Wednesday, May 31, 2006

X-Men Visit USS Kearsarge

The starring cast of 20th Century Fox’s new movie, X-Men: The Last Stand, visited Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry and Kelsey Grammer arrived by helicopter on Kearsarge’s flight deck to take a tour, meet crew members, and sign autographs as the ship was en route to New York City for Fleet Week 2006. “This is probably the fifth time I’ve been on a ship like this, and nothing is better than being on a ship with about 1,500 men and women who are inspiring,” said Berry. “I want to say from my heart, there’s nothing I love better in the world than to come and see the people who fight for our way of life. It’s an honor today to say thank you,” said Berry.Berry, Jackman and Grammer made their first stop on the ship’s mess decks to sign autographs for Sailors and Marines. “It was nice of them to take time out of their day to visit us and sign autographs,” said Marine Sgt. Kenney Linzmeyer of 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C. “Their visit here really shows the support they have for us and what we do.” “I’ve been a fan of the X-Men and Marvel Comics for a long time,” said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 3rd Class Sergio Avalos of Kearsarge’s Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD). “It was a great experience to meet some of my favorite superheroes in real life.” In addition, representatives from 20th Century Fox presented the ship’s crew with a ‘first look’ at X-Men III. Hundreds of Sailors and Marines filled the ship’s Hangar Bay to watch the movie before its release in theaters.“I loved the movie because it showed an insight into the characters’ backgrounds,” said Damage Controlman Fireman Brent Lumadue of Kearsarge’s Damage Control Division. “Kelsey Grammer did an awesome job playing the role of ‘Beast’. I have a lot of respect for 20th Century Fox because they showed that they really care about Sailors by going out of their way and showing us this movie.”
USS Kearsarge (LHD 3)

Ship To Survey Military Weapons Sea Bed Dump Off Hawaii

A federal research ship will get as close as 600 feet from Oahu's Leeward Coast as it looks for World War II-era military weapons dumped off Waianae decades ago. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration vessel will also look for artillery shells, mortars and other munitions in waters as shallow as 18 feet. The Pentagon asked NOAA to assess the dangers posed by the weapons after Waianae community members and Hawaii's congressional delegation voiced their concerns.The military will decide what to do about the weapons after NOAA finishes its survey report this fall. The NOAA ship Manacat will first use sonar to look for anomalies on the seabed. It will then have a robot take visual images of the suspected weapons. The researchers also plan to dispatch divers to take sediment, water, and fish samples to help them analyze the impact the weapons have had on the environment.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Ghost Ship Washes Up In Barbados

The white ghost ship rolled in the Atlantic swell as the rescue boats approached it 70 nautical miles off Ragged Point, one of the most easterly places on the Caribbean island of Barbados. The yacht was unmarked, 6 metres (20ft) long, and when Barbadian coastguard officers boarded it, they made a gruesome find. The boat's phantom crew was made up of the desiccated corpses of 11 young men, huddled in two separate piles in the small cabin. Dressed in shorts and colourful jerseys, they had been partially petrified by the salt water, sun and sea breezes of the Atlantic Ocean. They appeared to have come from far away.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Missing WWII Sailor Honored 64 Years Later

A Spokane family finally has closure after losing a loved one in combat 64 years ago. The family of missing WWII sailor Alvin Kuonen gathered Saturday to pay their respects and honor his memory and service to his country at Pleasant Prarie Cementary in Spokane. Alvin Kuonen died at sea on the USS Jarvis (DD-393),also known as "the ship that disappeared." Kuonen was one of 10 children; he and two of his brothers served in the military during World War II. Alvin enlisted in the navy in 1940. Two years later, he died along with 247 U.S. servicemen when their ship was struck by a Japanese aircraft.
Missing WWII sailor Alvin kuonen is honored for combat service 64 years after being killed at sea.
To mark Kuonen's courage and service for his country his family was presented with a Purple Heart and Colors. The Kuonen family says they are finally at peace enough to hold a memorial for Alvin, even though his body was never recovered. Alvin's headstone now rests near his two brothers Charles and Emil Kuonen.
USS Jarvis (DD-393)
The USS Jarvis (DD-393) was built at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington and commissioned in 1937

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Old Ship Sinking Accidents May Raise Age Concerns

A string of ship sinking accidents involving old bulk carriers in the past several months may attract attention from the International Maritime Organization, shipowners and brokers said. A 30-year-old cement carrier, Portland, sank on Thursday between Canary Island and Tenerife off the coast of Spain, with two of the 11 crew members still missing as of late Friday, said an official from Tenerife maritime rescue group. This follows the sinking of 17-year-old Alexandros T off the coast of South Africa in early May. The ship was transporting 155,000 tonnes of iron ore when it sank.
Alexandros T
A cement carrier Margaret sank off the coast of Italy last December during a storm. Apart from crew safety and potential oil spills, the sinking of older ships could have a bearish impact on freight rates for veteran ships, brokers said. "Cement carriers may be more susceptible to sinking because of the vessel age," a shipowner in Brazil said, adding that there was a strong vessel traffic flow of cement carriers from Spain to the United States. Spain is the largest cement producer in Europe. "They are usually older ships of more than 20-25 years, and they are converted from bulk carriers," he said. Unlike the oil tanker market, dry bulk carrier owners do not face strict phase-out dates for old ships and single-hulled vessels, ship brokers said. The newer ships tend to ply the U.S. and Canadian routes due to the stricter regulations, and the older ships are in the India, China and Southeast Asia, they said. "When the freight rates are strong, shipowners prefer to leave their ships in the market longer than sending them to the scrap yards," a broker said. However, some industry experts believed old ships could stay seaworthy if properly maintained, he said. Intertanko, an association for oil and chemical tanker owners, has maintained that a single-hulled ship, properly maintained, gives as much protection against oil spills as a double-hulled ship. IMO officials in London were unavailable for comment.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Captains Clash In Towboat Brawl

