Wednesday, February 28, 2007

101-Year-Old Ship Is Still Steaming Across Lake Michigan

Launched six years before the RMS Titanic sailed and sank, the St. Marys Challenger is still hauling cargo on Lake Michigan and charming steamship aficionados. The 101-year-old ship transports cement from the St. Marys Cement Co. plant in Charlevoix, Mich., to Chicago, Milwaukee, Manitowoc, Wis., and Ferrysburg, Mich. It is one of only two Great Lakes ships still powered by a Skinner Marine Unaflow steam engine. The other is the car ferry Badger. ``In boat nerd land, the Challenger is a big deal,'' said George Wharton, a Canadian retiree who spends his time ``chasing'' and photographing ships. ``It's a bit romantic to see this boat still going after 100 years.'' The Challenger launched in 1906, two years before Henry Ford introduced the Model T automobile. It is docked this winter in South Chicago while a maintenance crew from Milwaukee gets it ready for spring sailing.
St. Marys Challenger
``Everything was built strong back then,'' said Kevin Rogers, the ship's port engineer. ``This boat has steel plating that's an inch thick.'' The ship's small size 551 feet allows it to fit into shallower ports where big ships can't go, said John Polacsek, who works at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum in Detroit. The Challenger runs on Bunkersea fuel, which Rogers likens to road tar. Heated to 230 degrees, the fuel produces steam that runs the main engine, steering system, deck winches and nearly everything else on board. Much of its original equipment remains. A crank-operated telephone system from the early 1900s works even if the ship's electrical system fails. Because it is smaller than modern ships, the Challenger must make more trips to haul comparable cargo. It logs about 6,000 miles per season on Lake Michigan. But it has benefited from sailing in the fresh lake, rather than corrosive salt water. ``There are boats half the Challenger's age that are already retired,'' Rogers said.

Navy to Merge Gunner's Mate And Torpedoman's Mate Ratings

The Chief of Navy Operations has approved the merger of the Gunner's Mate [GM] and Torpedoman's Mate [TM] ratings into the GM rating.According to NAVADMIN 49/07, the merger is an element of the Navy's total force strategy, and will utilize the strengths of the knowledge, skills, and abilities found in the two ratings toward a unified mission. The official conversion from TM to GM for rated sailors will be automatic and will occur on October 1, 2007 for all active duty E-1 through E-9, and selected reserve and IRR E-6 through E-9. SR and IRR E-1 through E-5 will convert on March 1, 2008.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

U.S.N. To The Rescue Again

Three Somali police speedboats and a U.S. military vessel were headed Monday toward a U.N.-chartered cargo ship hijacked by pirates, a senior police official said. Piracy has been rampant off the Somali coast. Somali pirates boarded the MV Rozen — which had just delivered a total of 1,884 tons of food aid in northern Somalia — on Sunday, taking the crew hostage, officials said. It is the third U.N.-chartered ship to be hijacked in Somali waters since 2005. Police boats were within sight of the ship "but we asked them to stop going further because our biggest concern is the safety of the crew of 12 on board," said Col. Abdi Ali Hagaafe, police chief of the Bari region. "We have asked the U.S. navy in the Red Sea ... to help us in the operation, and they told us they have started to move towards the ship," he said. The ship is not in international waters, but "U.S./Coalition forces are in the area and are monitoring the situation," said Lt. Denise Garcia of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command based in Bahrain.Somali pirates are trained fighters, often dressed in military fatigues, using speedboats equipped with satellite phones and Global Positioning System equipment. They typically are armed with automatic weapons, anti-tank rocket launchers and various types of grenades, according to the U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia. The militiamen target passenger, cargo and fishing vessels for ransom or loot, using the money to buy weapons. Somalia's 1,860-mile coastline is Africa's longest. Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991, when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on one another, throwing the country into anarchy. The transitional government was formed in 2004 with U.N. help. Meanwhile, an unidentified man bombed a fuel-seller's stall Monday, and the blast injured at least five people, including a police officer, a witness said. Dozens of gunmen hired by residents fired into the air to disperse the crowd that had gathered following the blast, fuel vendor Salad Ma'alin Mohamed said by telephone from the scene. Witnesses said the blast occurred near a street in northern Mogadishu that leads to the presidential palace. "A pickup with tinted windows passed by and someone inside hurled a bomb at our fuel stall, which exploded near us," Mohamed said. It was not possible to independently confirm what kind of device caused the blast. Officials were not immediately available for comment. Attacks in the capital, mainly on government buildings, Somali security and Ethiopian forces, have occurred almost daily since the transitional government moved into Mogadishu in late December. Government forces — with the help of Ethiopian troops — had driven out the Islamic movement that seized control of the capital and much of the south last year, seeking to rule the predominantly Muslim country by the Quran.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Seamen Rescued From Sinking Norwegian Ship

Eight seamen were lifted to safety by Polish maritime rescue services from their Norwegian-registered ship the Ocean Caroline which began to sink some 50 nautical miles off Poland's Baltic Sea coast, the PAP news agency reported.
Ocean Caroline
Three crew members, including the captain, remained on the ship, the 'Ocean Caroline.' Several rescue ships near the stricken vessel were prepared to rescue the remaining crew members at any moment. Polish rescue services said the ship began sinking after a crack appeared in its hull.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Shipwreck Found In Lake Superior

