Saturday, September 30, 2006

Japanese Fishing Ship Sinks After Collision

The Japanese registered fishing ship the "Ryoei Maro", damaged in a collision with a Thai vessel, off the coast of Angoche district, in the northern Mozambican province of Nampula, sank according to the Angoche maritime authorities, cited by the Maputo daily "Noticias". The Mozambican authorities are working to rescue the 22 crew members of the "Ryoei Maru" (seven Japanese and 15 Indonesians), who had been transferred to the Thai ship, "Tengone BH3102", after the collision, which occurred in the small hours of the morning. The rescue boat, hired by the Angoche Maritime Administration from a local fishing company, left to the site of the accident, some 46 miles off the coast, at about 06:00 on Thursday morning, carrying a team from the immigration and customs services, the Maritime Administration itself, and the Angoche district government, plus some sailors of the Mozambican navy.
Ryoei Maru
Communications with the rescue boat are impossible because its radio equipment broke down months ago. An alternative system was being used, but it too has broken down. Until the collision, the Mozambican authorities knew nothing about the presence of either of these two fishing ships in Mozambican waters, and it is believed that they were fishing illegally. In the case of the Japanese vessel, this might be difficult to prove since its catch is now at the bottom of the Mozambique Channel. The causes of the accident are as yet unknown, but the weather on the day of the collision was bad, with thick fog and strong winds.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Australian Navy's New Patrol Boats Facing Problems

A possible safety problem with the engines of some of Australia's naval patrol boats has forced a halt to their operation. The Maritime Commander Australia, Rear Admiral Davyd Thomas, has directed "an operational pause" of the Navy's Armidale Class Patrol Boats because of a possible safety issue with the main engine fuel system. The cause of the problem was not yet known, however, investigations were currently being conducted, he said in a statement. The Navy said it was using other methods to ensure Australia's maritime borders were protected. "The safety of our personnel is paramount, and prudent safety measures are being taken until the cause of the problem is determined," Rear Admiral Thomas said.There are five Armidale class patrol boats in operation. The Armidale, Bathurst, Bundaberg, Albany and Pirie are the Navy's newest patrol boats on the water. Compared to the Navy's other patrol boats, the Fremantle Class, the Armidales are more than 14 metres longer, with a longer range and endurance. The Armidales are credited with substantially improving the Royal Australian Navy's capability to intercept and apprehend vessels suspected of illegal fishing and quarantine, customs or immigration offences. The Armidale patrol boats carry a crew of 21.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Historic Duluth Foghorn Dismantled

The foghorn in the Duluth harbor will bellow no more. Members of TOOT, the nonprofit group that owns the horn, Started to take apart the huge brass, steel and iron diaphone horn, which became unusable after its antiquated electrical wiring failed late last year. Eric Ringsred, one of TOOT's founders, blames the city and the U.S. Coast Guard for the loss of the foghorn. "We're removing it because of a total lack of commitment," he said. "Partnering with the Coast Guard and the city was a bad idea to start with." Chief Mark Brookmole, the officer in charge of the Coast Guard's Aids to Navigation team in Duluth, said he couldn't justify the cost of restoring the old-style wiring to the pier where the foghorn sits.The Coast Guard has replaced the foghorn with a much smaller, higher-pitched horn some traditionalists have derided as a "peanut horn." Brookmole said the city had the option of funding the wiring restoration on its own. Dick Larson, Duluth's director of public works, estimates that repowering the pier would have cost about $15,000. Larson said the Coast Guard told the city that if it wanted to keep operating the old foghorn as a navigation aide, it should assume responsibility for all round-the-clock foghorn operations and liability for maritime accidents related to the foghorn's operation. "That was something the city was not willing to do," Larson said.

Greek Coast Guard Dumps 40 Illegal Immigrants In Turkish Waters

Turkish lawyer Noyan Ozkan has applied to the Turkish branch of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refuges (UNHCR) over an incident in which a group of illegal immigrants accused the Greek authorities of throwing them into the sea. On Tuesday night, 31 immigrants were rescued by Turkish Coast Guard off the Turkish coast near the western Turkish city of Izmir. Those rescued by Turkish officials claimed that Greek officials stopped their boat as they were trying to land on a Greek island named Chios, taking them back toward the Turkish coast before dumping them overboard.Noyan Ozkan, former head of the Izmir Bar Association, said that he applied to UNHCR for an investigation into the incident, labeling the treatment of the refugees as ‘inhuman'. In his petition, the lawyer requested a committee of experts to be set up to probe the claims and take the statements of the illegal immigrants. At least six immigrants were drowned while trying to swim to shore, while two others were missing when the boat carrying 39 illegal immigrants sank in the Aegean Sea on Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tokyo Rose Dies In Chicago

Iva Toguri D'Aquino, who was convicted and later pardoned of being World War II propagandist "Tokyo Rose," died Tuesday of natural causes, said her nephew, William Toguri. She was 90. Tokyo Rose was the name given by soldiers to a female radio broadcaster responsible for anti-American transmissions intended to demoralize soldiers fighting in the Pacific theater. D'Aquino was the only U.S. citizen identified among the potential suspects. In 1949, she became the seventh person to be convicted of treason in American history and served six years in prison. But doubts about her possible role as Tokyo Rose later surfaced and she was pardoned by President Gerald Ford in 1977.D'Aquino was born in Los Angeles on July 4, 1916, to Japanese immigrant parents. She began to use the first name Iva during her school years. D'Aquino had recently graduated from UCLA and was visiting relatives in Japan when she became trapped in the country at the beginning of World War II, according to a statement from a Toguri family spokeswoman, Barbara Trembley. D'Aquino began working odd jobs to support herself while trying to find a way out of the country. That led to her work on a Japanese propaganda radio show manned by Allied prisoners called "Zero Hour," the statement said. Using the name "Orphan Ann," D'Aquino performed comedy skits and introduced newscasts. On April 19, 1945, D'Aquino married a Portuguese citizen of Japanese-Portuguese ancestry.The FBI and the Army conducted an extensive investigation to determine whether D'Aquino had committed crimes against the U.S. Authorities decided that the evidence then known did not merit prosecution, and she was released. A subsequent public furor convinced the Justice Department that the matter should be re-examined and D'Aquino was arrested in Yokohama in 1945 and tried. D'Aquino spent the years following her release from prison living a quiet life on Chicago's North Side. Ron Yates, dean of the College of Communications at the University of Illinois, is credited with helping win the pardon.

