Thursday, August 31, 2006

Tallink Ship Switches From Estonian To Latvian Flag

Economy Minister Edgar Savisaar blamed government colleagues for failing to back a plan that may have prevented a Tallink vessel from sailing under the Latvian flag. Savisaar was quoted as saying on Aug. 28, “Our [the Economy Ministry’s – ed.] repeated attempts to support Estonian shipping to bring it to a level which is competitive in Europe have yielded no result. The government has discussed subsidies for shipping on two occasions at the initiative of the Ministry of Economy and Communications. On both occasions, our proposals were rejected.” Tallink’s Regina Baltica, which sails between Stockholm and Riga, began operating under the Latvian flag this week thanks to a number of incentives provided under Latvian regulations.
Regina Baltica
Tallink said Latvia’s laws were more favorable and economically more advantageous for shipping companies and for workers on vessels, the main difference being the Latvian government’s subsidies on social tax and income tax for Latvian workers. With the current mixed Estonian and Latvian personnel on the Regina Baltica, the estimated annual saving for Tallink would be 2 million kroons (130,000 euros), and the net salaries receivable by the Latvian seamen would be approximately 2.5 million kroons higher per year, Tallink said. The rate of cost-saving will possibly even increase in proportion to the number of Latvians working on the vessel, a company official added. “The Ministry of Economy and Communications earlier warned against this and does not consider it right,” Savisaar said. “At the same time, we understand that change of flag makes operating the ship cheaper for Tallink, since there are a number of extra terms in Latvia that Estonia doesn’t have.” Savisaar is chairman of the Center Party, one of three in the ruling coalition. The other two are the People’s Union and the Reform Party.

Princess Welcomes Swedish Ship

Sweden's Princess Victoria visited Shanghai this week to welcome a replica tall ship into the city's port.
Princess Victoria
The 27-year-old princess was accompanied by her brother Prince Carl Philip for the royal engagement, which began with the pair launching a new exhibition at the CY Tung Maritime Museum. The royal siblings then welcomed the Swedish vessel Gotheborg into the Wusong Port, in the Baoshan District, after 10 months at sea. When Victoria and Carl had climbed aboard, the ship made the short trip to the city's International Cruise Terminal for the official welcoming ceremony.
Gotheborg is an exact replica of the merchant ship that travelled from the Scandinavian country to the bustling Chinese city 250 years ago. The ship will remain in Shanghai for the next two months and will be open to the public. A series of seminars, displays and activities about the history and culture of Sweden will take place in an entertainment area set-up alongside the vessel.

Rise In Ship Traffic Slows Port

Increased traffic at the Port of Vancouver is causing slowdowns at local terminals and tension between the employees' union and the employers' association. The number of ships calling at Vancouver's terminals along Burrard Inlet has increased to the point where some ships are waiting days before they can be serviced, said Bernie Dumas, general manager of sales and marketing with China Shipping (Canada) Agency Co. Ltd. "What we're faced with now is the ships are coming in, and where it would normally take them a day or two days to load and discharge, some ships are sitting here for a whole week," Dumas said in an interview. "The last couple of months it's been pretty disappointing for all the carriers." Darcy Clarkson, president and CEO of P&O Ports, which operates Centerm located in downtown Vancouver, said the summer months are often slower because longshoremen, like everyone else, like to take vacations when their kids are out of school. But the growth in traffic has exacerbated the problem this year. Longshoremen are not scheduled shifts, but instead are assigned work out of a union hall. Those who wish to work arrive at the hall at a given time, but those who want the day off need not report in. Some days fewer workers show up than are needed, Clarkson said. Frank Pasacreta, president and CEO of the B.C. Maritime Employers Association, said Vancouver's inner harbour terminals are the busiest they've ever been. And while his organization and the ILWU have been "doing everything humanly possible to try to service that work" some issues have arisen in the past two weeks that have exacerbated the problem, Pasacreta said. The two groups are at a "critical point" in trying to resolve the issues, but Pasacreta refused to say what those issues were.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Over 12,000 U.S. Troops To Leave South Korea

U.S. troop levels in South Korea will go from a previous 37,500 to around 25,000 by the end of 2007, but this won’t lessen the U.S. commitment to defending the country, senior officials have said. Modern technology allows for more defense capability with fewer troops.Previous decisions that remain to be accomplished include moving U.S. and international military headquarters out of Seoul by 2008. Repositioning U.S. forces from north of the Han River to two hubs south of Seoul will occur sometime in 2007 or 2008. Changes are being made to the existing defense structure because the Republic of Korea is now the 10th largest economy in the world and fields a much more effective military force than in the past.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

