Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Liberian Flagged Ship Spills Oil In Egypt's Suez Canal

A Liberian-flagged oil tanker spilled 30,000 tons of heavy fuel into the Suez Canal after hitting the western bank of the waterway an official of the Suez Canal Authority said. The Grigoroussa 1, which was travelling from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, hit the quay after it suffered a technical failure, said the official, declining to be named. The ship was partly damaged and spilled about 3,000 of the 58, 000 tons of heavy fuel aboard into the canal.
Tug boats were sent to the area where the accident occurred to pull the tanker so that the strategic waterway would not be blocked. Egyptian Environment Ministry dispatched a task force to clean the oil slick, said the official. About 7.5 percent of world sea trade is transmitted through the 190-km Suez canal, making it one of the busiest waterways in the world. Transit fees paid by shipping operators are one of Egypt's largest source of foreign currency and a total of 3.45 billion U.S. dollars were collected in 2005.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Tugboat Rescues 2 Men In Life Raft

Two men in a life raft were rescued by a passing tugboat yesterday after their 60-foot fishing boat sank about 3 miles off Molokini. The Coast Guard is investigating why the Princess Natasha went down. Few details were released yesterday. The survivors were identified as Robert McCracken of Kapolei and Ernie Falk, also of O'ahu. Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael De Nyse said 200 gallons of fuel were aboard the fishing boat, but there were no reports of pollution from the vessel.
Line Haul Tug: Ocean Service
The 120-foot tugboat Ocean Service, owned by Sause Brothers and commanded by Captain Raymond Lee, was pulling a fuel barge between Kaho'olawe and Molokini on its way to Hilo when first mate Donovan Duncan spotted a flare around 6 a.m. Duncan said the small life raft could not be detected on radar and visibility was poor because of darkness and rain. The tug slowed and brought the barge in closer for safety and greater maneuverability while searching for the survivors. When additional flares were fired, the crew used a spotlight to locate the life raft near Molokini, a popular tour-boat stop for snorkeling. "They were cold and pretty tired when we got to them," Duncan said. The men were brought aboard. Duncan said he did not get a chance to talk at length with the two, who were immediately transferred to a Coast Guard vessel and taken to Ma'alaea Harbor on Maui.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Rarest Marine Corps Occupation

Marine infantrymen fight on the front lines of America’s battles, but must rely on their brothers and sisters in garrison who support them in unconventional ways. One Marine has changed his battle from the sands of Iraq to military courtrooms. Sergeant Walter J. Blagg, formerly with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, now works as a legal services recorder for Legal Services Support Section, Headquarters and Service Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group at Camp Foster, Okinawa. Blagg lateral moved to the 4429 military occupational specialty so that he could spend more time with his family instead of facing uncertain deployment schedules. He was also interested in learning a skill that could potentially transfer into a successful civilian career.
The rare occupation, which has 39 total Marines, consists of the word-for-word recording of courts-martial, the non-judicial punishment of officers, and boards of inquiry. Court reporters use a device called a stenotype to quickly record every word spoken during the hearings. “It’s like writing in sounds,” Blagg said. “You make combinations and [the stenotype]makes words out of those sounds.” The Marine Corps still relies heavily on legal services recorders to provide accurate transcripts of military judicial proceedings for a number of reasons. Although audio recording devices are used in courtrooms, the sound quality can be low and not easily understandable. Court reporters provide hard records of trials faster than would be possible if the records had to be completely transcribed by hand and are also more easily deployable than audio recording machinery. The Marines Corps remains the only U.S. armed forces service branch to employ court reporters. For this reason, only Marine legal services recorders can be authorized to record the proceedings of the war-crime tribunals that take place in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. To become a court reporter, Blagg attended one of the U.S. military’s longest enlisted job training courses. The course takes place at the Virginia Career Institute and lasts nearly two years. Marines receive training to learn how to correctly transcribe their court recordings into an official document and undergo a 90-hour civilian internship to get a feel for their new trade. Although most Marines never reach the course’s graduation goal of 225 words per minute on the stenotype, Blagg hit the mark in only 15 months. He is one of about five Marines who have graduated at a 225 wpm average in the past twenty years, according to Master Gunnery Sgt. Kevin M. Black, the chief court reporter at LSSS and the Corps’ most senior legal services recorder. “Marines have to be highly self-motivated to succeed at this job,” Black said. “With his writing potential, he could become one of the best court reporters in the Marine Corps.”

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Ice Bound Sailors A-Okay

Sailors from Katya Z ship, which remained trapped in an icy region of the Sea of Azov, gave their accounts of the experience. On several occasions 1.5 metre thick ice blocks surrounded the ship, sailors said. Captain Yancho Nikolov said the first time the ship got stuck the ice coverage around it reached thickness of 35 to 40 cm.
Despite the experience Nikolov said he never had to deal with similar situation. On January 23 Katya Z got stuck. One rescue operation on February 3 failed. Katya Z reached the Bulgarian port of Bourgas on February 21, Focus news agency reported. Temperatures dropped to -27 degrees Celsius, Nikolov said. If the electric system of the ship failed the health of the crew was at risk, said he. After the first rescue operation failed the ship got stuck once again. At that point the food supplies of the crew were almost depleted and a decision about leaving the ship had to be taken, Nikolov said.

