Monday, July 31, 2006

Abducted South Korean Sailors Released In Somalia

All 25 crew members abducted four months ago from a South Korean fishing boat by Somali pirates were released Sunday in Somalia. The eight South Korean sailors and their 17 colleagues from Indonesia, China and Vietnam left Somalia on Sunday, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported, citing government officials in Seoul.The boat was being brought to Kenya under the escort of a US warship. According to the report, a ransom of up to 800,000 dollars was likely to have been paid for the crew's release. All crew members were unharmed. According to South Korean reports, armed men had seized the boat in international waters off the coast of Somalia at the beginning of April.

Iran Helped Hizbullah Attack Israeli Navy Ship

Iran's Revolutionary Guards helped Hizbullah terrorists plan and execute the attack two weeks ago on an IDF Navy ship, killing four of the officers aboard, according to an Arabic daily. Al Sharq Al Awsat, published in London, reported details on Iranian assistance as told by a senior Revolutionary Guard officer. The article was translated into English by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). The Guards also have helped Hizbullah build underground facilities, including command and control rooms which Iranians are operating jointly with Hizbullah terrorists."The Guards have also built Hizbullah underground storerooms in the Beka Valley, at a depth of no more than eight meters, which hold huge amounts of missiles and ammunition," according to the report. "Hizbullah's missile unit includes some 200 technicians and experts trained in Iran. Hizbullah has three missile units, each supervised by a staff of 20."

Sunday, July 30, 2006

New Ship To Focus On Great Lakes Trout Population

A new, $8 million ship built for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and featuring removable fish tanks on deck will focus on the lake trout population of the Great Lakes. The M/V Spencer F. Baird, which replaces the M/V Togue, has arrived at its home port on the Cheboygan River at the Great Lakes Science Center docks. The Baird is designed for stocking lake trout, the Fish and Wildlife Service said on its Web site. The agency has released millions of yearling lake trout into lakes Michigan and Huron in recent years using the Togue."It's the first boat of this magnitude built for the Fish and Wildlife Service since the mid-1980s," said Gerry Jackson, assistant regional director of the agency's fisheries division in Fort Snelling, Minn. The 95-foot-long Baird "has very unique missions _ fish restoration and the capability of assessment," Capt. Mike Perry told reporters. The Baird can check fish from the lakes "and tell you what they weigh, what they've been eating. All that data is logged," Perry said. A dedication for the Baird is planned for Sept. 7 in Traverse City.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Marine Receives Navy Cross

A Marine Sergeant credited with saving five fellow Marines in Iraq was presented the Navy Cross for heroism in combat. Robert J. Mitchell of Iowa was awarded the medal for his actions as a squad leader for Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, during an assault in the city of Fallujah in November 2004. While engaged in an intense gunfight in what then was an insurgent stronghold, five Marines were wounded and became pinned down in a house. Mitchell, 26, charged through enemy AK-47 fire and hand grenade explosions to reach the building. As he approached the house, Mitchell was hit in the left leg by a ricocheting bullet and suffered grenade-fragmentation wounds to his face and legs. Mitchell ignored his wounds to treat a critically injured Marine, then he applied first aid to other Marines. As he was doing this, he noticed an insurgent reach for a weapon. Mitchell killed the man with his combat knife.According to a Camp Pendleton press release, Mitchell was limping from his wounds and still under enemy fire when he assisted in the evacuation of the wounded. ''By his bold leadership and complete dedication to duty, Mitchell reflected extraordinary heroism while engaged in military operations,'' the statement said. Mitchell left the Marine Corps in 2005 and now attends a motorcycle mechanics school in Phoenix. Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler presented the award during a ceremony, where Mitchell made a brief speech. The Navy Cross is second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor for combat heroism and distinguished service. Fifteen Marines have been awarded the Navy Cross for combat service in Iraq or Afghanistan, Marine officials said.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Polish Navy Finds Shipwreck Of Nazis' Only Aircraft Carrier

Poland's Navy said that it had identified a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea as Nazi Germany's only aircraft carrier, the Graf Zeppelin - a find that promises to shed light on the 59-year-old mystery surrounding the ship's fate.
Graf Zeppelin
The Polish oil company Petrobaltic discovered the shipwreck earlier this month about 38 miles north of Gdansk and confirmed its identity using sonar photographs. The Graf Zeppelin was launched in December 1938 but never saw action. After the Germans were defeated in 1945 the Soviet Union took control of the ship, which was last seen in 1947.

