Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Three Ships Collide Off Vancouver

Three ships collided in the waters off Vancouver, British Columbia on Sunday due to stormy weather conditions, a Transport Canada official and ship brokers said. The collision involved two bulk carriers and one container ship. The 40,000-dwt Westwood Victoria was loaded with containers when the accident occurred, and the other two ships -- 11,000-dwt Advance Pescadores and 27,000-dwt New Accord -- were empty, said Rod Nelson, a spokesman for Transport Canada in Vancouver.
Westwood Victoria
Advance Pescadores was scheduled to load animal feed in Vancouver, and the loading details for New Accord were sketchy. "The storm started late on Saturday, but it blew over on Monday," a ship broker said. The collision did not cause an oil spill and there were no injuries. Port authorities are investigating the extent of the damages on the ships, the sources said.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Georgia Detains Bulgarian Cargo Ship

Georgian border guards detained a ship flying the Bulgarian flag at the Black Sea port of Batumi on Sunday for allegedly trespassing the Georgian sea border in September, the Itar-Tass news agency reported. "The ship arrived in Batumi on Sunday. It was detained for trespassing the Georgian sea border on Sept. 8-9. Back then the vessel visited the Sukhumi seaport without the consent of Georgian authorities," a border official was quoted as saying.
MV Bulmarket 1
The vessel Bulmarket 1 was carrying 13 crewmembers, all of them Bulgarian nationals, Itar-Tass said. "The Bulgarian consulate in Poti has been informed of the detention of the vessel and the punishment stipulated by Georgian laws in such cases," the official said. Georgian border guards have detained dozens of foreign vessels over the past three years for allegedly trespassing the sea border, breaching navigation rules and poaching. Most of the ships were released after fines were paid.

Extreme Superyacht

It may not be the fastest, but what could be classified as the world's most extreme superyacht has been developed. And while it's not hard for some skunkworks whiz to draw some far-out lines on a computer, this design has both a pedigree and a working model. Craig Loomes Design has made a name for its many innovative motoryacht concepts; this new 148-meter (485-foot) plan certainly looks otherworldly, like something out of Star Trek. And with a transatlantic range at 40 knots it moves into territory where other superyacht designs have not ventured. Skeptics may ask whether a trimaran hull will work for a superyacht. In this case, the design follows the formula that Loomes has exploited in smaller sizes, including a 23-meter (75-footer) built in Mauritius. This concept uses a long, slim center hull flanked by two narrow side hulls that provide stability. Such long and slim hulls endow this trimaran with a wave-piercing capability that will give it exceptional seaworthiness and a level ride, while minimizing pitching.Another question is whether the slim center hull's narrow beam will restrict accommodations. In this case, a 148-meter hull has its advantages, with split-level luxury staterooms providing room for up to 28 guests. The master suite extends to three decks, which means, of course, it needs a private elevator. There also is accommodation for 11 personal staff and a crew of 48. Public rooms include observation lounges in the cross decks that link the center hull and side hulls-just the place to have drinks, do yoga and watch dolphins playing beneath you. There is a swimming pool, hot tub and plenty of room for sunbathing. Other facilities include a grand piano and bar, a helicopter pad, a grand hall and an internal harbor. A range of tenders is carried in garages built into the side and main hulls with the remainder of the side hull area given over to stowage and crew requirements. Propulsion for this yacht comprises four MTU V-20 8000 diesels, each producing 8,200 hp and coupled to individual water jets. When all 33,000 horses kick in the yacht has a sprint speed of 50 knots, and at a cruising speed of 40 knots the range is over 3,000 miles. It seems remarkable that a 148-meter, 3,000-tonne (3,360-ton) displacement hull can operate at a draft of just 3.5 meters (11 feet 6 inches), but that's another multihull advantage. Not only does this superyacht have spectacular interior accommodations, but it also has a stunning external appearance. The side hulls are placed right aft, and two angled fins dominate the superstructure and incorporate air intakes and provide a mounting for antenna. Perhaps the most striking feature is the rows of windows and portholes along the hull that reflect the five decks of accommodation. Construction is likely to be in aluminium or high-tensile steel; Craig Loomes design has already identified shipyards that can construct such an unusual design. A clue to a possible destination of this new ship is the inclusion of a mosque, but we think she would be equally at home in the Caribbean or South Pacific-or outer space.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