WWI Hero Buried

A Cincinnati man long listed as missing in action in World War I has finally returned home. Pvt. Francis Lupo, of Cincinnati, Ohio, was killed on July 21, 1918, during an attack on German forces near Soissons, France. His remains were discovered by a French archaeologist in 2003 and identified by scientists from the Pentagon's Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory. He was 23 years old when he was killed.
Pvt. Francis Lupo's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery
Pvt. Lupo was interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. An Army honor guard carried him to his final resting place, while French military officers greeted family members as they sat at graveside. Larry Greer, a Pentagon spokesman on POW-MIA issues, said it was the first time the remains of a World War I service member have been recovered and identified since the Pentagon established an office in the 1960s with the specific mission of identifying war dead from abroad. He said available government records do not indicate when or whether World War I remains had been recovered and identified prior to the 1960s. Lupo was a member of Company E, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division when his unit fought as part of a combined French-American attack on German forces near Soissons in what came to be known as the Second Battle of the Marne.Some have called that battle a turning point in the war, halting German advances toward Paris. Of the 1st Infantry Division's 12,228 infantry officers and enlisted soldiers who fought in the Second Battle of the Marne, all but 3,923 were killed, wounded, taken prisoner or listed as missing, according to a Pentagon historical report. Lupo was reported missing-in-action, and no witness report or statement concerning the circumstances of his loss appears in the available records, the Pentagon report said. Lupo's name was memorialized on the list of missing soldiers inscribed on the walls of the memorial chapel at the Aisne-Marne American Military Cemetery near the village of Belleau, not far from where he was killed.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Navy Donates Secret Ship

The Navy is giving away some of its Cold War secrets - for free. The Sea Shadow, an experimental stealth ship, and the Hughes Mining Barge, built for the CIA in a failed super-secret scheme to raise a sunken Soviet missile sub, could become a tourist attraction near you. As part of its ship donation program, the Navy will hand over the once top-secret vessels to a state, local government or non-profit group willing to open a floating museum with the vessels. Ships "are really wonderful platforms for education," said Jeffrey Nilsson, executive director of the Historic Naval Ships Association, based in Smithfield.
Sea Shadow (IX 529)
The Navy has given away 47 aircraft carriers, battleships, destroyers, submarines and other vessels since World War II. They are spread around 21 states from North Carolina to Hawaii and as far inland as Omaha, Neb. "Donations are done to preserve naval history and educate the public," said Katie Dunnigan, a Navy spokeswoman. Currently, 12 warships are available, including two carriers and two battleships. Sea Shadow, built during the early 1980s, incorporated stealth technology to make it virtually invisible to radar. For years, the Navy tested it only at night to stymie prying eyes and Soviet satellites. With its sloping sides, engines placed in submerged pontoons and painted black, the 164-foot-long Sea Shadow looks like no other ship afloat. In 1995, federal agents arrested a civilian engineer selling its secrets. He went to prison. The Sea Shadow was so secret it was built and housed inside the Hughes Mining Barge.The barge has its own secret past. At the CIA's behest, reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes built the barge during the early 1970s to hold a sunken Soviet sub that the spy agency hoped to recover from the seabed. The recovery was unsuccessful. The submarine broke apart while being lifted by the Glomar Explorer, a specially designed ship also built by Hughes at CIA expense. Sea Shadow and the barge, both anchored near San Francisco, come as a package deal, the Navy says, two-for-one. Despite the Navy's free offer, it can cost several million dollars to tow, renovate, paint, berth and maintain a donated warship. "This isn't the easiest thing to do," Nilsson said. "It separates the men from the boys." If the Navy doesn't get any takers? They could be scrapped, turned into an artificial reef or used for target practice.
Hughes Mining Barge

Monday, September 25, 2006

Counterfeit 100 Dollars Bills Found in Bag From North Korean Ship

Customs officers, prefectural police and the Japan Coast Guard searched a North Korean cargo ship at Sakai Port in Sakaiminato, Tottori Prefecture, on suspicion of violating the Customs Law by bringing two counterfeit bills into the country. According to the authorities, the ship, Kum Gang 1, and its 17-man crew entered the port Tuesday. A representative of an export company in Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, received 300 100 dollars bills from the ship's captain, two of which allegedly were counterfeit. Smuggling counterfeit money into the country is illegal.
Japanese customs authorities board the North Korean cargo ship Kum Gang 1
The captain explained to the authorities that a North Korean company left the bills with him when leaving North Korea as payment for the commercial transaction between the North Korean company and the export company in Maizuru. An official of the Kobe Custom's Sakai branch at the port stopped the export company representative, who tried to leave the port without making a declaration required by the Customs Law after receiving the money. The official checked the bills in the bag he had and found the two counterfeits among the 300 bills. The search started at about 1 pm and lasted for an hour. Twenty-six officials of the three authorities boarded the 298-ton ship to examine its bow, bridge, cabins and other parts of the ship requesting information from the crew. The cargo ship, which carried marine products, is scheduled to leave the port Monday.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Navy's First Littoral Combat Ship Launched In Northern Wisconsin

