block of Wharf Street early Monday morning. It appeared that he had fallen or had been pushed from the sidewalk six metres above. Victoria police spokesperson Const. Rick Anthony says there will be a forensic autopsy to try to figure out what happened. "We're hoping that will reveal the mechanism of the injuries, and it might be able to eliminate the idea of an assault with a weapon." Police suspicions about a possible assault have been raised because the area is a known trouble spot, with plenty of brawls involving drunken bar patrons. Asnin is the third American sailor to be injured in a fall at the same spot in the past six months. Police say the young American had been seen walking in the area of Government and Pandora Streets a few hours earlier. And they're now asking for public assistance in determining his movements before he was found. Asnin was on shore leave while returning to his home base in Ketchikan, Alaska after three weeks training in Washington state. Meanwhile, Victoria city workers erected a new railing the day after the fatal fall. It's angled to prevent people from climbing on it.
U.S. Coast Guard Seaman James Asnin

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Hole Drilled To Bottom Of Earth's Crust

Scientist said this week they had drilled into the lower section of Earth's crust for the first time and were poised to break through to the mantle in coming years. The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) seeks the elusive "Moho," a boundary formally known as the Mohorovicic discontinuity. It marks the division between Earth's brittle outer crust and the hotter, softer mantle. The depth of the Moho varies. This latest effort, which drilled 4,644 feet (1,416 meters) below the ocean seafloor, appears to have been 1,000 feet off to the side of where it needed to be to pierce the Moho, according to one reading of seismic data used to map the crust's varying thickness. The new hole, which took nearly eight weeks to drill, is the third deepest ever made into the floor of the sea, according to the National Science Foundation (NSF). The rock collection brought back to the surface is providing new information about the planet's composition. "It will provide important clues on how ocean crust forms," said Rodey Batiza, NSF program director for ocean drilling. Already the types of rocks recovered show that conventional interpretation of Earth's evolution are "oversimplifying many of the features of the ocean’s crust," said expedition leader Jay Miller of Texas A&M University. "Each time we drill a hole, we learn that Earth’s structure is more complex.
Our understanding of how the Earth evolved is changing accordingly." The latest drilling was done at the Atlantis Massif, located at the intersection of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Atlantis fracture zone, two plates of the planet's broken crust. The seafloor is shallower at the center of this region and therefore easier to reach. It's not clear yet whether drilling should continue at the new hole or if another one should be started in the effort the reach the mantle. Such work isn't likely to begin again in the next year, said Barbara John, a University of Wyoming geologist and one of the co-chief scientists on the expedition. "We need to evaluate all the data we have from the cruise and re-analyze the seismic data, to determine whether it's better to deepen the current hole or drill elsewhere, or maybe even collect additional seismic data to better constrain where to drill," John told reporters. "Our major result is that we've recovered the lower crust for the first time and have confirmed that the Earth's crust at this locality is more complicated than we thought." John said mantle material will be evident when and if it's brought up because it will have different texture and chemistry and will contain different proportions of minerals compared with rock in the crust. Drillers use the vessel JOIDES Resolution. The 10-year, $1.5 billion program is funded by the NSF and Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology.

Friday, April 08, 2005

High Waters Bring Danger On Mississippi River

Full-grown trees are floating down the Mississippi right now. The DNR warns, even big things like that can remain mostly hidden, that is, until it hits you in your boat canoe, or kayak. One boater was killed last week south of the Twin Cities when his canoe tipped and he became trapped in debris. He was wearing a life jacket. "Cold water is not important until you fall in," said Kim Elverum, of the DNR. "It can take away your body heat 25 times faster than the air at the same temperature. So the advice we have is to make sure you are wearing your life jacket and know the river you are on." Sandy Zack and the gang down at St. Paul's Watergate Marina are watching the river closely right now. "We'll be getting the water that comes down from the north and we will get a lot of trees and anything else that is floating," Zak said. The DNR expects the high water and the hazard that goes along with that to last a few more weeks. Most of the snow has melted up north. Spring rains could alter that schedule just a bit. Andy Bex can't wait to get his boat into the river. "If it is up four or five feet, it draws stuff off the shore so the danger and the current is there. It is dicey out there you have got to watch what you are doing," Bex said. It seems enjoying the rivers from the dock or shoreline is your best bet for a few more weeks.
Debris On The Mississippi River

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Warship To Protect Pope Funeral

