Monday, October 31, 2005

Coast Guard To Increase Patrols For The Opening Of Oyster Season

The U.S. Coast Guard, in cooperation with other state, local and federal agencies, will be on patrol during the opening of the oyster season in Texas to check commercial fishing vessels for compliance with all federal laws and regulations.
They will be examining vessels for compliance with the Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Act (CFVSA), which requires commercial fishing vessels to maintain onboard safety items including, but not limited to, personal flotation devices, life rafts, fire fighting equipment, and an operating bilge system. The patrols will also be examining vessels for compliance with a federal law that requires all documented commercial vessels be placed only under the command of a citizen of the United States.
In accordance with federal law, resident aliens or aliens employed under work permits are not citizens of the United States and therefore cannot command a documented commercial vessel. Violations of any regulations may lead to the termination of the vessel’s voyage. The vessel will not be able to continue their voyage until violations have been corrected.
The Coast Guard periodically increases patrols during various fisheries seasons to ensure commercial fishing vessel compliance with all federal laws and regulations. The Coast Guard is dedicated to safeguarding all mariners.

Friday, October 28, 2005

US Navy Plans Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carrier At Yokosuka

JAPAN yesterday agreed to let the US Navy for the first time base a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the country, despite a strong outcry and fears over nuclear leaks. Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said he accepted the US plan to deploy a nuclear-powered carrier in Yokosuka, 50km south of Tokyo, in view of "the importance of a continued presence of the US Navy in and around Japan for the country's security and international peace". The US Navy announced that "one of its nine Nimitz-class aircraft carriers will replace USS Kitty Hawk as the forward-deployed carrier in the Western Pacific, and will arrive in Yokosuka, Japan in 2008". Yokosuka has since 1973 been the home port for US conventional carriers such as USS Midway or USS Kitty Hawk.
Yokosuka Mayor Ryoichi Kabaya has strongly protested the decision, and about 300,000 people have signed a petition opposing the plan. Governor Shigefumi Matsuzawa of Kanagawa Prefecture, which encompasses Yokosuka, said in Washington the decision was "extremely deplorable because it has ignored local wishes". "I will urge the Government to renegotiate with the US Government," he said. Japan Confederation of A and H-bomb Suffers Organisation secretary-general Terumi Tanaka said: "The deployment of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier at a Japanese port is the same as having nuclear weapons. "Everybody can understand what will happen if it were attacked from outside or being involved in a fatal accident." The US Navy said in a statement: "The security environment in the Western Pacific region increasingly requires that the US Navy station the most capable ships forward." It said that since 1964 US nuclear-powered warships had visited Japanese more than 1200 times without a single accident. The decision comes 60 years after the US brought World War II to an end by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Successive Japanese governments have maintained the "three non-nuclear principles" – the policy of not possessing, not producing and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons into Japan.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

New Style Of Crab Fishery On The Horizon

“Hook it!” a crewman leans over the side of the vessel straining to hook the buoy rope that marks their prize. The crab pots have been soaking for 13 hours. He brings the rope onboard and slings it into the power winch. It begins to rise to the surface. The first pot of the string – have they found the crab? Metal breaks the surface. Red king crab teem inside. The pot swings over the deck and opens the crab spills out onto the processing table. Each crab is like a 20 dollar bill with legs.
Crab fishing is labeled as one of the most dangerous professions in the world. The Coast Guard in cooperation with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service are working to make the fisheries safer. Hands on safety training teamed with safety compliance inspections has greatly reduced the number of accidents and deaths over the last decade. Since 1999 there has been a 65-70 percent decline in fatalities due to vessel loss in the crab fisheries. Excluding the 2005 sinking of the Big Valley, the biggest killer is man overboard. In line with those efforts federal, state and local agencies and groups adopted the Crab Rationalization plan for the 2005/ 2006 winter season. The plan dictates that the crab fisheries in Bristol Bay, Kodiak and the Bering Sea will no longer be a derby style fishery. "The Crab Rationalization Plan is the most complex fisheries management tool we've used yet," said Chief Petty Officer Zane Reser, a Coast Guard investigator and fishing vessel examiner from Marine Safety Office Anchorage. The derby style fishery forced fishermen to a heightened level of competition by hosting an over-all quota of crab to be caught as fast as possible. The fishery would last a week to 10 days until the quota met. The desire to catch as much crab as possible, equaling as much money as possible, drove crews beyond their limits and drew them to make poor judgment calls where safety was concerned to maximize their haul. The rationalization plan eliminated the overall quota and dealt out individual fishing quotas to boats based on participation and catch history. Vessel operating costs have made the fishery uneconomical for some vessels that previously fished. They’ll spend more money going fishing than the catch will bring in. Most of these vessels have chosen to join co-ops and allow the crews of larger vessels that can carry and use more pots to fish their quota at a percentage of the profit. Pot limits are established by ADF&G and they have nothing to do with stability. They are limits on the number of pots to be fished. For instance last year the limit was 200 so if a vessel could carry 300 they could only fish 200. If a vessel could only carry 120 pots and they wanted to fish 200 they had to make an extra trip and use wet storage areas. This year the pot limit has been set at 400 pots per vessel. Coast Guard officials are concerned about crews overloading their vessels. Every vessel has a stability letter and stability book dictating the number of pots and supplies they can carry at any one time. The letter is also based on the size and weight of the pots. Many of the stability letters Coast Guard officials have seen in recent years dictate a vessel can carry x number of pots but the letter lists those pots at 600 pounds rather than the 800 - 1,000 pound pots officials find onboard. Changing the weight of the pots radically changes the physics and stability of the vessel. It is vital that the crews of crab vessels abide by their stability letter and if pot weight has changed they should obtain a new letter that takes the weight balance into account. If the dimensions of the pot have changes causing stacks of pots to be higher than previously listed in the approved stability letter official changes to the letter should also be made. The loss of the fishing vessel Big Valley during the 2005 Bering Sea opilio crab season has vividly demonstrated the importance of vessel stability. While the official investigation to the incident is not complete, it is clear based upon the information collected by Coast Guard investigators following the sinking that the Big Valley was not only overloaded, but the average pot weight as listed in the vessel's stability letter did not match the weight of the pots that were loaded on the vessel. Specifically, while the pot weight as recorded in the Big Valley’s stability letter was 600 pounds (including line and buoys), the average weight of the pots onboard (12 pots allegedly fished by the Sea Warrior and six pots left on the beach in Unalaska) was determined to be 780 pounds. This 30 percent difference is dramatic and alone could have significant effects upon vessel stability. Crab vessels that will participating in the 2005 Bristol Bay red king crab fishery must have properly loaded pots and have stability letters with accurate pot weights. Coast Guard officials will be examining crab vessels prior to their departure from Unalaska, Akutan, King Cove, and Kodiak this fall. The Coast Guard is advising vessel owners and operators to ensure that their vessel’s stability letters are current and accurately reflect current loading practices. Vessel operators should confirm that pot weights, amount of bait allowed, tank management (fuel burning practices) and number of tiers are accurate and strictly adhered to. Vessel captains are expected to notify the Coast Guard of their departure intentions 24 hours prior to leaving port to fish. During October and November, Coast Guard personnel will be in Dutch Harbor, Akutan, King Cove and Kodiak to conduct safety training, fishing vessel safety exams, and safety compliance inspections at the dock. As dates are set for these activities more information will be made available.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Navy Plans to Eliminate Airman General Detailed Accessions