A new class of U.S. Navy warships was launched in northern Wisconsin. The littoral combat ship, named USS Freedom (LCS-1), was designed and built by a team led by Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin. The company said it would help the Navy defeat growing littoral, or close-to-shore, threats. The warship made a side-launch at Marinette Marine Corp. into the Menominee River, which divides Wisconsin and Michigan. The 377-foot ship, whose speed can reach more than 40 knots, will act as a platform for launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles, according to the Department of Defense. Its modular design will allow the ship to be reconfigured for anti-submarine warfare, mine warfare or surface warfare missions, the department said.
USS Freedom, a littoral combat ship, is launched at Marinette Marine Shipyard in Marinette, Wis.
The Navy contracted the team in 2004 to develop the ship. The team includes naval architect Gibbs & Cox, ship builders Marinette Marine Corporation, a subsidiary of The Manitowoc Company, Inc. and Bollinger Shipyards. USS Freedom will be manned by one of two rotational crews. One of the commanding officer's is Cmdr. Donald Gabrielson, who was born in northern Minnesota and graduated from the U.S. Navy Academy in 1989. The other commanding officer is Cmdr. Michael Doran, who was born in Harrisonville, Mo., and graduated from Villanova University in 1989. When the Navy commissions the ship next year, it will be based at Naval Station San Diego, Calif. It will continue to undergo outfitting and testing at Marinette Marine.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Historic Soviet Shipwreck Found

Russian divers say they have found the wreck of a Soviet ship which sank attempting a historic journey along the Arctic coast in 1934. The Chelyuskin was trapped in ice as it tried to complete a voyage from Murmansk in north-western Russia to Vladivostok in the Pacific Ocean. It was supposed to show that a normal vessel - rather than an icebreaker - could complete the journey. More than 100 of the crew were rescued by pilots who were hailed as heroes.The Chelyuskin was supposed to make history. It did, but not for the reason that Soviet propagandists had had in mind. Russia's north coast is free of ice for only a few months in the summer. It makes delivering vital supplies to Arctic communities a huge challenge. As the Chelyuskin neared the end of its journey in December 1933, it became trapped in ice. It sank in February 1934. But a failure became a triumph after the rescue operation. After an unsuccessful attempt to find the Chelyuskin two years ago, divers say they have now located it. Artefacts from the wreck are to be sent to Denmark, where the ship was built, to confirm its identity.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Last Winter for 1897 Steam Tugboat?

A National Register-listed steam tugboat built in 1897 could be facing its last winter. Docked in Rugout Creek in Kingston, N.Y., the Catawissa, a 158-foot-long coal-hauling boat, has been deteriorating for years. "That creek is a hard creek, and it freezes hard, so we're afraid it will crack the hull," says Huntley Gill, trustee of the Tugboat Preservation Project, a not-for-profit based in New York City. Gill is also involved with the Kingston's North River Tugboat Museum, not yet open to the public, which sued the state of New York to win ownership of the vessel in 2001. "We're desperately trying to find someone who would take on this project."The Catawissa should be moved by early November, Gill says. Stabilizing the boat will cost between $500,000 and $1.5 million, according to Maine surveyor Charles Deroko, and restoration will cost $5 million. "Even though she's not very intact, and she's not in good condition, this is the last of her type," Gill says. If a buyer doesn't step forward this fall, Gill says, the Catawissa will be stripped of its valuable parts and sunk as a reef.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Navy Town Lifts Ban On Tattoo Parlors

A half-century-long ban on tattoos has ended in Norfolk, the home of the world's largest Naval base. Norfolk City Council approved an ordinance yesterday allowing tattoo parlors in limited areas of the city -- a few industrial zones and downtown. Courts have ruled that cities may no longer prohibit tattoo parlors. Sixty years ago, Norfolk's East Main Street was world famous for its many tattoo parlors, taverns and burlesque palaces.That ended in 1950 when the City Council approved a city-wide ban on tattoo parlors. Tattoos were branded unsanitary and generally undesirable, even "vulgar and cannibalistic." The Navy now heavily regulates tattoos. Its policy forbids tattoos in places not covered up by uniform and regulates the types of tattoos members may have. The vote was ceremonial for one tattoo parlor, which has been implanting pigment into the skin of customers in Norfolk since last week.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Navy Muslim Chaplain Finds His Calling In America