USS Hyman G. Rickover Returns From Final Deployment

There were cheers and plenty of hugs at Naval Station Norfolk with the return of the USS Hyman G. Rickover. There may have been a few tears of sadness as well. On the pier, standing next to anxious families awaiting the arrival of loved ones, one woman stood out. "I know so many young men. And I'm so proud of all of them," Eleonore Rickover said. Eleonore Rickover is proud of the sailors, and the ship that bears the name of her late husband, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, especially since this is its final trip. She said, "I have mixed feelings about it, but I'm very happy about it. That they did so well, and that I was able to take part in almost all the activities that they've done."
USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN-709)
For more than two decades, the Rickover has served the Navy. For the last six months, the sub worked in support of the Global War on Terror. The fast attack sub's return brought obvious joy to wives and kids, and a touch of sadness for the Commanding Officer Robert Cosgriff, who calls Rickover a personal hero. "We'll always find ways to pay tribute to Admiral Rickover. As long as we have the nuclear Navy, and the submarines, we will not forget his name. His name will be plastered everywhere. It will remain in our memories." In two months, the sub will be deactivated. A ceremony will take place on December 14th. "I'm not sad today. I'm saving that. That's for tomorrow. This is happy," Eleonore Rickover said.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

At Least 3 Found Dead From Russian Sunken Ship In Pacific

Two bodies were pulled out of the water Saturday by a Russian Navy ship searching for Russian sailors from a sunken cargo ship in the Sea of Japan, a Pacific Fleet spokesman said. The spokesman said an Il-38 plane spotted the bodies from the air in North Korean waters. He added that one body had been identified, without giving the name.The ship Sinegorye, which was transporting timber, sank Monday around 80 nautical miles off South Korea's east coast, when a sudden heavy storm broke out. Eleven sailors out of the 18-man crew were found alive and two were found dead earlier by South Korea's rescuers. Pacific Fleet sent the Mashuk rescue vessel and the Il-38 plane Friday to join rescue efforts after South Korean rescuers called off their search in North Korean territorial waters.Russia's Foreign Ministry earlier asked Pyongyang permission for Russian vessels to enter North Korea's waters to pick sailors' bodies. The missing sailors could have been swept to the east coast of North Korea by a northwesterly current, South Korean coast guard officials said earlier.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Hong Kong Detains Second North Korean Ship

Hong Kong's marine inspectors have detained another North Korean cargo ship this week for safety violations, officials said Friday.The officials from the Hong Kong Customs and Marine Department said the North Korean vessel, Kang Nam 5, has been barred from leaving the port after its inspectors found about a dozen safety violations Thursday. Details of the suspected violations were not available.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Israeli Jets Clash With German Ship

Two Israeli warplanes and a German navy vessel have clashed off the Lebanese coast, the Defence Ministry in Berlin says. German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel earlier quoted a junior German defence minister as telling a parliamentary committee that two Israeli F-16 fighters flew low over the German ship and fired two shots. The jets also released infra-red counter-measures to ward off any rocket attack, the paper quoted him as saying. The minister did not say when the incident happened or what had caused it, the paper said. "I can confirm that there was an incident," a ministry spokesman told Reuters. An investigation was underway and he therefore was unable to provide further information.An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was checking the report. Germany assumed command of a United Nations naval force off the coast of Lebanon 10 days ago and has sent a force of eight ships and 1,000 service personnel to join the international peace operation in the region. The naval force is charged with preventing weapons smuggling and helping maintain a ceasefire between Israel and radical Lebanese-based Islamic group Hizbollah.

Samsung Heavy Industries Wins $633 Million Drill Ship Order

Samsung Heavy Industries Co., the world's second-largest shipbuilder, said Thursday it has clinched an order to build a drill ship for 603.50 billion won (US$633.06 million) for a Europe-based company.The order calls for Samsung Heavy Industries to deliver the drill ship by June 2009. The amount of the order accounts for 10.9 percent of the Korean company's annual sales of some 5.5 trillion won last year, it said.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Airmen DoS Rollback Initiated

In an effort to maintain a quality enlisted force and meet mandated end strength, the Air Force will accelerate the date of separation for certain Airmen, based on their years of service and re-enlistment eligibility or assignment availability codes. Under DOS Rollback, Airmen who will have fewer than 14 years of total active federal service as of March 15 or more than 20 years service as of March 31 will have to separate or retire if they have the following codes assigned as of Oct. 30. However, commanders may lift codes 2X, 4H and 4I to retain members on active duty.