U.S.Missile Defense Ship Arrives In Japan

The USS Shiloh (CG-67), the first missile-defense capable ship to be deployed in Japan, arrived in the port of Yokosuka eight weeks after North Korea unnerved the region with a barrage of missile tests. he deployment of the Shiloh, boasting Standard Missile-3 interceptors for shooting down medium-range ballistic missiles, is a highly symbolic first step in a joint U.S.-Japanese program to try to shield Japan and the region from any a missile attack. The two allies stressed the significance of the ship's arrival as an example of the importance the United States attaches to its security alliance with Japan, although the chances of preventing a missile attack on the country with a single vessel are slim. U.S. and Japanese officials welcomed the 10,000-tonne cruiser and its 360 crew at a colorful ceremony that included a Japanese-style taiko drum performance by U.S. sailors.
The USS Shiloh (CG-67), the first missile-defence capable ship to be deployed to Japan, arrives in the port of the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo.
"The United States remains committed to the defense of Japan and peace and stability in the western Pacific,," U.S. Navy Secretary Donald Winter said at the ceremony. In July, Pyongyang test-fired a series of ballistic missiles, an incident that drew attention to Japan's lack of defense systems eight years after Tokyo was spooked by a previous North Korean ballistic missile test in 1998. Many analysts, however, have cast doubt on whether missile defense systems can reliably shoot down incoming missiles, and they criticize the program for drawing funds away from other areas of defense spending. Missile defense accounts for 140 billion yen ($1.2 billion) of Japan's 4.81 trillion yen ($41 billion) defense budget this year. The defense agency plans to seek a record 219 billion yen for missile defense in the fiscal year from next April 1, Kyodo news agency reported, although such requests are usually whittled down in the budget process. As a second line of defense, the U.S. military will begin to install Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptors at its Kadena Air Base on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa in September and plans to make them partly operational by the end of the year. The ship-to-air SM-3 interceptors are designed to shoot down ballistic missiles in mid-flight, when they fly outside the earth's atmosphere, while ground-based PAC-3 interceptors target missiles in their terminal phase, shortly before they reach their targets. Japan also plans to install its own missile defense hardware, including fitting its four Aegis radar system-equipped warships with SM-3s, but the first of these ships will not be ready until sometime in the financial year that starts next April. Kyodo news agency said the United States had offered to provide Japan with up to 80 more Patriot missiles, as Japan seeks to speed up its own deployment of ground-based interceptor missiles.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Stranded Ship To Be Auctioned

The crew of a stranded Egyptian freighter may have to stay on board another month after a judge ordered the vessel be auctioned amid a shipping dispute. The Edco will be put up for auction Sept. 21, U.S. District Judge David Norton ruled. Bidding on the 22,350-ton ship is expected to start at $2 million. That money will be set aside as security until an international lawsuit involving cargo and the Edco's sister ship is resolved. The Edco and its 29 crew members have been stuck in Charleston for two months since Hong Kong-based Grand Max Marine Ltd. sued owner Misr Edco Chipping after a contract with the Edco Star could not be fulfilled because the Star was deemed not seaworthy. The crew cannot leave the ship until they have plane tickets, said Joanne Fogg, acting port director for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
MV Edco
She said usually the ship's owner would cover the cost of sending a crew home, but that hasn't happened in this case. ``All we need is a plane ticket and we can get them out,'' Fogg said. If the crew does get to go home, a replacement crew would have to be hired to move the ship if Charleston Harbor is threatened by a hurricane. That would be an expensive alternative for a ship already mired in debt, including the cost of resupplying and mooring the vessel for two months. The ship's owner has not paid some of the crew in as long as nine months. Its Captain, Mohammed Ellewaa, said he asked the Egyptian Embassy for help in getting the crew paid and sent home. ``They gave me a promise they would find a solution to this problem,'' he said.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Navy to Commission Attack Submarine Texas

The Navy will commission the USS Texas, second ship of the Virginia attack submarine class, Sept. 9, during a 10 a.m. CDT ceremony at the Port of Galveston piers in Galveston, Texas. As the Navy's next-generation attack submarine, the Virginia-class submarine is the first class specifically designed to counter post-Cold War threats, providing the Navy with the capabilities required for safeguarding the nation�s interests in the 21st century. Texas has improved stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that enable it to meet the Navy's multimission requirements. With a modular design, Texas along with its other sister submarines of the Virginia class, will be able to accommodate technology upgrades throughout its life.Sen. John Cornyn of Texas will deliver the ceremony�s principal address. Laura Bush, first lady of the United States, serves as the ship�s sponsor. In the time-honored tradition of commissioning U.S. naval ships, she has been invited to give the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!" This is the fourth ship of the Navy to carry the name Texas since the original ship was commissioned in 1895. The second USS Texas (BB 35) was a battleship, which took part in both World Wars. The most recent ship named Texas was a nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser (CGN 39), which was decommissioned in 1977. Texas can attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters and other sea forces. Texas also has superior anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare capabilities, is able to provide special forces delivery and support, and can conduct mine delivery and minefield mapping. With enhanced communications connectivity, Texas will also provide important joint task force support and full integration into strike and expeditionary group operations.Capt. John Litherland, a 1982 graduate of the University of Washington in Seattle, will become the first commanding officer of the ship, leading a crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted sailors. Texas will be homeported in Groton, Conn., as a unit of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Texas is 377 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 34 feet, a navigational draft of 32 feet, displaces approximately 7,800 tons submerged, can dive to depths greater than 800 feet, and can sustain speeds of more than 25 knots when submerged. The ship is also designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship � reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time. The superior capabilities of Texas and other Virginia-class submarines will help ensure the Navy maintains undersea dominance well into the 21st century.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ship Carrying Over 700 Runs Aground

More than 700 passengers aboard a cruise ship were safely rescued after the vessel ran aground on an island between Surigao and Cebu. "The M/V Princess of the Universe of the Sulpicio Lines ran aground in Canigo Island," Lt. Commander Joseph Coyme of the Philippine Coast Guard said. Coyme said tugboats were on their way to tow the vessel carrying about 740 Manila-bound passengers from Davao."No one was hurt and tugboats will arrive around 11 a.m. to tow the ship," Coyme said. Reports said the accident happened while the ship was sailing between the provinces of Surigao and Cebu. "We will also investigate if the ship's captain is accountable for the accident. Maybe he made a faulty maneuver that caused the ship to be grounded," Coyme said.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Coast Guard Recommends Fines Over I-40 Bridge Collapse