Newly promoted Navy Lt. Cmdr. Abuhena M. Saifulislam had always wanted to serve Islam, even as a young boy growing up in Bangladesh. “Islam is not just a religion to Muslims. It is a way of life,” Saifulislam said. “That’s how I was brought up.” Saifulislam, now 44, realized his dream. Today, he tends to servicemembers’ spiritual needs as the second Muslim chaplain commissioned in the U.S. Navy. His current duty station is Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England promoted Saifulislam during a Sept. 11 Pentagon ceremony. Saifulislam also received a Joint Service Commendation Medal, his second, for his work this June at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There, he performed death rites for three Muslim detainees who’d committed suicide.The Muslim chaplain was also at Guantanamo when the detention facility first opened in early 2001. He was the only Muslim chaplain there at the time, he recalled, and he set up the diet and prayer regimes for the detainees. Saifulislam took an indirect path to his current calling. He immigrated to the United States in 1989, after earning a Master’s degree in commerce in Bangladesh. He enlisted in the Navy as a payroll specialist in 1992 with dreams of becoming an officer — something he couldn’t yet do because he wasn’t a U.S. citizen. Saifulislam became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1995. Three years later, he signed up for a chaplain’s candidate program that offered a commission as well as a way to serve his fellow Muslims’ spiritual needs. “When I came to America I realized that I had to make an effort to be faithful to my religion,” he said. People shouldn’t associate the worship of Islam with the so-called religious theology espoused by terrorists like Osama bin Laden, Saifulislam said. “Terrorism has no religion, and no religion condones terrorism,” he said. “These terrorists just happen to be Muslims.” Saifulislam’s personal loyalty is firmly aligned with his adopted country, he said, noting his 6-year-old daughter was born in the United States.“My wife is an American; my sister is an American; my nephews and nieces are Americans,” he said. “If I don’t defend them, who is going to defend them?” Today, 8 to 10 million Muslims live in the United States. “They love to live in this country, and other Muslims are trying to come here,” Saifulislam said. U.S. Muslims are as patriotic as any other group, he said. Many of the world’s troubles today seem to be caused by cultural misunderstandings, Saifulislam observed. “The world is becoming so small,” he pointed out. “It is not a choice that we learn how to live together -- it is a necessity. It is always to our advantage when we learn about others.” Terrorism is evil and teaches nothing but destruction and death as it seeks to divide the world’s people, Saifulislam said. That’s why he said he’s committed to preventing Islam from being subverted to serve the terrorists’ agenda. “My fight with them is to protect my religion from that type of hijacking,” Saifulislam concluded.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Kissing Sailor Thwarts Burglary

A South Florida retiree who claims to be the "kissing sailor" made famous in a 1945 Life magazine photo thwarted an apparent burglary attempt in his home, pinning down an intruder until police arrived. Carl Muscarello, 80, said he and his wife had left open the garage door after they returned home. Two strangers entered shortly afterward.
Kissing Sailor
Muscarello, a retired New York City detective, said he was in the bedroom when he heard his 67-year-old wife scream from the kitchen. Running to investigate, Muscarello said he saw a man swinging a golf club at his 36-year-old stepson. One of the intruders ran out the front door, but Muscarello managed to subdue the other. "I jumped on this man's back and put a chokehold on him. I was surprised I could do it," said Muscarello. "I had him pinned down to the concrete by the pool floor when the police got here. He said, 'Let me go - I'll give you plenty of money'."
Carl Muscarello
Additional details from Plantation police about the arrest were not available. Muscarello claims to be the tall, dark-haired sailor photographed kissing a nurse in Times Square during street celebrations of the Japanese surrender on Aug. 14, 1945. Several men have purported to be that sailor, but the woman Life identified in 1980 as the nurse has said she believes Muscarello is the one she smooched. "I often happen to be at a strange place at a strange time," Muscarello said.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sri Lankan Navy Sinks Tiger Ship, Kills Crew Of 15

Sri Lankan battleships and warplanes intercepted an Tamil Tiger rebel weapons shipment off the island’s restive eastern coast yesterday, sinking the ship and killing up to 15 insurgents, military officials said. The vessel’s crew had refused to identify themselves, but hoisted a rebel flag during an eight-hour sea battle, before being bombed and sunk around 120 nautical miles (220 kilometers) off the eastern coast of Batticaloa district, officials said. Navy commander D.K.P. Dassanayake said the ship was carrying about 12-15 insurgents. He said there were no navy casualties. The ship, allegedly carrying artillery and missiles, is believed to have been headed for the Sampur area, which government troops captured from the Tigers earlier this month. The rebels had warned that the move was a grave violation of a 2002 cease-fire and threatened retaliation.
Tamil Tiger rebel flag
The navy assault was reinforced by gunboats and fighter planes, said chief military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe. A handful of rebels kept up resistance for several hours until the damaged vessel went under, he said. Analysts say the LTTE gets arms from manufacturers in China, Cambodia, Burma and states that were part of the former Soviet Union. They say the arms are transferred at sea from large merchant ships, some owned by companies with links to the rebels, to small craft. Tamil Tiger officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Sri Lankan Naval vessel
In other violence yesterday, suspected Tamil Tiger rebels detonated a roadside bomb near Sri Lankan forces on foot patrol, wounding four, the military said. The roadside explosion, on a major supply route in the eastern Trincomalee district, injured a soldier, a guard and two civilians, the Defense Ministry’s Media Center for National Security said. All four were being treated in hospital, it said. In the violence-ridden northern Jaffna Peninsula, an employee with the Ceylon Electricity Board was killed and two others were wounded on Saturday night when their company vehicle came under fire, the military said.
Sri Lankan Naval vessel
Unidentified gunmen on motorcycles shot and killed a 36-year-old shop keeper and father of three just outside of Jaffna town, witnesses said. Earlier in the day, the guerrillas carried out artillery and mortar attacks against two military bases in the island’s east and troops retaliated in kind, the Defense Ministry said. It said there were no casualties among troops. There was no word from the Tigers about the ground fighting. Tamil Tiger rebels yesterday accused government soldiers in concert with paramilitary units of killing nearly 100 civilians in Jaffna this month.