Varna Shipping & Trading Istd, company that owns KATYA-Z Ship, which spent almost a month stranded in ice in the Sea of Azov, thanked the Ukrainian authorities for their help in the rescue operation, reads an official statement of the Ukrainian embassy in Bulgaria. The statement was sent toreporters. “The management of Varna Shipping & Trading Istd has described the results of the rescue operation of KATYA-Z Ship as a sign of high professionalism and responsibility of the Ukrainian authorities”, the letter reads. KATYA-Z Ship sailed under the flag of the Caribbean Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and was chartered by Varna Shipping & Trading Istd. Its crew consisted of 14 Bulgarians and 4 Ukrainians. Its captain was Yancho Nikolov. The ship left the port of Berdyansk, Ukraine at midnight on January 22nd, 2006 and was travelling to the port of Burgas, Bulgaria. On its way it got stranded in ice.

The Navy's Swimming Spy Plane

Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works, famed for the U-2 and Blackbird spy planes that flew higher than anything else in the world in their day, is trying for a different altitude record: an airplane that starts and ends its mission 150 feet underwater. The Cormorant, a stealthy, jet-powered, autonomous aircraft that could be outfitted with either short-range weapons or surveillance equipment, is designed to launch out of the Trident missile tubes in some of the U.S. Navy's gigantic Cold War--era Ohio-class submarines.
An artist's rendering shows the Cormorant in action.
These formerly nuke-toting subs have become less useful in a military climate evolved to favor surgical strikes over nuclear stalemates, but the Cormorant could use their now-vacant tubes to provide another unmanned option for spying on or destroying targets near the coast. The tubes are as long as a semi trailer but about seven feet wide -- not exactly airplane-shaped. The Cormorant has to be strong enough to withstand the pressure 150 feet underwater -- enough to cave in hatches on a normal aircraft -- but light enough to fly. Another challenge: Subs survive by stealth, and an airplane flying back to the boat could give its position away. The Skunk Works's answer is a four-ton airplane with gull wings that hinge around its body to fit inside the missile tube. The craft is made of titanium to resist corrosion, and any empty spaces are filled with plastic foam to resist crushing. The rest of the body is pressurized with inert gas. Inflatable seals keep the weapon-bay doors, engine inlet and exhaust covers watertight. The Cormorant does not shoot out of its tube like a missile. Instead an arm-like docking "saddle" guides the craft out, sending it floating to the surface while the sub slips away. As the drone pops out of the water, the rocket boosters fire and the Cormorant takes off. After completing its mission, the plane flies to the rendezvous coordinates it receives from the sub and lands in the sea. The sub then launches a robotic underwater vehicle to fetch the floating drone. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding tests of some of the Cormorant's unique systems, including a splashdown model and an underwater-recovery vehicle. The tests should be completed by September, after which DARPA will decide whether it will fund a flying prototype.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ship Docks At Gran Canaria With Four Dead Stowaways

The Captain of a Panamanian vessel has docked on the island of Gran Canaria after finding four stowaways dead on board his ship. The cargo ship ‘C-Akabey’ was en route to Turkey from the Ivory Coast with a load of grain. The Captain diverted to the nearest port, La Luz de Las Palmas, when he found the dead men on board, as laid down by international law.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ship Returns Without Missing Crew Member

The Amsterdam arrived at 4:30 a.m. According to Holland America cruise-line officials, an assistant cook was reported missing on Friday. The Coast Guard and a military plane searched an area 1,100 miles off the coast of Hawaii. Authorities said there was no sign of the missing man. Cruise line officials eventually called off the search and made the decision to return to San Diego.
MS Amsterdam
The 1,200 passengers on board the Amsterdam understood why officials made the decision to return to San Diego, despite the fact that they had to scramble to reschedule flights out of San Diego. "Most of them were very accepting," said passenger Barbara Holt. "I think everybody's feeling was that if it had been anybody who they had been close to, they would have wanted the same thing to have been done.
MS Amsterdam
Nobody was thrilled about being a day late, but there were not great grumblings." Authorities identified the missing man as a 30-year-old Filipino. Officials with Holland America said that -- based on private conversations they've had with family members -- there is no chance of foul play.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Navy Seabee Found Dead In Mississippi

A body that was found in the water off of Biloxi's Back Bay has been identified as a Seabee who was on active duty in Mississippi. Christy Ayala, 23, was a native of Lake St. Louis, Mo., and had been stationed in the state for only a few weeks, said Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove. "She had floated up to the shoreline, which was probably six or eight inches deep," he said. Ayala's body was found Saturday and the autopsy has been completed.
"Anyone who has any information in reference to her, contact us," Hargrove said. "What we are trying to do is create a time frame surrounding her death." Officials declined to speculate whether foul play was involved in Ayala's death. "We're not sure if it was an accident," said Sgt. Bruce Johnson with the Biloxi Police Department. "We have no way of knowing anything more."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Canadian Warships Leaving For Three Week Exercise With U.S. Navy