2X -- Denied re-enlistment
3D -- Declined permanent change of station retainability (commanders may not change)
3E -- Declined training (commanders may not change)
4H -- Serving suspended punishment pursuant to Article 15
4I -- Serving on a control roster
AAC09 -- Airman declined to extend/re-enlist for retainability for PCS/temporary duty (commanders may not change)
AAC10 -- Denied re-enlistment
Airmen with these codes will be separated March 15 or retired April 1. Retirement-eligible Airmen will be afforded the opportunity to voluntarily retire via the online process through the virtual Military Personnel Flight. The requested retirement date must be no later than April 1. Airmen separated or retired under the DOS Rollback are authorized transition assistance. Those separated with more than six years total active federal service are eligible for one-half the amount of involuntary separation pay but must sign an Individual Ready Reserve Agreement.

North Korean Rowboat Rescued By South's Navy

A South Korean Navy patrol boat rescued a stranded North Korean rowboat and towed it to safety in the Yellow Sea Monday morning, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff. In stormy and foggy seas, the rowboat crossed the western sea border and drifted 14.8 kilometers (9.2 miles) southwest of Yeonpyeong Island, according to the agency. The authorities returned it to the North at the boater's request, it said. "The North Korean resident on the boat expressed his wish to return to the North. We will do so after consulting with their relevant authorities," a joint chiefs official said. The western sea border was not clearly delineated after the 1950-53 Korean War. The U.S.-led United Nations Command drew up a de facto border, the Northern Limit Line, but North Korea does not recognize it. The area was the scene of two bloody naval skirmishes in 1999 and 2002.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hong Kong Detains North Korean Ship

Hong Kong has detained a North Korean ship for suspected safety violations just days after the UN Security Council imposed new sanctions on Pyongyang, a local newspaper reported on Tuesday. The 2,035-tonne general cargo ship -- the Kang Nam I -- arrived in the former British colony on Sunday from Shanghai and was due to head for Taiwan with a load of scrap metal on Tuesday, the South China Morning Post reported. It was formally detained on Monday after a Marine Department inspection turned up 25 faults -- including 12 considered detainable under Port State Control regulations -- ranging from faulty navigational, fire fighting and life safety equipment to obsolete nautical charts, the newspaper said. South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo newspaper quoted a source in Hong Kong as saying Assistant US Secretary of State Christopher Hill, who visited the former British colony at the weekend, passed on intelligence about the ship and asked for it to be searched.
Port of Hong Kong
A diplomatic source in Seoul said on Tuesday: “We are sharing information on the North Korean ship in Hong Kong with related countries, but cannot officially announce anything at this stage.” The Kang Nam I is the ninth North Korean ship to be inspected in Hong Kong this year, the Director of Marine, Roger Tupper, was quoted by the SCMP as saying. Six others had been detained, the last in mid-June. “Hong Kong is a major hub port and North Korean vessels do sometimes visit,” Tupper was quoted as saying. “It is not unreasonable that they are subject to routine Port State Control inspections.” The ship’s Captain, who declined to give his name, said he hadn’t heard about the sanctions or nuclear test, the Post reported. “We normally take cargo from port to port, mostly Southeast Asia,” he was quoted as saying. “Only general cargo. We have no trouble from anyone.” Marine department officials could not be reached for comment, and a government spokeswoman said she had no information about the ship. The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Oct. 14 to impose financial and weapons sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s testing of a nuclear device on Oct. 9. Japan, China and Russia have committed to inspecting suspicious cargo from North Korea, but South Korea is more cautious, wary of further destabilising the impoverished Stalinist state. Hong Kong has been governed with a high degree of autonomy since its return to Chinese rule in 1997, although it does not set its own foreign or defence policies.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Japan Monitoring North Korean Ships

Japan may deploy naval destroyers and surveillance aircraft to cooperate with the United States and other countries in proposed inspections of cargo vessels moving to and from North Korea. Tokyo was considering the deployment of several naval destroyers and P-3C patrol aircraft in the Tsushima Strait and waters northwest of Okinawa, Japan's largest daily, Yomiuri Shimbun, reported, citing an outline of a government plan. The Tsushima Strait lies between South Korea and Japan's western coast. Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force would provide information to the United States and other foreign forces deployed in the area if it spots a suspicious ship, the report said.An official from Japan's navy said he could not comment on the report. The U.N. Security Council approved sanctions against North Korea last week for its Oct. 9 nuclear test. The measures include trade bans and called for cargo inspections to halt weapons proliferation. The North has called the sanctions a declaration of war and warned of unspecified countermeasures if its sovereignty is violated. Tokyo and Washington agreed to begin talks about possible ship inspections following a visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Ship inspections in international waters are a sensitive issue for Japan because of its pacifist constitution, which prohibits its armed forces from military operations abroad.