Mystery Ghost Ship Found Floating

A half eaten meal, charts of the Mediterranean and piles of clothes were found on board an empty US$600,000 twin masted sailing vessel discovered floating off the Italian coast. Police are investigating the mystery, which was discovered by coastguards on a routine patrol. The 66-foot vessel had no name and no other identification markings and a punctured tender boat was still on board. The schooner - which was described by coastguards as of a 'classic' design - was found drifting off the coast of Punta Volpe on the island of Sardinia. Strong currents were pushing it towards rocks and coastguards boarded the vessel just in time and managed to attach a line and tow it to the port of Olbia where it was being examined. A coastguard spokesman said that they and police were trying to establish whether the yacht had been intentionally abandoned and what had happened to the crew.Officials had discovered a plaque with the name 'Bel Amica' but said that initial checks with shipping registers had found no yacht with that name. No vessels have been reported missing or stolen, which has added to the mystery. Yesterday, a spokesman at the harbour-master's office in Olbia said: 'At the moment the discovery is a complete mystery and we are investigating with police. 'There was no name and no registration markings or documents were found, but a proper search is now being carried out with the yacht in harbour. 'She is in perfect condition and is a very valuable classic twin-masted schooner. 'It gave the impression of being abandoned very quickly, but for what reason we just don't know.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sailor Reunited With Hat 27 Years After Losing It

One cold, rain-swept night in 1979, tethered to the deck of the nuclear attack submarine USS Birmingham (SSN-695) entering Hampton Roads Harbor, sonar technician Jeff Harris was hit by a wind-whipped wave that snatched his ship's ball cap. Months later, while walking along Chesapeake Boulevard beach in Hampton, Will Miller, a Vietnam veteran and Navy commander, happened upon Harris' cap, half-buried in the sand. Knowing how important a ship's cap is to its owner, Miller salvaged the hat, hoping one day to find its owner. The cap was packed away for years but recently resurfaced at Miller's Florida home. "It suddenly fell out of a box onto my computer keyboard, right in front of me," said Miller. "I guess it was telling me, 'It's time to get me home."An extensive Internet search led Miller to a USS Birmingham Web site and finally to Harris. The two sent e-mails back and forth, and one night Miller's phone rang. "This is Jeff Harris," the voice on the phone said. "You have my hat!" The two sailors talked for almost half an hour, exchanging sea stories, the common bond between mariners. "Most non-seagoing folks wouldn't appreciate how attached a sailor gets to his hat," Miller said. "Your hat protects you from sun, wind, salt and cold, and when you lose it, especially one with your ship's name on it, it's a big thing. I'm delighted to get it back to Jeff."

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Risky Antartica Cruise

The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition has asked the United States to seek environmental evaluation of a proposed visit by a giant cruise ship to Antarctica. Forest & Bird, which is a coalition member, has concerns that the visit by the Golden Princess this summer could end in disaster. At 109,000 tonnes, the Golden Princess would be by far the largest tourist vessel to ever visit Antarctica. It can carry 3700 people – the largest number of people to ever visit Antarctica in a single vessel, and more than the total peak population of all 37 stations in Antarctica put together. If the vessel got into trouble, rescue of that many people from Antarctic waters would be virtually impossible.Forest & Bird Antarctic spokesperson Debs Martin says the six days the Golden Princess plans to spend in Antarctic waters includes vulnerable environments with high ecological values, where hydrographic charting is patchy. The Golden Princess is not believed to be ice strengthened. “The visit by the Golden Princess appears to be inviting misadventure, both in terms of the potential for loss of human life and severe environmental damage on a huge scale if anything goes wrong,” Debs Martin says. “Tragically, New Zealanders know from our experience of the Erebus disaster the cost in terms of human life that can occur in Antarctica. We would urge the United States to think very carefully about the potential for another disaster.” The coalition has asked the United States to require a Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation from the California-based cruise company Princess Cruises before the visit goes ahead. Such evaluations can be sought if a proposal involves potential impact that will be more than minor or transitory, and would allow other Antarctic Treaty nations including New Zealand to have their say.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Cargo Ship Runs Aground In Port Everglades

A cargo ship from Nassau, Bahamas, ran aground in Port Everglades near Fort Lauderdale. The U.S. Coast Guard was called to the scene to assess the situation. Lt. Cmdr. Chris O'Neil said the ship -- named Clipper Lasco -- is carrying a cargo of bauxite, which is generally processed into aluminum. There were nearly 30,000 metric tons of bauxite on the ship. O'Neil said the agency has not received any reports of pollution or injuries. The Coast Guard said the ship had no pilot and a crew of 15 to 20 people. It was carrying more than 300 metric tons of fuel.Coast Guard officials said the vessel was warned that it was in imminent danger of running aground and that despite being warned to alter its course, it kept going, Lewis reported. Capt. Timothy Morgan, of Seatow, said the ship might be stuck for days and that it could be a tough task to get it out. "The ship did go aground at high tide, which makes it a lot more difficult. We've been having extremely high tides lately, and at the time the vessel went aground it was pretty close right to the peak of high tide," Morgan said. It is unclear whether the ship ran aground on the coral reef or sand. The Coast Guard said that if the reef was hit or damaged, there could be penalties based on whether it was caused by mechanical failure or human error.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Chaplain 'Afraid' Over Ship Porn