Five Canadian warships were set to leave Halifax on Monday for an intense, three-week training exercise that will see them working with the U.S. Navy. The vessels were to join three U.S. destroyers, along with Canadian fighter jets and land forces. Canada's only operational submarine, HMCS Windsor, was also set to take part. HMCS Montreal, the flagship of the exercise, was to be joined by HMCS Ville de Quebec, Summerside, Moncton and Preserver. About 1,000 personnel were expected to participate in the exercise, set to take place in waters off Nova Scotia, Norfolk, Va., and Boston, Mass.
HMCS Montréal (FFH 336)
Navy spokesman Lt.-Cmdr. Ken MacKillop said two such training exercises are typically scheduled each year. "This one is an excellent chance to exercise the Joint Task Force Atlantic command and control concept, so they will be working more jointly out there using the headquarters here to run the operation," he said. Joint Task Force Atlantic is one of several regional command centres responsible for conducting domestic operations under Canada Command. The centres were announced last year to focus on disasters at home. MacKillop said this week's exercises will also allow Canadian and American units to work as a cohesive unit. Combat capabilities will be tested in the areas of anti-submarine warfare, electronic warfare and boarding operations. It's the first time Preserver has conducted fleet operations since its $40-million refit last year.

Air Force Boot Camp Gets Longer

Civilians wanting to be Airmen are going to have to tough it out for an additional two and a half weeks at basic military training, said the Air Force's top General. Airmen graduating from BMT are going to be better trained and better equipped to be war fighters, said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley during the Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium. "My belief is that every Airman should be ready the minute they graduate for the air expeditionary force that is today's Air Force," he said. "We demand a lot of those kids when they get out into the field, and they have to be better prepared for the challenges they face out there."
The additional weeks will give more time for Airmen to be trained on war-fighting skills they would encounter in a deployed combat location, such as the use of small arms and emergency medical skills. Airmen need to have more awareness about the Air Force expeditionary business, General Moseley said. New Airmen will not be the only ones getting trained for global and expeditionary warfare. Senior noncommissioned officers and field grade officers will soon be required to take up a new language as part of their professional military training.
"Starting next year, the students down at Maxwell (Air Force Base, Ala., home to Air University and the Senior NCO Academy) are going to see a more robust education that is going to prepare them to be leaders in this global war on terror, and that includes language education" General Moseley said. "It is going to be mandatory that they take one of four languages: Arabic, French, Spanish and Chinese. This will enable them to go to other countries, not only in the (Middle East), but in the sub-Sahara, and be able to better work in those regions." General Moseley said Air Force leaders are seeking ways to make education opportunities more accessible to its force. "We want to put options out there for distance learning and advanced degrees," he said. "A higher education is of immense value to our Airmen, especially our senior NCOs and junior officers."

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cargo Ship Sinks, 31 Sailors Still Missing

Two survivors from the sinking of a Panamanian cargo ship in rough seas off eastern China were out of danger, while 31 others were still missing. The hope for the missing to survive is very slim, said an official with the Maritime Safety Administration of the Fujian Province, east China, which is in charge of the rescue work. "Strong wind and huge waves hampered the rescue operation," said the official, who refused to give his name. One of the two saved Chinese sailors, Nian Yuelin, was discharged from the No.1 People's Hospital of Ximen City, where the two were treated, while the other, He Jinliang, 27, was receiving observation, according to the hospital.
According to the Fujian Provincial Maritime Safety Administration, the accident took place at 11:28 p.m. when the ship struck a reef in the sea near Dongjia island in Fujian Province. All 37 Chinese crew members aboard fell off. The provincial maritime rescue center immediately sent helicopters and ships to search near the position where the freighter went down and found four victim bodies on early the next morning. The ship, HENGDA 1, with a tonnage of 1,499 and a length of 84.8 meters, was carrying aquatic products to Indonesia. It struck the reef because of strong winds measuring 8 to 10 on the Beaufort Scale, rescuers said.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

U.S. Cruise Ship Rescues 22 Cubans

A cruise ship sailing near this Caribbean resort city on Friday rescued 22 Cubans who became lost in international waters while attempting to reach the United States. The Carnival Cruise lines ship made the afternoon rescue and dropped the Cubans off on the nearby island of Cozumel, where immigration authorities were discussing their fate. Plucked from a makeshift boat were three children between the ages of 5 and 8, as well as eight woman and 11 men. Those onboard were treated for dehydration but were otherwise in good health, according to officials at the National Institute of Immigration's Cozumel office.
The Cubans told investigators they left Havana aboard a homemade boat several days ago and had hoped to reach the U.S. Mexcio's Caribbean Coast is located just west of westernmost Cuba and, because of currents and wind patterns, it is not uncommon for Cubans attempting to sail to Florida to end up in Mexico accidentally. At least one rescued man told Mexican authorities he was a member of a group opposing Cuban President Fidel Castro and that he decided to leave his homeland after suffering repression and threats of imprisonment at the hands of the communist government there.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Air Force Eliminates Good Conduct Medal