Israeli Ship Fires Warning Shot At Turkish Ferry

An Israeli naval vessel fired a warning shot at a Turkish ferry en route to Beirut to pick up Australian nationals trying to flee Lebanon, said Turkish Transportation Minister Binyali Yildirim yesterday. "The Akcakoca ferry was sailing from Gazimagosa (in Northern Cyprus) to Beirut when it was stopped by an Israeli naval vessel," said Yildirim. "It waited until morning, and after efforts by the Australian Embassy, the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the Transportation Ministry, the problem was overcome and the ferry returned to Gazimagosa." The incident was confirmed by Australian Ambassador to Ankara Jean Dunn, who said none of the 13 crew was hurt. "This was a communications issue, and the Israeli naval vessel fired a warning shot." said Dunn.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Container Ship Runs Aground In St. Johns River

A 670-foot container ship ran aground in the St. Johns River when it collided with the jetties near the Little Jetties Park. Horizon Discovery from New York was freed the same night by tugboats and proceeded to Blount Island Marine Terminal.
Horizon Discovery
The Coast Guard did not observe oil or fuel leaking from the ship after its initial assessment, and said it would continue monitoring for leaks. Coast Guard inspectors from the Jacksonville sector are investigating the incident. No injuries were reported. The St. Johns River from Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville in Mayport to Blount Island was re-opened to commercial traffic the same night.

Carl Brashear, First Black Navy Diver Dies

Carl Brashear, the US Navy diver whose life story inspired the blockbuster movie Men of Honour, has died aged 75. Born in 1931 to a sharecropper family in Kentucky, Brashear joined the American Navy aged 17, in 1948 and battled institutional racism to become the first African-American US Navy diver. On 17 January, 1966, he suffered an accident while attempting to recover a lost hydrogen bomb off the coast of Spain after two US Air Force planes collided. Following persistent infections and necrosis, the determined Brashear convinced his doctors to amputate the lower portion of his leg. The Navy was set to retire Brashear from active duty, following his accident, but he began a gruelling regime to beat his disability. After battling with his fitness and use of only one leg, he broke US Navy records again by becoming the first amputee to be restored to full active duty.
Carl Brashear
In 1970 Brashear was promoted to the highest-ranking Navy diver position of master diver after completing dives deeper than 300m while being evaluated for five weeks at the Experimental Diving Unit in Washington. He eventually retired from the US Navy in 1979 as a master chief petty officer and master diver. Up until 1993, he served as a civilian employee for the government with the grade of GS-11. Brashear's inspirational life story was picked up by Hollywood film-makers and the film Men of Honour was released in 2000. Cuba Gooding Jr portrayed him and starred alongside Robert De Niro. Brashear married three times and had four children: Shazanta, DaWayne, Phillip and Patrick. The 75-year-old died of respiratory and heart failure at the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center, US on July 25. No funeral arrangements have yet been made.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Recruit Quality Remains High

The military has been able to fill its ranks without sacrificing quality, DoD's top personnel official told reporters. David S. C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said all active-duty components met their recruiting goals in June for the 13th month in a row.He said the reserve components also did well, with all but the Navy Reserve making their recruiting goals. All told, DoD recruits about 300,000 servicemembers in all components each year. Chu called the fact that the department can fill the ranks of the volunteer force a testament to young peoples' desire to serve. "I think it's an antidote to those who question the willingness of young Americans to put someone else before themselves, to put some larger cause first," he said. "It's an antidote to that skepticism about youth and its values to see these numbers and to see their performance in the field."More than 60 percent of the recruits came from the top half of mental aptitude categories. More than 90 percent have a high school diploma, which is the best indicator that recruits will stay through their first enlistment, officials said. Chu said he is not disturbed by the increase in the number of "category 4" personnel joining the Army. These recruits score in the lowest category of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery of tests ( Note: "Category 4" are those who score 30 or less on the AFQT, or overall ASVAB score).The Army recruits no more than 4 percent of its force from this category, meeting the DoD benchmark, explained Doug Smith, public affairs officer for U.S. Army Recruiting Command. For many years, the Army had a self-imposed 2-percent limit, he said, but raised it to 4 percent in 2005. This stands in sharp contrast to the late 1970s, when as many as 45 percent of Army recruits could be drawn from category 4. Congress imposed a cap of 25 percent of new recruits in that category in fiscal 1981, then lowered the ceiling to 20 percent in fiscal 1983, according to Bob Clark, DoD's assistant director for accessions policy.Chu called DoD's 4 percent level appropriate to the needs of the military and said no one is looking to change the recruiting standards that have served the military so well. "The standards have not changed. They are not going to change," he said. "We aim for the department as a whole to have 90 percent of our new recruits ... be high school diploma graduates. We aim to have 60 percent score in the upper half of the mental distribution." And the department will insist on high moral standards, he said. "Quality pays off" in a varied range of ways, Chu said. "Quality pays off in ability to deal with difficult situations.Quality pays off in ingenuity in solving problems. Quality pays off in figuring out ... 'what did the lieutenant mean by those orders anyway?'" The task now is to continue progress in the months ahead, he said. "Obviously, recruiting is a bit like watching a high-wire performer," Chu said. "It's wonderful that we have done well so far, but there's always the challenge of tomorrow. "So this is a business where you can never lose your focus, you can never stop concentrating on the next challenge," he said.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Crew Set To Abandon Listing Ship