A naval chaplain has told a tribunal in Devon he did not tell anyone about pornography on two war ships because he was afraid of the consequences. The Rev Mark Sharpe, 37, is claiming sexual harassment and discrimination against the MoD on the grounds of religious affiliation. The Exeter hearing has heard he left HMS Albion and HMS Manchester because of the pornography. The Navy has admitted sexual harassment but denies discrimination.The Navy claims Mr Sharpe only raised complaints about pornography when he had decided to leave the service, for the reason that he was missing his wife and home. MoD counsel Wendy Outhwaite asked him on Wednesday why he did not tell anyone about the pornography while he was aboard the ships. "At that stage I was frightened as to what could happen to me," Mr Sharpe said. Ms Outhwaite said: "You knew if you raised a complaint properly action would be taken, but you decided not to."
HMS Albion
Mr Sharpe replied: "The reality is real life falls short of that expectation. Many people felt intimidated and afraid." Asked whether he was not blaming everything on pornography he told the tribunal: "The pornography was horrendous, it was vile. The violence was terrifying." Denying a suggestion from counsel that he was exaggerating the situation, he said: "I was lying there feeling physically sick at the sound of what was going on." He told the tribunal he had also witnessed a knife fight and people throwing glasses at each other, adding: "I was terrified." "I was upset by the violence, pornography and offensive sexual behaviour," he said, adding that he had seen part of a "naked mess session". Mr Sharpe, from Tenbury, Worcestershire, made complaints after leaving HMS Manchester, and investigations started. He told the tribunal his position in the Navy "had become untenable because of the comments which were being made about me". One, he said, was that he was "homophobic" because of his complaints about the "naked mess" at sea. Mr Sharpe, a former police officer, left assault ship HMS Albion and the destroyer HMS Manchester after two weeks and 10 days respectively, the tribunal was told. The hearing continues.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Comoros Ship Sinks With 53 On Board, 22 Survivors

A Comorian ship carrying 53 passengers sank on its way from Madagascar to Comoros, with at least 22 survivors, a police source said. The al Mubarak left the Madagascan port of Mahajanga on Friday but had not arrived in the Comorian capital of Moroni on Monday, said Roland Andreas, director of investigations at the state secretariat for public security.
Moroni, Comoros
“We lost contact with the boat when it was between the islands of Moheli and Mayotte,” he said, adding that 17 of the passengers were from Malagasy citizens. French sailors, requested to help by the Comorian government, found one survivor, then another 21. They then found another lifeboat with an unknown number of passengers aboard.

Rising Fuel Costs Tighten Air Force Belt

The growing cost of crude oil combined with increasing fuel demands of the war on terrorism are forcing Air Combat Command officials to brace for a budget crisis while looking for future fuel alternatives. The Air Force paid approximately $4.2 billion for petroleum in fiscal 2005 -- almost $1.4 billion more than fiscal 2004, according to the 28th edition of the Defense Energy Support Center Fact Book. The price of fuel has gone up even more since 2005. BP was the Defense Department's No. 1 fuel provider that year based upon the lowest price, said Robert Wine, a BP spokesman. Mr. Wine attributed the rising cost of fuel to worldwide supply and demand, uncertainty in the petroleum market, and political tension. Only 12 months ago the Air Force was paying approximately $1.74 per gallon for JP-8 (aviation fuel), said Sheila Flemings, ACC flying-hour cost program analyst. Today's price reflects a 31 percent increase to $2.53 per gallon.The budget crisis of fiscal 2005 unfolded when the Air Force was paying the cheaper $1.74 per gallon. ACC faced a shortfall then of $825 million in must-pay funds. That very year, Ms. Flemings said ACC consumed more than 501 million gallons of fuel alone. That comes out to more than $747 million spent on JP-8. Now, with a 31-percent increase in fuel cost since that time and a budget that continues to shrink, the Air Force and ACC are required to make significant changes just to operate. "The shrinking budget has caused the Air Force to reduce the funding available for flying hours used to train ACC aircrews," said John Cilento, ACC flying-hour program analyst. "ACC programs are based on the minimum requirements to train our aircrews, so any reduction is a loss of an already maxed-out training capability." Furthermore, Mr. Cilento said the Air Force Flying Hour Program budget will be reduced by 10 percent each year from fiscal 2008 to 2013. This equates to an annual reduction of $280-million worth in flying for ACC. "The biggest drain on our (funding) support is the (war on terrorism) is either not fully funded, or funded very late in the fiscal year," Ms. Flemings said.The continual flying-hour cuts not only hurt training, but also lower the combat readiness of the aircrews. Other significant impacts from the higher fuel costs include a reduction of operation and maintenance and quality of life for Airmen. Although aviation fuel is funded through a separate process, ground fuel is used for operations and maintenance and quality of life programs. So far, there are at least two options being considered to mitigate the fuel and budget crises in ACC. Unfortunately, both are fairly long-term. Mr. Cilento suggested one answer to the problem could be in high-fidelity simulators. HF simulators provide virtual, high-tech, realistic -- and in some cases, better -- training than actual sorties, he said. ACC is in the beginning stages of this initiative. Though they would be much cheaper in the long term (because of less maintenance and fuel cost), the upfront cost for HF simulators is high. Another potential solution being explored is the coal-to-jet-fuel initiative. The Air Force is already involved in a series of tests of the synthetic fuel. A B-52 Stratofortress from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., is scheduled for a test flight this month at Edwards AFB, Calif. During the test flight, two of the eight engines will run on a mixture of this synthetic fuel.Though experts disagree on whether the cost of this synthetic fuel will be competitive with fossil fuel, the "coal-made" synthetic fuel burns cleaner, according to Michael Aimone, Air Force assistant deputy chief of staff for logistics, installations and mission support. He said it emits no sulfur dioxide and pollutes much less than fossil fuel. Additionally, the United States has a coal reserve of about 500 billion tons, according to the National Mining Association, enough to "support a growing coal demand for over 200 years." But again, the cost is high up front to create facilities and plants to produce this synthetic fuel in large amounts. It takes years to build large plants for this purpose. Nonetheless, a long-term solution would benefit the Air Force more than any other organization. The Air Force Times reported the Defense Department is among the world's largest oil consumers. And within DOD, "the Air Force is the largest consumer of petroleum among the services." The DESC fact book numbers agree with the claim: The Army, Navy and Marines spent a combined total of $3.57 billion in fiscal 2005 on petroleum. The Air Force spent more than $4.2 billion that same year.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Iron Ore Ship Runs Aground In Port Hedland

An iron ore ship has run aground at Australia's largest tonnage port at Port Hedland in WA's Pilbara region. The 290-metre long vessel "Creciente" ran aground after breaking its moorings while loading ore in the early hours of this morning. Port Hedland resident Vic Watson says tidal conditions are creating problems for the full carrier.
"It was like a big bang woke us up, like someone belting a big empty drum with a sledge hammer," he said. "And then there was lots of pushing and pulling with tugs and then the next thing they actually pulled the ship back probably three of four hundred metres into the harbour. "Then the next thing they brought it back out to where it is now where it's stopped. "There's seven metres less water under it now than when it first got into trouble."