The U S Coast Guard is recommending 25-thousand dollars in fines against the owner and the Captain of the Towboat that crashed into the Interstate 40 bridge causing it to collapse. The Coast Guard recommends a 20-thousand dollar fine for Magnolia Marine for allowing Captain Joe Dedmon to work more than 12 hours in one day without proper rest.The report also calls for a five-thousand dollar fine against Dedmon for working without proper rest. Dedmon was at the controls of the boat when he passed out and the boat crashed into the bridge in May 2002. Fourteen people died as their vehicles plunged into the Arkansas River.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Army Awards Bronze Star To Canadian 'Devil's Brigade' Vets

The Army has authorized award of the Bronze Star Medal for Service to the living Canadian veterans of the 1st Special Services Force for their service to the U.S. Army during World War II. The unit was known as “the Devil’s Brigade” during the war and was one of the first U.S. special operations forces units in the war. The unit included U.S. Army soldiers and soldiers of the 2nd Canadian Parachute Battalion and 2nd Canadian Special Service Battalion of the Special Operations Group. From 1942 to 1944, about 2,500 soldiers served in the unit under U.S. Army command. Members from both nations were assigned interchangeably to the squad level and below. The Canadians wore U.S. Army uniforms and carried American weapons. The unit deployed to the Aleutian Islands in 1943 and then moved to Italy.The force participated in actions at the Anzio beachhead, the liberation of Rome and into southern France. The unit took so many casualties that officials disbanded it in January 1945. The unit earned the name the Devil's Brigade during the Italian Campaign from words found written in the diary of a dead German officer: "The black devils are all around us every time we come into line and we never hear them." The award of the Bronze Star Medal for Service is a conversion award of the Combat Infantryman Badge authorized for almost 1,200 Canadian veterans in 2005. Under Army policies, only Combat Infantryman Badges and Combat Medic Badges awarded during World War II may be converted to the Bronze Star Medal for Service. “This is an added award to these Canadian veterans,” said Shari Lawrence, a spokeswoman for the Army’s Human Resources Command. Although approved for the unit as a whole, the almost 120 eligible veterans must submit verification documents showing their complete name, rank, service number and dates of service when they apply for the medal. Force veterans are meeting in Helena, Mont., this week for their last reunion. “It’s only fitting we make this announcement this week,” Lawrence said. The unit trained in at Helena’s Fort William Henry Harrison before leaving for war. Eligible veterans may send their request and copies of their verification documents to: U.S. Army Human Resources Command; 200 Stovall Street, ATTN: AHRC-PDO-PA; Alexandria, VA 22332-4000.

Romanian Oil Rig Occupied By Iranian Troops

A Romanian oil rig off the coast of Iran came under fire Tuesday from an Iranian military warship and was later occupied by Iranian troops, a company spokesman said. The Iranians first fired into the air and then fired at the Orizont rig, said GSP spokesman Radu Petrescu. Half an hour later, troops from the ship boarded and occupied the rig and the company lost contact with the 26 crew members shortly afterward. Gabriel Comanescu, president of Grup Servicii Petroliere, which runs the rig, said that the Iranian military were "in flagrant breach of international rules." He said: "Aboard the rig there is a Romanian crew made up of 26 persons. Since 10.00 we have had no contact with the crew. We do not know if anyone is hurt."The Orizont rig has been moored near Kish island in the Persian Gulf since October 2005, he told reporters. GSP, also known as the Oil Services Group, is a private Romanian company established in 2004 which operates six offshore rigs that it bought from Romania's largest oil company, Petrom. Two of its rigs are operating near the Iranian coast in the Persian Gulf as part of a deal signed between Petrom, GSP and Dubai-based Oriental Oil Co. The Romanian company was in Iranian courts earlier this year over a dispute involving another one of its oil rigs, Fortuna, the financial weekly Saptamana Financiara has reported. It was unclear whether Tuesday's incident was related to legal issues. The Orizont rig was built in 1987 and weighs 13,000 tons.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

French Fishermen Block Greenpeace

Fishermen and authorities running the port in France’s southern city of Marseille are blocking the arrival of a Greenpeace ship due this week amid a row over a campaign to save dwindling tuna stocks. The head of a tuna fishermen’s union, Mourad Kahoul, told journalists yesterday that “if the Greenpeace ship arrives it won’t be welcome — all the fishing sector is mobilised, the ship will not be accepted.” Marseille authorities have retracted initial permission given last month to Greenpeace for its Rainbow Warrior II to dock in the port.“The main reason is that this is a commercial port and this ship is not a commercial ship,” a spokeswoman, Claire Battedou, said, adding that security was also a concern. Greenpeace had been planning to use its ship in the port for a public information campaign about the threat to tuna stocks from overfishing. It was basing its action on a July report by the allied conservation group, the World Wide Fund for Nature, which said tuna were in danger of disappearing from the Mediterranean because of illegal catches by French, Turkish and Libyan boats.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Iwo Jima Flag-Raising Photographer Dies

The photographer who captured the immortal image of World War Two servicemen raising the American flag over Iwo Jima has died. Joe Rosenthal of The Associated Press won a Pulitzer Prize for that 1945 snapshot, which ranked 68th among 100 examples in a survey of the best journalism of the 20th century. His daughter says Rosenthal died of natural cases in suburban San Francisco yesterday. He was 94.
Joe Rosenthal
The A-P photo quickly became the subject of posters, war-bond drives and a U-S postage stamp, but it almost didn't happen. Rosenthal later wrote that he almost didn't go up to the summit of Japan's Mount Suribachi when he learned that a flag had already been raised there. But he decided to go anyway, and found servicemen preparing to put up the second, larger flag, and the rest is history. Rosenthal's photograph became the model for the Iwo Jima Memorial near Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Cruise Ship Snags Whale Off Alaska