The Air Force Uniform Board announced that the Good Conduct Medal will no longer be awarded. The Air Force director of Airman development and sustainment recently explained the reasons behind this decision.
"The quality of our enlisted personnel today is so high, we expect good conduct from our Airmen," said Brig. Gen Robert R. Allardice. "It begged the question, ‘Why do we have a Good Conduct Medal?’" "Having a medal for good conduct is almost to say we don't expect Airmen to do well, but if they're good we will give them a medal,” he said. “It's kind of insulting in our Air Force today." One must look at the history of why the medal was created in the 1960s. The military was using the draft and involved in the Vietnam War. The Air Force didn't have any other method to recognize Airmen. Today, the Air Force Achievement Medal recognizes outstanding Airmanship.
Air Force Achievement Medal
“When we looked at that history it was clear that the Good Conduct Medal has outlived its usefulness," said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Gerald R. Murray. "Today’s all-volunteer force is committed to serving honorably, and good conduct is what we expect from every Airman -- officer and enlisted.” “We live by our core values,” Chief Murray said. “When members of our service stray from those values, they do themselves and all Airmen a disservice. When that happens, commanders have the tools they need to evaluate the situation and the individual's worthiness for continued service. "If a commander deems their conduct does not warrant discharge, then they remain a valuable Airman to our Air Force, and we expect them to continue to serve honorably,” he said. General Allardice said that it is the uniform, not the Good Conduct Medal, that represents what Airmen are all about. “In today’s Air Force, our Airmen understand that the uniform they wear represents good conduct,” he said. Airmen who have previously earned the Good Conduct Medal are still authorized to wear it.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

EPA Gives US Navy The Okay To Sink The USS Oriskany

the EPA issued to the U.S. Navy and the State of Florida an Approval to Dispose of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) contained in electrical cable and other non-liquid materials and equipment onboard the decommissioned USS Oriskany. This approval allows the Navy to deploy the Oriskany as an artificial reef in the East Escambia Large Area Artificial Reef Site, located in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 23 miles south of Pensacola, Fla. "This is a significant milestone for the EPA, the Navy and the State of Florida," said EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Stan Meiburg. "We are pleased to be able to work with the Navy and Florida in protecting our environment and moving this project forward."
USS Oriskany
Based on the EPA's and the Science Advisory Board's review of the information provided by the Navy in the PCB disposal application, including leaching studies, fate and transport models, and human and ecological risk characterizations, the EPA has determined that sinking the Oriskany will not pose an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. This EPA PCB Disposal Approval for the Navy and Florida applies only to the Oriskany. The EPA is currently developing a national approval process for disposal of ships containing non-liquid PCBs through reefing. The Navy has prepared the vessel for reefing off the coast of Pensacola, Fla., by removing or minimizing materials that may adversely impact the marine environment. An estimated 700 pounds of PCBs contained in felt and foam gaskets, electrical cable, insulation, and heat-resistant paint remain aboard the vessel. In accordance with the Toxic Substances Control Act and its implementing Federal PCB regulations, the Navy applied for a risk-based PCB disposal approval to sink the vessel with the non-liquid PCBs onboard. The State of Florida and the Navy have developed an agreement that will result in the transfer of the reefed vessel to the State. The PCB Disposal Approval requires the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in cooperation with the Escambia County Marine Resources Division, to establish a monitoring program to ensure that fish caught at the Oriskany site remain safe for human consumption.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sailor Beaten To Death On Oil Tanker Over Prophet Mohammed Cartoons

A Sailor was allegedly beaten to death by his colleagues on board a Norwegian oil tanker in the international waters off the coast of Fujairah, following an argument over the blasphemous cartoon published on Prophet Mohammed in a Danish daily recently. According to reliable sources, the fight among the Seamen, which caused the death of one sailor, emerged after an argument between them over their differences of opinions over the slanderous and blasphemous cartoon on Prophet Mohammed.
A source from the Indian Consulate in Dubai confirmed the death of 31-year-old Sudheer Nonia Jagannathan, hailing from Mumbai, but refused to comment on the issue. “We had been informed about the death. Our officials visited the Fujairah Hospital and collected the details. The investigation is going on and once it is over, the consulate will render all the help to repatriate the body.” The source disclosed that all the crew in the ship was from India. The ship was coming from New Manglore Port in Karnataka in India to Fujairah with chemicals. The deceased was working as a fitter on the ship. The death was likely caused by foul play as traces of beaten and smashed skull was detected in the a post-mortem at the Fujairah Hospital. The sources said the body of the allegedly murdered man was found by the inspection squad, lying on the deck of the vessel with traces of beating on different parts of his body. The authorities concerned in the UAE were informed about the incident, as it was the closest land from the international waters where the incident took place in the oil tanker. The body of the dead man was taken to the morgue of the Fujairah Hospital, and all people on board the ship were apprehended. “After examining the body, traces of beating marks were found on the head, asphyxiation and teeth bites on the shoulder. Medical check-up also revealed clear smashing on the skull” said the source. When reporters contacted the Captain of the oil tanker, he denied any foul play in the incident, even though he and his crew members were remanded to the custody of the Fujairah Police.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Runaway Cruise Ship