It's not unusual for businesses to compete for business, but it's news when people fighting for a customer get into a brawl in the middle of the ocean. That's apparently what happened off Dania Beach, and the Captain of a salvage boat has been taken into custody.The high seas fight started after the Captain of the pleasure boat "Fortuna" made a distress call, saying the boat was taking on water about 4 miles south of the Pompano Beach Pier. The Broward Sheriff's Office Marine Patrol spotted people aboard a raft, and helped rescue them, but their boat continued to take on water. As the passengers were rescued, salvage boats from competing companies arrived. Witnesses say the Captains from Sea Tow and TowBoat/US got into what one called a "brawl" over salvage rights. The US Coast Guard, which was also at the rescue, confirmed that it has detained one of the Captains for questioning and will turn that Captain over to BSO as part of its investigation. TowBoat/US took the boat into tow and will take it to a Dania Beach marina for repairs.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Skipperless Yacht Survives Solo Adventure

A yacht found off the far south coast of New South Wales yesterday was abandoned in huge seas off Tasmania more than a month ago. The sloop the Deseado was towed into Batemans Bay and investigations revealed that it had been abandoned in the southern ocean when its skipper was winched to safety by a rescue helicopter last month. The Batemans Bay coastal patrol's commander, Robert Bowmaker, says it is remarkable that the ten metre yacht should have travelled so far with virtually no damage. "It actually shows what a great little boat it is because it got through all those heavy seas recently and to miss container ships at night with no lights on, quite remarkable really," he said. The yacht's owner is on his way to Batemans Bay today.

Another Uniform Change

Based on feedback received during visits with Airmen across the Air Force, the Air Force Uniform Board is reviewing several concepts that Airmen have suggested regarding the appearance of the service dress uniform. Some of the informal feedback about the current service dress includes Airmen wanting to revamp the service dress to look more military, like the other services. One senior airman said, “the current uniform resembles a cheesy business suit.” Another staff sergeant said, “think world’s most dominating air power, not CEO,” and another described it as a “cheap leisure suit.” Other comments have suggested that the uniform needs to reflect the Air Force’s history more. On an Internet message board an Airman recently wrote, “I want to look good and be proud of my AF heritage.” Another Airman wrote that the dress uniform pales in comparison to any of the other services. "We need something that distinguishes us as proud members of the U.S. military.” The Air Force began exploring these ideas by producing several prototypes that reflect a combination of ideas that have been gleaned from comments, suggestions and informal surveys conducted over the past several years.
Brig. Gen. Robert Allardice and Senior Master Sgt. Dana Athnos show off prototypes of the Billy Mitchell heritage coat
A more formal survey soon will provide additional opportunities for Airmen to provide feedback and comments. "We’ve been getting informal feedback on our current service dress uniform for several years, and what we consistently have heard from many Airmen is a desire for a more 'military,' and less 'corporate' look and feel, something more reflective of the Air Force’s heritage, and its role as a professional military organization,” said Brig. Gen. Robert Allardice, director of Airman development and sustainment, deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel. “The Uniform Board has come up with some options to explore these concepts and the initial prototypes are direct descendants of our heritage, rooted in Hap Arnold and Billy Mitchell’s Air Force,” General Allardice said. The survey will provide a more formal opportunity to collect feedback on whether or not Airmen want a new service dress, and if so, what changes, likes, or dislikes they have about the prototypes. “We believe we need to respond to the force and the constant flow of feedback we receive on the service dress is driving this initiative. We see this as an opportunity to do so, along with a chance to reflect on our rich history, as well as the image we wish to portray in uniform,” said General Allardice. “We want to make sure our uniforms, all combinations, meet our current and future needs.” This process will use the standard Air Force Uniform Board process and as with the Airman’s Battle Uniform, Airmen are encouraged to take the opportunity to directly contribute to how their new service uniform might look. dress designs through the uniform board process.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Wall Of Water Strikes Ferry