Boat Capsizes; No Injuries Reported

A boat carrying four women and four men capsized near Haulover Beach on Sunday afternoon. Two passengers were pregnant. No injuries were reported. Rough seas caused the 20-foot vessel to capsize, spilling the boat's occupants into the water, according to Brian Hawthorne, co-owner of Sea Tow Miami, who assisted in the rescue effort. The boat was struck by a series of waves as it was making a turn about a mile east of the Haulover inlet. ''Everybody walked to the wrong side of the boat and the boat rolled over,'' Captain Ernie Blanco of Sea Tow Miami said. ``They weren't even moving.''Although Hawthorne said the ''Puma'' powerboat was rated to carry eight passengers, Blanco said the boaters were in a precarious situation. ''Luckily they were at least wearing life vests,'' he said. ``There were too many people . . . for the size of the boat they were in.'' ``If it had been rougher seas, it could have been a lot worse.'' According to Blanco, a ''Good Samaritan'' returning from a morning at sea spotted the overturned boat and called Sea Tow Miami. Indian Creek Police and the Coast Guard also were on scene for the rescue effort. The boat's passengers were returned safely to shore, and the boat was uprighted and towed to the Haulover Marina.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Canadian Navy Ship's High-Tech Charting Mission Hits Snags

A navy ship that helps Canada scan for mines on the sea floor has twice damaged high-tech underwater gear in accidents on the West Coast, racking up big repair bills, newly released documents show. The incidents involving HMCS Whitehorse have prompted a reprimand and tighter controls over how the sophisticated technology is used. For more than a year, the ship's crew has been mapping the sea floor around Vancouver Island using side-scan sonar, a technology that involves towing a torpedo-shaped sensor behind the vessel. But on Oct. 14 last year, the five-metre sensor - known as a towfish - smashed into an unexpected pinnacle of rock rising sharply from the sea floor. The navy could not provide the exact cost of repairs to date, but said it was between $50,000 and $100,000. And on June 15 this year, the crew smashed a second towfish into a ridge of rock near the entrance to the Nanoose experimental test range, on the east coast of Vancouver Island.The impact damaged a tail fin, a shaft and internal electronics, including a gyroscope. MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. is still repairing the device for the navy, but the bill is expected to be between $100,000 and $200,000. With only four towfish available for work on the West Coast, the ship's crew now has smashed half the naval inventory. Records released under the Access to Information Act show that investigators blamed carelessness on the part of the operators for the second incident, though absolved them for the first. "This is by nature a fairly high-risk exercise," navy spokesman Lt.-Cmdr. Mark MacIntyre said in an interview from Victoria. "We're finding things that frankly we didn't expect in terms of these seamounts or pinnacles ... On two occasions, the towfish struck bottom." The navy requires detailed baseline maps of the sea floor to be able to detect changes that might indicate the deposit of an enemy mine or other hostile device. Current hydrographic charts are inadequate from a military perspective because they map in detail only potential hazards to shipping, that is, only to the depth of the largest hulls. Deeper sea floor features are often missed or only roughly charted, and the Whitehorse crew - currently on another mapping mission - has to be constantly alert for sudden changes in deep-water topography. MacIntyre said there have been no formal disciplinary measures taken against sailors, but in the second incident "the individual was spoken to and counselled on what happened." "We've adjusted our standard operating procedures for route survey operations," MacIntyre added. "We're being much more careful when our computer software indicates we have a steep slope.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

48 Marines & One Sailor Receive Purple Hearts

Forty-Eight Marines and A Sailor received Purple Hearts at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay for their service in Iraq. The last group of third Battalion Marines returned home on Oct. 5. Eleven Marines with the third Battalion and three troops attached to the unit has been killed in Iraq since March.The battalion's executive officer Major Patrick Beckett said the troops saw very few quiet days. A total of 88 were wounded. The most serious injuries include a leg amputation as a result of a roadside bomb and a gunshot would that caused partial paralysis. The ceremony included the families of soldiers killed in action.