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Crew On Israeli Ship Involved In Deadly Collision With Japanese Boat Arrested

The captain and two other crew members of the Israeli ship involved in a deadly collision with a Japanese fishing boat have been arrested on charges of causing death by negligence and failure to save lives at sea, Israeli police said.
This fishing boat was found capsized by the Japanese coastguard; marks appear to match damage on Israeli boat
The Israeli Captain of the Zim Asia, Moshe Ben David, was released on bail and placed under house arrest until Oct. 31, police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said. The Yugoslav second Captain, citizen Pilastro Zdravko, and the ship's Bulgarian lookout man, Lache Galin, have been jailed until that date. In the interim, police will continue their investigation and decide how to proceed, Rosenfeld said. The three were detained for police questioning in Israel on Sunday after the Zim Asia docked in the northern Israeli port of Haifa. Police also raided Zim corporate headquarters in Haifa, confiscating documents, Rosenfeld said. Seven Japanese sailors died after the 41,507-ton Zim Asia collided with their fishing boat, causing it to capsize 25 miles off the cape of Nosappu in northern Japan on Sept. 28. Ben David has denied responsibility for the incident, and his lawyer, Gad Nashitz, told Israel Radio on Sunday that his client was asleep at the time of the accident. Israeli Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit has vowed to punish the skipper if he is found responsible. Rosenfeld said material from the investigation would be handed over to Japanese authorities.

Replica Ship Goes In A Blaze Of Glory

Record crowds flocked to watch a massive replica ship going up in flames in Shropshire, as part of celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.
The massive replica of HMS Usillies took three weeks to assemble - but not so long to burn!
About 1,400 people attended Welshampton’s annual bonfire, where the 60ft long and 40ft high commemorative centrepiece was set alight. The recreation of HMS Usillies took five people three weeks to put together using hundreds of pallets and thousands of nails. Event organisers were delighted with the success of the event, despite all their hard work going up in flames.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Somalia Appeals For International Help To Combat Pirates In Its Waters

Pirates have seized a cargo ship off the coast of Somalia, local officials have confirmed.
*MV Miltzow: 12 Oct - 14 Oct
*MV Toregelow: 8 Oct
*Ibnu Batuta: 26 Sep - 3 Oct
*MV Semlow: 27 June - 3 Oct
They said the Maltese-registered ship, Pagania, was attacked late on Wednesday as it sailed from South Africa to Europe with a cargo of iron ore. The hijackers are reportedly demanding a $700,000 (£394,000) ransom for the release of the ship and its crew, all believed to be Ukrainian. More than 20 ships have been seized or attacked in the area since March. The International Maritime Bureau - which records such attacks - has recently advised ships "to keep as far away as possible from the Somali coast". A UN-chartered ship carrying food aid to tsunami victims in northern Somalia, the MV Semlow, was released this month, after being held by hijackers for 100 days. Andrew Mwangura of the Seafarers' Assistance Programme from Kenya's port of Mombasa said the vessel was seized some 167km off the Somali coast. "They are demanding $700,000," Mr Mwanguara told the AFP news agency. Officials in Somali's capital, Mogadishu, confirmed the incident. A spokesman for the Ukrainian foreign ministry was quoted by the Interfax-Ukraine news agency as saying the ship's 22-strong crew were all Ukrainian nationals. The spokesman, Dmytro Svystkov, said that contact with the ship's captain had been established and all the crew were unharmed. International maritime officials say Somali waters are some of the world's most dangerous. Somalia's transitional prime minister has recently asked neighbouring countries to send warships to patrol the coast. Somalia has not had a functioning central government since 1991.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Harasses The Padelford Packet Boat Co.

The Padelford Boat Company runs popular cruises on the Mississippi River in St. Paul. Recently the Minnesota Pollution control agency determined the company was breaking state law for what it puts into the water. The Pollution Control Agency found Padelford is discharging inadequately treated sewage into a no discharge zone on the Mississippi River.
A veteran river boat operator says he blew the whistle so the public would know. He said, "They should be just outraged that this boat company has been doing this over the years." Documents obtained by reporters show the MPCA found three of the Padelford boats, the Harriet Bishop, the Anson Northrup and the Betsey Northrup have done the dumping. The PCA believes one of the boats has been discharging improperly for up to 16 years. Elise Doucette lead the investigation for the MPCA. She said "The discharge of inadequately treated sewage can reduce water quality." Captain Steve Bowell is the President of the Padelford Company. He wouldn't talk about the PCA's findings on camera, but he did show us how he's already upgraded the Harriet Bishop to meet state standards. It no longer discharges any waste into the river. Bowell insists he didn't do anything wrong and insists he was unaware of the no discharge zone, even though the regulation has been in force since 1977.

Doucette countered saying, "Not knowing the regulations is not an excuse." It may not be an excuse, but the MPCA admits to poor communication to boat operators like Bowell. That's one reason why Padelford has until 2007 to finish outfitting all the offending boats with holding tanks for waste. Two years to completely fix the problem. Doucette said, "Our schedule is so that they will become compliant with our state regulations. Reporter John Mason asked, "In two years?" Doucette responded, "In 2 years yes." Mason said, "But in the meantime wastewater inadequately treated sewage is still going in the river? Doucette confirmed that was the case. The man who told the state about the problem thinks that's absurd. He said, "Why the PCA is allowing this to go on and not fine them is absolutely beyond me." The discharge from the Padelford boats was treated with chlorine. As a result of the MPCA investigation, the company will spend more than $120,000 to convert all three boats to zero discharge.