The majestic 2,000-passenger cruise ship Summit pulled into port in Seward, Alaska, with a dead whale unceremoniously dangling from its bulbous bow. The 25- to 30-foot long whale was spotted by longshoremen after the vessel was tied up at the Seward dock, federal investigators told local Anchorage reporters. The whale, tentatively identified as a humpback, was removed from the ship and towed by a tugboat to a beach in nearby Thumb Cove.
A work crew pulls away from a 25- to 30-foot whale impaled on the bow of the Carnival Cruise Lines ship Summit.
A necropsy would determine whether the whale was struck by the Summit or if it was already dead and floating when the ship picked it up, officials said. Testing should also reveal if the whale died from being hit by the ship, a predatory attack or of natural causes.
A skiff waits under the Summit's bow while a diver attaches a tow rope to the dead whale, which was tentatively identified as a humpback.
Humpback whales are an endangered species protected under several federal laws, Barbara Mahoney, an Alaska marine mammal specialist with the National Marine Fisheries Service, told the Daily News.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Boat Fire On Mississippi River

Four people had to jump into the Mississippi River Saturday night after their boat caught fire. It happened around 6:30pm near the high bridge in St. Paul. Authorities say the boat occupants had just filled the 40 gallon tank with fuel. The driver tried to start the boat's engine several times when there was an explosion. The entire boat was quickly engulfed in flames and thick black smoke could be seen for miles.
High Bridge In St. Paul Minnesota
People on a passing fishing boat managed to rescue the four people from the water. They were taken to a house boat and then brought to shore. It took firefighters more than an hour to extinguish the flames. Officials say the outcome could have been a lot worse and that it's amazing nobody was injured. Investigators believe there was a fuel leak between the tank and carborator.

Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group Rescues Four People From Sinking Vessel

Sailors assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21, Detachment 3, rescued four people from a sinking fishing vessel Aug. 4-5, about 126 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii. Two ships of the USS Peleliu (LHA 5) Expeditionary Strike Group, the amphibious assault ship Peleliu and the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73), changed course Aug. 4 to sail 105 nautical miles to assist the 110-ft. Pacific Laurel, which was heavily damaged and taking on water. Meanwhile, an MH-60B Seahawk helicopter assigned to HSC-21 flew ahead to serve as search and rescue unit (SRU). After a 45-minute flight to the vessel, the helicopter crew lowered a radio to the crew to allow communications with the assisting units. The aircraft’s hoist jammed, requiring a second helicopter to pick up two of Pacific Laurel’s crew members.
USS Peleliu (LHA 5)
At 11:47 p.m., the crew of the second HSC-21 helicopter hoisted two people up to their aircraft and flew them back to Peleliu. The next morning, at 8:35 a.m., another HSC-21 helicopter crew rescued two of the three remaining crew members from the vessel. The ship’s master decided to stay aboard in an attempt to keep it afloat. “It was gratifying to see that the crew members in distress were able to make it to safety,” said detachment officer-in-charge Lt. Cmdr. Tres DeHay, an HSC-21 pilot who flew during the rescue. “I’m just glad that the entire detachment came together as a team. From the maintenance side of the house making sure the aircraft was ready, to all the other pilots who weren’t flying going up to the bridge, everybody was doing their jobs like clockwork as professionals and getting on the scene professionally and calmly. That’s what made it successful.” DeHay said he’s “extremely proud” of his crew. “It was pretty intense,” said Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 3rd Class (AW/NAC) William Rush, a crew chief who assisted in the rescue of the last two passengers. “We didn’t do it at night like the other guys, but it was still challenging, with a lot of obstacles.”
USS Port Royal (CG 73)
Those obstacles included hovering about 70 feet over a small, rocking boat in water with six- to eight-foot waves and strong wind. “They were very thankful,” said DeHay, who spoke to the passengers after they arrived on Peleliu. “As soon as they saw the...helicopters overhead, they just couldn’t be more tickled. It kind of gave them a little bit more freedom to relax and refocus on trying to dewater the whole ship.” A Coast Guard C-130 cargo plane provided de-watering pumps to Pacific Laurel while serving as on-scene commander until Peleliu arrived to assist in the rescue. With the four rescued passengers aboard Peleliu, the warship sailed for Pearl Harbor, leaving Pacific Laurel and her master with the Hawaii-based U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364).
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364)
When they received the Coast Guard alert, Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group was sailing toward Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on their way home from a six-month deployment in support of the global war on terrorism. Port Royal is homeported in Hawaii with the frigate USS Reuben James (FFG 57). The rest of the strike group, Peleliu, the amphibious transport dock USS Ogden (LPD 5), and the amphibious dock ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) are based in San Diego and are completing a Tiger Cruise on their way back to southern California.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Russia to pay increased attention to Japan ship incident issues

Russian officials have accused three Japanese fishermen detained since a clash of poaching and illegal border crossing. The men were held after Russian border guards shot dead a fourth sailor in seas disputed between the two nations. Russian officials said the fishing boat violated its waters and refused orders to stop. A warning shot accidentally killed the crew member, they said. Japanese diplomats have demanded that the three men be released. The crew were fishing in waters around four islands - called the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan - that both nations claim.The islands were seized by the Soviet Union at the end of the war in 1945. Russia has said it will hand over some of the islands to Japan, but Tokyo insists all four should be returned. The dispute has stopped the two countries signing a peace treaty to end WWII. The three men have been taken to the town of Yuzhno-Kurilsk on Kunashir, one of the islands in question. Russian prosecutor Vitaly Khatsulev told local television that the men were "accused of poaching, smuggling and illegally crossing the Russian border".If charged and convicted, the men could face fines or prison sentences. Japan has sent diplomats to the region and accused Russia of reacting with excessive force to the incident. "We are strongly demanding Russia hand over the body, the crew members and the ship," Deputy Cabinet Secretary Seiji Suzuki said. "The waters are part of Japanese territory and (the shooting) was unacceptable no matter what the reasons." The last time a Japanese citizen was shot dead by a Soviet vessel was nearly 50 years ago.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Japanese Coast Guard foils Senkaku landing