Even in a state with a passion for ice fishing, a few augered holes in Duluth Minnesota are attracting an unusual amount of attention. Ten feet below the icy surface of Lake Superior lies an uncharted shipwreck, newly discovered by of all people, an ice skater. John Williams was skating last Thursday about 400 feet off the shore of Duluth's Park Point, when he was startled to see a dark image beneath the ice. "You could see it actually, real clearly through the ice," said Williams. Williams returned with an ice auger and an underwater camera a couple days later and soon realized he had stumbled on a large wooden boat that sank a long time ago. His camera showed wooden beams and ribs sticking out of the sandy lake bottom. Stretched across the wooden hull, was a metal drive shaft Williams estimates to be 25 feet long. One end of the drive shaft appeared to be fitted with a propeller.
City of Winnipeg
Word of William's discovery, so close to the shoreline, has been bringing out the curious. "I've kayaked past this spot, swam, everybody has," says Molly Haugen, who lives in the Park Point Neighborhood. "Nobody knew about it." Some neighbors believe Williams may have located the City of Winnipeg, a wooden passenger ship that, according to Minnesota Historical Society records, caught fire in 1881 and was later scuttled in the Park Point area. The ship's exact location has remained a mystery since. "It may turn out to be something that is really significant," said Thom Holden, a shipwreck historian who is the director of the Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center. On the other hand Holden says the boat could be nothing more significant than a fishing tug that was scuttled by its owners after it was taken out of service. Equally mysterious is how the boat could go undiscovered in such shallow water so close to shore for so many years. Holden says it could have been carried there in recent years by storms or emerged because of lake levels that are now more than a foot below average. Holden says a team of trained divers from the Twin Cities will go down to take a closer look at the boat this weekend, hoping to learn more about its history.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Navy Decommissions 42-Year-Old Ship

The Navy this week decommissioned the USS Ogden (LPD 5), a ship that had seen three wars and more than 40 years of service. The Austin-class amphibious transport dock, named after the city in Utah, was built in New York at the start of the Vietnam War. The vessel was commissioned in 1965 and was capable of launching assaults by sea and air.
USS Ogden (LPD 5)
The San Diego-based ship carried Marines on two deployments to Vietnam and was sent to the Middle East for the 1991 Persian Gulf War. More recently, the Ogden was sent to the gulf to support the war in Iraq, where it was used to protect oil terminals and as a staging base to train Iraqi sailors, according to a Navy statement.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Indonesia Ferry Fire Kills 16

Sixteen people died and at least as many were missing after a fire broke out on an Indonesian ferry off Jakarta Bay on Thursday, with some desperate passengers hurling themselves off the blazing vessel into the sea. The Levina I was on its way to Bangka island off Sumatra with about 300 people on board when it caught fire soon after dawn 80 km (50 miles) from Jakarta's Tanjung Priok port. TV footage of the stricken vessel showed plumes of thick black smoke emerging from the ferry's lower decks, while a fire-fighting ship alongside tried to douse the blaze. One of the first survivors brought back to Jakarta described panic when the crew told passengers a fire had broken out in the lower deck, which was loaded with motorcycles and cars."It was dark. The first thing I did was look for a lifebuoy and then jumped into the sea. I saw someone jump without a lifebuoy who died," said the passenger, who gave his name as Mursid. Bobby Mamahit, an official at the center for navigation at the transport ministry, told reporters at the port that 16 people had died, 17 were missing and 274 had survived. He said the 27-year-old ship was made in Japan. Transport Minister Hatta Rajasa said it was too early to be clear on the cause of the blaze but, according to search coordinator Sato Bisri, the ferry's engineer and captain said the fire started in a truck. "The flame got bigger after they poured water on it. We suspect it was some kind of chemical material." Colonel Didin Z.A, who headed the navy rescue team, earlier told reporters in the port that the dead included three children. The port was crowded with anxious relatives of passengers, as ambulances and paramedics stood ready to treat survivors.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

O’Rourke Wins Irish Sailor Of The Year Award

A class win in the Sydney Hobart race was rewarded back in Ireland on Thursday when Limerick's Ger O’Rourke (IRL) lifted the Cork Dry Gin Irish Sailor of the Year trophy at the boatshow in the RDS, Dublin. A separate international award was made yesterday to Steve Mulkerrins and Tom Joyce for their adventure in a specially built 47 foot Galway hooker the Naomh Bairbre that sailed from Chicago in a transatlantic voyage to Connemara. O’Rourke won his class in a strong wind outing of the January 2006 Sydney Hobart race in an innovative new boat with a canting keel that proved fast straight out of the box.
Ger O’Rourke
A dozen separate awards were presented at Thursday's who’s who gathering for Irish sailing at the RDS that included remarkable achievements on home and international waters. Awards were made to hose short listed from sailors who had already earned monthly prizes in the national boating magazine Afloat. O’Rourke and his Western Yacht Club team from the Shannon estuary went on to produce further results as 2006 progressed picking up overall wins in August’s Round Britain and Ireland Race and also victory in September’s Cowes to Cascais sprint.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Crew Call For Ship To Be Arrested

The crew of a ship who barricaded themselves in their cabins in a row over wages are seeking to have the vessel arrested. The Russian sailors on board the Merchant Brilliant, which is anchored three miles off Heysham, Lancashire, claim they are owed $167,000. They have been talking with the ship's Latvian owners, ADG Shipping, but have failed to reach a settlement. The crew now plans to petition the Admiralty Marshal to arrest the ship. If the petition is accepted, the ship would be sailed back to port, have papers served on it and the vessel would be impounded pending a court settlement. The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), which has two inspectors on board helping to broker a deal, are now finding legal representation for 11 members of the crew to petition the Admiralty Marshal for the arrest to take place.
Merchant Brilliant
ITF spokesman Sam Dawson said: "Talks with the owners of the Jamaican-flagged Merchant Brilliant are at a stalemate and 11 of the crew members have therefore decided to seek the arrest of the ship." Ken Fleming, an ITF inspector on board the ship, said there had been a heated debate with the ship's owners on Monday night over pay and excessive hours. As a result, the crew and the inspectors barricaded themselves inside the cabin overnight by putting furniture against the doors as the ship sailed from Belfast. However, when it docked at Heysham in the morning, they came out. They then anchored off the coast where they spent the day trying to reach a deal with the owners. A spokesman for Norfolkline, which chartered the Merchant Brilliant, said the firm had temporarily ended its hire of the vessel. "The charter agreement between Norfolkline and the owner of the Merchant Brilliant, ADG, clearly stipulates that the vessel be operated in accordance with ITF guidelines," he said. "Talks between the owner of the Merchant Brilliant and the ITF are ongoing, and we are hopeful that a fair and satisfactory conclusion to this matter can be reached in as short a time as possible. "However until such a time, Norfolkline has decided to suspend the hire of the vessel." It is thought that papers may be served on the ship on Wednesday.