Missing Sailor: Embassy Issues Alert In Baltic

The Indian Embassy in Poland has sounded an alert across the Baltic region to probe the mysterious disappearance of Gurgaon Sailor Gautam Malik from the vessel MV Spar Cetus at the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda.
MV Spar Cetus
Alerted by their counterparts in Poland, the Indian Embassy in Sweden has urged Latvian authorities to carry out detailed investigations into the incident. ‘‘We have alerted authorities across the Baltic region. Our Mission in Sweden has also been informed since affairs concerning Latvia are monitored by them. We have also alerted authorities in Norway where the vessel is registered and Hong Kong where the company has its headquarters. Thorough checks are being conducted everywhere as we understand the gravity of the matter,’’ Indian Ambassador to Poland Anil Wadhawan told Newsline over phone from Warsaw. Lithuanian authorities, meanwhile, have also mounted an independent investigation into the incident. The ship - which left Klaipeda a day before Gautam’s sister Preeti Sekhri and brother-in-law Munish reached Lithuania on October 13 to look into the facts of the case - is presently berthed in Latvia. Gautam’s employers - Hong Kong-based Fleet Management company - had told his family that Gautam either slipped into the sea at Klaipeda or had left the ship uninformed. Pointing to an e-mail sent by Preeti Sekhri based on her observations at Lithuania, Wadhawan said, ‘‘She has pointed out certain major gaps in the initial investigations. Her contention about the ship not being searched properly at Klaipeda is true. Only Gautam’s cabin and the deck area from where his walky-talky was found were searched. This should not have happened. The shipping company was in a hurry to sail out of Klaipeda which should have been prevented.’’ Back from Klaipeda, Preeti said, ‘‘We had e-mailed our observations to the shipping company on October 18. They replied yesterday saying that all correspondence should be done by my old mother who hasn’t slept properly since this incident. The deck cadet who last saw him at 8 am on October 9 had said that Gautam could have probably gone down for measuring draught. The ship was off-loading sugar for two days at Klaipeda and Gautam had never gone down.’’ ‘‘As per rules, a person cannot go alone for the same, there is some kind of watch when he climbs down the ladder. Also he wears a harness, a life jacket and is supported by two members. How come then no one noticed him?’’ she added. Speaking to Newsline over phone from Lithuania, Petras Anuras, Deputy Director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, ‘‘Police is investigating the case. Looks like the Interpol has also been informed. We understand the trauma of the family and we are trying our best.’’ Incidentally, while Gautam was last spotted at 8 am, divers were pressed into service five hours later. Efforts to reach Fleet Management representatives in India and Hong Kong proved futile.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Hurricane Unearths Medical Artifact From Blackbeard's Ship

Researchers say an apothecary mortar from 1718 and other debris were uncovered when Ophelia tore up the coast.
Researchers excavating the site of the shipwreck believed to be Blackbeard's flagship got an unexpected assist from Hurricane Ophelia. The storm churned up the waters and unearthed an apothecary mortar from the remains of the Queen Anne's Revenge. That's the thick bowl familiar to modern eyes in pharmacy logos, where it's shown with a pestle. Two cannons, an anchor and other debris were also exposed when Ophelia scoured sand on the sea bottom just off Atlantic Beach. The items could provide useful historic data about the ship. When Blackbeard took control of the slave ship Concorde in the Caribbean in 1717, he forced three of the ship's surgeons to remain aboard his pirate flagship. In May 1718, Blackbeard demanded and received supplies to refill his medicine chest during a weeklong blockade of Charleston Harbor. The ship ran aground in Beaufort Inlet about a month later.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Russian Boat Escapes Norway Chase

Police chief complains Norwegian inspectors 'kidnapped'
A Russian trawler accused of illegal fishing has escaped from Norwegian patrol boats with two Norwegian fisheries inspectors aboard after a five-day chase across Arctic seas.
Norway accuses the trawler of using an illegal mesh inside its main nets to scoop up undersize fish.
The rusting "Elektron" sailed into Russian waters early on Wednesday in a snow storm and 9 meter (30 ft) high seas having defied Norwegian attempts to arrest the vessel in a diplomatic row over Arctic fishing rights. Norway's coastguard boarded the trawler off the Svalbard islands north of the Arctic Circle on Saturday and the coastguard was escorting it back to a Norwegian port when the "Elektron" switched course and headed for Russia. The coastguard gave up the chase when the "Elektron" entered Russian waters after the captain refused demands to surrender. Norway said that the two inspectors, who had not been mistreated, should be quickly handed back. "This case is not embarrassing for Norway. It's hard for us here in the south to imagine how it is to work in high waves and a storm," Defence Minister Anne-Grete Stroem-Erichsen told NRK public TV when asked why the coastguard did not stop the vessel. "It's a serious case because we have two Norwegian officials aboard," she said. The chief of police in Troms, northern Norway, now wants to charge the captain of the "Elektron" with kidnapping, Norwegian media reported. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov has said the inspectors would be handed back to Norway on Wednesday but stormy weather has delayed the arrival of the Elektron off the Russian coast. Norway accuses the trawler of using an illegal sock-like mesh inside its main trawling nets to scoop up even the smallest fish. Nets are meant to have holes big enough to allow small fish to escape to maintain fish stocks. "This is an environmental crime of the worst sort," said Rear Admiral Trond Grytting, head of Norway's armed forces in the northern region. No warning shots But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow did not recognize the unilateral protection zone for fisheries set up by Norway in the north Atlantic. In the past, the Norwegian coastguard has stopped ships by firing warning shots or by maneuvering so close that the vessels stopped out of fear of collision. But Norway's navy did not fire any warning shots and did not try to ensnare the "Elektron" with rope, as some media reported, Lieutenant Colonel John Lien of the Norwegian military's northern command told Reuters. "The whole time we have had security and safety as priority and we would not start any action that would harm the personnel," he said. Norway and Russia disagree over fishing rights. The Svalbard Treaty of 1925 gave Norway sovereignty over the archipelago but gave all other signatories, including Russia, rights to exploit the area including in territorial waters. In 1977, Norway unilaterally set up a 200-mile fishing zone around Svalbard, but its protection zone is only recognized by Finland and Canada. It says all nations can fish in the waters but have to stick to strict quotas.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Last WW1 Australian Veteran Dies