A 50ft wave caused by a force-9 gale left six people injured and the flagship damaged. A freak wave smashed into one of the world’s largest ferries in the Bay of Biscay, terrifying passengers and forcing the ship to divert to a French harbour. The wave, estimated at between 40ft (12m) and 50ft high, crashed into the Pont-Aven, the flagship of the Brittany Ferries fleet smashing windows and injuring at least six people. Cabins more than 50ft above the waterline were flooded. Passengers described seeing a wall of water, followed by an explosion and then seeing people running around covered in blood after being hit by glass. The 41,000-tonne Pont-Aven, which was sailing from Plymouth to Santander in northern Spain, was forced to pull into the French port of Roscoff for emergency repairs.
The 1,150 passengers on board were offered a refund and told that they could return to England on another ship or make their own way to Spain. Some complained that they had been left stranded with no way to continue their journey. The wave struck at the height of a Force 9 gale that had caused the cancellation of dozens of crossings in the Channel. The £100 million Pont-Aven, the largest and most modern vessel in the fleet, was being buffeted by heavy seas when the wave struck. Among the passengers were the owners of 19 classic cars who were heading for a rally in Barcelona. Richard Lloyd, of Brackley, Northamptonshire, said: “It had been pretty rough the night before as we headed down the Channel. “During dinner, bottles were tipping over and things sliding about but, when we turned the corner into the Bay of Biscay, it really got bad. I have never seen seas like it. I saw a huge wave, a wall of water roaring past, and there was a loud noise like an explosion when it hit. “Minutes later people were running around the ship very frightened. Some had what looked like shrapnel wounds and others were covered in blood.” Mr Lloyd, 60, a motor racing entrepreneur, had been on his way to the car rally with his wife, Phillipa, and 18 other competitors. He said that they would now have to drive their ageing vehicles an extra 600 miles and might miss the start of the rally. So many entrants were on the boat that the organisers have shortened the event by a day to compensate. Dave French and his partner, Val Bostock, from Bolton, were on their way to Alicante with their motorcycle. Ms Bostock said: “We woke up to find water in the cabin and we were on Deck 6, well above the sea. The alarm sounded and we were told to go to the restaurant. “We knew conditions were getting bad the night before when the magician had to cancel his act because his table kept sliding off the stage.” She said that they were given another cabin on the eighth deck. “They have said we will get our £400 ticket money back,” she said, “and they did dry out all our wet clothes for us. But we now have to spend another day or two on our journey.” The ship, which docked at 5am, is expected to be out of action until the week’s end.

Iran Plans $5Bn Ship Investment

A senior manager at the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines has said that the country will need up to 500 ships over the next 15 years in order to maintain its regional position. The country will need up to 80 LNG ships in just the next few years to globally transport the gas produced from its fields. Iran is thought to be prepared to invest $5bn in tanker purchases.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Cargo Ship Rescues Stranded Yachtie

A lone yachtsman rescued last night off Fraser Island, in south-east Queensland, is resting on board a cargo ship. The yachtsman sent a mayday when his 10-metre sailing boat Sea Fury got into trouble off Indian Head about 7:00pm AEST last night. The Captain of the bulk carrier Pacific Freedom says he responded to a distress flare and saw the man standing on the hull of his upturned yacht. The Captain says he was taken on board the Pacific Freedom and he is now sleeping while the ship continues on to Gladstone. The Captain says the man is in good condition apart from a few scratches on his hands and legs, but his boat and possessions could not be saved. The Pacific Freedom's Captain says the yachtsman will be checked by a doctor on arrival in Gladstone,. later today.
Pacific Freedom

Russian Seaman Killed On Container Ship

A Russian seaman was crushed to death on board a Russian container ship at the port of Lyttleton last night. The man, from Vladivostok, was onboard the ship as it was pulling clear of the berth at Cashin Quay 4 when he was crushed by one of the ship's lines onboard the vessel. Lyttleton Port of Christchurch spokeswoman Sarah Aldworth said the ship - the Yuriy Ostrovskiy - reberthed and police and Maritime New Zealand were investigating the accident. The vessel and its 17 crew were scheduled to leave later today, she said.
Yuriy Ostrovskiy

Sunday, May 21, 2006

US Navy To Increase Presence In Asia

The Pacific fleet of the US Navy aims to step up the number of Submarines and Aircraft Carriers in Asian waters to patrol the region and ensure security. ''It is clear to us the prosperity of (the) economy in the region depends on security,'' official news agency Bernama quoted Admiral Gary Roughead, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, as telling local reporters during a visit to Malaysia.
Admiral Gary Roughead
He gave no further details of the plans, but added that the United States had no intention of interfering with other countries in the Pacific region. Roughead said countries in the region should strengthen their ability to face submarine attacks that could threaten international trade routes such as the Malacca Strait. The narrow, strategic waterway is an 805-km channel linking Asia with West Asia and Europe and carries some 50,000 vessels a year. It also carries some 40 per cent of the world's trade, including 80 per cent of Japan's and South Korea's oil and gas and 80 per cent of China's oil, according to a US.-Indonesia Society 2005 study on the impact of a terrorism attack in the strait.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Coast Guard Removes Cruise Ship Captain After He Fails Breathalyzer

Coast Guard officers removed the Captain of a Celebrity cruise ship Friday afternoon after he failed a breathalyzer during a routine safety inspection. Petty Officer Shawn Eggert said inspectors administered the breathalyzer after they suspected the ship's master had been drinking. The Mercury was delayed in port for more than an hour.
The Mercury
Celebrity Cruises sails weekly during spring and summer from Seattle to Alaska from the Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal at Pier 66. The Captain's name and other details were not immediately available. Phone calls to the company were not immediately returned.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Oldest Amphibious Ship Is Base For Iraq's Future