Army and Marine Corps to Increase in Size

The Department of Defense is asking Congress to increase the authorized end strength of the active duty Army and Marine Corps. The Military wants to add 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines to the force by 2012. According to Army Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, Army chief of staff, and Marine Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, who advocated the increase to Congress during testimony on February 15, the end strength increases will reduce the strain of forces and position them for the long war against terrorism by increasing time at home for units between deployments. The additional time at home will also allow the services to prepare their forces for missions in areas besides Iraq and Afghanistan. “I think that the Army is too small for the century that we're in,” Schoomaker said. “I believe the plan we have is the proper plan and proper slope to do it. And so my advice would be that we complete the plan and we sustain this force. It's my opinion the nation can afford it, and it's necessary in this century.”Advocating for the increase in the Marine Corps, Conway said, “I believe we're a nation at war. I think that Afghanistan and Iraq represent the first battles of this long war. And I think, like in any war, you don't know what's on the horizon; you don't what is going to follow. So if asked for my military advice on whether or not we should look at off-ramping or stopping something short of 202,000 Marines at this point, I would recommend we not do that until such time as we think that this war against Islamic extremists is over.” In order to meet the new strength ceilings, the Army is planning to increase their recruiting goals by 7,000 solders per year and the Marines plan to grow at a rate of 5,000 per year. According to Conway, the Marines are planning to add between 300 and 400 recruiters. Another part of the effort to grow the Marine Corps is to contact noncommissioned officers who have separated from the service and offer them the option of coming back in. Conway is sending a letter to every Marine who has gotten out in the last four years. “It’ll say that, ‘You may have already served your nation, but the job’s not done,’” he said. Everything is negotiable: four-year enlistments, two-year enlistments, airborne school, other military schools, and so on, Conway said. He added that NCOs should be able to come back on active duty with their former ranks. “We don’t have a lot of feedback yet,” Conway said. “It’s still in the early part of the process.” In a media roundtable after the congressional testimony, Conway emphasized that the Marines will not be lowing standards in order to meet the new numbers. “We do not want to sacrifice the quality of recruits simply to make the numbers,” he said. According to the general, Marine recruiting standards are higher than that set by the Department of Defense. The DOD standard states that 90 percent of all recruits must be high school graduates. The Marine standard is 95 percent, and the service is recruiting 96 percent. “We think the Marine Corps -- as the most prestigious service of all, with our mission, with the quality of the folks we are bringing in now -- that we need to hold to those standards,” he told reporters. “And we need to have every Marine to understand that the Marine on their flank is the same quality of individual that we always have.” DOD officials estimate that only about one-third of 18- to 24-year-olds qualify to join the military. “We’re going to hold to our standards, and we’re going to have to be driven off those standards,” Conway said.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Greenpeace Ship Barred From Entering Iran

Iran withdrew permission at the last minute for the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior to enter the port of Bushehr where its first nuclear reactor is under construction, the campaign group said. “Plans had been made to hold a press conference on board the group’s ship the Rainbow Warrior in Bushehr, Iran, to present the results of research into different energy options for Iran which would allow it to meet its energy needs without recourse to nuclear power,” a statement said. “However, at the last minute with the ship on the edge of Iran’s territorial waters, final permission to enter was withheld by the Iranian authorities,” Greenpeace said without indicating whether any reason had been given.“We are disappointed not be able to present our case in person to the people of Iran. At a time of massive naval operations in the Gulf it is a real shame that there appears to be no place for a peace ship.” There was no immediate word from the Iranian authorities. The planned Bushehr press conference was one of a series of events that Greenpeace has been holding around the Middle East as part of a campaign for a nuclear-free region. Iran insists that the reactor Russia is building for it in Bushehr is for peaceful energy purposes only.

US To Build Base In Australia

The United States is to build a new military satellite communications base in Australia, the government said after three years of secret negotiations between the two allies. The new base will relay signals and intelligence to US forces in the Middle East and Asia from Geraldton, 400km north of the West Australian state capital Perth. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told parliament the base, construction of which will start in months, would help underpin the close Australia-US alliance. But Greens lawmakers warned it would become a target for extremists. “It will be hosted in the same basis as all other Australia-US joint facilities and operate on the basis of our full knowledge and our full concurrence,” Downer said. The United States already has bases at Pine Gap, near Alice Spings, which provides early missile launch warning for Asia and the Middle East, and Northwest Cape in Western Australia, which carries signals to US nuclear submarines in Asia and the Pacific.There is another facility at Geraldton which intercepts mobile telephone signals and communications from Antarctica to Siberia, siphoning intelligence from Asian countries. Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said the new base would be a prime target near one of Australia's major cities, Perth, which has a population of around one million. “We’re virtually talking about a Pine Gap on Perth’s doorstep and I think the people of Perth and particularly the people of Geraldton should be very concerned,” she said. The minority Australian Democrats said the government was assisting a US defence policy which was “deeply misguided and aggressive”. The alliance with the US and the war in Iraq are shaping to be key issues in elections this year, with recent polls showing 62 per cent of Australians oppose the government’s handling of the war. There are around 1,400 Australian soldiers in and around Iraq. Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said Canberra was in discussion with the U.S. about other facilities, including a link to the US military weather satellite network. The US has also been given approval to store weapons and supplies in Australia’s north for American forces based in Asia.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Stranded Dutch Cargo Ship Off Spanish Coast Releases Toxic Gas

Toxic gas is rising from a fertiliser-laden Dutch ship stranded off the northwest coast of Spain after a fire, Spanish media reported. The regional Galicia government named the vessel as the Dutch cargo ship Ostedijk, and a national government spokesman confirmed media reports that said the 6,000-tonne ship was under tow to move it away from inhabited coastal areas.
The ship, making for Valencia, sent out a distress call early on Saturday when it was off the Spanish port of La Coruna, and is currently 12 miles (19 km) off the Spanish coast. The coast guard was not immediately available for comment.