Cougar Ace
The crew of an Asian ship listing in the North Pacific are preparing to abandon it after the U.S. Coast Guard said it was too dangerous to stay on board..The Coast Guard and Alaska Air National Guard were sending helicopters and other rescue craft to pick up the 22 crew members of the car carrier. The Cougar Ace, which is flagged in Singapore and was carrying 4,813 cars, was taking on water, listing sharply and leaking fuel off the Alaskan coast, the U.S. Coast Guard said earlier. "For their safety, it's best for them to come off the ship," Reporters quoted Lt. Mara Booth-Miller as saying. She said it was "very probable" that part of the deck was under water. "It's sitting on its side, basically," Petty Officer Stephen Harrison told reporters.
Cougar Ace
The car carrier reported late Sunday that it was listing at an 80-degree angle 500 nautical miles (804 nautical kilometers) southwest of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, said Petty Officer Eric J. Chandler, from the Coast Guard center in Juneau. But he said it was unclear "what caused the damage or how much water it is taking on." Earlier Monday, a Coast Guard plane dropped three life rafts, but roiling waters pushed the rafts underneath the dipping port side of the ship. Rescuers tossed an additional raft along the higher starboard side, but it was a 150-foot (45.72 meters) drop to the water and beyond their reach. One crew member had a broken leg, but no other injuries have been reported.
Cougar Ace
The 654-foot (196-meter) Tokyo-based ship is owned by Matsui OSK Lines and was carrying the vehicles from Singapore to Vancouver when the problem emerged. Some of the ship's 430 metric tons of fuel oil and 112 metric tons of diesel was leaking, and a sheen extended 3 kilometers (2 miles) from the ship, Chandler said, citing information from a Coast Guard C-130 flying over the ship. A merchant marine ship crew that had been in the area reached the vessel Monday morning, AP reported. The crew of that ship tried, but failed, to rig a line to the Cougar Ace to keep it from tilting further. A Coast Guard cutter was on its way to the area and is expected to reach the car carrier on Tuesday.
Cougar Ace

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sailors Rescued From Stranded Indian Ship

The Vietnamese embassy is working closely with Indian authorities to assist three Vietnamese sailors rescued from a Taiwanese trawler that wrecked near a western Indian island. The crew of 33 jumped into the turbulence sea after their fishing vessel Isabella III ran aground on a reef off the western coast of the uninhabited Suhaili island of Lakshadweep on July 15. The Vietnamese sailors, including Phan Cong Duc (24 years old) Nguyen Minh De (26), and Nguyen Van Cuu (1980), and other Taiwanese, Chinese and Filipino crewmates were safe and receiving treatment on the western Indian island of Kavaratti, spokesman of the Vietnamese’s Foreign Ministry said.While 32 of them eventually swam to safety on their own, one had to be rescued by a coast guard helicopter. Spokesman Le Dzung said the Vietnamese embassy in India and the Vietnamese Consulate in Mumbai had contacted the Indian Coast Guard concerning the case. The vessel, flying the Seychelles flag was traveling from Oman to Singapore, said an official press release of Indian authorities. It was carrying 190 tons of engine oil, though no oil spill had been reported.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Japans Sixth Aegis Ship Bound For Sasebo

he Maritime Self-Defense Force will deploy its sixth Aegis warship, to be equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptor missiles, at Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, when the vessel is completed in spring 2008. Currently, Japan has a fleet of four 7,250-ton Aegis destroyers -- the Kongou and Choukai, both based in Sasebo, the Myoukou in Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, and the Kirishima in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture. The sixth Aegis warship is under construction in the city of Nagasaki. At 7,700 tons, it is a larger version of the four destroyers now in service.
The Atago, Japan's fifth warship with the Aegis defense system
The fifth Aegis vessel, the Atago, to be commissioned next spring, is to be deployed at Maizuru. As a result, five of the six Aegis warships will be deployed at MSDF bases along the Sea of Japan or near the East China Sea as part of Japan's missile defense shield. The defense system calls for Aegis warships to detect ballistic missiles using high-performance radar systems and shoot down these targets at altitudes of 200 km to 300 km. The current Aegis warships are equipped with SM-2 interceptor missiles mainly designed to hit aircraft. The MSDF is planning to upgrade them to SM-3 interceptors capable of hitting ballistic missiles at a far higher altitude.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Coast Guard Rescues Three From Boat Fire