Friday, October 20, 2006

North Korea Ship Being Tracked By U.S. Intelligence

The United States is tracking a North Korean ship described as suspicious by a U.S. official. The vessel left a North Korean port and may be carrying military equipment banned under UN sanctions imposed after North Korea carried out a nuclear test on Oct. 9.An unidentified U.S. official told reporters the vessel was suspicious and indicated its history was the reason for the surveillance. He didn't say when the boat left port or where it was. The United Nations Security Council on Oct. 14 voted to impose sanctions on North Korea after the country tested a nuclear bomb five days earlier. The resolution bars the sale or transfer of missiles, warships, tanks, attack helicopters and combat aircraft, as well as missile and nuclear-related goods to the North Korean government, and includes cargo searches for contraband material.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

German Ship Abducts Customs Officers

Three Polish customs officers were reportedly abducted by a German cruiser that refused the border control orders to stop and left Poland's territorial waters. The three customs officers were detained at the German spa town of Hergisdorf, but released after Polish authorities intervened. The German cruiser Adler Dania was on its way to the Polish Baltic Sea port of Swinoujscie, north of Szczecin.Once in Poland's territorial waters, the officers went aboard to check a suspected illegal cargo of alcohol. The cruiser abruptly sailed into international waters, despite calls to stop, the radio report said. On arrival in Germany, the three customs officers were arrested on "illegal activities" charges but were released soon afterward when the Polish Foreign Ministry became involved, the report said

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tanker Ship Explosion In Mexico

An explosion on a fuel tanker in Mexico's Pajaritos petrochemical complex killed at least eight people but did not affect operations at the port, state oil monopoly Pemex said. The blast ripped through the tanker, called Quetzalcoatl, when a spark from maintenance works ignited fuel vapors in the ship's empty tanks. The Pajaritos complex is in Mexico's gulf coast state of Veracruz. It produced 529,000 tonnes of petrochemicals in 2005.
Mexican fuel tanker Quetzalcoatl is seen after the blast at Pemex's Pajarito terminal in the city of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico
The dead include three Pemex workers and three contractors from a firm called Lopez Garcia S.A. de C.V., who were repairing the ship. Two other casualties were unidentified. Pemex said nine others were injured in the blast. "The port operations are not affected, this was an isolated incident and everything is working normally," said Pemex spokesman Alejandro Gonzalez. Gonzalez said a fire caused by the explosion was under control. U.S tanker brokers said Quetzalcoatl is a 1979 built, 45,000-tonne capacity product tanker owned by the Mexican government and chartered to Pemex. It is mainly used for domestic fuel oil coastal trade.

US Military To Resume Anthrax Inoculations

Troops will once again be vaccinated against anthrax. The shots will be required for U.S. military personnel serving in the Mideast, the Korean Peninsula and central Asia. More than one million troops have already been vaccinated but hundreds have refused.
Seaman Charity Knoll of San Diego receives the anthrax vaccine aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter CGC Boutwell in the Persian Gulf.
A doctor, who serves as the Pentagon's assistant secretary for health affairs, says the vaccine is safe which is what the Food and Drug Administration ruled last year.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ship Collision On The Mississippi River Near New Orleans

A cargo ship heading down the Mississippi River struck another vessel anchored west of New Orleans knocking a huge gash in the anchored vessel, the Coast Guard said. The anchored ship was listing, but the hole was above the water line, and the vessel was not believed to be taking on water, said Chief Petty Officer Veronica Bandrowsky. No injuries were reported.
A small boat inspects the Panamanian-flagged Torm Anholt after it collided with the Greek-flagged Zagora near Kenner, La.
The vessels were the 712-foot Panamanian-flagged Zagora, which was heading down river at the Kenner Bend area west of New Orleans, and the 737-foot Greek-flagged Torm Anholt, which was at anchor at the time of the collision.
Torm Anholt
The Torm Anholt had a 12-foot-high, 6-foot-long gash in its right side 6 to 9 feet above the water line, the Coast Guard said. The ship listed after being struck but the tilt may have been due to a loss of ballast, the Coast Guard said.
There were no reports of damage to the Zagora. The Coast Guard established a one-way traffic safety zone in the area, but river traffic was not halted, Bandrowsky said.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sri Lankan Navy Sinks Rebel Trawler