Israeli Fishing Boat Swept Into Egyptian Waters

An Israeli fishing boat carrying five fisherman from Eilat was swept into Egyptian waters beside the Sinai Peninsula resort town of Taba, following a technical problem with the engine. Egyptian naval vessels collected the fisherman and conducted a brief investigation. Earlier, the fisherman had requested help from the Israel Navy, which referred them to police according to regulations.After police vessels were delayed in arriving, the fishing boat crossed into Egyptian waters. A naval vessel located nearby failed to provide assistance. Around 2:30 P.M., following contacts between an Israeli liaison officer and his Egyptian counterpart, the fishermen were released and pulled with their vessel back into Israeli territory. The Egyptian authorities did not file charges against the fisherman.

Boat Sinks In Greek Waters, 5 Dead

Five illegal immigrants drowned and 21 were missing after their boat sank in rough seas off the Greek island of Samos in the eastern Aegean, Greece’s Merchant Marine Ministry said. The ministry said coast guard vessels, a warship, a helicopter and nearby commercial vessels are looking for survivors of the boat that left the Turkish coast for Samos on Friday.“The bodies of four men and one woman have been located and are being transported,” it said in a statement. It did not disclose their nationality. Thousands of migrants from Asian and Africa attempt to cross illegally into Europe from Turkey every year, either braving sea journeys across the Aegean or through Greece’s northern borders.

117 Migrants Drowned As Boat Sinks

A boat loaded with more than 200 Somali and Ethiopian migrants capsized in the Gulf of Aden during a treacherous night crossing and at least 117 people drowned, a Yemeni official said. The boat was among a group of four vessels carrying migrants from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, a UN official and a Yemeni human rights activist said. When it capsized late Monday, smugglers in some of the other boats forced their passengers into the sea, picked up the smugglers from the capsized vessel and returned quickly to Somalia, said the human rights activist, whose group helped survivors. The activist spoke on condition his name and organization not be identified because he feared problems with the government. At least 169 survivors made it to shore in the coastal region of Yemen's Shabwa province, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said. Bodies also washed ashore in the region and were buried in several mass graves. A military rescue team buried 29 bodies near the beach and many more washed ashore near a road construction site between Aden and Mukalla. Workers for a construction company reported burying 78 bodies. "The bodies were in a very bad condition, as many of them were missing limbs or mutilated because they were crashing against stones," Mohammed bin Mubarak, a Shabwa resident who helped bury 10 bodies, told Associated Press by telephone.Many of the survivors said they were fleeing violence in Somalia, where government forces recently battled a radical Islamic movement with the help of troops from neighbouring Ethiopia, according to UNHCR. The boat sank far off the Yemeni coast, leaving the migrants drifting in the high seas, said Ron Redmond, a UNHCR spokesperson. The deaths highlight the plight of thousands of Somalis and Ethiopians who try to escape to the Arabian peninsula each year, many hoping to eventually reach Europe. UNHCR says more than 27,000 fled last year and several hundred died making the perilous crossing. UNHCR noted a recent dramatic increase in people smuggling from Somalia, with more than 1,600 arrivals in Yemen aboard some 20 boats. At least 30 people drowned since mid-January. The organization said survivors report that thousands of would-be Somali and Ethiopian migrants are waiting in the Somali port of Boosaaso. Conditions on the smugglers' vessels are notoriously poor, yet people pay between $40 and $100 (U.S.) to make the risky night voyage across the gulf. Yemen has recently increased coastal patrols, forcing smugglers to make the journey across the rough Gulf of Aden by night, making it more dangerous.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Poison Gas Leak On Korean Ship Kills Vietnamese Sailor

An ammonia gas leak on a South Korean fishing vessel anchored in Uruguay killed five sailors, including a Vietnamese. Eight other Vietnamese sailors were among the 24 people who collapsed during the accident, including rescue workers, the Vietnam News Agency reported. They were in intensive care in various hospitals in the capital Montevideo. The Vietnamese Embassy in Argentina had sent an official to Montevideo to assist its nationals. The newspaper quoted the Uruguayan media as saying the vessel, Bang Joo 7 (Sea World 101), had arrived in Montevideo Tuesday to unload frozen squid and acquire supplies and had scheduled to leave for the South Atlantic Thursday.The leak of ammonia gas, which is used for refrigeration, had occurred mid-afternoon Wednesday. Uruguayan authorities said the origin of the leak had not been determined, adding they were focusing on rescuing the crew first. If there was a risk of further leaks, the vessel would be tugged out of Montevideo, they said.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Hunt Begins For Lost 1715 Treasure Ship

Treasure hunters are searching for what they hope might be a ship from a gold-filled fleet that gave the Treasure Coast its name. The four-person crew of a lift boat named the Polly-L are looking for historical artifacts related to a shipwreck possibly from the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet. Officials with the Amelia Island-based Amelia Research and Recovery team first surveyed the shallow waters off Hutchinson Island four years ago for a stack of cannons that a local surfer discovered almost 30 years ago.
Doug Pope, the president of Amelia Research and Recovery, captained a four-story-high boat down the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Pierce. Two men worked with the state to secure necessary permits to dig out and identify 42 targets they found during a 2005 survey about 200 yards from the beach.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Stricken Whaling Ship Asks For Help