Coast Guard crewmembers from three different units assisted in the rescue of three fishermen and fought the fire that caused them to abandon their boat, Friday morning. A watchstander from Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi received a report from a recreational boat at 9:10 a.m., that the fishing vessel, Panchito, was engulfed in flames. Air Station Corpus Christi launched a helicopter and diverted a jet from patrol to assist the fishermen. The USCG Cutter Steelhead, an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Port Aransas, Texas, was diverted from patrol and Station Port Aransas dispatched a 41-foot rescue boat. A passing recreational boat picked up the crew from a life raft. A nearby fishing boat began fighting the fire until the cutter arrived on scene and extinguish the fire.
United States Coast Guard Cutter Steelhead
The fishermen were transferred from the recreational boat to the rescue boat. No one was reported injured. The Coast Guard urges mariners of all kinds to always wear their lifejackets while boating and to ensure all safety and emergency equipment is located in an accessible area onboard and is in good working order prior to getting underway.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ship Stolen Ffrom Walvis Bay Harbour

A South African container ship, the MV Umfolozi, has been stolen from Walvis Bay, where it has been docked since colliding with a South African-registered dredger, the MV Ingwenya, in September. The Namibian Ports Authority confirmed it had disappeared on Wednesday and said the port captain, Vladimir Gusev, had been suspended. It is believed the vessel sailed north into Angolan waters. The Namibian and Angolan defence forces are co-operating in the search for the Umfolozi. The Umfolozi was detained last month after the South African Ports Authority won a high court order against Seagate Shipping for the damage to the dredger. After it was repaired, the Umfolozi was renamed the Michael S and sold to a Greek shipowner, Alexander Saleh. Namibian press reports said Saleh flew out of the country at the weekend. It is alleged that crew members boarded the ship under false pretences, held two security guards captive and later dumped them and their possessions overboard.Walvis Bay's acting deputy sheriff, Andre Visser, said the disappearance of the Umfolozi was being treated as a crime. "The operation was clearly planned. We suspect that the vessel has entered Angolan waters," Visser said. "The Angolan army and navy are on full alert and, if they should spot the ship, they will make it turn back to Namibia." The Umfolozi, with about 335 tons of fuel oil on board, was on its way to Cape Town and the Ingwenya heading for Walvis Bay when they collided. About 100 tons of heavy fuel oil and diesel were spilled.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Solar-Powered Boat Debuts In London

The fine weather at the moment is just what the makers of a new boat are after, as it is powered by the sun!A passenger ferry has been built that will carry 42 people from north to south on the Serpentine lake in London. The 14.5m long boat - called the Solarshuttle - will take a leisurely cruise across the lake at 4mph.The Solarshuttle's two electric engines are completely powered by the sun, and its makers are sure that even on days without much sun it will still work. When the boat isn't sailing across the lake any electricity its 27 solar panels generate will be sent to a power station for use elsewhere in the country.The boat's builders are now planning a new ferry for use on the River Thames that could carry as many as 300 passenger, but it won't be ready to set sail until 2008.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dozens Injured When Cruise Ship Lists

The Coast Guard at Port Canaveral said that a cruise ship took a heavy roll at sea, injuring some passengers. Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer James Judge said he didn't know how many people were hurt when the Crown Princess listed or how serious any of the injuries were. Judge said the ship, which began sailing a month ago, listed to the portside of the vessel. Sarah Feingold, a passenger onboard the ship, spoke to Local 10 via cell phone and she said that some people had broken bones and she believed about 30 people were hurt. Feingold said that the ship tipped at about a 60-degree angle at about 3:45 a.m. She said that passengers were thrown from their beds, items went flying off shelves, and furniture was smashed. She said the water was dumped out of the pools and there is broken glass all over the ship.Feingold said there was a chaotic time, with parents and children crying. She said that she believes the cruiseline is underestimating the seriousness of the injuries. "I've seen a lot of serious injuries, " she said. The Coast Guard said that the ship experienced what it called a steering casualty. Emergency medical workers were shuttling out to the ship when it got within about five miles of Port Canaveral just after 5 p.m. Fifteen ambulances were at the port waiting for the ships arrival. "We're coming back to the port so some of the passengers can receive some additional medical attention," Princess Cruises spokeswoman Julie Benson said. The ship was on its way to New York and had just left Port Canaveral after a nine-day Western Caribbean cruise, she said. Feingold said that the cruise ship officers were trying to keep people calm, and as the ship returned to port, they were even promising dinner and entertainment as usual.