Sri Lankan Navy said Sunday that it had sunk a suspected Tamil Tiger rebel boat off the northern seas of Mannar. The Navy's fast attack craft had fired at the suspected boat around 9:15 a.m. local time (0345 GMT) after grenade fire from the boat was targeted at the Navy, said a Navy spokesman. At least four rebel cadres were believed to have died in the attack as the trawler exploded with a huge bang. There was no immediate reaction from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels. The incident is the latest in the ongoing clashes between the government troops and the rebels since last Wednesday.Over 130 soldiers were killed with over 400 more injured in last week's battle at northern Jaffna peninsula's Muhamalai forward defense lines. The battles continue amid efforts by the Norwegian peace facilitators to have the two sides meet in Switzerland on Oct. 28 and 29 for face to face talks. The rebel sources say the LTTE decision to attend talks would be conveyed to the Norwegian special envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer on Oct. 19. The Norwegian envoy is due to return to the island next week to make a renewed effort to ensure face to face talks. The international community has brought pressure on both sides to return to the negotiating table ending violence that had cost over 2,000 lives and displaced more than 2,000 civilians since the end of 2005.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

US Air Force Memorial Dedicated

United States veterans and their family members gathered in Washington for the unveiling of a $30 million Air Force Memorial. The memorial, which opens to the public on Tuesday, took nearly 15 years of effort to complete and is dedicated to the more than 54,000 airmen who perished while in action. The U.S Air Force was the only branch of the armed forces with no memorial in the Washington area.Many of the veterans and relatives came to Saturday`s ceremony with stories to share. President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gave speeches to 1,400 guests on the dedication and history of the U.S. Air Force. The memorial, on a hilltop next to Arlington National Cemetery, is a triumvirate of curved stainless steel spires that soar more than 200 feet in the air.

Ship Sinks In Northwestern Turkey, Killing Three Crew Members

Three crew members were killed and seven others were rescued early on Saturday when a ship bearing the flag of Comoro Islands sank off Turkey's northwestern coast in the Black Sea, Turkey's local Zaman daily reported. The "Magic" ship sank two miles (3.2 kilometers) south of Igneada Koru Burnu of Turkey's northwestern province of Kirklareli, the paper quoted a written statement released by Maritime Undersecretariat Search and Rescue Coordination Center as reporting.Turkish Coast Guard boats rescued seven crew members on board, while three other crew members were found dead, the statement said. The cause of the accident was not immediately known.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Navy SEAL Throws Himself On Grenade

An elite Navy SEAL sacrificed his life to save his comrades by throwing himself on top of a grenade Iraqi insurgents tossed into their sniper hideout, fellow members of the elite force said.Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A Monsoor had been near the only door to the rooftop structure late last month when the grenade hit him in the chest and bounced to the floor, said four SEALs who spoke to reporters this week on condition of anonymity because their work requires their identities to remain secret. "He never took his eye off the grenade; his only movement was down toward it," said a 28-year-old lieutenant who sustained shrapnel wounds to both legs that day. "He undoubtedly saved mine and the other SEALs' lives, and we owe him." Monsoor, a 25-year-old gunner, was killed in the September 29 explosion in the insurgent hotbed of Ramadi. He was only the second SEAL to die in Iraq since the war began. Two SEALs next to Monsoor were injured; another who was 3 to 4.5 metres from the blast was unhurt. The four had been working with Iraqi soldiers providing sniper security while US and Iraqi forces conducted missions in the area.Monsoor has been posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions May 9 in Ramadi, when he and another SEAL pulled a team member shot in the leg to safety while bullets pinged off the ground around them. Monsoor's funeral was held at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. He has also been submitted for an award for his actions the day he died. The first Navy SEAL to die in Iraq was Petty Officer 2nd Class Marc A Lee, 28, who was killed on August 2 in a firefight while on patrol against insurgents in Ramadi. Sixteen SEALs have been killed in Afghanistan. Eleven of them died in June last year when a helicopter was shot down near the Pakistan border while ferrying reinforcements for troops pursuing al-Qaeda militants. There are about 2,300 of the elite fighters, based in Coronado and Little Creek, Virginia. The Navy is trying to boost that number by 500 - a challenge considering more than 75 per cent of candidates drop out of training, notorious for Hell Week, a five-day stint of continual drills by the ocean broken by only four hours sleep total. Monsoor made it through training on his second attempt.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Ship Captain Convicted In Deadly Mobile Port Accident