Japanese authorities have appealed for help from the Australian and New Zealand governments, as efforts continue to fight a fire on board the largest ship in its Antarctic whaling fleet. One person has been reported missing after the fire broke out below decks on the Nisshin Maru while it was in the Ross Sea. Most of the crew have been transferred to other Japanese whaling ships but some stayed on board to fight the fire. The deputy director of the Japanese Fishing Agency, Hideki Morinuki, says he has heard reports the fire is now under control but is waiting for further confirmation. "I cordially ask the Australian and New Zealand governments to extend kindness and cooperation to the vessel. I ask them to provide their best help to the vessel," he said. Meanwhile, two anti-whaling ships are steaming back to Melbourne from the area.
Nisshin Maru
Paul Watson, the captain of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship 'Robert Hunter', says it is unlikely the Japanese will continue to kill whales because the Nisshin Maru is the fleet's processing ship. It was expected to return to Japan in April after meeting its quota of 1,000 whales. Mr Watson says the Robert Hunter would have helped if asked to. "We would have if we were close but New Zealand Search and Rescue is only notifying vessels within 100 miles of their position to go help and we're much further away," he said. "Also, we're probably physically unable to do so because the Farley Mowat has enough fuel to get to Melbourne and the Robert Hunter doesn't have enough fuel to go back there and then make it back to Melbourne again so we're restricted there."
Farley Mowat

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Navy to Deploy Anti-Terrorism Dolphins

Dozens of dolphins and sea lions trained to detect and apprehend waterborne attackers could be sent to patrol a military base in Washington state, the Navy said Monday. In a notice published in this week's Federal Register, the Navy said it needs to bolster security at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, on the Puget Sound close to Seattle. The base is home to submarines, ships and laboratories and is potentially vulnerable to attack by terrorist swimmers and scuba divers, the notice states. Several options are under consideration, but the preferred plan would be to send as many as 30 California sea lions and Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins from the Navy's Marine Mammal Program, based in San Diego. "These animals have the capabilities for what needs to be done for this particular mission," said Tom LaPuzza, a spokesman for the Marine Mammal Program. LaPuzza said that because of their astonishing sonar abilities, dolphins are excellent at patrolling for swimmers and divers. When a Navy dolphin detects a person in the water, it drops a beacon. This tells a human interception team where to find the suspicious swimmer.Dolphins also are trained to detect underwater mines; they were sent to do this in the Iraqi harbor of Umm Qasr in 2003. The last time the animals were used operationally in San Diego was in 1996, when they patrolled the bay during the Republican National Convention. Sea lions can carry in their mouths special cuffs attached to long ropes. If the animal finds a rogue swimmer, it can clamp the cuff around the person's leg. The individual can then be reeled in for questioning. The Navy is seeking public comment for an environmental impact statement on the proposal. The Navy wanted to deploy marine animals to the Northwest in 1989, LaPuzza said, but a federal judge sided with animal-rights activists concerned about the effects of cooler water, as well as how the creatures would affect the environment. Water in the Puget Sound is about 10 degrees cooler than in San Diego Harbor, which has an average temperature of about 58 degrees, LaPuzza said. Since then, the Navy has taken the dolphins and sea lions to cold-water places like Alaska and Scandinavia to see how they cope. "They did very well," LaPuzza said.If the animals are sent to Washington, the dolphins would be housed in heated enclosures and would patrol the bay only for periods of about two hours. Stephanie Boyles, a marine biologist and spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said that sea mammals do not provide a reliable defense system, and that they should not be kept in small enclosures.
"We believe the United States' citizens deserve the very best defense possible, and this just isn't it," Boyles said, adding that dolphins are easily distracted once in open water. "They don't understand the consequences of what will happen if they don't carry out the mission." Dolphins can live as long as 30 years. LaPuzza said the Navy occasionally gives its retired animals to marine parks but generally keeps them until they die of old age. The Navy has been training marine mammals since the 1960s and keeps about 100 dolphins and sea lions. Most are in San Diego, but about 20 are deployed at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga. The Navy hopes eventually to downsize its marine mammal program and replace the animals with machines. "But the technology just isn't there yet," LaPuzza said. "The value of the marine mammals is we've been doing this for 35 years, and we've ironed out all the kinks.