Monday, September 11, 2006

Rescued Fishermen Say Ship Ignored Them

Four fishermen rescued near the Marshall Islands after 34 days adrift in the Pacific say they were ignored by a passing fishing boat less than a week after being lost at sea. The three men and one woman from Micronesia drifted nearly 1,500km in their 3m boat and survived on fish and rainwater before being found by a Marshall Islands charter vessel.They told reporters before being flown home that five days after being blown off course in a storm, they were approached by an Asian fishing vessel with the identification plate J8HN2. They say the vessel came within 15m before motoring away, despite their pleas for help. The four say they saw five other vessels, but none came close enough to see them.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Australian Navy Expedition Attempts To Solve ‘Unknown Sailor’ Mystery

On 23 September 2006, a Navy team will arrive at Christmas Island in an attempt to locate the remains of an unknown sailor thought to be a crew member from HMAS Sydney that sank with all hands on 19 November 1941, announced the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, Bruce Billson. Announcing this archaeological expedition, Mr Billson said that since an earlier expedition in 2001, additional evidence has come to light warranting a further investigation of the possible site of the grave in the Old European Cemetery on Christmas Island thought to contain the unknown sailor. A Navy team composed of experienced and well-respected experts including an archaeologist, a physical anthropologist and two forensic odontologists will visit Christmas Island in an attempt to identify the grave site. If evidence of the grave is found it will be further investigated and an attempt made to exhume any remains. If remains are found, they will be brought to Sydney where a forensic pathologist will join the team to assist with identification.
HMAS Sydney
“As with any undertaking of this type, the likelihood of positive identification of the remains, if in fact any are found, are low,” Mr Billson said. The Royal Australian Navy’s cruiser HMAS Sydney was lost, with its crew of 645 men aboard, following an action with the German raider Kormoran. Early in February 1942, a carley float life-raft containing a body was recovered close inshore at Christmas Island. There were no personal effects or identifying items on the body although the clothing was consistent with that worn by Naval sailors. The body was examined by a medical practitioner and formally buried with military honours, in the old European Cemetery on Christmas Island. “For over 60 years people have speculated over who occupies this unmarked grave and indeed, where the grave is precisely located,” Mr Billson said. A Senate Committee report to Parliament in 1999 on the loss of HMAS Sydney concluded “…on the balance of probability, that the body and the carley float found off the shore of Christmas Island in February 1942 were most likely from HMAS Sydney.”
Christmas Island
In 2001, a Navy team assisted by an anthropologist and other forensic experts excavated a site identified by a resident of the Island in the post-war period. However, despite a large excavation, this search was unsuccessful. “Evidence in the form of a photograph taken by Mr Brian O’Shannassy in 1950 that may pinpoint the grave site location provides sufficient reason for the search to be resumed,” Mr Billson said. As one of only two witnesses remaining who have seen the actual grave site, Mr O’Shannassy will accompany the Navy team to Christmas Island to undertake this expedition. “Mr O’Shannassy’s ability to identify the grave location at the Ceremony may prove invaluable,” Mr Billson said.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

WWII Ship To Be Scrapped At Port

For the past several years a group of Navy veterans in Milwaukee have tried saving the USS Des Moines (CA-134). They even tried bringing it back as a tourist attraction, but when the city rejected the proposal the ship was forced to make it's way to the valley to be torn apart. "So once this vessel is dismantled and fully scraped there will be no more vessels of this class," Rafael Carrasco, CEO of ESCO Marine, said. ESCO Marine is only one of three companies approved for dismantling Navy ships. While the Des Moines holds historical value Carrasco, said this isn't the largest ship of its kind.
USS Des Moines (CA-134)
"So this one is a little bit smaller but because it is a combat ship it brings alot of different challenges to the table," he said. The challenges Carrasco refers to include removing the gun turrets and weapons. The ship was never used in battle, but it was one of the largest cruisers of it's time. The initial plan was to make it a museum, but an underwater survey showed it would be cheaper to make scrap metal out of the ship instead.
USS Des Moines (CA-134)
"I know that there are other vessels in line to become museums so they probably decided at some point that this was just not the right candidate and decided it was best to proceed with the ship dismantling," he said. Carrasco expects the process to take anywhere between 6 to 8 months to fully dismantle this piece of history. The ship had been on an unsuccessful donation hold for 14 years before the Navy made its decision. It's sister ship, the USS Salem (CA-139) has been preserved as an existing ship museum in Quincy, Massachusetts.
USS Salem (CA-139)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Sri Lankan Navy Rescues 34 Bangladeshis

Sri Lanka's Navy rescued 34 Bangladeshi nationals from a sinking ship off the island nation's southern coast, an official said. The vessel Amanth Sah was sailing from Myanmar in Southeast Asia to Mumbai, India, when it developed a technical failure close to the Sri Lankan coast in Koggala 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of the capital, navy spokesman Commander D.K.P Dassanayake said.
Sri Lankan Navy
While being towed to the southern Galle port, the ship started sinking because of rough seas, and the Sri Lankan navy was called in to help, said Jayalath Perera of Colombo Radio, which maintains radio contacts with vessels sailing close to Sri Lanka . The Bangladeshi ship was transporting timber to Mumbai and there were 34 people on board, Dassanayake said.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Missing Sailor Identified