A federal jury today convicted a ship Captain of criminal misconduct in a deadly docks crane collapse on Mobile's waterfront. Wolfgang Schroder, 58, was convicted in U.S. District Court of misconduct in the March 2 accident at the Alabama State Docks container facility. At sentencing in February, Schroder, a German native who lives in Ireland, could get up to 10 years in prison. He was arrested in April on a criminal complaint by the U.S. Coast Guard in Houston. His ship, ZIM Mexico III, struck a 196-foot-high skycrane, which toppled, killing a contract electrician, Shawn Jacobs, 46, who was working on the crane.
ZIM Mexico III
The 534-foot-long ship was turning in the river when its bow struck the crane, which was not in use at the time. Prosecutors contended that Schroder was responsible for the collision because he ignored concerns about a steering mechanism, the bow thruster, which had lost power on two previous occasions. Schroder's defense team disputes that characterization. "We hope that this verdict does two things — that it provides some measure of comfort to the family, and we hope that it increases safety at the Port of Mobile," the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Murphy, told reporters. Schroder's lawyers maintain that the collision was a tragic but unavoidable accident and defense attorney Irwin Schwartz vowed to continue the legal fight on Schroder's behalf. Schwartz said he was disappointed in the verdict. "But this is only an intermediary step in the process," he said. For Jacob's relatives, the verdict brought some relief. "We feel it's a just verdict," said Sheryl Everett, Jacobs' sister. "It certainly doesn't bring Shawn back at all. Everything is cliché, but it brings some measure of accountability, some measure of peace," the victim's brother, Steve Jacobs added.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Coast Guard Rescues Miami Man & Friend

Coast Guard rescue crews from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., located two men stranded on an island in the Bahamas after the two were forced to ditch their small aircraft.John "Jack" Bettencourt, 55, a Miami resident, and Mark Zdunczyk, 58, an Albany, Ga., resident, left Cap Haitien, Haiti Saturday in a Piper Aztec heading for Exuma, Bahamas and ran out of gas over the Acklin Islands which are located almost 400 miles southeast of Miami and 100 miles northeast of Cuba. Commercial airline pilots from United Airlines Flight 1675, American Airlines Flight 1345 and Spirit Airlines Flight 259 heard the mayday sent by Bettencourt prior to his crash landing in the water. Miami Center relayed that information to the Coast Guard at 11:41 a.m.
USCGC Decisive (WMEC-629)
Search and rescue controllers at the Seventh District Command Center in Miami began coordinating a massive search effort for the two people. Rescue teams from Air Station Clearwater were first to launch at 11:45 a.m., followed by Coast Guard helicopters from Great Inagua, Bahamas, Air Station Miami, a C-130 Hercules aircraft from Air Station Clearwater and deployed helicopters from the Cutters. Decisive (WMEC-629) and Diligence (WMEC-616)
USCGC Diligence (WMEC-616)
A Coast Guard C-130 aircraft crew located the aircraft wreckage at 1:48 p.m. and shortly after found Bettencourt on a small cay about a half a mile away from the crash site. After the crash, the two were able to swim to shore where Zdunczyk was found laying under a lean-to shelter while Bettencourt was found walking down the cay looking for help. Both were transferred to Provindenciales International Airport in the Turks and Caicos where they were met by local EMS and taken to Government Hospital.
C-130 Hercules
"This was a very challenging case given it's remote location and limited information about the aircraft, the survival equipment on the plane and the experience of the crew, said Nancy Nelson," search and rescue specialist for the Seventh District Command Center. "It took total team effort for four aircraft and two cutters to search more than 10,000 square miles." The Coast Guard used five different aircraft and had a combined search time of more than 60 hours.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

US Army Announces New ‘Army Strong’ Slogan

The Army is replacing its recruiting slogan, "An Army of One,” with a new one it hopes packs more punch. It's now going with "Army Strong." Army Secretary Francis Harvey says the slogan will be the centerpiece of an ad campaign that will be launched in a month, timed to coincide with Veterans Day weekend.The new slogan is one of the results of a $200 million-a-year contract with a major advertising agency. Army officials acknowledge that it's hard to recruit during wartime, especially with the war in Iraq lasting far longer than officials had expected, and with US troops dying in battle nearly every day. Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp, who oversees the recruiting effort, says the ad campaign won't gloss-over the dangers of war.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Malfunctioned Cargo Ship Rescued