The Carnival ship Ecstasy — home for more than 1,000 New Orleans police officers, their families, and other city workers, was safely back at its moorings this morning after a harrowing trip down the Mississippi River. The 855-foot cruise ship on Saturday broke loose from the dock, spun out into the river, narrowly avoided hitting a pair of Military Sea Lift Command ships moored near the Ecstasy and, with quick help from a river pilot and three tugs, came to rest about 300 feet from the riverbank, authorities said. Pressure on tie-down lines because of brisk winds, and an old dock may have caused the incident, Coast Guard spokeswoman Lt. Emily Tharp said. No injuries were reported, but Ecstasy passengers described a frantic scene.
"Thank God there was no river traffic at that particular time because it could have been really bad," said Michael Williams, 43, an environmental specialist with the New Orleans Health Department aboard the ship. "Everybody was just in amazement that something like this could happen." A New Orleans police officer said he was jarred from sleep by a loud boom. "The boat shook and I sat up and said, 'What is that?' Then I heard another loud boom and it shook again," the officer said, adding that he heard another boom as he hurriedly dressed. The officer asked to remain anonymous because Police Department officials forbid affected officers to speak to reporters on the record. Passengers piled out of their rooms as a voice on the public address system told them they faced an emergency. The announcement told them to grab life vests and head to the deck. There, people gathered around lifeboats as the ship drifted out into the river current, with the boat's stern, or rear, pulling away from the wharf first, the officer said. "I could not only feel the current taking us, almost like spinning, but I could see it," the officer said. The Coast Guard said 1,100 people, mostly law enforcement officials, were aboard the Ecstasy during the incident. The ship has been commissioned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide housing for more than 1,600 people, mainly New Orleans police, fire and other emergency-response workers and their families, FEMA spokesman Jack Brandais said. The ship was out of control for only minutes, Tharp said. Cruise ship personnel were able to start a bow thruster within two minutes of learning that lines were snapping, and they got one of the main stern propellers running minutes later, she said. The bow thruster was critical to missing the military ships, and "once they had that bow thruster on line, they had some semblance of control," Tharp said. Notified by the Ecstasy, the Coast Guard used mariner broadcasts to keep other ships out of the area. The Ecstasy was returned to the Poland Avenue Wharf and was moved again to the Julia Street Wharf later in the day. Its use for emergency housing continues: Saturday's incident didn't cause FEMA to question using cruise ships as giant dormitories, Brandais said.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cruise Ship Passengers Tell Of Wild Grand Princess Ride

As they disembarked the cruise ship Grand Princess on Saturday following a weeklong trip, passengers described a wild ride when the ship made an emergency turnaround just after the trip began. They said that the ship tipped sharply on its side during an emergency turnaround two hours after the 2,600-passenger Grand Princess left the Port of Galveston Feb. 4. A passenger who suffered a heart attack had required urgent onshore medical attention. A company spokeswoman said that the passenger was transferred to a waiting Coast Guard cutter.
Grand Princess
"We just thought we were going overboard," Woney Peters, a resident of Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, told reporters. "The boat just started tipping, and tipping and tipping." Peters said that water from the ship's pools spilled into the dinning area as well as some of the staterooms. Earlier in the week, Princess Cruises spokeswoman Karen Tetherow said that several passengers and crew had minor injuries from the turnaround. She also said some items onboard like glassware and china broke. "I saw glass and stuff breaking, but that was about it," said Ron Harris of Loco, Okla. "There wasn't much to it." A message left for Tetherow on Saturday by The Associated Press was not immediately returned. Princess Cruises is operated by Miami-based Carnival Corp.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Police To Guard Sheep Ship From Animal Rights Activists

12 people were arrested after clashes between protesters and police at a rally against live sheep exports in Devonport yesterday morning. About 40 protesters, including many from interstate animal-welfare organisations, tried to stop sheep from being loaded on the Al Messilah, which is bound for the Middle East. Seven of the 12 people arrested, on charges including trespassing and obstructing police, are from interstate. All 12 were bailed to appear in court at a later date. Suzanne Cass from Against Animal Cruelty Tasmania hailed yesterday's action as a success despite the arrests. "I don't think Devonport is ever going to be the same again," she said. "It was brilliant. We wanted to highlight the plight of these animals to the country and I think we will have achieved that."
Al Messilah
Eight police are now guarding the Al Messilah as 50,000 sheep valued at $2.5 million are loaded on to the ship, which leaves for Kuwait tonight. Early yesterday morning the protesters, some from NSW, Victoria and South Australia, used powerboats and kayaks to try to stop the ship from docking. Acting Inspector Adrian Shadbolt, of Devonport police, said protesters had defied an order to stay at least 50m from the ship and several had laid in front of the sheep trucks, including one man who had tried to chain himself to a vehicle. Primary Industries Minister Steve Kons and Liberal counterpart Jeremy Rockliff inspected the Al Messilah yesterday and both said they supported the farmers' right to participate in the live-sheep export trade. Mr Kons said the State Government would prefer sheep to be processed in Tasmania but could not interfere in the Commonwealth-regulated live-sheep trade and would not stand in the way of farmers getting the best price for their product. "The live-sheep trade has come a long way in recent years and the shippers have to meet the strictest conditions in the world for sheep exported from Australia," he said. "I spoke to some of the protesters at the wharf and assured them the conditions on the ship met strict Australian standards." Police will maintain a presence at the wharf until all the sheep are on board to ensure the road remains open to traffic and to ensure the safety of protesters, who are expected to return this morning. DPIWE officers will also closely monitor sheep at the feedlot and at the wharf to ensure their welfare.