A body of a man found in the English Channel is that of a sailor whose empty catamaran was found adrift. Paul Fairbank from Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire had been sailing from Salcombe to Cawsands in Devon when he went missing on Friday night.A massive hunt began for the sailor after his 24ft boat was found drifting towards rocks, near Plymouth. The 54-year-old's body was found near the river Erme on Saturday morning by an RAF helicopter.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Newest Army Recruits: The Over-35 Crowd

In an Army platoon where the average age is 21, they call him the old man. But when the platoon marched onto Range 18 one day last week in basic training, Pfc. Russell Dilling - at 42, the oldest-ever recruit in the modern Army - delivered. He was among a dozen of 60 recruits who dinged enough targets to qualify for the rifle certificate on his first try - a major psychological hurdle for would-be soldiers. Private Dilling's success on Range 18 was a quiet affirmation for a graying computer repairman given a second chance when the Army raised its enlistment age limit from 35 to 42 in June. "I told my sons never to have regrets," he says a day after the shooting test as he catches breaths at a team-building challenge course deep in the Fort Jackson woods. "Well, I finally took my own advice." In an era when professional athletes compete into their 40s, Congress approved the change to help the Army, which came up short in its recruiting effort in the first half of 2005. But some military experts say it's a criticism of the world's most powerful volunteer army that, for the first time, appears unable to rouse enough young men and women to do what has typically been a young person's job.
Army Private Russell Dilling, 42, is undertaking basic training in Fort Jackson, S.C. The Army in June raised its enlistment age limit from 35 to 42.
"In part, this decision is an indication of how difficult the recruiting environment is right now," says Representative Vic Snyder (D) of Arkansas, the ranking member on the Subcommittee on Military Personnel of the House Armed Services Committee. "But this pushing back of the age is also part of a changing society, a healthier and longer-living society, and Army standards ought to reflect that." So far, the move has had a minor effect on overall enlistment, with 405 recruits over age 35 and 11 over age 40 joining the Army. Still, the numbers are part of a brighter recruitment picture for the Army that made its quota for 14 straight months, according to Army officials at Fort Knox, Ky. The Army chose the new age cap to allow for a full 20-year military career before retirement at age 62, officials say. (The Army Reserves also raised its enlistment age limit to 42 in January.) Aging soldiers dusting off their fatigues and heading back to war is not new. When one National Guard helicopter unit from South Carolina flew to Iraq in 2003, six pilots had flown missions in Vietnam. But there's a reason recruits are called "fresh-faced." Most have never been exposed to the rigors of reveille and the attitude of perpetual physical and mental readiness that a soldier faces. Spending 20 years of adulthood in the American mainstream - watching "Everybody Loves Raymond" and eating fried chicken - makes for a stark contrast to the Army's mess-hall food and its sweltering barracks. Never mind the 10-mile marches.
Pfc. Russell Dilling (center), the Army's oldest recruit at age 42, chants with his platoon at a challenge course in the woods in Fort Jackson, S.C.
But life experience counts a lot in helping with unit cohesion, problem-solving or "stick-to-itiveness," says Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, a Pentagon spokesman. Today, many 40-year-olds are in better shape than their age group was a generation ago. Such strength is an asset when confronting enemies and other problems. "A few years ago, we had a marathon runner with a master's degree who spoke Russian, and he wanted to join the Army," says Mr. Hilferty. "We said no because he was 40. Where is the sense in that?" The Army says it has not lowered its overall physical and character standards to meet the new age limit, though the branch already divides physical standards by age group. All older recruits so far have been assigned to rear-echelon jobs, such as supply and finance clerks. Dilling will repair small arms. But critics say adding older recruits is a sign of desperation for the Army - and a condemnation of the war effort from broader American society. "It's true that people are living longer and people with more experience are needed, but let's face it: This initiative is about people from the normal demographic group not signing up in the midst of an unpopular war," says Loren Thompson, a military expert at the Lexington Institute in Washington.Dilling's age has made basic training difficult. His knees have bothered him - enough that he had to spend some time on crutches. But last week, the crutches were gone, he looked slim, and he appeared to quietly lead a small unit of younger men through the paces of the challenge course. Retired Army Lt. Col. Jim Hinnant, now a spokesman for Fort Jackson, calls Dilling "a study in determination." Dilling has made an impact on Alpha Company's 4th Platoon, 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, his superiors say. Sure, he gets some jive for his age, but when he struggled through his first qualifying run, a gaggle of soldiers joined him on the track, urging him on. "You look at someone like Pfc. Dilling, you can see by his demeanor that he's a father, that he's lived life already," says Sgt. Jarvis Pendleton, Dilling's drill sergeant. "It's a ... different picture from some of the younger people we get." Dilling married young and started a family, even as he says he daydreamed about the soldier's life. His wife said no to the vicissitudes of a military marriage. By the time Dilling recovered from their eventual divorce, he was too old for the Army. Or so he thought. Earlier this year, a cousin sent him a notice about the Army's decision to raise the age. He contacted his son's recruiter, who signed him up. He arrived at Fort Jackson in late July, only a few hours before his 42nd birthday. His son was already there, and sent him encouraging notes: "The same kind of advice I used to give him," says Dilling. He's determined to make it. "Everybody said it was going to be 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical, but it's the opposite for me," he says. "It's the physical stuff that gets me. If you've ever had a wife who yelled at you, dealing with a drill instructor is no big deal."

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