The last Australian to see active service in World War I, William Evan Allan, from Victoria, has died at the age of 106.
Evan Allan achieved the rank of Lieutenant
The death of the former able Seaman, who enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy at the age of 14 at the outbreak of war, leaves just one Australian World War I serviceman still alive out of more than 400,000 who enlisted and 330,770 who saw overseas service. Mr Allan passed away last night at the Gregory Lodge nursing home at Flemington in Melbourne, Veterans Affairs Minister De-Anne Kelly said. He is survived by his daughter Judith Blake and grandchildren Duncan and Philippa. Mr Allan, also the sole surviving Australian veteran of both world wars, would be honoured with a state funeral, the Victorian government announced today.
Memories … On his 100th birthday in 1999, Evan Allan poses with the service medals he won in both world wars and with pictures of him as a young sailor and petty officer.
Mrs Kelly said the passing of Mr Allan left only one Australian with service in World War I. Wireless operator John Campbell Ross, 106, of Bendigo in Victoria, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in February 1918 but the war ended before he saw active duty. "Mr Allan and his fellow servicemen were a vital part of the Australian forces during World War I. Their tireless devotion to duty was a credit to them and Australia," Mrs Kelly said. "Our World War I veterans helped to build this nation that we love. "With his passing, we have lost an entire generation who left Australia to defend our nation, the British Empire and other nations in the cause of freedom and democracy." Victorian Premier Steve Bracks also paid tribute to Mr Allan. "There's not many people now who have survived from that period and not many people who have served in both world wars," Mr Bracks said. "He's seen three centuries and it's an extraordinary period, extraordinary service and something which will be honoured here in Victoria."
Australian Hero ... William Evan Allan with his service medals.
Australia's last surviving veteran of fighting on the Western Front, Peter Casserly, 107, died in Perth in June. Mr Allan was born in Bega in NSW in July 1899 and enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy as a boy sailor at the outbreak of World War I, serving as a member of the crew of HMAS Encounter from 1915 until 1918. He sailed in the Pacific and also in the Indian Ocean, escorting troop ship convoys to Colombo.
HMAS Encounter
HMAS Encounter also took part in the search for the German raider, Wolfe, which was causing havoc among allied shipping. Mr Allan remained in the navy for 34 years, serving again during World War II. He retired in 1947, having attained the rank of lieutenant. In his later years Mr Allan retained vivid recollections of his years at sea. In a meeting with then navy chief Vice Admiral David Shackleton in 2001, he remarked how proud and happy he was each time he saw news reports of the modern day navy carrying out its operations. He recalled his time at sea as a sailor, and recounted an incident where he was washed overboard from the forecastle of HMAS Australia in 1928, spending a nervous three minutes in the water before being rescued.
HMAS Australia
RSL Victorian president Major General David McLachlan said he doubted the nation would ever again see soldiers of the calibre of the World War I diggers. "They were so committed to their nation, they suffered incredible deprivation in what they did and, of course, it was upon their contribution that we built the nation today," Maj-Gen McLachlan said. "... one wonders if we will ever ever see (that) again in the future."
Evan Allan as a ship's boy ... and at 100, right.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Ship Collision In The Suez Canal

An Egyptian passenger cruiser carrying over 1,300 Muslim pilgrims collided with a cargo ship at the entrance to the Suez Canal late Monday, causing a stampede among passengers that killed two people, officials and state-run media said.
Al-Salam 95
Another 40 people were injured in the stampede to flee the Salam 95, which began sinking after it was struck near Port Tawfiq, at the canal's southern entrance about 80 miles east of the Egyptian capital, Cairo, port and police officials said. At least 12 rescue boats rescued the bulk of the 1,350 passengers from the Al-Salam 95 before the vessel sank three hours later, the officials said on condition of anonymity as they were unauthorized to speak to the media. The cargo vessel was entering the Red Sea after crossing the Suez Canal from the Mediterranean when it rammed into the Egyptian ship, gouging a 16-foot hole in its side that allowed sea water to flood the engine room, Egypt's semiofficial Middle East News Agency reported. The Egyptian ship set sail from the Saudi Arabian Red Sea port of Jiddah; all but five of its passengers were Egyptians returning from a pilgrimage to Islam's holiest sites in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The accident did not force the closure of the 120-mile Suez Canal, which is a passage for about 7.5 percent of world sea trade.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Navy's Top Officer Calls For More Shipbuilding

The top uniformed officer in the Navy said this week that he is committed to start rebuilding a fleet that has shrunk by more than 50 percent in 15 years, to 282 ships today.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Mullen speaks to sailors at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton last month. Mullen said then that he hopes to be able to get two new submarines built per year. And earlier this week, Mullen said he is committed to start rebuilding a fleet that has shrunk by more than 50 percent in 15 years.
“Four (new) ships in the '06 budget on the Hill is as low as we've been, and I'm not anxious to stay there,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael G. Mullen. Building four ships a year with an average 30-year life would lead to a fleet of 120. Mullen said in an interview that his staff has finished a shipbuilding study that he ordered after he took office in July. He said he has a good understanding of the requirements and capabilities that the Navy needs, but he added, “I'm not prepared to talk in detail on that today because of where we are in the process.” The Department of Defense is in the middle of a top-to-bottom defense review that is done every four years, and the outcome of that study could change the numbers. Mullen also pledged to carry out the directives of the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission if they become law as expected next month, despite the commission's decision to overturn two key Navy recommendations by taking the Naval Submarine Base in Groton and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, off the closure list. Groton, he said, “is a very important base, and we will do the very best we can by Groton, and all the bases,” Mullen said. But it means the Navy won't whittle away much at the 20 to 25 percent excess base capacity it had going into the base closure process, so the service will have to look elsewhere for savings to recapitalize its fleet. On Friday, Mullen released his “CNO Guidance for 2006,” which devotes an unusual amount of attention to the shipbuilding industry. He discussed many of his goals in a teleconference from his office in the Pentagon. His predecessor released the annual guidance in January, but Mullen said he wanted its release to correlate more closely with the federal fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1 — and Thursday, he noted, was the anniversary of the establishment of the Navy by the Continental Congress in 1775. Although he did not specifically address the number of submarines he wants in the fleet, Mullen has in the past said he supports boosting production from one to two submarines a year as soon as possible, but he contends the cost must come down. But Mullen said having a firm fleet plan and a stable building program are key to bringing the cost down. Shipbuilders are paying huge premiums for the inconsistency in the shipbuilding program in recent years, he said. The only area of the fleet where Mullen signaled his intention was aircraft carriers. For many years the Navy has said it cannot have fewer than 12 carriers to meet overseas presence requirements, but this year the Navy has said it could get by with 11, and Mullen agreed. Mullen said he continues to support the DDX next-generation destroyer and the CVNX next-generation carrier programs, despite mounting costs, because they represent breakthrough technology. And he held out a lot of hope for the Littoral Combat Ship, or LCS, planned as a speedy, agile near-shore warship that could be produced in large numbers at low cost. Two prototypes are under construction. “You can't get LCS in the water fast enough,” Mullen said. “We're planning on populating the fleet with a number of them as fast as possible.” In 1990, the Navy fleet comprised 574 ships, but it has slipped every year since then, and as it has dropped the service has consistently reduced its force structure plan. At one point, for instance, the Navy said it needed at least 360 ships, and when it dropped below that the target changed to 345, and continued to ratchet down. In recent years Navy leadership has declined to set a goal for the size of the fleet, but Mullen said he wants a definite goal for the size of the fleet to bring some predictability back to the shipbuilding industry. His goal, he said, is “to build good ships and reduce costs,” and if he can put shipbuilding back on a firmer footing it would be up to industry to find ways to drive costs out of the process.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Navy Jet Crashes Off Key West