Yesterday afternoon after 18 days of drifting in the sea, the malfunctioned Panamanian cargo ship "Xinhe" safely arrived at the mouth of the Pearl River with the help of Nanhai Rescue Bureau. On September 22, the 125-metre long cargo ship "Xinhe" was loaded with 66 million tons of tapioca and left Thailand and headed to Guangdong.At about 300 sea miles off the south coast of Sanya, the steering gear malfunctioned and the crew was in great danger. The next day, Nanhai Rescue Bureau received the distress call and immediately sent out rescue ships. On September 27, amidst terrible weather conditions, a rescue boat finally reached the "Xinhe" ship. While being towed, the rescue boat found that "Xinhe" suffered major rudder blade and yaw problems. Members have been reported safe.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Happy Columbus Day

Columbus Day is the annual U.S. commemoration of Christopher Columbus's landing in the New World (at San Salvador island, also known as Waitling Island, today part of the British Bahamas) on October 12, 1492. Columbus was not the first European successfully to cross the Atlantic. Viking sailors are believed to have established a short-lived settlement in Newfoundland sometime in the 11th Century, and scholars have argued for a number of other possible pre-Columbian landings.Columbus, however, initiated the lasting encounter between Europeans and the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. A number of nations celebrate this encounter with annual holidays: Discovery Day in the Bahamas, Hispanic Day in Spain, and Día de la Raza in much of Latin America. In 1971, Congress moved the U.S. holiday from October 12 to the second Monday in October, to afford workers a long holiday weekend. In the United States, Columbus Day is typically a celebration of Italian and Italian-American cultural heritage, Columbus generally being considered a native of Genoa.In the late fifteenth century, Portuguese sailors dominated the effort to establish a sea route between Europe and India by circumnavigating Africa. It was with an eye toward outflanking the Portuguese that Isabella I of Spain authorized an expedition in which Columbus would sail west from Spain, aiming for India. This of course presumed that the world was round. Contrary to later popular belief, many educated people already understood this; Columbus' achievement rests instead in his success in persuading Isabella to finance a dangerous and speculative expedition. Columbus set sail with 90 men in August 1492 on three ships: the Santa Maria, the Nina and the Pinta. After sailing west for five weeks, they reached land on October 12. Columbus believed he had found a new route to India, hence the use of the word Indians to describe the peoples he met. Columbus would make three subsequent voyages and would die believing that he had found a new route to India and Asia, and not in fact the gateway to North and South America.Because the United States evolved out of British colonization rather than the Spanish claims of Columbus and his successors, the U.S. for many years did not celebrate Columbus's "discovery," although ceremonies were held on the 300th and 400th anniversaries of his first landing. Two early celebrations also occurred in New York in 1866 and San Francisco in 1869. Italian immigrants were the first to celebrate the holiday annually in U.S. cities where they had settled in large numbers, in part as a celebration of their heritage, since Columbus was believed to be Italian. In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Columbus Day a national holiday, then held every October 12 and now on the second Monday in October.U.S. federal government offices close on Columbus Day, as do most banks. Schools typically remain open, as do most American businesses. New York City continues to host a large and festive Columbus Day parade, over 500 years since the historic appearance of three ships off the coast of a small Caribbean island.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Bush Family Christens George H. W. Bush (CVN 77)

At a dedication ceremony in Virginia, President Bush spoke warmly of the World War Two veteran being honored: his father. The two Presidents Bush were on hand today to help christen America's newest aircraft carrier. The tenth and last of the Navy's Nimitz-class carriers is being named for the 41st president, George H.W. Bush.
Dorothy Bush Koch breaks a champagne bottle across the bow of the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier as, from left, President George W. Bush, former President George.H.W. Bush and Northrop Grumman Newport News President Michael Petters watch the christening.
As the current President Bush told his father, "your ship has come in." The first President Bush became the youngest pilot in the Navy when he joined, getting his naval aviator wings before age 19.After the Pearl Harbor attack, Bush said everyone was eager to join the armed forces. The elder Bush recalled how America was "totally united" during that time of world war. But, he pointed out, his generation often dubbed "the greatest generation" was "no greater than the kids that serve today."

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