Ship Was A Sailing Fire Trap

Defence was warned three months before a fire killed four sailors that their ship, HMAS Westralia, was in grave danger from dodgy fuel lines. The Royal Australian Navy's largest ship at 40,000 tonnes caught fire off Fremantle in May 1998 after fuel leaked from faulty, non-genuine fuel lines on to hot metal, igniting a huge fireball in the engine room. Defence has admitted that an official report, written months before the fire by military and police investigators, specifically warned about the risks from "sub-standard and non-genuine parts" on the ship. The revelation has sparked calls for a royal commission into the Westralia disaster. Lyndon Pelly, father of midshipman Megan Pelly who died in the fire, said: "I hold the navy and the Defence Force responsible for Megan's death and also the deaths of the other three sailors. "Obviously they were deaths that never should have happened had proper procedures and bit of common sense prevailed." Defence concluded at the time that concerns raised by marine engineers about bad fuel lines were sour grapes. That conclusion, which was not backed by expert testimony, was based on information gathered by federal police during an investigation codenamed Operation Majorca, which examined stolen weapons and official corruption.
HMAS Westralia
The minute, dated February 6, 1998, and seen by the Herald Sun, followed interviews with a Wollongong maintenance company called Bailey's Diesel Services. It was sent to the Defence Inspector-General's Division. Staff at Bailey's had said they feared a major breakdown on Westralia could cause serious damage and "even loss of life". Three months later the fire, sparked by atomised fuel leaking from non-genuine flexible fuel hoses fitted by contractor Australian Defence Industries, killed sailors Phillip Carroll of Melbourne, Bradley Meek of New South Wales, Megan Pelly of Queensland, and Shaun Smith of Perth, and injured five others. "HMAS Westralia was identified by Bailey's as having a recent history of sub-standard and non-genuine parts installed," the minute said. "Based upon the nature and content of the information provided by Bailey's . . . which included numerous documents and records, it is believed by the undersigned that these allegations should be given the highest consideration." The minute was signed by an investigator from the Defence Inspector-General's Division and AFP officer Peter Smythe. Mr Smythe said he had trouble comprehending the navy would run major seagoing vessels that way. "But Bailey's had the evidence . . . names and even describing the actual parts that had been replaced," he said. "I got the impression they were concerned about safety and people's lives on the vessel." Mr Smythe said the company had been offered inducements by senior navy officers to keep quiet on the faulty parts scam. Mr Smythe said the Howard Government was aware of the allegations because then junior minister Bronwyn Bishop had been informed. Mr Pelly yesterday said he was disgusted Defence had hidden evidence. "I'm really glad Defence has been caught out concealing evidence," he said. "We should reopen the coroner's inquiry to get all this new information out and then follow that up with a royal commission to get to the truth behind the Westralia. Defence confirmed the minute was received but that "no issues of concern" were identified so the document was not passed on to the navy. "That investigation identified that the source of the complaint raised in the document related to the inability of a subcontractor to win work on Defence contracts," Defence said. The existence of the minute was also kept from both a naval board of inquiry and the WA Coroner's inquest. During his inquiry, Coroner Alastair Hope said he wanted to find out how unauthorised fuel lines, which caused the fire, came to be fitted to the ship, saying it was at the heart of the case. Both investigations found that the navy, ADI and hose maker Parker Enzed had failed in their duty of care to the dead and injured sailors.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Three Rescued After Fishing Boat Sinks

The Japan Coast Guard rescued three people, including a television cameraman, as they were drifting on a raft Monday off Miyazaki Prefecture after their tuna fishing boat went missing Friday, it said. Yukihiro Koresawa, the 48-year-old captain of the 9.1-ton Yukiyoshi Maru, told the Coast Guard his vessel had been hit "by a large white ship about 74 km southeast of Tanegashima Island at around 10 a.m. on Friday, and capsized." A patrol boat dispatched by the 10th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture rescued the three after a search helicopter spotted them waving on the raft about 185 km east-southeast of Cape Toi in Miyazaki earlier Monday, the Coast Guard said. The two others are 56-year-old Michio Yamanaka, a deckhand, and 29-year-old Yohei Hayashi, a television cameraman, who was on the long-line fishing boat to film a TV program.
Captain Yukihiro Koresawa and cameraman Yohei Hayashi peer out from their raft before being rescued
Taken to the University of Miyazaki Hospital by helicopter, they have reported pain in their feet as they were on the raft for a long time, according to a hospital official. Hayashi will be hospitalized for about a week, and the other two for a few days. They said they had staved off hunger pains by eating biscuits that the raft was equipped with, according to the Coast Guard. The vessel had set off for waters near Amami Oshima Island in Kagoshima from Hyuga, Miyazaki, on Thursday and was last seen Friday. On Sunday morning, a fishing boat found the Yukiyoshi Maru with only its stern appearing above the surface of the water about 130 km off Cape Toi, but there was no sign of the three men. The large vessel suspected of having hit the Yukiyoshi Maru continued on a direction to the northeast without stopping, Koresawa was quoted as telling the Coast Guard.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Barge Strikes Cruise Ship

The Carnival Cruise Lines cruise ship Fantasy was struck by a barge while approaching its home dock on the Mississippi River. According to a company statement, a commercial tow barge lost control and collided with the river bank, then struck the port side of the Fantasy. "You can see a 15-foot dent they're working to repair," said Brian Peach, a reporter who was aboard. The Coast Guard later reported the collision resulted in a 30-foot gash approximately five feet above the waterline on the left-rear area of the cruise ship. There was minor damage to the barge, which was one of six rice barges being pushed by the towing vessel Repentance.
Carnival Cruise Cruise Ship FANTASY
There were no injuries to guests or crew, the company said. The ship remains fully operational, Carnival said. The ship was returning from a cruise at the time of the accident. Those passengers disembarked and a new group was allowed to board, Peach said. "One of the crew said they weren't moving, they were waiting to come into the dock and the rogue barge slammed into them," Peach said. Arriving passengers were supposed to be in their rooms by noon and the ship was to sail at 4 p.m., Peach said. But passengers were not allowed to go to their cabins as they boarded, he said. "We're sitting in the restaurant eating," Peach said. "There's a great buffet. We have no idea when we'll sail, though." The statement said it was unlikely the ship would sail Saturday, although a preliminary assessment determined it was safe for passengers to remain aboard while repairs were made.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ship Scuttled To Create Artificial Reef

Tasmania's newest artificial reef has begun settling into place off Maria Island on the state's east coast. A 590-tonne former cargo ship was scuttled this morning to create the reef. The scuttling was delayed slightly while a helicopter completed a last minute search of the site for any stray whales or other vulnerable marine life. Then to cheers and applause from hundreds of spectators assembled on nearby boats, the Troy D was sunk.
The coastal trader Troy D is scuttled off Maria Island
A ball of flame shot-up from the vessel, but it was only for show. The real work was done by explosives carefully planted inside the Troy D, which imploded the ship. The 55-metre vessel has now sunk to the seabed next to a marine berth off Maria Island. It is hoped it will become a world-class dive site.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Japan Calls Anti-Whaling Activists 'Terrorists' After Whalers Attacked