Ship Stuck At Sea With Kenol Oil

Hostilities between fuel marketers Kenol/Kobil and national transporter Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) escalated yesterday with complaints by Kobil that their ship had been turned away at Kipevu, Mombasa. It said KPC had only allowed part of the cargo to be discharged. Kobil dug in yesterday instructing the ship to stay put until it had discharged fully. KPC in turn said it had warned them not to bring in the cargo. KPC operations manager Peter Mecha said the storage capacity stood at 300,000 cubic metres with monthly storage at 210,000 only.
KPC's Kipevu oil storage facility near Mombasa, Kenya
Alternatively, Kobil threatened to offload the cargo in other markets which would cause a shortage in the local market: "The situation is also likely to affect supplies to foreign countries that rely on Kenya for their supplies, including Uganda and Burundi." KPC said there was no possibility of a shortage. The stand-off in the midst of court battles over monies claimed by each party came only a day after KPC had started to supply the firms controlling over one-fifth of the oil market. On Sunday, KPC cut off the joint marketers claiming non-payment of Sh 39 million for service. "Vessel MT Sunshine carrying 35,000 cubic metres of Gasoil and Jet A1 has finally berthed at Kipevu Oil Terminal," said a statement. "However, it is disturbing that the ship will only be allowed to offload 2,500 M3 of the product, which is an unfortunate situation for the industry and the country as a whole." CEO Jacob Segman yesterday lodged a complaint with Energy PS Patrick Nyoike. Kenol/Kobil had declined to pay the money claiming it was offsetting the same against handling and storage costs - arising from staying in the high seas - incurred by failure of KPC to allocate the space at its Kipevu Oil Storage Facility (KOSF). They claimed the move would cost them $36,000 daily in handling and storage costs. "It is our position that this is completely out of direction as per our Trading and Supply Agreement with KPC, Clause 3 (4). We have given the ship owners instructions not to leave the jetty until the full load is discharged in order to avoid demurrage charges." Kobil said it had written to KPC saying the ship would dock last week and the latter checked availability of space. "They insisted on bringing the ship even after we told them about the situation a month ago before the ship started sailing," said the KPC operations manager.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Graf Spee's Eagle Rises From The Deep

Divers have salvaged a 2m (6ft) bronze imperial eagle from the German World War II battleship Graf Spee that was scuttled in the River Plate. Three divers had to loosen 145 bolts securing the 300kg (661lb) eagle to the stern of the craft in the muddy waters off Uruguay's capital, Montevideo. "The eagle is really impressive... it's all virtually intact," said team leader Hector Bado.
The eagle's swastika was hidden as a mark of consideration
The ship was scuttled in December 1939 to stop it falling into enemy hands. Mr Bado told Associated Press news agency the eagle had a wingspan of 2.8m (9ft) and a special barge with a crane was needed to raise it from the river. The barge brought the eagle back to port on Friday with a yellow tarpaulin covering the swastika at its base - out of consideration for those who still hold strong feelings against the symbol of Nazi Germany, Mr Bado said. The eagle was taken to a customs warehouse, but not before curious cruise ship guests had had a chance to disembark and get some snapshots. The ship has lain in waters only 10m deep since its scuttling - until a project financed by private investors from the US and Europe with the backing of the Uruguayan government sought to salvage it. The operation has now been going two years. Previous items raised included a 27-tonne section of the battleship's command tower and a range-finding device for gunners.
The Graf Spee
It is hoped the vessel will become a tourist attraction in Montevideo. The Graf Spee was once a symbol of German naval might. In the early days of World War II it roamed the South Atlantic, sinking as many as nine Allied merchant ships. But during the Battle of the River Plate it received several direct hits and took refuge in Montevideo harbour. Uruguay, under diplomatic pressure from Britain, ordered the Graf Spee out to sea. And there she was scuttled by her captain, Hans Langsdorff. Capt Langsdorff committed suicide in a Buenos Aires naval camp three days later.
The Graf Spee on the sea floor

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Indian Ship-Breaking Industry Losing Out To Bangladesh, Pakistan & China

Hit by hefty custom and excise duties and other taxes, Alang and Sosiya ship breaking yards, considered to be among the biggest in the world, are fast losing out business to Bangladesh, Pakistan and China. The ship breaking yard comprises a total of 173 plots along necklace shaped beach of Alang, which has been leased out by the Gujarat Maritime Board, the controlling authority of the ship-breakers.
Ship-breaking yard, Alang
At the peak of activity here as many as 150 plots are in operation, serviced by an estimated 35,000 workers, majority of them migrants. Since the yard started functioning in 1983, more than 4000 vessels have been dismantled here representing over 27 million LDT (Light displacement tonnage--the net weight used to calculate scrap value). In the 1990's the yard accounted for 90 per cent of the total ships broken in the world. But now the number of ships coming to the yard has drastically come down mainly due to heavy duties levied and also, partly, due to frequent protests by environmental groups who have been opposing the entry of the asbestos laden ships in the Indian shores, according to ship-breakers.
The best years for the shipyard were 1996 to 2000 when most of the ship breaking plots were busy dismantling ships. In 1997 it broke 348 ship when it was at the peak of operations. Now most of the plots are empty. Last year it broke only 52 ships. While Alang is gasping for survival, it is Bangladesh Pakistan and China which are emerging as major ship breaking and recycling yards.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

SAF Landing Ship Tank Deployment To Aid In The Reconstruction Of Iraq

Singapore made its latest contribution to the multinational effort in support of the reconstruction of Iraq, with the deployment of a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Landing Ship Tank (LST) RSS Endeavour. Chief of Navy RADM Ronnie Tay officiated a send-off ceremony for the LST and its crew of 180 personnel this morning.
RSS Endeavour (L 210), an Endurance-class LST of the Republic of Singapore Navy
During its three-month long deployment, RSS Endeavour will undertake tasks such as providing logistics support for coalition vessels and helicopters, protecting the waters around key oil terminals, as well as conducting patrols and boarding operations. Colonel Bernard Miranda, Commanding Officer of 191 Squadron, will lead the Republic of Singapore Navy contingent. The SAF had earlier deployed two LSTs, a C-130 transport aircraft and two KC-135 tanker aircraft to the Gulf in support of Iraq’s reconstruction efforts.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Royal Caribbean Orders World's Largest Cruise Ship