A Navy jet crashed Friday off the Florida Keys and its pilot was rescued after ejecting from the plane, according to the Coast Guard.
The F/A-18C Hornet aircraft went down 36 miles southwest of Key West about 8:30 a.m., the Navy said. The only pilot aboard was found alive a short time later and was hoisted out of the water by a Navy HH-60 helicopter. A Navy spokesman in Washington said the plane was attached to a squadron based in the Norfolk, Va., area that is the Navy's main training base for attack aircraft. Coast Guard spokesman Gretchen Eddy said the Coast Guard was notified by another F/A-18 pilot about the crash and responded with helicopters, rescue boats and a cutter.
The pilot's identity and condition were not immediately released. The plane is part of the "Gladiators" squadron based at the Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia, which routinely conducts training missions out of Key West, the Navy said in a statement. The pilot was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he will undergo extensive medical examinations. A naval flight surgeon will also be meeting the pilot to do a variety of medical tests.
Pilot arrives at hospital

Friday, October 14, 2005

Another Ship Hijacked

Somali gunmen seized a second ship, this time carrying food aid from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), off the Somali coast in less than a week.
MV Togelow, Hijacked By Pirates
Less than half of the 850 tons of food aid cargo had been offloaded at Merka port, southwest of Mogadishu, when unidentified gunmen stormed the MV Miltzow and ordered it to leave the port, according to the Daily Nation. The food aid cargo of beans, maize and vegetable oil was destined to some 78 000 people in Jilib district, an area affected by the recent failure of seasonal rains and harvests. It was not immediately clear where the ship was headed to, nor the identity of the gunmen. Last week another vessel, the MV Togelow, was hijacked while heading to Somalia from the Kenyan port of Mombasa carrying supplies to the released crew of the MV Semlow. The Semlow was in captivity for three months with food aid cargo donated by Germany and Japan intended for Somalia's tsunami victims. The 850 tons of donated rice and its 10-member crew are still on board the vessel currently anchored at El Maan port.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Sailor Rescued After '21 Days Of Hell'

Rescued sailor Heloise Kortekaas last night had her first bath in three weeks. "It was beautiful," she said from the container ship Encounter, which rescued her and partner Bruce Cox from their stricken yacht about 800km northeast of the Chatham Islands.
The dismasted yacht Janette Gay drifts in heavy seas
Ms Kortekaas turns 46 today and was already celebrating the fact that she was alive after a terrifying ordeal in which their yacht, the 9.7m Janette Gay, lost its mast during a violent storm and one rescue boat had to leave them for calmer seas. "I'm happy and feel very lucky to be alive," she said. "I thought we weren't going to make it there for a while. Very thankful to the ship that came and got us." The pair managed to get the yacht's motor started as the 48,500-tonne Encounter approached just before 6pm last night. They will be taken by helicopter to the Chathams today and then by air ambulance to Christchurch. Fresh from her bath, and about to enjoy a cup of tea and a cigarette, Ms Kortekaas told the Herald that the drama had put them both off sailing for good. "We were out there at the mercy of the sea.
The Janette Gay drifting
I would not take the sea for granted ever again - the power of it is just amazing. "It was a life-changing experience for me and for Bruce. But we'll be fine, and we're happy to be alive. "Bruises will heal." She cannot wait to get back to New Zealand and embrace family and friends. "I now realise how important they are and how unimportant other things are." Safely aboard the container ship and high on life, Ms Kortekaas recalled the "21 days of hell" at sea. "Apparently being at sea is 95 per cent boredom and 5 per cent terror, but for us it was the other way round. "We had one beautiful day and the rest was hell - the God of winds and the sea decided it was going to be hell ... you wouldn't believe the conditions. "We were battered by storms for 18 days. the boat rolled and dismasted but we managed to sail out.
The crew of an air force Orion photographed the yacht Janette Gay before it was dismasted.
"We were inside when it rolled, and had just that morning got off a mayday call at 6.30am. An Orion was overhead and we knew a ship was coming, and the next thing this wave came and tipped us over and broke the mast. "It [the yacht] righted itself, thank God, but it was half-full of water and we had to bail it all out. "Then the cabin roof was torn off. The hatch that keeps it watertight was torn off so we had to repair it as much as we could in stormy conditions. "The rest of the time we tried to keep warm. We rested and chatted. I'm not really religious, but I was hoping and praying it would work out for us. "I'm not quite sure how we made it. We just kept going and did what we had to do, tying ropes as 40-foot (12m) waves crashed over the boat. "Bruce would tie everything down countless times, and he got weaker and weaker and weaker. Even eating food in those conditions was impossible. "It was a matter of how many dozen more bruises would you get if you're trying to eat. It was an effort just to go to the toilet. "We looked death in the eye but we've made it. It wasn't our time to go. It was Bruce's courage and seamanship that got us through. "And then there was the aborted rescue, which just about squashed us. They did their best, but the boat just wasn't the right sort." Ms Kortekaas is in awe of her partner for his perseverance and courage.
An unsuccessful attempt to get the crew of the dismasted yacht Janette Gay on to the freighter Maunakea.
Mr Cox turned 49 on Sunday. "Bruce is in a lot of pain - he hurt his back about 12 days ago. "He was bruised from head to toe but he carried on. He is my hero. He saved my skin." The experience had put both of them off sailing forever, she said. "I won't be going to sea again, and neither will Bruce, even though he's been a seaman all his life." And Ms Kortekaas has no desire to salvage the steel-hulled Janette Gay. "She'll eventually sink." Rescue Co-ordination Centre mission controller Neville Blakemore called the rescue a textbook operation. The Encounter will resume its trip to Panama after heading back towards the Chathams. Rescue centre spokesman Steve Corbett said a Westpac rescue helicopter and an air ambulance would fly to the islands today.
Map of rescue area.
"We're all delighted to be able to get these two back to friends and family shortly." Ms Kortekaas' mother, Anastasie, shared the couple's relief. "When I heard they were put on that boat and rescued it was just such an exhilarating feeling," she said from her home in Christchurch. It was good to know "that terrible storm and everything they went through was over". A cousin of Mr Cox told Close Up the family were most grateful. "It's a huge 'thank you' from myself and all the family and I know that just about the whole of Lyttelton know Bruce and they will be clapping and thanking them also."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Navy Halts Search For Third Crewmember In Medical Helicopter Crash