USS Ogden (LPD 5), the Navy's oldest active amphibious ship, is currently serving as the Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) for the multinational maritime coalition operating in the North Persian Gulf. As the AFSB for Commander, Task Group (CTG) 158.1, the 41-year-old amphibious transport dock is providing logistical support for the various forces that are protecting Iraq�s territorial waters and oil platforms, as well as serving as a training platform for Iraqi sailors and marines. "The crew is having a wonderful time," said Cmdr. James Hruska, Ogden's commanding officer. "Everyone understands the importance of keeping these waters safe and the global trade moving through this area." On the bridge, Ogden Sailors work and stand watches alongside Iraqi naval officers. The officers are serving as a liaison for planning and communicating with Iraq's five Predator-class patrol boats that come alongside Ogden for fuel, food, and crew training.
USS Ogden (LPD 5)
With about two weeks on station, the Ogden watchstanders say the training and experience have been working out well. "There's a little bit of a learning curve," said Lt. Micah Brewer, "but they seem to be well integrated, and they are really eager and willing to learn the procedures to defend the oil platforms. This is their territory and their economy. Their livelihood is in the oil platforms, and they want to be a part of the protection there." When the Iraqis are not standing watches, they are training. Ogden's Damage Control Training Team (DCTT) coordinator said that the Ogden crew is one of the finest he has ever served with and a great example for the Iraqis aboard. "We're providing a good service for the Iraqis, and this will help get them back on their feet," said Chief Damage Controlman (SW) James Strickell. "We're showing them how the U.S. Navy trains and operates; we're giving them something to base their Navy off of." Ogden's crew members say they are very happy to play an active role in the shaping of the Iraqi navy, as well as participate in the multinational coalition that is protecting the cornerstone of Iraq's economy. "That's what we're here for," said Damage Controlman 1st Class (SW) Gary Wise. "It's good for our guys on their first Western Pacific [deployment]. They'll look back and be able to say, "I actually helped protect that. I actually helped Iraq get the money they need for their future." Commissioned in 1965, Ogden will decommission in early 2007. While on her final deployment, Ogden and other Navy and coalition ships will continue to help the Iraqis protect the region. Ogden, as a part of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, is deployed in support of maritime security operations (MSO) in the North Persian Gulf. MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

US Navy Sinks USS Oriskany In The Gulf Of Mexico

As hundreds of veterans looked on solemnly, Navy divers blew holes in a retired aircraft carrier and sent the 888-foot USS Oriskany (CV/CVA-34) to the bottom of the sea Wednesday, forming the world's largest deliberately created artificial reef. Clouds of brown and gray smoke rose in the sky after more than 500 pounds of plastic explosives went off. The rusted hulk took about 45 minutes to slip beneath the waves, about four hours faster than predicted. Korean and Vietnam War veterans aboard charter boats watched from beyond a one-mile safety perimeter as the "Mighty O" went down in 212 feet of water, about 24 miles off Pensacola Beach. Lloyd Quiter of North Collins, N.Y., who served four tours on the ship in Vietnam, wept. "I'm a little stunned. It's a little hard to take," he said.The aircraft carrier went down stern first, the bow lifting up into the air and creating one final spray of water as it sank. The water churned a foamy white as the deck slid under. Hundreds of surrounding boats blew their horns in tribute. The Oriskany became the first vessel sunk under a new Navy program to dispose of old warships by turning them into reefs that can attract fish and other marine life. Over the years, other ships have been turned into reefs, including the warship USS Spiegel Grove, a cargo vessel that was scuttled in 2002 off Key Largo. But that was a civilian project, paid for with a combination of county and private money. The Oriskany, commissioned in 1950 and named after an American Revolutionary War battle, saw duty during the Korean War and was home to John McCain when the Navy pilot and future senator served in Vietnam. It was also among the ships used by President Kennedy in a show of force during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. It was decommissioned in 1976. McCain was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 after taking off from the Oriskany and was held as a prisoner of war for five years. "It was a small, old carrier that fought very valiantly, and I'm very proud to have been a part of the air wing that served with great courage and distinction," McCain told reporters on Wednesday.McCain said he had hoped the ship would be turned into a museum, but the artificial reef will "provide a lot of recreation and a lot of good times for people." The Environmental Protection Agency in February approved the sinking of the ship, which had toxins in its electrical cables, insulation and paint. EPA officials said the toxins will slowly leach out over the estimated 100 years it will take the carrier to rust away, and should pose no danger to marine life. Marine wildlife experts planned to monitor the waters. Local leaders hope the reef brings a long-awaited economic infusion from sport divers and fishermen. A 2004 Florida State University study estimated Escambia County would see $92 million a year in economic benefits from an artificial reef.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Army Gives Bonus to High School Seniors who Graduate

Effective on May 6th, high school seniors currently in the Delayed Enlistment Program, and seniors who enlist in the DEP after May 6th are eligible to receive a $1,000 "kicker" enlistment bonus, provided they graduate and receive a diploma, and ship to basic training prior to September 30, 2006.This bonus, entitled "High School Senior Ship Bonus," may be added to any existing incentive (enlistment bonus, seasonal bonus, or Army College Fund) in the contract of any graduating senior who meets the criteria.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Godspeed Crew Trains To Handle Ship