Ultimate Fighters Visit Marines

Marines actually looked forward to giving up their lunch hour. That's because Randy "The Natural" Couture, Kendall "Da Spyder" Grove, Brandon "The Truth" Vera and Dean "The Boogeyman" Lister, competitors in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, visited Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Friday to meet and greet the troops, exchange fighting tips and get some hands-on experience with some of the Corps' warfighting tools. Arriving in a tricked-out, shiny black Hummer and accompanied with his entourage, San Diego resident and top heavyweight contender, Brandon Vera, made his rounds around the desert-camouflaged Marines with handshakes and autographs, alongside Lister and Grove.
Ultimate Fighting stars meet the troops and exchange fighting tips.
Vera has been on the fast track to a shot at the UFC's heavyweight championship, currently held by Tim "The Maine-iac" Sylvia. With three straight wins since his UFC debut, Vera credits his newfound success to his time as an airman. "You know that trumpet they play in the morning to wake you up for PT? That's still in my head," said Vera, referring to the sound of reveille. "It's that discipline to get up and run early in the morning that I got in the military, that keeps me training today." Couture, a UFC hall of famer and former two-time heavyweight and light-heavyweight champion, also served his country in the U.S. Army. Wanting to display their own grappling skill set, the Marines of Military Police Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, put on a Marine Corps Martial Arts clinic, with two Marines at a time squaring off against each other. The Marines had the luxury of having Lister and Grove in each of their corners. Grove recently became the Ultimate Fighter 3 middleweight champion on the hit reality show, "The Ultimate Fighter."
Kendall "Da Spyder" Grove, left, and Brandon "The Truth" Vera, Preparing to sign hundreds of autographs
Shouting out similar commands and tips they would normally receive in the octagon, Grove and Lister helped the Marines assume full and side-mount positions, choke attempts and body-softening blows. After wrapping up their visit with the 1st MLG, the UFC fighters headed to the northern part of Camp Pendleton at Camp Horno, where the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment eagerly anticipated their arrival. The UFC, which has recently experienced a surge in popularity thanks to increased cable television and pay-per-view exposure, along with a modest acceptance in mainstream sports, has recently developed a relationship with the military. Tito Ortiz and Andrei Arlovski were the first UFC fighters to embrace Camp Pendleton when they visited Marines and sailors here before their respective fights at UFC 59 in Anaheim, Calif. Dana White, president of the UFC, hinted at running a UFC event at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., during a media conference call in May, and Couture said he is heading to Iraq at the end of the month for 10 days.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Stranded Ship Starts Spilling Oil

A light, oily sheen of diesel oil was being constantly monitored on Monday as it streamed from the stranded Safmarine Agulhas. Environmental Affairs representative Nazeera Hargey said officials were unsure about the quantity of oil leaking from the crack, but were dealing with the matter. The patch of sheen was seen moving away from the coast in a southerly direction and the oil pollution abatement vessel Kuswag IV was on the scene and helping to break it up. In the last 17 days, 720 tons of heavy fuel oil has been removed from the Agulhas. Marine salvors were trying to remove the 20 tons still on board when a crack on the portside of the vessel started leaking diesel oil on Monday afternoon. The 16 800 ton Safmarine Agulhas ran aground shortly after its engines failed while leaving the East London port in June.
Safmarine Agulhas
The vessel has been aground for 21 days. Several refloating attempts have failed and any more will depend on the deterioration of the ship's structural integrity . "Subject to grounding forces and the continuous powerful action of the sea, the deterioration of the vessel's structural integrity remains cause for concern and is being assessed and monitored by the onboard salvage team," said the salvors, the National Ports Authority and the Department of Environmental Affairs. Bad weather over the weekend had made it difficult to remove the 175 cargo containers still on board the ship and had further compromised its structural integrity, they said. A team of environmental experts had been in East London since the vessel ran aground and oil spill abatement equipment was at the ready, should it be needed.
Smit Amandla
Daily beach patrols were monitoring the impact on the environment, but the risk to the marine environment had reduced with the removal of heavy oil from the vessel. The tug "Smit Amandla" was still connected to the vessel and was holding it off of the breakwater. On Friday, crew, officers and salvors had to be evacuated from the ship amid high swells.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hezbollah Missile Hit Egyptian Merchant Ship

An Egyptian merchant ship was hit by a Hezbollah missile injuring one crew member during the guerillas' attack on an Israeli warship off of Beirut, an Egyptian transport official said. The Moonlight, bound for the Syrian port of Tartus with a cargo of cement, was struck by a missile and set aflame, the official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give statements to the media. One of the 12 Egyptian sailors on board was injured in the incident, he said. The Moonlight was 21.75 miles off of the Lebanese coast when it was hit, according to Mohammed al-Redi of the al-Redi Agency that owns the vessel, meaning that it was outside the 3-mile blockade Israel imposed on the Lebanese shoreline.Another ship, the al-Marwa, also carrying cement and owned by the same company, rescued the crew and took it to Syria, al-Redi told reporters. He said the company does not know what happened to the vessel after its crew was rescued. Along with its cargo, the Moonlight is valued at $2.5 million. Both vessels departed Wednesday from the Egyptian port of Damietta.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sailing Boat Launched To Guide Swedish Merchant Ship "Gotheborg"