The Navy suspended its search and recovery mission today for the Airlift Northwest helicopter that crashed off the Edmonds coast on Sept. 29. Much of the aircraft has been recovered, according to a news release from the city of Edmonds. The parts will be turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board for its investigation into the cause of the crash. Searchers, however, were unable to find the remains of the third Airlift Northwest crewmember on the helicopter, "although every effort was made," according to the news release. There are no immediate plans to resume the search and recovery mission, but the possibility hasn't been ruled out, according to the release. Killed in the crash were pilot Stephen Smith, 59, of Whidbey Island, and nurses Erin Reed, 48, and Lois Suzuki, 47, both of Seattle. Reed's body was recovered shortly after the crash, and the body of another crewmember was found Sunday. Those remains were turned over to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office for identification. The medical-transport helicopter was on a return flight to Arlington from Harborview Medical Center in Seattle on Sept. 29, when it crashed into the waters off Browns Bay in north Edmonds. The crew of the BATTLE POINT - YTT 10, a 186-foot Navy vessel, found the wreckage Friday night in more than 500 feet of water in Puget Sound

Monday, October 10, 2005

Happy Columbus Day

As everyone knows, Columbus had three ships on his first voyage, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.
The flagship Santa Maria had the nickname La Gallega. It was a nao, which simply means "ship" in old Spanish; today, we might call such a ship a carrack. She was fat and slow, designed for hauling cargo, not for exploration. Some sources say that the Santa Maria was about 100 tons, meaning that it could carry 100 toneladas, which were large casks of wine. There has been much speculation about just how large such a ship would be; the best current thinking, by Carla Rahn Philips, puts the length of Santa Maria at 18 meters, keel length at 12 meters, beam 6 meters, and a depth of 3 meters from keel to deck.
The Santa Maria had three masts (fore, main, and mizzen), each of which carried one large sail. The foresail and mainsail were square; the sail on the mizzen, or rear, mast was a triangular sail known as a lateen. In addition, the ship carried a small square sail on the bowsprit, and small topsail on the mainmast above the mainsail.
The Pinta was captained by Martín Alonso Pinzón, a leading mariner from the town of Moguer in Andalucia. Pinta was a caravel, a smaller, lighter, and faster ship than the tubby Santa Maria. We don't know much about Pinta, but it probably was about 70 tons. Philips puts the length of Pinta at 17 meters, keel length 13 meters, beam 5 meters, and depth 2 meters. She probably had three masts, and most likely carried sails like those of Santa Maria, except for the topsail, and perhaps the spritsail.
Smallest of the fleet was the Niña, captained by Vicente Añes Pinzón, brother of Martín. The Niña was another caravel of probably 50 or 60 tons, and started from Spain with lateen sails on all masts; but she was refitted in the Canary Islands with square sails on the fore and main masts. Unlike most ships of the period, Niña may have carried four masts, including a small counter-mizzen at the stern with another lateen sail. This would have made Niña the best of the three ships at sailing upwind. Philips puts her length at 15 meters, keel length 12 meters, beam 5 meters, and depth 2 meters.
As you can guess, speed of sailing vessels varies considerably with the speed of the wind. Over several days, ships of Columbus's day would average a little less than 4 knots. Top speed for the vessels was about 8 knots, and minimum speed was zero. These speeds were quite typical for vessels of the period -- and indeed, typical for the entire Age of Sail up until the time of steamships and clipper ships. So overall, 90 or 100 miles in a day would be typical, and 200 phenomenal.
Of the three ships on the first voyage, the Santa Maria was the slowest, and the Pinta was the fastest. The differences were small, however, perhaps about 0.1 knot between them.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Man Restores Chinese Junk In His Front Yard

While it may seem like Sherman Avenue resident Mickey Saccoccio's Chinese junk, Mama Junk, has found a permanent home in his front yard, the barn red, 30-foot long sailing vessel is nearly complete and should see the water come next spring.
Mickey Saccoccio
Resting atop stilts and facing the Kickemuit River, the junk — a type of Asian sailing vessel — towers above Mr. Saccoccio's waterview cottage at the corner of Sherman and Everett avenues. For the last four years it has caught the attention of scores of passers-by and sailing enthusiasts alike. Since moving to Bristol several years ago with his girlfriend, Mary, Mr. Saccoccio has spent countless hours rebuilding the two ton ship, something he said he loves to do. "This isn't about me, it's about the boat," he emphasized, standing at the junk's helm at the rear of the boat. An avid sailor and boatwright, Mr. Saccoccio purchased the junk more than 20 years ago after he saw it advertised in a local newspaper. The boat is more than 45 years old and was originally built in China before it was shipped over to the states. Since he bought the boat, he has rebuilt it three times and has even sailed it up and down the East Coast, going as far south as Sarasota, Florida.
"I've got thousands of miles on it," he said. "They (junks) sail a lot better than people think." The junk, he said, is one of history's most impressive designs. Going back 3,000 years, the ships were first used by the Chinese as cargo boats, carrying people and goods along the Chinese coast in the Pacific Ocean and as far west as Africa. With its three large sails, it was the precursor to more modern sailing vessels, he said. "This is kind of like the evolution of the sailing ship." Since Mr. Saccoccio has owned the junk, it has taken on different designs. Its most recent rebuilding has dramatically altered the ship's original appearance to fit Mr. Saccoccio's own personal design. Because he has lived near the water his entire life, his experiences with boats has rendered him a decent shipwright. He has developed a knack for boatbuilding and carpentry. There's freedom, he said, to do whatever he desires. "I can get away with a lot of stuff with this boat," he said. "I'm free to invent my own methods." Chinese junk boats come in a variety of sizes and shapes. It's their flexibility, said Mr. Saccoccio, that has made them one of sailing's most efficient ships.
Mama Junk's design, however much it has changed, has nevertheless remained true to her origins, he said. "The basic design has stayed the same for over 3,000 years. This is my design now, and that's why it's so fun." Part of Mr. Saccoccio's fascination with junks stems from their odd appearance and design. More than just an eye-catcher, he said, they also sail like a dream. People continue to sail them "because they still work," he said. "They're so graceful and just so weird. They're also real handy." With a new four-cylinder diesel engine, deck, planking, handmade masts, and a new cabin and cockpit, the junk is nearly ready to set sail. Although he's said it before, Mama Junk should be ready for open waters come early next year, he said. "Me and Mary are going to do some exploring in it."