Members of a marine mammal conservation group who attacked Japanese whalers off Antarctica, injuring two of them, are "terrorists," Japan's Fisheries Agency said. Two activists from the Sea Shepherd protest ship went missing during the confrontation with Japanese whaling craft Nisshin Maru early Friday, but were rescued safely — with members of the Japanese whaling expedition assisting in the rescue efforts in the icy waters of the Ross Sea. The protesters then resumed their pursuit of the Japanese vessel, and dumped foul-smelling butyric acid onto the whaling ship's deck, injuring two Japanese crew members, according to Takahide Naruko, the chief of the Far Seas Fisheries Division of the Fisheries Agency. The two crew members suffered facial injuries when the bottle of acid smashed on deck, sending shards of glass in all directions, he said. One was hit by an empty container of acid and the other had acid squirted in his eye, he said. "They're terrorists," Hideki Moronuki, the assistant director of the agency's whaling department, said of the anti-whaling activists.
Nisshin Maru
"They must stop these dangerous acts immediately." Bill Hogarth, U.S. Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission, also criticized the activists. "I'm disappointed Sea Shepherd took an action that risked lives," Hogarth said in a press release. "The United States is extremely concerned that encounters like this could escalate into more violent interactions between the vessels." The United States still opposes Japan's research whale hunts, he said, but the way to resolve the dispute is through the IWC process, he added. The Nisshin Maru left Japan in November for a six-month whaling expedition in the Antarctic as part of a scientific whaling program conducted within the rules of the IWC. Tokyo maintains that whaling is a national tradition and a vital part of its food culture, and is pushing for a limited resumption of hunts, arguing that whale stocks have sufficiently recovered since 1986 when a global moratorium on commercial whaling was introduced. Sea Shepherd "successfully delivered" six liters of butyric acid to the ship's flensing deck, where whales are cut up, halting the crew's work, the group said on its Web site.

One Missing, Five Hurt In Boat Collision

One person is missing, feared dead while five others are injured after two boats collided at high speed on the Murray River. The incident occurred near the town of Torrumbarry, which is west of Echuca, at about 8.45am (AEDT) and a search for the missing person is continues. "Two boats collided at high speed ... one of the boats sank and the other apparently ended up on the NSW bank," Rural Ambulance Service spokesman John Mullen said. He said the air ambulance had been dispatched to the crash site."One person has severe chest injuries, one has severe head injuries, three others have less serious injuries," Mr Mullen said. He could not comment on the identities of those involved. Police from Victoria and NSW are involved in the emergency response. "Two boats have come around a bend opposite Youngs Road and collided head on," Victoria Police senior constable Carla Coslovich said. She added the missing person has "possibly gone down with the boat". Constable Coslovich said police were yet to receive confirmation of whether the boats were linked to a major speed boat event being staged on the river. "Up at Echuca this weekend is the Southern 80, which is a boat race. "Any boats along the Murray at this stage would be some sort of speed boat or similar." Mr Mullen said the two seriously injured people were being airlifted to the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and the three others were being taken to Echuca for medical treatment.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Sex May Have Sunk Ferry

The federal Transportation Safety Board says it looked into whether sex was taking place on the bridge of the B.C. ferry Queen of the North when it sank last year. A board spokesman tells reporters that scenario was part of its investigation. A B.C. Ferries spokesperson acknowledges there has been speculation about sex playing a role in the sinking, but wouldn't comment further.A draft report on the sinking -- in which two of the 101 passengers are missing and presumed dead -- is to be delivered to the board within days. The draft report goes next to interested parties for comment and a final report is expected in three to six months.

Crystals May Have Aided Viking Sailors

Vikings may have used special crystals called sunstones to ensure gloomy weather did not come between them and an outing to sack British villages or discover new lands to the west, scientists have discovered. Tests aboard a research vessel in the Arctic ocean found that certain crystals can be used to reveal the position of the sun, a trick that would have allowed early explorers to ascertain their position and navigate, even if the sky was obscured by cloud or fog. The finding adds weight to the controversial suggestion that the Vikings exploited an unusual optical property of crystals known as birefringence to stay on course during bad weather.Researchers led by Gabor Horvath at Eotvos University in Budapest spent a month recording the polarisation of sunlight while at sea. Although polarisation is not apparent to the naked eye, it can be seen using birefringent crystals. The researchers found that the crystals were likely to work in all but the worst weather conditions, they write in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society today. Professor Michael Berry, a physicist at Bristol University, said: "They've shown that even if the sky is full of clouds and moisture, the polarisation of the sunlight doesn't change very much, and that's a real surprise. If you know the time already, then once you know the position of the sun you know what direction you're sailing in."

Thursday, February 08, 2007

1,000 Ship Navy Discussed

While meeting at the Western Conference Exposition (West 2007) to discuss future shipbuilding options, senior Department of the Navy officials also took the opportunity to expound on Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Mullen's 1000-ship Navy concept. Vice Adm. John G. Morgan, Jr., deputy chief of Naval Operations for Information, Plans and Strategy and Rear Adm. Michael C. Bachman, commander of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, explained that the 1,000-ship Navy is a network of international partner navies who will work together to create a force capable of standing watch over all the seas. “A new naval era is coming and we’re doing exciting things in preparation for it,” Morgan said. “The Navy is being challenged by the CNO’s plan of a 1,000-ship Navy and we’ll find ways to move toward putting his plan into action. The Navy’s traveling around and getting the idea of a 1,000-ship Navy to patrol the seas, out to the world.” Morgan and Bachman sat down with discussion host Dr. Dov S. Zakheim, former under secretary of defense (Comptroller) and chief financial officer for the Department of Defense, during the luncheon and also held a period of question and answer for the audience.“We fight in a joint environment and are embarked upon a journey to ensure that the war in Iraq isn’t just fought by our American troops, but also by our allies,” Bachman said. “The war in Iraq embodies the new level of integration possible and is the beginning steps of a global network needed for a 1,000-ship Navy.” Also, according to Morgan, 90 percent of world’s commerce travels via the oceans, and a 1,000-ship Navy would help protect that aspect of international trade. “Despite how powerful we are and despite how big we are, we can’t do it on our own,” he said. For more than a year, the CNO has advocated the 1,000-ship Navy concept to many allied and international navies. “This 1,000-ship Navy idea is all about a global maritime network, a huge network of sharing,” said Morgan. “That’s the biggest challenge we’re facing: a network of many integrated countries’ navies with one goal in mind of patrolling the world’s seas.” West 2007 brings government, military, and industrial leaders together to explore future strategies. “West 2007 is a great convention because it gives enlisted military members a chance to see cutting edge technology and also holds informative panel discussions,” said Fire Controlman 2nd class Matthew Somers, attached to USS Chancellorsville (CG-62). “I think the 1,000-ship Navy is a great step toward making our world a safer place, and it shows how much the United States really cares about the world.”