Passengers on the Jamestown-Scotland ferry today caught a glimpse of the 17th century as they crossed the James River near Williamsburg.
Jamestown-Scotland ferry
A new replica of one of three ships that brought the settlers to Jamestown in 1607 was out for one of several training sails so paid crew members and volunteers could practice handling lines and hoisting sails.
Godspeed replica
The three-masted Godspeed is to depart the state-run Jamestown Settlement museum next week for an 80-day sail to six East Coast ports. The voyage kicks off the Jamestown 2007 commemoration -- an 18-month series of events marking the 400th anniversary of America's first permanent English settlement.
Godspeed replica
In all, 30 volunteers will be involved in the trip. Eric Speth is the Godspeed's captain. He says many of the volunteers were on board for the first time today but were able to learn the ropes right away.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Canadian Navy Technicians Blew Submarine's Electrical System

Navy technicians caused "catastrophic damage" to one of Canada's trouble-plagued submarines two years ago, says a newspaper report that cited military documents. The technicians blew out the electrical system when they hooked up HMCS Victoria to a modern electrical generator. "Attempts to use a DC [direct current] feed … caused catastrophic damage to certain onboard filters and power supply units," the newspaper reported, quoting recently released military documents about the incident, which occurred in British Columbia. The navy is now spending about $200,000 to buy old electrical equipment that mirrors the original equipment found on the submarine. Victoria is slated to come out of dry dock next spring, about one year behind schedule. It is expected to be operational in early 2009.
HMCS Victoria
The HMCS Victoria is one of four Upholder-class submarines that the British Royal Navy launched in the late 1980s and early 1990s before withdrawing them from service in 1994. Canada bought from the British navy in 1998 for $891 million. The deal was considered good at the time, but the fleet has been plagued with problems ever since. There have been serious electrical problems, rust and general deterioration in the submarines, which had sat mothballed in salt water for the previous four years. Only one vessel, Halifax-based HMCS Windsor, has gone to sea lately. HMCS Chicoutimi caught fire off Scotland on its maiden voyage in 2004, resulting in the death of Lieut. Chris Saunders. It won’t be ready for sea until about 2012. Its sister vessel, HMCS Corner Brook, hasn't left Halifax since April 2004. It won't start sea trials until this summer.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sailor Dies In Brawl

A Crew member has died after being attacked on board the Queen Mary 2 cruise liner.. The man suffered serious head injuries after an alleged row with another member of staff, Cunard spokesman Eric Flounders said. The victim was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Holland but later died of his injuries. The attack occurred yesterday. Officers from Hampshire Police have flown to Bergen, in Norway, where the liner is now docked, to investigate the attack. Mr Flounders said the crew member accused of causing the injuries was confined to his cabin until police arrived. He said both men involved were from the Philippines.Mr Flounders said: “The cruise will continue as normal and none of our passengers have been affected. It is due back in Southampton on Wednesday. The matter is now in the hands of Hampshire Police.” Cunard said British police have jurisdiction to investigate the attack because the Queen Mary 2 is registered in Southampton. The 1,132ft vessel can carry up to 2,620 passengers who are looked after by a crew of 1,253. It cost an estimated £422million to build and travels to destinations including New York, the Caribbean and Canada. Cunard Line has operated ocean liners since 1840. Its ships also include the Queen Elizabeth 2, while the Queen Victoria will join the fleet next year.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up And Join The Navy

(Click to Enlarge)

The following ratings have been disestablished, merged or simply renamed since 1996.

* AK — Aviation Storekeeper (merged into SK on 01 January 2003)
* AMH — Aviation Structural Mechanic (Hydraulics) (merged into AM 01 March 2001)
* AMS — Aviation Structural Mechanic (Structures) (merged into AM 01 March 2001)
* ASE — Aviation Support Equipment Technician (Electrical) (merged into AS 1990)
* ASH — Aviation Support Equipment Technician (Hydraulics and Structure) (merged into AS 1990)
* ASM — Aviation Support Equipment Technician (Mechanical) (merged into AS 1990)
* CTO — Cryptologic Technician–Communications (merged into IT on 01 March 2006)
* DP — Data Processing Technician (merged into IT on 19 February 1998)
* DK — Disbursing Clerk (merged into PS on 01 October 2005)
* DM — Illustrator Draftsman (merged into MC on 01 July 2006)
* DS — Data Systems Technician (merged into ET and FC on 01 October 1998)
* DT — Dentalman (merged into HM on 30 August 2005)
* EW — Electronic Warfare Technician (merged into CTT on 01 October 2003)
* IM — Instrumentman (disestablished 01 October 1999)
* JO — Journalist (merged into MC on 01 July 2006)
* LI — Lithographer (merged into MC on 01 July 2006)
* MO — Molder (disestablished 01 October 1997)
* MS — Mess Management Specialist (changed to CS 15 January 2004)
* OM — Opticalman (disestablished 01 October 1999)
* OT — Ocean Systems Technician (merged into STG 01 October 1997
* PH — Photographers Mate (merged into MC on 01 July 2006)
* PM — Patternmaker (disestablished 01 October 1997)
* PN — Personnelman (merged into PS on 01 October 2005)
* RM — Radioman (changed to IT 04 November 1999)
* SM — Signalman (disestablished 04 November 2003)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Tamils Sink Navy Convoy Ship