The Dirt On Junks
Chinese "Junk" boats date back to ancient China where they were used primarily as cargo ships. The term "junk" refers to any wooden sailing vessel with a high poop deck (a partial deck raised at the rear of the ship). Junk boats have both flat bottoms and keels and are usually steered with a long rudder. The boats normally have three large masts with four cornered sails braced by long strips of bamboo called battens. Most junks range from 30 to 70 feet in length and some can weigh as much as 100 tons. Today, junk boats are used for fishing, transportation, and sometimes living quarters. They are still a common fixture along the rivers and coast in China and Japan

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Boat Race Round The World

"This is the Mount Everest of sailing. It is probably the toughest round-the-world race ever conceived.” That was how Ericsson Racing Team head of marketing Behdad Banian described the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06, organised once every four years, during a recent press conference in Singapore.
Neal McDonald (left) and Bert Nordberg, who is executive vice-president of group function sales and marketing for Ericsson, with a replica of the Ericsson Racing Team boat.
The grand prix sailboat race, scheduled to kick off in November, will cover a distance of 31,000 nautical miles and will take about eight months to complete. The participants will sail their boats from Vigo, Spain to Cape Town, Melbourne, Wellington, Rio de Janeiro, Baltimore/ Annapolis and New York before making a transatlantic journey to Portsmouth in England, Rotterdam in the Netherlands and finally, Gothenburg, Sweden. Seven competing teams namely, Abn Amro Boat 1 and Boat 2 (Netherlands), Ericsson Racing Team (Sweden), Team Pirate (United States), Brasil 1 (Brazil), Premier Challenge (Australia) and Movistar (Spain), will sail their boats at maximum speed 24 hours a day. Unlike previous races where 60-ft boats were used, this event will see faster and bigger 70-footers. “The new boats are a lot faster. In April, Movistar broke the world speed record by covering 530 nautical miles in 24 hours with their new 70-footer,” said Banian. Banian also pointed out that unlike past races, this year’s event will have only 60% of the points coming from the long ocean legs between the ports. “The rest of the points will come from in-port races and six scoring gates during the ocean legs. Bert Nordberg, executive vice-president of group function sales and marketing for Ericsson, said the race was a good marketing and sales platform for the company. “The race has many similarities to our business. “To win, strong teamwork is needed. Everything has to work from beginning to the end – just like our products and services. Aspects of the race such as professionalism, respect and perseverance also reflect the core values of Ericsson,” said Nordberg. Banian also said Ericsson aimed to increase public interest in the sport of sailboat racing. “We want to help people understand what the sport is all about. Plans to promote the sport include interactive games on mobile phones where participants can win prizes such as a trip to one of the ports in the race,” said Banian.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Australian Navy's Newest Ship Embraces The Past

The Australian Navy’s newest ship will be commissioned this weekend, and Brisbane will host the ceremony for the first time in many years. The 118-meter ANZAC class frigate will become the HMAS Toowoomba on Saturday.
“I name this ship Toowoomba. God bless her and all who sail in her.” With these time-honoured words, Launch Lady Ms Judy Blight began the sequence that saw the ninth Anzac Class frigate slide into the tranquil waters of Hobsons Bay, carrying on a proud name and the tradition of a happy ship. Ms Blight is the daughter of LCDR Howard Goodwin, the last Commanding Officer of the first HMAS Toowoomba.
She takes her name from a 1940's mine-hunting corvette that served in the Royal Australian Navy during World War Two. As part of the celebrations, the ship's helicopter paid a flying visit to schools in Toowoomba, giving the region’s youth a chance to learn more about naval defence. The ship's captain, Commander Greg Sammutt, says the vessel will be commissioned with all due pomp and ceremony. “We'll see the ship's company paraded before the ship, and we'll be manning the ship, we'll be cheering the ship, and after some speeches and some prayers, I'll be piped aboard the vessel as its commanding officer. “It's not a terribly long ceremony, but a particularly moving one,” Commander Sammutt says. It’s been many years since a ship was commissioned in Queensland. “The first Toowoomba was commissioned in Brisbane, in fact on the 9th of October in 1941. “Now on the 8th of October, 64 years later, the second Toowoomba will also commission in Brisbane.” This ship is one of eight built in Australia as part of a planned upgrade of the Royal Australian Navy. The ANZAC class frigates are used as long-range escort ships, and in warfare may be used for air defence, anti-submarine warfare, surveillance and reconnaissance. Each ship has a five-inch (127mm) gun able to fire 20 rounds per minute, or one every three seconds. The ships also have the latest technological gadgetry, with air surveillance radars, sonar and a combat data system.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Women Now In The Forefront In The South African Navy

Women are bringing a wave of change to the South African Navy. In what used to be a male dominated sphere, the opposite sex are being empowered and are taking up leadership positions.
This was discussed today at the first day of a three day conference being held in Cape Town for women in the Navy. The SA Navy is giving women the chance to progress into key positions. This has been a sore point within the ranks for a long time, as women were always sidelined and made to work in offices. “Our women need to be at the sharp end of the navy and the sharp end of the navy is the navy in the Corvettes, the submarines, our mine hunters," Refiloe Mudimu, a vice admiral, says. And at the forefront of this revolution is Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala, the rear admiral. She is the first female admiral of the South African Navy. According to her, one of the burning issues is women being able to have the freedom to be mothers and wives but also good naval officers. "Why don't we have a baby centre or creche at the dockyard. So that if I decide I'm not taking my four months maternity leave, I'm taking two, I'm coming back cause my family and career are important, at least I know I can breastfeed, Litchfield-Tshabalala says. Tshabalala says it will still take some time to change the mindset of some male officers who still believe, the Navy is a man's domain. Other issues yet to be discussed over the next two days include, health issues especially relating to HIV/Aids.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Sailor Falls To His Death From Navy Helicopter

Search teams in the central Persian Gulf have recovered the body of a sailor who fell out of an airborne MH-53E helicopter today during a scheduled training mission, the Navy’s 5th Fleet said.
The sailor, a crewmember, fell out of the aircraft at noon local time today while it was being flown from Bahrain to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, said 5th Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Leslie Hull-Ryde. She said the sailor fell out at an altitude of 130 feet over an area “off the coast of Saudi Arabia,” but could not say how far off the coast the incident took place. The sailor’s body was located at 3:25 p.m. local time, Hull-Ryde said. In accordance with Pentagon policy, the sailor’s name will be withheld until 24 hours after the family is notified. The helicopter and crew are assigned to Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15 Det 2, a 4-aircraft detachment forward-deployed in Bahrain. The squadron’s main body is based at Corpus Christi Naval Air Station, Texas. No further details were available.