Royal Caribbean International today ordered the world's largest and most expensive cruise ship, a $1.24-billion vessel that will hold up to 6,400 passengers. It's the latest step in the industry trend of supersizing ships. The ship, dubbed Project Genisis, will be 1,180 feet long and 220,000 gross registered tons when it is delivered to Royal Caribbean in fall 2009 by Aker Yards, part of a Norway-based company. . Cunard Line (which is owned by Carnival Corp.) currently has the world's largest cruise ship — the Queen Mary 2 — at 151,400 gross registered tons. But Royal Caribbean is scheduled to get an even bigger ship in June, the 160,000-ton Freedom of the Seas. It will carry a maximum of 3 4,370 passengers.
The $1.24-billion price tag for the Project Genisis includes all expenses for the ship, "from forks and knives and sheets to artwork and everything else," said Harri Kulovaara, executive vice president of maritime operations for Miami-based Royal Caribbean. The announcement steals some of the spotlight from rival Carnival, the world's largest cruise operator (Royal Caribbean is the second largest). Carnival has studied building a ship about the same size, but its Pinnacle project is "on the back burner" because of its prohibitively high price, spokesman Tim Gallagher said. Royal Caribbean's ships are typically more upscale than the bargain Carnival Cruise Lines' vessels, but they aren't as traditional as those of luxury carriers such as Cunard. Royal Caribbean has been an innovator in amenities such as ice skating rinks, rock climbing walls and surfing pools.
Project Genesis will carry 5,400 passengers based on two people per cabin, Kulovaara said. But as many cabins have additional berths, so the maximum capacity rises to 6,400. Ray Weiller, an owner of discount online travel agency Cruisequick.com, said many of his clients are drawn to the ever-growing size and number of amenities of ships, but others tire of waiting in long lines to get on and off the vessels. Many complain about the large ships overwhelming some ports of call with too many people trying to visit, he said. Royal Caribbean still offers a variety of ship sizes, so customers who don't like larger vessels will have other options, Kulovaara said. The ship will sail in the Caribbean, where many ports already handle megaships, but ports will need some infrastructure improvements to handle it, he said.

Monday, February 06, 2006

US Special Forces Boat Launched

The US Navy Special Forces will have a new high speed experimental craft with a very small wake Thirteen months ago, M Ship Company was commissioned by the Office of Force Transformation to produce a US Navy Special Forces sea craft capable of high speeds with a low footprint. The boat contains no rivets or screws, and is constructed from a composite hull 80 feet in length.
M80 Stiletto
The "M" shaped hull design came about as a need to reduce wave damage in seafaring cities such as a Venice. By shaping the hull into three or five distinct hulls joined by smooth curvatures, M Ship engineers discovered that prototype "M" hulls were extremely stable in rough water. Mini vortexes are created in between each of the hulls, suspending the ship above a free flowing stream of water with a very small wake. Fewer surface waves attracted the attention of the US Navy, who immediately put M Ship Co. to work on a working prototype. The M80 Stiletto is part of the US Navy's plan to bring more special forces under the fold, dubbed Wolf PAC. M Ship Co. has several more designs in store for the US Navy, and the M80 platform is one design of many more to come.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Red Sea Ferry Captain Abandoned Ship

Survivors of the Red Sea ferry disaster said on Saturday the Egyptian captain had fled his burning ship by lifeboat and abandoned them to their fate, as hopes faded of finding some 800 missing people. Some passengers, plucked alive from the sea or from boats after the ferry caught fire and sank early on Friday, said crew members had told them not to worry about the blaze below deck and even ordered them to take off lifejackets. An official at el-Salam Maritime Transport Company, which owned the Al Salam 98, said the Captain, named as Sayyed Omar, was still unaccounted for. The company will issue a written statement on the disaster later on Saturday, he added.
Rescue workers have recovered 195 bodies from the Red Sea and saved 400 people, but about 800 more, most of them Egyptian workers returning from Saudi Arabia, are missing. The director of the Red Sea Ports Authority, Major-General Mahfouz Taha, said 378 survivors had come ashore on the Egyptian side. The Saudi authorities said they had picked up 22. Survivors said a fire broke out below deck shortly after the 35-year-old vessel left the Saudi port of Duba on Thursday evening with 1,272 passengers and a crew of about 100. The ship began to list but the crew continued to sail out into the Red Sea rather than turn back to the Saudi port, they told reporters in the Egyptian port of Safaga, where the ferry should have landed early on Friday. Egyptian survivor Shahata Ali said the passengers had told the captain about the fire but he told them not to worry. "We were wearing lifejackets but they told us there was nothing wrong, told us to take them off and they took away the lifejackets. Then the boat started to sink and the captain took a boat and left," he added, speaking to Reuters Television. "The captain was the first to leave and we were surprised to see the boat sinking," added Khaled Hassan, another survivor. Other survivors told similar stories.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Red Sea Ferry Disaster Update