Tamil Tiger rebels sank a Sri Lankan patrol boat as it escorted a Naval vessel yesterday, leaving 17 sailors missing. In retaliation, the navy sank five rebel vessels and the Air Force launched airstrikes on guerrilla-held territory. Some 50 Tamils were believed dead. Fifteen Tamil Tiger vessels, including suicide boats, attacked the convoy and Naval ship with 710 soldiers on board. The violence may mark a return to civil war, as a 2002 ceasefire which brought an end to almost two decades of fighting appears unlikely to last. Keheliya Rambukwella, a government spokesman, said: "This is a very serious attack, a blatant violation of the cease-fire agreement."
Sri Lankan Patrol Boats
Also yesterday, two civilians died and at least three others were hurt in three attacks blamed on separatist rebels in the north and north-east. The killings took place two days after Yasushi Akashi, the Japanese peace envoy, failed to convince the rebels to resume peace talks with the government. Akashi, special envoy to Sri Lanka since 2002, said relations between the government and rebels are at their worst since their 2002 ceasefire.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Swift Provides Quick Delivery in North Persian Gulf

The U.S. Navy's only High-Speed Vessel, USS Swift (HSV 2), demonstrated its unique ability for rapid response and logistical support when it delivered a replacement rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) 270 nautical miles in less than 24 hours, April 26. Swift, currently leased from Australia and deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet, was at sea in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Bahrain when it received a call to deliver the replacement RHIB to USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), which was supporting maritime security operations (MSO) in the North Persian Gulf. Lake Champlain�s RHIB was on its way back to the ship after delivering security personnel and food to the Iraqi oil platforms when an aggressive storm hit and damaged the boat. With Lake Champlain�s other RHIB inoperable and awaiting repair, the closest replacement RHIB was in Bahrain.
USS Swift (HSV 2)
The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser is conducting MSO in the North Persian Gulf, which is critical for the safety of the local Iraqi oil platforms. These platforms are vital assets to Iraq�s economy, so Lake Champlain needed a replacement RHIB immediately. "The RHIB was too big to be lifted by a Desert Hawk, [the only available helicopter]," said Cmdr. Tom Gerstner, deputy director of logistics at Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) in Bahrain. "But we needed to get the RHIB and the spare part [to the North Persian Gulf] quickly." Swift was the only vessel with the speed and capability to deliver the RHIB in such a short time frame due to its wide array of features, such as its size, large mission deck, crane, vehicle ramp, maneuverability and its navigation system.Swift crew members loaded the boat on the high-speed vessel and departed Bahrain on the evening of April 26. By morning, it arrived at Lake Champlain�s location to make the delivery. "We were able to get the replacement RHIB to Lake Champlain without the ship even putting out a CASREP," said Capt. Rob Morrison, Swift's commanding officer, referring to the standard "casualty report" that units use to notify others that a piece of equipment is not working and sets the chain of events in motion to repair or replace it. "This was a great example of how, with Swift, our capacity for rapid reaction has accelerated beyond the speed of the planning process." "One of the keys to our quick reaction was our electronic navigation capability," he said."When NAVCENT asked us how quickly we could get to the NAG, we were able to lay out a track and give them an answer right away." Gerstner agreed and said the choice to use Swift for the delivery was based on its capabilities. "It's a real flexible [vessel]," he said. "It can be used for transportation, logistics, medical evacuation, command and control, and special operations. It only has an eight-foot draft, which means it can go closer into shore [than most ships]." MSO set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The "Basics" of the United States Military