A wooden sailing boat modeled on an antique will accompany the replica of the Swedish merchant ship "Gotheborg" when it sails up the Pearl River in south China. The wooden boat, with a length of 48 meters, has been built using ship building methods used for ships on which Zheng He, a Muslim eunuch in the imperial Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), made seven voyages to places including West Asia and East Africa between 1405 and 1433. Built at a cost of 14 million yuan (about 1.75 million U.S. dollars), the boat, known as "Goddess of the South China Sea", is currently moored at Fangcun Pier in downtown Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province,through which the Pearl River, the third longest waterway in the country, flows, said Wang Xia, deputy general manager of Guangbo Cruise Boat Co.Ltd, one of the three sponsors for the wooden boat.
The bottom cabin of the boat has been turned into a museum where cultural items featuring Guangzhou's history as a maritime trading route. The legendary 18th century Swedish merchant ship "Gotheborg" made three voyages from Gothenburg to Guangzhou between 1743 and 1745, pioneering trade between Sweden and China. On its last return trip to Sweden in 1745, tragedy struck when it smashed into rocks about 900 meters from its destination after a 30-month voyage to China. It sunk with its entire cargo outside the port of Gothenburg.
The wreckage of the ship was recovered in 1984 and excavation was conducted from 1986 to 1992. The discovery led to the idea of rebuilding a replica of the ship by using the same traditional techniques and materials and sailing it to China again. Its replica, Gotheborg III, has an overall length of 58.8 meters and a width of 11 meters. It is carrying 80 crew members and some of the silk, porcelain, tea leaves and spices that went down with the original ship. It departed from the Swedish city of Gothenburg in October last year for China. It will reach Guangzhou next Tuesday and will stay in the province for one month.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Israeli Warship Attacked by Unmanned Hezbollah Aircraft; Four Sailors Missing

An unmanned Hezbollah aircraft rigged with explosives rammed into an Israeli Saar 5 Navy Gunship late Friday, leaving four sailors missing and causing heavy damage and a fire, Israeli military officials said. The army said a search was under way for the seamen. The statement confirmed earlier news reports that the four were missing. The attack by the remote-controlled drone indicated that Hezbollah has added a new weapon to the arsenal of rockets and mortars it has used against Israeli troops. The army said a missile ship carrying several dozen sailors suffered severe damage and was set on fire. Several hours after the attack, the fire was put out and the ship was being towed back to Israel, officials said. The military officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to the media.
Israeli Saar 5 Navy Gunship
In an official statement, the army spokesman's office would say only that the cause of the attack was still under investigation. Hezbollah has never before used a remote-controlled unmanned aircraft to attack Israel. But in a signal of its growing capabilities, the guerrilla group has twice managed to fly spy drones over northern Israel in recent years. The drones caused great concern in Israel because they evaded the country's air defenses. Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV had reported earlier Friday that guerrillas attacked an Israeli warship that had been firing missiles into south Beirut. ``Now in the middle of the sea, facing Beirut, the Israeli warship that has attacked the infrastructure, people's homes and civilians look at it burning,'' Hezbollah's leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said. The prerecorded audiotape was aired shortly after Israeli missiles struck Hezbollah headquarters and Nasrallah's house in south Beirut. The station showed a video purportedly showing an Israeli warship hit by Hezbollah. The video aired a few seconds of nighttime pictures of an object flying over a city and falling in the distance, where it exploded. Al-Manar said this depicted the attack on the Israeli warship off the coast of Lebanon. The footage was unclear and it could not be seen what the object hit.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Tall Ships Sail Into North Coast Harbor

Even though the weather is a little rough, nothing is stopping the tall ships sailing into the North Coast Harbor for this year's Huntington Cleveland Harborfest. The festival kicked off with the Parade of Sail. Opening ceremonies are taking place from 3 to 8 p.m. There are 12 tall ships in Cleveland for the five-day festival. Great Lakes Science Center's Linda Abraham-Silver said they are thrilled to partner with the Mather Museum to make the Harborfest happen. She said visitors can come down to the North Coast Harbor, tour some of the ships, and even sail on some of them.Organizers said each ship has a rich history and has seen many adventures. Some of the ships were pirate ships, others carried merchandise to many ports, and all of them have a story to tell. From Thursday through Sunday, you will be able to go on board the ships, talk to their captains and crews and go sailing.All weekend, families can come down to North Coast Harbor and be entertained with dozens of events, from learning to tie knots to raising the sails on the ships. There will also be a big party on Saturday night for adults. General activities take place from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Real Sea Monsters: Rogue Waves

A German scientist says deadly 'rogue waves' of 100 feet or higher are more common than thought. Such enormous waves -- some taller than a 10-story building -- have, in the past, been considered sea tales, together with sightings of mermaids and sea monsters. Scientists say such waves might have been responsible for the mysterious sinking of dozens of large ships and the loss of many lives.Wolfgang Rosenthal, a German scientist who helped the Paris-based European Space Agency pioneer the study of rogue waves by radar satellite, told reporters he estimates that, at any given moment, 10 of the giant waves are churning through the world`s oceans -- especially in regions having powerful currents: the Agulhas off South Africa, the Kuroshio off Japan, and the Gulf Stream off the eastern United States. Rosenthal says the proliferation of radar satellites should make it possible to better understand rogue waves and, perhaps, predict their occurrence. 'There will be warnings, maybe in 10 years,' he told the Times. 'It should be possible.'