A boatload of Taiwanese activists tried to approach disputed uninhabited islets controlled by Japan in the East China Sea early Thursday but was warned away by Japan Coast Guard ships before managing to enter Japan's territorial waters, JCG officials said. The 50-ton Quanjiafu No. 6, a squid boat, was apparently seeking to land activists on one of the Senkaku islets to protest Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Tuesday visit to Tokyo's war-related Yasukuni Shrine on the anniversary of Japan's surrender, according to the officials. Taiwan also claims the rocky islets, and calls them Tiaoyutai, as does China, which refers to them as Daioyu.
The Quanjiafu No. 6 is spotted about 40 km west-southwest of Uotsuri Island heading toward the Senkakus.
The ship, which was believed to have left a Taiwanese port at 12:15 a.m., was first spotted by JCG ships at 5:11 a.m., 72 km west-southwest of Uotsuri.Around 7:02 a.m, the ship stopped 33 km off Uotsuri. It turned back after JCG ships warned it off through loudspeakers, the officials said. The Japanese Coast Guard followed the Quanjiafu, whose occupants threw stones at the coast guard ships, the Japanese Coast Guard officials said, adding the vessels were not hit and no one was hurt.The JCG stopped tailing the Quanjiafu at 8:59 a.m. when it crossed the median line demarcating Japan's claimed exclusive economic zone. Koizumi's annual visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 Class-A war criminals as well as 2.47 million war dead, have angered many Taiwanese as well as China and South Korea. The U.S. returned the islets to Japan in 1972.

Adrift Nearly 9 Months, 3 Fishermen Are Rescued

Lost at sea since October, the three fishermen from a hamlet outside San Blas were given up for dead long ago. After weeks of looking for their son at fishing ports up and down the Pacific coast of Mexico, the parents of Salvador "Chava" Ordonez resigned themselves to the belief that he, his two companions and their 10-metre fishing boat had been swallowed up by the sea, family members said. News of a miracle came from more than 8,000 kilometres away. After more than nine months adrift, Ordonez and his companions had been found alive north of Baker Island in the central Pacific, the lonely stretch of ocean where aviator Amelia Earhart disappeared almost 70 years ago. They were rescued a week ago by a Taiwanese fishing trawler. Sunburned, skinny, but healthy, they were rescued Aug. 9 by the crew of the Koo's 102, a Marshall Islands fishing boat run by a Taiwanese crew. Trade winds and currents had carried the three from the waters off their home state of Nayarit more than halfway to Australia.
Miracle ... In a staggering story of survival, three Mexican fishermen, given up for dead by their families, have been found alive after drifting at the mercy of the Pacific Ocean for nine months, eating only raw birds and fish they caught with their bare hands.
"They were quite hungry," Eugene Muller, manager of Koo's Fishing Co., said from the Marshall Islands. "It's a long ways from Mexico to here." The Mexicans' fishing boat had two disabled outboard motors but was still seaworthy, he said. Interviewed via shipboard radio by Mexican television, the men said they survived by eating raw fish and capturing seabirds. "Sometimes our stomachs would hurt, because we would go up to 15 days without eating," Jesus Eduardo Vidana told Televisa. "There were times when we had only one bird to share among the three of us." They apparently had no radio or cellphone, relatives said. But they carried several days' worth of water and food, including a supply of lemons. Ordonez, Vidana and Lucio Rendon left the hamlet of El Limon on Oct. 28, for what was to have been two or three weeks of deep-sea fishing.

Coast Guard Locating Oil Spill In Indian Ocean

A Coast Guard aircraft is attempting to locate the spot where a tanker and a cargo vessel had a "minor collision" in the Indian Ocean and assess the oil spill it had caused. Coast Guard sources have said that the collision took place 290 nautical miles southwest of Great Nicobar Island on Monday and the spill was a "nominal" 400 tonnes. Earlier reports quoting the spokesperson of Mitsui OSK line, owner of the tanker Bright Artemis, said that some 4,500 tonnes of crude oil was believed to have spilled from it into the Indian Ocean when it tried to rescue the crew of the Singaporean cargo vessel Amar. Coast Guard sources said that Amar was sailing from Kandla port to China with a crew of 24 when it caught fire on Monday.
Bright Artemis
While 23 of them were helped to safety by another ship Maersk Dampier passing by, one person fell overboard and is yet to be rescued. The tanker, which was carrying 250,000 tonnes of crude oil from Saudi Arabia and Oman, had resumed sailing to Japan after the collision and there was no fear of it sinking or of further spillage, the spokesperson had said. Singaporean and Indian authorities were informed of the accident, he added.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cargo Ship Sinks In Yangtze River

A sailor jumps into the water for escape from a sinking cargo ship which was loaded with coal in the Chaotianmen section of the Yangtze River in Chongqing Municipality. Water began to leak into the ship after it ran into a reef. Rescue work has been launched by local marine authorities. No casualty was reported.