There are five military branches: The Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The Army is commanded by a four-star general, known as the Army Chief of Staff. The Army Chief of Staff reports to the Secretary of the Army (for most matters). The top military member in the Air Force is the Air Force Chief of Staff. This four-star general reports (for most matters) to the Secretary of the Air Force. The Navy is commanded by a four-star admiral, called the Chief of Naval Operations. The Marines are commanded by a 4-star general called the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Both the Chief of Naval Operations and the Marine Corps Commandant report (for most matters) to the Secretary of the Navy. The Coast Guard does not fall under the Department of Defense. Until recently, the Coast Guard was under the Department of Transportation. Recent legislation has move the Coast Guard to the newly created Department of Homeland Defense. However, the Coast Guard is considered a military service, because, during times of war or conflict, the President of the United States can transfer any or all assets of the Coast Guard to the Department of the Navy. In fact, this has been done in almost every single conflict that the United States have ever been involved in. The Coast Guard is commanded by a 4-star admiral, known as the Coast Guard Commandant.
What are the different functions of the five branches of the military?
Army. The United States Army is the main ground-force of the United States. The Army's main function is to protect and defend the United States (and its interests) by way of ground troops, armor (tanks), artillery, attack helicopters, tactical nuclear weapons, etc. The Army is the oldest U.S. Military service, officially established by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775. The Army is also the largest U.S. Military Service. There are approximately 76,000 officers and 401,000 enlisted members in the active duty Army. The Army is supported by two Reserve Forces which can be tapped for trained personnel and equipment during times of need: The Army Reserves, and the Army National Guard. The primary difference between the two is that the Reserves are "owned" and managed by the federal government, and each state "owns" it's own National Guard. However, the President of the United States or the Secretary of Defense can "activate" state National Guard members into Federal military service during times of need. Air Force. The Air Force is the youngest military service. The Air Force was created in 1947 under the National Security Act of 1947. Prior to 1947, the Air Force was a separate Corps of the Army. The primary mission of the Army Air Corps was to support Army ground forces. However World War II showed that air power had much more potential than simply supporting ground troops, so the Air Force was established as a separate service. The primary mission of the Air Force is to defend the United States (and its interests) through exploitation of air and space. To accomplish this mission, the Air Force operates fighter aircraft, tanker aircraft, light and heavy bomber aircraft, transport aircraft, and helicopters (which are used mainly for rescue of downed-aircrew, and special operations missions). The Air Force is also responsible for all military satellites, and controls all of our Nation's strategic nuclear ballistic missiles. There are about 69,000 commissioned officers on active duty in the Air Force, and about 288,000 enlisted members. Like the Army, the active duty Air Force is supplemented by the Air Force Reserves, and the Air National Guard.Navy. Like the Army, the Navy was officially established by the Continental Congress in 1775. The Navy's primary mission is to maintain the freedom of the seas. The Navy makes it possible for the United States to use the seas where and when our national interests require it. In addition, in times of conflict, the Navy helps to supplement Air Force air power. Navy aircraft carriers can often deploy to areas where fixed runways are impossible. An aircraft carrier usually carries about 80 aircraft. Most of these are fighters or fighter-bombers. Additionally, Navy ships can attack land targets from miles away (with very heavy guns), and cruise missiles. Navy submarines (fast attack and ballistic missile subs) allow stealth attacks on our enemies from right off their shores. The Navy is also primarily responsible for transporting Marines to areas of conflict. The active duty Navy has about 54,000 officers, and 324,000 enlisted personnel. The Navy is supported in times of need by the Naval Reserves. However, unlike the Army and Air Force, there is no Naval National Guard (although a few states have established "Naval Militias.")Marine Corps. The Marines are often referred to as the "Infantry of the Navy." Marines specialize in amphibious operations. In other words, their primary specialty is to assault, capture, and control "beach heads," which then provide a route to attack the enemy from almost any direction. The Marines were officially established on 10 November 1775 by the Continental Congress, to act as a landing force for the United States Navy. In 1798, however, Congress established the Marine Corps as a separate service. While amphibious operations are their primary specialty, in recent years, the Marines have expanded other ground-combat operations, as well. The Marines are generally a "lighter" force when compared to the Army, so they can generally be deployed fast (although the Army has been making great strides in "rapid deployment" in the past few years). For combat operations, the Marines like to be self-sufficient, as much as possible, so they also have their own air power, consisting primarily of fighter and fighter/bomber aircraft and attack helicopters. Even so, the Marines use the Navy for much of their logistical and administrative support. For example, there are no doctors, nurses, or enlisted medics in the Marine Corps. Even medics that accompany the Marines into combat are specially-trained Navy medics. With the exception of the Coast Guard, the Marines are also the smallest service. There are approximately 18,000 officers and 153,000 enlisted personnel on active duty in the Marines. Like the Navy, there is no Marine Corps National Guard, but Marines are supported in times of need by the Marine Corps Reserves.Coast Guard. The United States Coast Guard was originally established as the Revenue Cutter Service in 1790. In 1915, it was reformed as the United States Coast Guard, under the Treasury Department. In 1967, the Coast Guard was transferred to the Department of Transportation. Legislation passed in 2002 transferred the Coast Guard to the Department of Homeland Security. In peacetime, the Coast Guard is primarily concerned with law enforcement, boating safety, sea rescue, and illegal immigration control. However, the President of the United States can transfer part or all of the Coast Guard to the Department of the Navy in times of conflict. The Coast Guard consists of ships, boats, aircraft and shore stations that conduct a variety of missions. The Coast Guard is the smallest military service, with about 7,000 officers and 29,000 enlisted on active duty. The Coast Guard is also supported by the Coast Guard Reserves, and a volunteer "Coast Guard Auxiliary" in times of need.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Most Advanced Research Ship Commissioned

The University of Delaware has commissioned the Research Vessel Hugh R. Sharp, the newest and most advanced coastal research ship in the nation. The dedication was held at the university's College of Marine Studies in Lewes, Del. The 146-foot ship replaces the Cape Henlopen, which had been in continuous service since 1976. The diesel-electric vessel features a modular design to allow incorporating fuel-cell technologies as they develop.
Research Vessel Hugh R. Sharp
The vessel was designed to be as quiet as possible when under way, in keeping with recommendations of the International Convention for Exploration of the Seas, based on the hearing ability of fish. As did the Cape Henlopen, the Hugh R. Sharp will operate as a member of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System, a consortium of 64 academic institutions and research laboratories.The ship is named for Hugh R. Sharp, the great-great-grandson of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, the founder of the DuPont Co. Sharp served on the company's board of directors for nearly half a century and was a University of Delaware trustee for nearly 20 years. He died in 1990 at the age of 81.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Last Living US Titanic Survivor Dies at 99