Marine Corps Boat Patrols Keep Iraq's Waterways Safe

In Iraq, a country where temperatures often soar above 110 degrees and terrain is mostly fine grains of sand, Cpl. Derek Metallo never thought he’d find himself patrolling Al Anbar province in a boat when he arrived three months ago. Metallo, a 27-year-old Marine reservist from Jacksonville, Fla., is part of a team of Marines who patrol the Euphrates River by boat, providing security to the Haditha Dam – one of the country’s largest sources of electrical power and home to the Hawaii-based 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment’s headquarters. The dam provides electricity to thousands of Iraqis throughout the Al Anbar province, as well as portions of Baghdad. While most U.S. and Iraqi military forces operate in the country’s cities and towns, Metallo and the dozens of Marines who make up the dam’s security unit spend their days patrolling the waterways on both sides of the dam.“We patrol around the dam all day to make sure insurgents are not trying to breach the area around the dam,” said Metallo, a gunner assigned to the dam security unit. On one patrol Metallo said an infantry company was receiving indirect fire from mortar rounds and the Marines located the insurgents. The insurgents fled the area when the Marines arrived. The Marines use Small Unit Riverine Craft, military boats used by the Armed Forces to secure rivers and other small bodies of water, to patrol the Euphrates River and the manmade Lake Qadisiyah, which sits on the northern side of the dam. The Security Unit’s Marines are mostly reservists who put their civilian lives on hold to support the Marines who operate out of the dam. Cpl. Alexander Lucea was an airline pilot and lived in Hollywood, Fla., before he volunteered to join the Corps’ active duty ranks and serve as a gunner with the water-bound unit. “Just like the active duty Marines, we all miss being at home,” said Lucea, 27. “The initial adjustment was the hardest part of coming to Iraq, but I enjoy being here with my fellow Marines.” As the Marines patrol the bodies of water around the dam, they also keep their eyes open for any suspicious activity on the banks of the water. Recently, the Marines found a small cache of weapons hidden along the Euphrates River, said Metallo, a 27-year-old from Jacksonville, Fla. “Some patrols are more interesting than others,” said Lucea. “We have responded to firefights involving the Marines from three/three and saw insurgents shooting mortars right off the bank of the river. You never know what is out there.” The Marines are not only trying to keep the waterways clear and safe from insurgent activity, but also protect the hundreds of fisherman and farmers who work along the river’s banks. “We have established a good relationship with the farmers and the fisherman,” said Lucea. “They know we are not the enemy and we are just here to help them.” When the Marines arrived here earlier this year, locals were sometimes abrasive and rude with Marines when they searched their vehicles along the waterways. Now, the locals are cooperative with the Marines and realize they are protecting them and their families, said Lucea. Although heat, insurgent attacks and the occasional uncooperative local makes the job challenging, Metallo said he still enjoys patrolling the waterways in the boats that come with twin turbo-charged diesel engines. “These boats can stop on a dime even when they are going full speed,” said Metallo, who is a physics teacher at Inglewood High School in Jacksonville, Fla. Now, Metallo and Lucea said they are looking forward to returning to their civilian lives in a few short months, but they will miss the Marines they met in their unit. “I have always wanted to be a school teacher and a Marine, now I get to do both,” said Metallo. “Plus I got to ride cool boats while I was in Iraq.”

U.S. Military Recruiting Statistics

The Department of Defense has announced its recruiting and retention statistics by the active and reserve components for the month of June. Active duty recruiting. All services exceeded their recruiting goals in June. The Army recruited 8,756 out of a goal of 8,600 (102 percent). The Navy recruited 3,961 out of a goal of 3,961 (100 percent). The Marine Corps recruited 4,357 out of a goal of 4,129 (105 percent). The Air Force recruited 2,564 out of a goal of 2,548 (101 percent). Active duty retention. All services are projected to meet their retention goals for the current fiscal year. Reserve forces recruiting. Accession data includes: Recruiting + Active to Reserve Transitions + IRR to Unit Transfers. Five of six Reserve components met or exceeded their accession goals for May 2006.

* Army National Guard: Recruited 5,823 out of a goal of 5,743 (101 percent)
* Army Reserves: Recruited 5,640 out of a goal of 4,661 (121 percent)
* Navy Reserves: Recruited 970 of of a goal of 1,021 (95 percent)
* Marine Corps Reserves: Recruited 1,315 out of a goal of 1,281 (103 percent)
* Air National Guard: Recruited 880 out of a goal of 742 (119 percent)
* Air Force Reserves: Recruited 607 out of a goal of 605 (100 percent)

Reserve forces retention. For June, Army National Guard retention was 122 percent of the cumulative goal of 25,239, and Air National Guard retention was 108 percent of its cumulative goal of 7,121. Both the Army and Air Guard are currently at 96 and 99 percent of their end strength, respectively. Losses in all reserve components for May are well within acceptable limits. Indications are that trend will continue into June.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Military Shoots Down Missile In Test