Al Salem 89 & Al Salam Boccaccio 98
There are some doubts over the identity of the ferry that sank, in the Red Sea, last night. The vessel was first said to be the Al Salam 98, then it was named as the Al Salam 89, now it is said to be the Al Salam Boccaccio 98. There is no vessel Al Salam 98, but the Egyptian company El Salam does operate ferries named Al Salam 89 and Al Salam Boccaccio 98. The Al Salam 89 (top picture) was built as a RoRo cargo vessel in 1978, by Ishikawajima Ship and Chemical Company, in Japan, and converted, by El Salem into a RoRo ferry. The Al Salam Boccaccio 98 (lower picture) was built as a RoRo ferry by Fincantieri, in Italy, in 1969. The Boccaccio was last certified by the Italian Classification Society, RINA,in October 2005 and is said to have a capacity of 1100 passengers and 220 cars, not 2500, as has been stated by Farid al-Douadi, the vessels Saudi agent. Both the Al Salam 89 and the Al Salam Boccaccio 98 are owned by the Saudi Arabian Al Blagha Group, which has a joint venture, in ferry operations, with the El Salam Shipping Company. The Egyptian company is the engineering and technical operation arm and owns one third of the business, the remaining two thirds are owned by Al Blagha. The ferries run on a daily Red Sea service between Port Safaga, in Egypt and Port Dhuba, in Saudi Arabia. Operations in Dhuba are under the Al Blagha Shipping Agency Division’s flag. About 100 people have been picked up from lifeboats, but it is feared that the death toll will approach 1000.

Egyptian Ferry Sinks

An Egyptian passenger ship carrying 1,300 persons sank in the Red Sea. The ship, 'Salaam 98', had sunk 40 miles off the Egyptian port of Hurghada, the head of the Egyptian Maritime Authority, Mahfouz Taha Marzouk, said today. Helicopters had spotted bodies and one lifeboat carrying three persons in the vicinity of where the 25-year-old ship had been last seen on the radar screens, Egyptian maritime officials said. They did not say how many bodies had been sighted.
Four Egyptian frigates had sailed to rescue survivors, Egypt's Minister of Transport Mohammed Lutfy Mansour had said shortly before the sinking of the ship was announced. The ship disappeared from radar screens shortly after sailing from the western Saudi port of Dubah at 7 p.m. (local time) last night, the maritime officials in Suez said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the press. The ship was due to have arrived at Egypt's port of Safaga at 3 a.m. (local time), but did not. Dubah and Safaga lie virtually opposite each other, about 120 miles apart, at the northern end of the Red Sea.

Oil Tanker Has Small Spill In Alaska

A 575-foot tanker loaded with 4.9 million gallons of gasoline and other petroleum products broke free of its moorings and ran aground Thursday but apparently did not breach its hull, the Coast Guard said.
Less than 100 gallons of the ship's cargo spilled, apparently from the pumping equipment that was being used to fill the hold, officials said. Petty Officer Steve Harrison said the ship made a soft landing, running aground on silt rather than rocks. Tugboats later secured the ship.
Seabulk Pride
The accident happened as the double-hulled Seabulk Pride was being pumped with cargo in the Cook Inlet port of Nikiski, 80 miles from Anchorage. An ice floe struck the Seabulk and caused its mooring line to break, state officials said. The tanker drifted nearly an hour before running aground a half-mile away, they said. No injuries were reported among the 34 crew members. The ship's cargo included an oil product similar in consistency to asphalt.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Historic Ship Docked In Palatka Florida

A replica of a 15th century ship sailed along the St. Johns River and docked at the Palatka City Pier. The boat is a replica of Christopher Columbus' Nina, one of the three he sailed to the New World. The 68 foot ship is smaller than what many people imagine it would be.
Replica of Christopher Columbus' Ship Nina
A half-dozen shipmates make up the crew along with a captain. They sail it around the country, making stops in cities. There, they give tours of the Nina and teach people the history surrounding the ship and Christopher Columbus. The ship will be open to the public through February 8.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Tanker And Cargo Ship Collide In English Channel

A chemical tanker listing in the English Channel after a collision with a Polish cargo vessel was Tuesday being tugged to the port of Le Havre in northern France. French rescue teams were hoping to salvage the heavily-listing tanker 'Ece' before it sinks. All 22 crew members of the two vessels were airlifted to safety after the collision north-west of the Channel island of Guernsey in the early hours of Tuesday.
The Marshall Islands registered chemical tanker "ECE" after its collision with a Polish cargo vessel
Reporters said earlier that the tanker, carrying 10,000 tons of phosphoric acid, was 'in danger of sinking.' The vessel was leaking but there was no danger of pollution as phosphoric acid dissolved in the sea, British coastguards said. The cargo ship involved in the collision, the 23,000-ton Polish bulk carrier 'General Grot-Rowecki' was only slightly damaged. Its owners, Polish Steamship Company Polska Zegluga Morska, said Tuesday the vessel was continuing on to its destination, the port of Police in Poland.
The stricken chemical tanker Ece listing in the English Channel
According to reporters, the Maltese-registered carrier, which was built in 1985, had failed a number of safety checks during inspections in Canada, Norway and Belgium. The 'Ece's operator has not commented on the collision or the vessel's record. More than 140,000 ships pass through the English Channel each year, making it one of the busiest waterways in the world.
General Grot-Rowecki

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