Israeli Firm Apologises To Japan Over Fatal Collision

The Israeli shipping firm whose vessel crashed into a Japanese fishing boat last week, killing seven people, admitted responsibility and apologised, a top Japanese diplomat told reporters.
Zim Asia
Ryuta Mizuuchi, number two at the Japanese embassy in Tel Aviv, said two top officials from Israel Corp, the parent company of Zim Shipping, admitted their firm's involvement in the fatal crash off the Japanese coast and personally apologised to the Japanese Ambassador to Israel, Jun Yokota. Japanese coast guards discovered a capsized fishing boat off the coast of Japan's northern island of Hokkaido. The boat had capsized in international waters and only one of the eight crew members survived. An investigation found that paint from the capsized boat matched that of a 40,000-ton Israeli-registered Zim Asia cargo ship, which was en route from Seattle to South Korea. Idan Ofer, chairman of the board at Israel Corp, and president and CEO Yossi Rosen promised to cooperate with the investigation, Mizuuchi said. "They expressed their apologies for what happened off the Japanese coast. They said they would do whatever they could to cooperate with the investigation and sent their condolences to the families of the dead," he said. "They also offered to financially support the families in what we understand was an offer of compensation," Mizuuchi added. Although the Zim Asia vessel had initially denied any involvement in a collision, Ofer said incident had not been a 'hit and run' case. "He said that if the captain of the ship had been aware that he had hit the Japanese fishing boat, he would have behaved otherwise and helped them," Mizuuchi added. Earlier Monday, Zim said it had opened its own inquiry and sent its senior representative in Asia to question the crew of the cargo ship. Collisions involving foreign-registered vessels have to be investigated by authorities in their country of registration. Zim is one of the world's largest container shipping companies and operates a network of shipping lines across the globe.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Another Mystery Ship Fire

The ghost of MV Faiz — the ship that caught fire mysteriously off the coast of Bay of Bengal on June 2, in which the captain, his wife and two children died — has come to haunt its owner again.
The burnt cargo vessel MV Faiz, on board which Captain P.P. Shelley, his wife and two children were charred to death
This time MV Nazish, another ship of Pervez Rehman, was caught in a mystery fire at Kolkata Port. The incident occurred a couple of days ago. The ship was completely The vessel, which was supposed to sail to Port Blair on the morning of October 1, was parked at berth no 8. Around 10.30 pm on Friday, it was in flames. There was panic all over at the port. At least 18 fire tenders of the Kolkata fire services were pressed into service and it took over four hours to control the blaze. The ship was carrying a cargo of steel and pipes. Senior officials of the Kolkata Port Trust are tightlipped about the incident and both police and Marine Engineering department have started investigations. Confirming the incident, deputy commissioner of police (Port Division), Ajoy Ranade, told Newsline: ‘‘The vessel caught fire mysteriously on Friday night. Luckily, there was no casualty. Preliminary investigation revealed that the vessel was all set to sail on last Saturday morning. Inquiry is on in this regard. We have asked the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) to ascertain the cause of the fire. Marine Engineering department is also assisting in the investigation’’. A spokesman of the Kolkata Port Trust, A K Sahu, pleaded ignorance. Friday’s incident has put a question mark about recurring incidents of fire in ships owned by the same company. ‘‘The fire at MV Nazish is the chilling reminder of MV Faiz, which left so many unanswered questions. Why is it happening with a particular owner? There might be an insurance angle to it,’’ said an official, refusing to elaborate. When contacted by Newsline, the owner, Rehman, initally denied that MV Nazish caught fire. When told that police have already taken up the investigation, he said: ‘‘Yes, there was a minor fire. Workers were loading goods and it seems that it caught fire after someone threw a lighted bidi on the ship.’’ He refuted the charge that the ship was condemned and there was any attempt at getting an insurance money against the fire. The MV Faiz was carrying 800 MT of pulse and sailed from Yangoan, Myanmar on May 27. It got lost after 48 hours. Soon after the Coast Guard was alerted. On June 2 the Coast Guard managed to track down the ship near East of Paradip. The 10 survivors, including crew members, were on life boats and were brought to Haldia. The charred body of the captain, P B Shelly, a resident of Chennai, his wife and two children were found inside the ship. Surprisingly, the ship, which was being towed back to Haldia by the Coast Guard ship, Chandbibi, was reported to be lost and sank with its cargo. The Director General, Shipping, started investigation but till date the ship has not been recovered and the cause of the fire is still shrouded in mystery.

One Dead, Three Missing In Ship Fire

One person was dead and three missing after a fire ripped through a local shrimp boat in country's southwestern waters Monday night, police said. The fire broke out about 10 p.m. when the 7.93-ton Daesung was sailing from the western port city of Taean, some 170 kilometers south of Seoul, maritime police said.

Monday, October 03, 2005

21 Die In Sinking Of Tourist Boat On Lake George

Twenty-one people were killed and dozens more injured when a small cruise ship capsized in an upstate New York lake Sunday afternoon.
Ethan Allan
The glass-enclosed Ethan Allan was carrying 49 passengers and crew on a Lake George senior citizens' cruise. The seniors were part of a tour group from Canada. The Warren County Sheriff, Larry Cleveland, said his office is investigating reports that the Ethan Allan capsized when a larger tour boat passed nearby and swamped it. The accident happened so fast that none of the Ethan Allan's elderly passengers was able to put on a life jacket in time. At least five of the injured were hospitalized. The owner of the cruiseline that operated the boat said the incident was a tragedy and "very unfortunate." Lake George is about 320 kilometers north of New York City.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Navy Identifies Sailor Lost At Sea

A sailor lost at sea in the Persian Gulf two weeks ago has been identified as Seaman Apprentice Robert D. Macrum, 22, of Sugarland, Texas, the Pentagon said. Macrum, who was assigned to the San Diego-based cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59), was last seen the evening of Sept. 12 while the ship was underway as it conducted maritime security operations with the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group. Macrum failed to report for watch the morning of Sept. 13, prompting a shipwide search and subsequent four-day sea-and-air search over a 360-square-mile area, beginning from the Princeton’s position on the previous evening when the sailor was last seen, 5th Fleet said. The search ended Sept. 17. An investigation was launched into the circumstances of the sailor’s disappearance, 5th Fleet said. No conclusions have been announced. The Nimitz group, including Carrier Air Wing 11, concluded nine weeks of maritime security operations in the Gulf on Sept. 22.

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