Russia Patrol Kills Sailor

A Russian border patrol boat shot and killed a Japanese fisherman while firing warning shots on his vessel Wednesday morning near disputed Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, the Japan Coast Guard said. The crab boat No. 31 Kisshin Maru was fishing near Kaigara Island, one of several islets in the Habomai group claimed by both Japan and Russia, Coast Guard official Kazuhiro Nakaya said. The deceased, who was hit in the head, was identified as Mitsuhiro Morita, 35. The other three crew members -- skipper Noboru Sakashita, 59, Akiyoshi Kawamura, 29, and Haruki Kamiya, 25 -- are safe but were taken along with their vessel into Russian custody, the JCG said. All four are from Nemuro. Mikhail Shevchenko, deputy head of the Border Guards Service division on Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East, said the crab boat defied orders to stop and the fisherman was felled by warning shots as he scrambled to bring in his fishing gear."The vessel didn't react to our command to stop, was maneuvering dangerously and several times tried to ram our rubber boat," Shevchenko said on Russia's NTV television channel. The 4.9-ton Kisshin Maru, which belongs to a fishery cooperative in Nemuro, was seized and is being towed by Russia to Kunashiri, another disputed Russian-held island. According to the coast guard, Morita is the first Japanese fisherman to be killed by the Russian border patrol since October 1956. Andrei Kostin, a councilor at the Russian Embassy in Tokyo, was quoted by Interfax as saying the incident "erupted over a violation of Russian territorial waters by Japanese fishermen. Russian border guards acted absolutely within their powers." Russian authorities said they would hand over Morita's body by Friday, the Japanese Consulate General in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk said. According to Russia's Interfax news agency, Japan would get Morita's body once an autopsy had been done and skipper Sakashita would be detained in Kunashiri until the probe was finished. The report said the two other crew members might also be detained as long as Sakashita. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Taro Aso summoned Russia's acting ambassador, Mikhail Galuzin, to lodge a formal protest. "I sought an apology (from the Russian government) and punishment of those responsible. I also called for the immediate handover of the victim's body and immediate release of the detained crew members and boat," Aso told reporters after his 15-minute meeting with Galuzin. Aso told Galuzin that Japan reserves the right to seek damages, according to Foreign Ministry officials. They quoted Galuzin as replying he would swiftly relay Aso's message to Moscow. Galuzin said he regretted the incident and offered his condolences to the dead man's family, but defended the seizure of the ship because it ignored warning shots and did not immediately comply with the unit's repeated orders to stop, according to the officials. "From what I have heard from the border patrol authorities, the border patrol tried to seize the boat because the boat tried to escape, and hit the vessel carrying the border patrol," the officials quoted him as saying. They said Aso responded by saying that Japan found Russia's actions "unacceptable" and that as the incident involved the loss of life, it "cannot be justified." Hokkaido officials said crab fishing is banned at the scene of the incident and local fishing co-ops were warned not to engage in unauthorized fishing in the area, in response to a Russian request earlier this month for action to stop poaching. Russia seized 30 fishing boats and 210 Japanese crew members in the disputed waters between 1994 and 2005, and seven fishermen were wounded by Russian gunfire during the period, the Japan Coast Guard said. The government's crisis control center set up an information-gathering office Wednesday, and coast guard vessels were sent to the scene to investigate. The family of Sakashita said he called them shortly before 6 a.m. and said his boat had been seized by Russia. He was quoted as saying he did not know if the rest of the crew was safe. The Habomai islets, together with the Russian-held islands of Kunashiri, Etorofu, and Shikotan, are claimed by both Russia and Tokyo. Fishermen pay the Russian government for permission to harvest sea tangle, or "kombu," around Kaigara. The islands are surrounded by rich fishing waters and are believed to have promising offshore oil and natural gas reserves, as well as gold and silver deposits.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Canada Asked To Patrol Coast Of Lebanon

Israel wants the Canadian Navy to help patrol the Lebanese coast to stop arms shipments to Hezbollah. Israeli Ambassador Alan Baker hopes to raise this possibility with senior Canadian officials in the next few days as UN member countries work out details of how to police the ceasefire in Southern Lebanon. Israel understands that Ottawa may not have army troops to contribute to the UN peacekeeping mission on the ground because of the heavy Canadian military commitment in Afghanistan, Mr. Baker said in a conference call with reporters. He said, however, Canadian warships might be able to help patrol the Lebanese coast to make sure Hezbollah does not get new shipments of arms arriving by sea.Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office was initially noncommittal. Communications Director Sandra Buckler said the government will listen to any Israeli proposal, but the question has not yet come up in any formal talks. Mr. Baker also said he hopes to arrange a visit to Ottawa by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to thank Canada for its support.

2007, A Tough Year To Join The Air Force

As part of its force-shaping initiative, the Air Force will accept fewer new recruits in fiscal year 2007 than they did in fiscal year 2006. This makes the third year in a row that the Air Force has reduced their recruiting goals. To match the Air Force's new strength numbers, next year's recruiting goals have reduced by nine percent. The service will be seeking 27,760 high school graduates or the equivalent, ages 17-28 to enlist in its ranks between 1 October 2006 to 30 September 2007 (a "fiscal year" runs from Oct to Sep). This is a reduction from 30,258 for fiscal year 2006. As with previous periods of Air Force down-sizing, enlisted AFSC (job) opportunities will be limited throughout the year. Based on Air Force Personnel Center requests, there are only about 20 enlisted career field openings from which to choose. Security forces, mechanics, administration and electronics, with about 10,200 positions available, are the four most plentiful job opportunities for 2007.The linguist, aerospace maintenance, computer systems operations, fire protection, integrated avionics systems, vehicle operations, munitions systems, tactical aircraft maintenance, air traffic control operations, fuels, explosive ordnance disposal, aerospace propulsion, aircraft loading and operations intelligence career fields offer about 5,540 openings. "Hot" enlisted career fields include air and ground linguists and special tactics, such as combat controller, survival instructor and pararescueman. The Air Force also seeks 482 college graduates to join its officer corps. The career fields with the most available positions are pilot, combat systems officer (navigator), air battle management and electrical engineering. Officer Training School applications are continually being accepted by recruiters for the fiscal 2007. After all 482 OTS positions are filled, additional applications move out to fill the following year's jobs. "It is taking 12 to 18 months to get an OTS seat because the process for selection is so competitive," Master Sgt. J.P. Brown, AFRS officer accessions NCO, told the Air Force News Service. Chaplain and medical fields remain the "hot" officer careers for 2007. The Air Force has numerous openings in the "big three" medical careers -- doctors, dentist and nurses. Additionally, the biomedical science corps and medical services corps will continue to have openings in 2007. "It's challenging to find people for these positions because they must be highly qualified," Sergeant Brown said. "For example, for doctors to qualify to become flight surgeons, they must have completed their general residency, general medical education and must be licensed to practice medicine." Force shaping will also affect the number of Air Force recruiters who will work in field offices, so it may be harder to find an Air Force recruiter in your area. The exact number of recruiter reductions is under evaluation.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Japanese Tanker And Cargo Ship Collide