Anti-missile systems and NATO forces were being mustered and installed in and around Rome Wednesday, two days before Pope John Paul II's funeral. The Italian Air Force stepped up Fighter-Jet protection of the Capital to Guard against terrorist attacks, and U.S.-made F-16 Fighters will join in patrolling the skies above the Vatican, the Italian defense ministry told the Washington Times. A warship will also be on standby in the Mediterranean. Hawk anti-aircraft missile-defense systems also are being set up around Rome while a NATO AWACS surveillance aircraft with radar-coverage range of 210 miles have also been deployed. Italian authorities have set up tent cities at the Vatican, and there have been estimates Rome's population of about 2.6 million could triple in the run-up to Friday's funeral. President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush will be accompanied by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush at the funeral. Nearly 200 other world leaders will attend, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prince Charles and Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.
Italian Warship

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Launch Of The New Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw

It's a beast of a ship and during the weekend, what will become the Biggest Icebreaker on the Great Lakes made quite a splash. The mighty Mackinaw some 3.6 million pounds of metal in a 240-foot-long hull slipped down a special ramp into the Menominee River on Saturday, causing a splash so big it sent onlookers on the other side scrambling for higher ground. The $90 million dollar vessel will replace the old Mackinaw, a bigger but outdated icebreaker that has been clearing shipping lanes and steaming to the aid of distressed vessels since 1944. Months of work still are ahead for the ship's construction crew, followed by months of Coast Guard testing and sea trials. But when it finally is commissioned in summer 2006, the new Mackinaw will be the biggest Coast Guard ship on the Great Lakes, and its icebreaking capabilities will be second to none. Engineers say it should be able to bash through broken ice piled as high as 10 feet. "Absolutely unique -- one of a kind," Coast Guard Lt. William Davis said of the new ship. That the ships share the same name was meant as a tribute to the original. "The primary icebreaker on the Great Lakes has been the Mackinaw, so when the debate over a name came up, everybody said, 'We've got to have another Mackinaw,"' said George Ryan, the retired president of the Lake Carriers' Association, who drove 14 hours from Cleveland for the launch. The old ship, which is 290 feet long, became too costly to operate after decades of wear and tear, and its mission has been restricted primarily to ice-breaking, spending much of its summers as a floating public affairs machine. The new Mackinaw is expected to be busy with year-round missions. It is equipped with a crane to service navigation buoys during the summer months. It will be able to handle law enforcement duties and can be called upon to clean up oil spills. The two ships are scheduled to work together next winter. The following summer the old Mack will be retired, and its future remains unknown. Cheboygan, Mich. boosters are hoping to land it as a museum, but a group from Duluth, Minnesota, also has its eyes on the ship.

Jean Hastert, wife of Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, swings a bottle of champagne towards the bow of the new U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw to christen the ship as part of her duties as the ship's sponsor. The Mackinaw was launched Saturday in Marinette, Wis., into the Menominee River.

The mighty Mackinaw

Mixed Navy-Coast Guard Crew To Man Sea Fighter Catamaran

The new catamaran vessel once known as the X-Craft has been named Sea Fighter and will be manned by a mixed Navy-Coast Guard crew as a development platform for the Littoral Combat Ship and the Coast Guard’s Deepwater program. The Littoral Surface Craft-Experimental (X-Craft), developed by the Office of Naval Research, Titan Corp. and BMT Nigel Gee and Associates, Southampton, U.K., and built by Nicholas Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland, Wash., was christened Sea Fighter (FSF-1) on Feb. 5. (FSF stands for fast sea frame.) When the Sea Fighter is delivered to the Navy April 30, a crew of 26 — 16 Navy and 10 Coast Guard — will man the vessel. It will be based in San Diego. The 262-foot Sea Fighter is a high-speed catamaran intended to “evaluate the hydrodynamic performance, structural behavior, mission flexibility and propulsion of high-speed vessels” in littoral waters, Navy officials said in a release. Nigel Gee, designer of the 950-ton Sea Fighter, said that the vessel could travel 4,000 nautical miles without refueling, land helicopters in sea states of 4 or 5, recover watercraft in sea state 4 conditions over the stern ramp and provide crew comfort in sea states 4 or 5 for long periods. The Sea Fighter features a large mission bay which can hold up to a dozen 20-foot mission modules, enabling the vessel to participate in such missions as force protection, mine countermeasures, antisubmarine warfare, amphibious assault and humanitarian assistance. The vessel’s flight deck can accommodate two H-60 helicopters or unmanned aerial vehicles. The Sea Fighter is powered by an integrated propulsion system that includes two GE Transportation LM2500 gas turbine engines and two MTU 16V 595 TE90 diesel engines that drive four high-efficiency Rolls-Royce Kamewa 125 SII waterjets. The vessel can reach speeds of up to 50 knots. The waterjets also allow the vessel to move sideways, which simplifies docking and station keeping.
Sea Fighter (FSF-1) A.K.A: "The X-Craft"

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