After several failed test shots and a seven-year flight hiatus, the Army's Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense missile system (THAAD) hit a Hera ballistic missile target this morning over the White Sands range in New Mexico. "It was quite spectacular," said Lockheed Martin vice president Tom McGrath, who manages the $10-billion program. "This flight main goal was to charge the seeker and have the radar perform discrimination [telling the target from background objects]. Both were completely successful. In addition, we did have an intercept." THAAD, like its smaller cousin the Raytheon Patriot Advanced Capability-3, is designed to destroy its target by hitting it rather than exploding near it. The Lockheed Martin system will complement the Patriot in providing last-ditch defense against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, such as those tested by North Korea in recent weeks.Today's successful test comes after a massive program restructuring precipitated by early poor performance. Between 1995 and 1998, THAAD missiles missed their targets in five consecutive tests. The program was suspended in 1999 and resumed ground and flight testing in November. THAAD's failures echo the mixed performances of several U.S. missile defense systems. The Missile Defense Agency's long-range ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California that were put on alert to shoot down North Korean missiles haven't hit a test target since 2002. An Air Force plane designed to shoot down missiles using a powerful laser has been downgraded to an experiment, with no plans to field the system. Test failures don't surprise missile defense expert Philip Coyle, an advisor to the Center for Defense Information in Washington, D.C. Considering the unforgiving physics of missile trajectories, Coyle likens hitting a ballistic missile to scoring a hole-in-one in golf. And if the missile is equipped with decoys or descends in a cloud of debris, as is common, intercepting it is like "hitting a hole-in-one when there are a bunch of black dots on the green and you can't tell which one is the hole." The Hera target in today's THAAD test used no decoys and did not simulate debris. Still, McGrath calls the test "representative". The Army had been hoping to have THAAD battery ready for deployment as early as 1999, but now anticipates fielding the system "in a few years," according to McGrath. In coming months, THAAD testing will move to a missile range off of Hawaii for several more flights at longer ranges. Beginning with the next flight, all THAAD systems will be operated by regular Army personnel instead of industry testers.

Viking Ship Replica Too Big For The Oslo Fjord

The world's largest Viking ship will sail from Denmark to Norway next week, but it's too big to navigate its way into the Oslo Fjord. The upcoming voyage of the Havhingsten will thus end at Tønsberg, about a 90-minute drive south of the capital but a city rich in its own Viking history. Norway's two original Viking ships, the Gokstad and Oseberg vessels, were themselves excavated in areas not far from Tønsberg. The Danish vessel, at a length of 30 meters, is bigger than both of them, and needs plenty of room to navigate with its single sail and oarsmen. "The vessel was supposed to sail to Oslo, but it would have been a terribly long and difficult rowing effort to get it in the fjord," Knut Paasche of the Viking Ships Museum in Oslo told newspaper Aftenposten. "To cross such a large ship with the help of a sail against the wind in narrow waters isn't simple. That's why we opted for Tønsberg."
The Danish vessel Havhingsten was built as a copy of a ship from the 11th century.
It took four years to build the Havhingsten in oak, modelled as closely as possible on archaeological findings that the Danes have made in their own Rosekilde fjord. It was built using ancient principles and the types of tools available in the 11th century, and was christened by Denmark's Queen Margrethe in September 2004. The vessel has room for 60 oarsmen. Its sail is made of linen and measures 118 square meters. It will have a crew of 65 on board when it arrives in Tønsberg on July 21, many of whom will be relieved by other oarsmen for the return voyage to Denmark. The unique vessel will test the waters of the North Sea on its way home, part of efforts to determine its seaworthiness for a planned expedition to Dublin via the Orkney Islands next year. The ship on which the Havhingsten was modelled was built there in 1042.

Man Says Indian Seizure Of Boat Unfair

A Minnesota fisherman on a quest to get his boat back after it was confiscated on the Red Lake Indian Reservation could challenge tribal laws. Jerry Mueller was fishing on Red Lake when he crossed an invisible eight-mile line that is the boundary between the state's property and the reservation's.State Rep. Sondra Erickson organized a meeting with the state's Department of Natural Resources, elected officials and angling activists to try to stop the practice. We're one nation under God, and I don't think we should have any divisions in our state or in our nation, so I think the state of Minnesota has jurisdiction over all the navigable waters in Minnesota, Erickson says.Erickson believes the 70 year old treaty the DNR is using is being interpreted incorrectly, and that Minnesota has ownership of the lake. Other individuals say their vehicles have been confiscated for crossing reservation boundaries. The DNR says it is following the treaty, which allows the tribe to enforce the boundary. To change the terms, the governor and the federal government would also have to become legally involved. Attendees at Erickson�s meeting say they are trying to schedule meetings to start that process.

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