A Japanese tanker spilled about 1.3 million gallons of crude oil in the eastern Indian Ocean following a collision with a cargo ship, the tanker's operator said. Japan's Kyodo news service said the spill - which would be about 31,500 barrels - may have been the largest ever involving a Japanese tanker. The Bright Artemis tanker spilled the oil following a collision with the Amar, a smaller cargo ship, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines said in a statement. It said the accident took place when the tanker maneuvered near the Amar, which was in distress about 300 miles west of India's Nicobar islands.The exact amount of the spill was not clear, the announcement said. The tanker was carrying about 74 million gallons, or 1.76 million barrels, of crude. It had left port in Oman bound for Japan. There were no reports of injuries aboard the tanker, which had a Croatian captain and crew of 23, or the Amar, which was registered in Singapore. Mitsui said the spill had been reported to Singaporean and Indian Coast Guard officials.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Australia Navy Rescues Sick Japanese Sailor

A Japanese sailor is due to arrive in Western Australia after being rescued from the Southern Ocean by the Australian Navy. HMAS Anzac received an urgent call for help on Saturday to evacuate the seriously ill sailor from a Japanese fishing vessel, located about 354 kilometres southwest of Cape Leeuwin. The Navy ship reached the fishing vessel on Sunday and transferred the man to a small boat in heavy seas. He is in a serious but stable condition under the care of a navy doctor.
HMAS Anzac (FFH 150)

Philippines Warns Against Oil Slick After Fuel Ship Sinking

The Philippine authority warned on Sunday that an oil slick is threatening coasts in the central region, after a fuel bunker ship sank off two days earlier. Parts of the coasts of Guimaras, Iloilo City and Negros Occidental would be polluted by the oil slick, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Western Visayas said in a statement. The ship was carrying two million liters of bunker fuel, according to the OCD. Captain Luis Tuason of the Philippine Coast Guard in Iloilo City, reported that MV Solar I chartered by Petron Corp.sank amid strong waves 30 nautical miles southwest of Iloilo City on Friday afternoon, with two crew members still missing. The Coast Guard has mobilized the oil spill combat teams with the assistance of Petron Corp., a major fuel company in the country, Tuason said. "We have sent teams to assess the damage and start the clean-up operation early tomorrow morning to minimize the effects of spilt oil," Tuason added.

15 Vietnamese Fishermen Feared Lost After Ship Collision

A ship collision off southern Vietnam has left 15 fishermen missing and feared drowned. The small Vietnamese fishing boat collided with an unidentified cargo ship in the South China Sea near the port town of Vung Tau on Friday night, according to reporters. The fishing boat, registered in southern Kien Giang province, overturned and sank with 17 crew on board. A nearby boat rescued two fishermen but 15 were still missing and searches Saturday yielded no sign of them, the newspaper said. Authorities had no information on the cargo ship, which left the scene. In March, eight Vietnamese fishermen drowned in a similar collision off Vung Tau, in which a cargo ship kept going after hitting a fishing ship. Authorities later identified a Singapore-owned cargo ship as responsible for the accident. The ship's Romanian captain is being held pending investigation on charges of negligence.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Two Lifeboat Crews Rescue Skipper

Two lifeboat crews were scrambled when the "exhausted" skipper of a catamaran got into difficulties in strong seas off the coast of Sunderland. David Sallmow, 50, from Scotland, had been sailing alone for five days in his 8ft vessel, Sandy Bottom, when gale force conditions got the better of him. He was travelling from Granton Harbour in the Forth Estuary to Norway and was blown off course. Lifeboat crews from Sunderland and Tynemouth managed to rescue the vessel. A Coastguard spokesman said: "Having battled against strong winds and tides for five days, without hot food or drink, and only a small outboard motor for assistance, he had attempted to return to his home harbour, but found himself exhausted and unable to continue. "Sunderland's Atlantic 75 Lifeboat was launched to go to the yachtsman's aid immediately."But due to the strong winds and heavy seas the coastguard launched the larger Tynemouth all-weather lifeboat to tow the boat to safety at North Shields." Coxswain of Tynemouth Lifeboat, Michael Nugent said: "We were tasked to go to the assistance of a boat in difficulty off Sunderland. "Our Sunderland lifeboat was already on the scene and they had put a crewmember onto the vessel for safety reasons, who stayed with it as we towed it to Royal Quays Marina. "This underlines the fact that what some may see as a routine trip can develop into a dangerous situation and we always recommend that anyone going to sea is properly prepared for all eventualities."