The last living American survivor of the sinking of the legendary ocean liner Titanic has died. Lillian Gertrud Asplund was 99 years old when she died in her sleep Saturday at her home in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
Lillian Gertrud Asplund, the last American survivor of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, seen in this undated family photo
Asplund was just five-years-old when the ship, touted to be unsinkable, struck an iceberg on a voyage from England to the United States. It sank in the icy Atlantic off Newfoundland on April 15, 1912. Asplund survived the disaster with her mother and three-year-old brother. But her father and three other brothers died. Her death leaves just two known Titanic survivors still alive. Both live in England.

San Francisco Ferry Probe Cites Water Jet

The crash of a passenger ferry into a pier at bustling Fisherman's Wharf, injuring nine people, was probably caused by a broken water jet control, authorities said Sunday. Inspectors completed their initial examination of the Baylink ferry, which was carrying 142 passengers and had just backed out of Pier 41 for a run to Vallejo on Saturday when it struck the wooden pilings of a nearby pier. Investigators were awaiting the results of routine drug and alcohol tests on the captain and crew members, said Coast Guard Lt. John Fu. The captain was not cited by the Coast Guard, and it was unclear whether he was back at work Sunday.Preliminary tests indicated the crash was caused by a mechanical failure on one of the ferry's two water jet controls, which suck water in and push it out to power the vessel. The malfunction probably caused the captain to lose control, said Baylink spokeswoman Teresa Booth. Engineers repaired the equipment Sunday, and the ferry was moved and docked for more tests, Booth said. It could be back in service as early as this week. Carolyn Horgan, vice president of operations for the Blue and Gold Fleet, which operates Baylink, said the injured passengers suffered whiplash, bumps and bruises. They all were treated and released, she said.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Cruise Ship Catches Fire in English Channel

A fire broke out aboard a Cyprus-registered cruise ship in the English Channel in the early hour of this morning. The blaze started at 3.47am on board the Calypso near Beachy Head. Firefighters flew out to the ship, which was carrying 708 people, and put out the blaze by 6am. No casualties were reported and the cause of the fire is not known. Len Richards, deputy chief fire officer of East Sussex Fire Service, said: "The ship's crew used the fixed installations on board the vessel to initially attack the fire. "The fire was contained to the port engine and the engine room area itself." Of the 708 people on board the Cyprus-registered ship, 462 were passengers and 246 crew. A six-strong fire team for the Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG) was helicoptered on to the vessel to investigate the fire.
The CALYPSO Cruise Ship

Friday, May 05, 2006

Memorial Service to Honor USS Lagarto Crew

Families of crew members serving on the ill-fated World War II submarine USS Lagarto (SS 371) will gather May 6 in Manitowoc, Wis., to honor the men whose submarine went missing six decades ago and was only recently located by divers. Rear Adm. Jeffrey B. Cassias, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet's submarine force, will serve as the keynote speaker at the ceremony held at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, where Lagarto was built. Jamie MacLeod, a British wreck diver who located the Lagarto wreck in the Gulf of Thailand last year, will also be on hand.
USS Lagarto (SS 371)
For 60 years, crew members' families did not know the exact circumstances surrounding the 86 submariners who perished. Lagarto was last heard from May 3, 1945, as it was preparing to attack a Japanese convoy under heavy escort. Japanese war records later revealed that the minelayer Hatsutaka reported sinking a U.S. submarine at roughly the same time and location. In May 2005, MacLeod and a group of commercial divers found Lagarto in the Gulf of Thailand sitting upright in 225 feet of water. A large rupture in the port side bow area confirmed that Lagarto had apparently been struck by a depth charge. But there was something else that MacLeod's team noticed that caught their attention: an open torpedo tube door, with an empty torpedo tube. It seemed to suggest that Lagarto had gone down fighting.62-year old Arthur H. Keeney III of Engelhard, N.C., said the discovery of Lagarto has given him a new connection to a father he never knew. "It has made my father's high school and Academy yearbooks and other family memorabilia more alive and personal," said Keeney. "Moreover, I'm pleased for my mother, who, now 84, can reflect on the earlier stages of her life when Bud was part of it." Keeney said he�s looking forward to meeting with other Lagarto family members at the upcoming ceremony. "I will truly enjoy meeting other people, particularly the children, who are kin to other Sailors who knew my father and who also gave their lives in service to our country," he said. Sailors from the staff of Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, have flown U.S. flags over the World War II Submarine Memorial at Pearl Harbor for this event. Cassias will present the flags to family members at the May 6 ceremony. "We owe a great debt to these men, and to all of the World War II submariners," said Cassias. "In the world's darkest hour, they faced the greatest risks and demonstrated the most noble courage to preserve the freedom of our nation." Last May, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle signed a proclamation making May 3, the day the submarine was presumed sunk, as USS Lagarto Remembrance Day in perpetuity. Museum personnel are making plans to record oral histories of veterans and the surviving family members. Lagarto was one of 52 submarines lost on patrol during World War II.

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