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Danish Research Ship Begins Global Voyage

A team of Danish scientists on board a scientific research vessel on Friday launched an eight-month round-the-world voyage to assess global environmental pollution. The Galathea 3 project is billed by organisers as the most important Danish scientific expedition for more than 50 years. The expedition is backed by the Danish ministry of science, technology and innovation to the tune of 80 million kroner (about R87-million), and has received 90 million kroner from private sponsors and research agencies. The mission involves 35 Danish research scientists on board the Vaedderen (Ram), a converted Danish naval surveillance ship, who are to conduct some 70 scientific projects, notably the taking of samples from the seabed in oceans around the world to assess global pollution levels. "By analysing samples from the seabed and creatures like mussels, crabs and fish for environmentally hostile metals and substances, we intend to piece together a map of world environmental pollution," biologist Anders Engell-Kofoed of Denmark's Roskilde University and one of the Galathea team, told daily Politiken.
"These will be fabulous indicators to assess the state of the environment," Engell-Kofoed added. The researchers plan to build up a sample bank, accessible to scientists from all over the world. The expedition also hopes to extend scientists' knowledge of marine animal and plant life and organisms such as bacteria, plankton and algae. After undergoing repairs to a faulty propeller in Norway, the Vaedderen's route will take her to the Faroe Islands and Greenland, before sailing on to Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and the Galapagos Islands. It will return via the Panama Canal to the Caribbean and New York before crossing the Atlantic a second time for the final leg back to Copenhagen on or around April 25, 2007. In addition to the 35 scientists and marine biologists, the Vaedderen has a 50-strong crew along with a dozen journalists, photographers, a TV crew and two students. The expedition is named Galathea after the Danish navy corvette of the same name which went on Denmark's first voyage of scientific research in 1845. A second Galathea expedition was carried out in 1950-52.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Construction Of Submarine To Enter Pakistan Navy With New Era

Submarine Construction Incharge Karachi, Commodore Hussan Nasir Shah said that Pakistan navy has entered in new era of construction of submarine and ship building after construction of Agosta-90-B Class submarine PNS Hamza. Speaking in a PTV programme, he said Pakistan navy has capability to operate, maintain and upgrade submarine for last 30 years which is sufficient to construct submarine. He said it was the government policy to be self-reliant and indigenizations in construction of submarine to maintain minimum deterrence in the region. The first submarine, Agosta 90-B (Khalid), manufactured with French assistance was commissioned in the Pakistan Navy in 1999 while the second submarine, Agosta 90-B (Saad) was commissioned in 2004.
PNS Saad
Agostas have been fitted with the most modern command and control system and weapons. These submarines are capable of launching anti-ship missiles and various type of torpedoes. To a question he said PNS Hamza has the capability to stay under water more than the previous made submarines. To another question he said the country can construct two submarines every year from available infrastructure. He said Pakistan Navy is trying to improve existing infrastructure so that it can produce one submarine yearly to meet domestic defence requirements. To a question he said total strength of submarines construction department is 1000. He added that 300 personnel were trained when submarine (khalid) was constructed in France. They have trained about 600 personnel in the country under skilled development programme he added. Appreciating their services, he said staff of submarine construction department is playing key role in construction of submarines.

Transgender Crew Member Criticises Ship's “Mob Culture”

A transgender woman was quizzed about her “balls” and deliberately referred to as a “he,” an employment tribunal has been told. Drusilla Philippa Marland, a P & O Ferries crew member claims she was forced out of her job after the company did not protect her from discrimination. She told the hearing that she was ridiculed because of her gender reassignment and had to deal with jibes such as “we are all men here” on the Pride of Bilbao ship. She said: “There was a mob culture in the engine crew which saw me as an outsider.”An internal investigation found that colleagues had behaved inappropriately, the Southampton tribunal heard. P&O Ferries' human resources assistant Sandra Ray said: “The standard of behaviour of Ms Marland's workers in the engine room was not what was expected. Most was out of ignorance and not malice." She claimed she offered training about how to deal with transsexuals but claimed Ms Marland was more interested in gaining compensation.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

National Guard Improving Border Security

The deployment of more than 6,000 National Guard troops to the U.S. southwest border met a key objective in the government’s efforts to secure the border, President Bush said. The President visited the Rio Grand Valley Border Patrol sector and saw firsthand how the National Guard troops are working with Border Patrol agents. “National Guard troops are helping with surveillance, construction and logistics,” Bush said in his weekly radio address. “They're building and repairing fences, maintaining vehicles, and manning detection equipment on the border and in command centers.” The arrival of National Guard units has allowed the Border Patrol to move more agents into front-line positions, and this additional manpower is delivering results, Bush said. With the support of the National Guard, Border Patrol agents have seized more than 17,000 pounds of illegal drugs and caught more than 2,500 illegal immigrants since June 15, he said.Border security is the beginning of rational and comprehensive immigration reform, so Bush has asked Congress to fund dramatic increases in manpower and technology for the Border Patrol, he said. The government will add 6,000 new Border Patrol agents, build high-tech fences in urban corridors and new patrol roads and barriers in rural areas, and employ motion sensors, infrared cameras, and unmanned aerial vehicles to prevent illegal crossings, he said. “By deploying 21st century technologies, we will make our Border Patrol agents even more effective and our border more secure,” he said. To achieve comprehensive immigration reform, the government also must work in four other areas, Bush said. A temporary worker program that will create a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter the country needs to be established; immigration laws need to be enforced at the nation's work sites; the government needs to resolve the status of illegal immigrants who are already in the country; and the U.S. needs comprehensive immigration reform that honors the American tradition of the “melting pot” by helping newcomers assimilate, he said.

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