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sharks Attack Shrimping Boat

The crew of a Fort Myers Beach shrimping boat was back on dry land, but their boat eventually sank after a run-in with bull sharks. A group of sharks had been slamming into the Christy Nichole's hull for four days, Captain Roger Schmall said. But then a 14-foot bull shark broke the boat's tail shaft, leaving Schmall and his crew of two adrift about 100 miles off the coast.Schmall radioed for help, and another vessel picked the crew up about two hours later. Schmall remained aboard his ship to pump water out while the other boat pulled it back to land. He says it was working for a couple of hours, but the waves eventually took their toll on Schmall's boat and the Christy Nichole sank.

Commandant Wants All Marines To Deploy

Marine officials are working to identify the approximately 33,000 Marines who have not been tapped for service in Iraq or Afghanistan and get them to deployable units. The effort was initiated after Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Conway put out an all-Marine message announcing his intent to get "every Marine to the fight." "As our Corps postures for the Long War, and in order to help meet the challenges of frequent deployments, I want our Corps leadership to initiate policies to ensure all Marines, first termers and career Marines alike, are provided the ability to deploy to a combat zone," Conway said in ALMAR 002/07. The ALMAR calls for Marines who haven't deployed to be reassigned "as feasible," and authorizes "increased time-on-station waivers" to accomplish that. Many Marines stationed overseas (mostly Okinawa) and those scheduled to be assigned there in the future could be affected by the section that specifically addresses the III MEF assignment policy, calling for it to be modified "as required." Lt. Col J. W. Senter III, the deputy assistant chief of staff for III MEF manpower, told the Marine Corps News Service that it is still not certain exactly how the policy will be modified."Until additional guidance by Manpower and Reserve Affairs is provided, a Marine's rotation tour date is still the primary determinant for assignment to Operation Iraqi Freedom rotational units," Senter said. Currently, the III MEF policy states that all Marines assigned to Okinawa will be assigned to 24-month unaccompanied tours or 36-month accompanied tours. In some cases, exceptions are made to authorize one-year unaccompanied tours. The 24/36-month policy for Okinawa is being reviewed at Headquarters Marine Corps to assess whether it can be modified to meet the Commandant's intent without disrupting operations within Okinawa units, Senter said. That could mean early rotation dates would be authorized for Marines rotating from Okinawa to deploying units, but Senter said Headquarters Marine Corps has to address the issue of cost as well. "Early (permanent change of station) orders will create a large bill to pay," he said. There are many variables that make implementation of the policy slow-going initially, but Senter said Marines can expect to see several Marine administrative messages in the coming months that, in addition to the policy change, will address the overall OIF theater plus-up of troops. Conway's intent is clearly stated in ALMAR 002/07. "When they join our Corps, Marines expect to train, deploy and fight. That's who we are. That's what we do. And we must allow every Marine that opportunity."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Ship's Pilot Missing After Fall Into Water

A man boarding a freight ship in rough water off Cape Henlopen fell into Delaware Bay, prompting the Coast Guard to launch a search for the missing man. The search started shortly after Chesapeake Federal pilot, Lynn Deibert, 52, was attempting to board the Energy Enterprise, a 645-foot, U.S. flagged freighter. A Coast Guard spokesman said Deibert was transferring from the pilot boat Big Stone 5 to the freighter when he fell off the freight ship boarding ladder.
Energy Enterprise
A rescue helicopter from Air Station Atlantic City and a 41-foot rescue boat from Station Indian River were dispatched to look for the missing man. The Coast Guard Cutter Dependable was also diverted to the search area. This morning, additional helicopter crews began looking for Deibert. Coast Guard officials believe Deibert was wearing a life jacket when he fell into the water and witnesses to the accident threw him life rings. An Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., aircrew, aboard an HC-130 Hercules long-range aircraft, was also directed to launch this morning.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Queen's Grand Entrance

They came by the thousands and clung to the edges of hilltops, beaches, boats and the Golden Gate Bridge to catch a glimpse Sunday of the largest ship ever to enter the San Francisco Bay. Some spectators waited for hours, and when the Queen Mary 2 made her grand entrance into the bay at 3:58 p.m., they were not disappointed. Less than 30 feet separated the Golden Gate Bridge's underside from the ship's tallest point, giving people gathered on the bridge a breathtaking birds-eye view of the 1,131-foot long ship. "It was long and elegant," said Lynne McClure of Menlo Park. "We were looking right down at several pools and tennis courts. All the lawn chairs were lined up in rows. It was shipshape as you would expect." McClure picnicked on the bridge with her friends, drinking wine, munching on cheese and crackers and chocolate and conjuring images of a bygone era. "I was thinking of my grandparents traveling across the Atlantic from Europe," said McClure's friend, Wendy Crowder of Palo Alto. McClure said the moment had a festive feel, like the 50th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1987."It's a big event, bigger than the Super Bowl and bigger than Fleet Week," she said. Barbara Abbott, 84, said the ship's arrival was the most spectacular event she had ever witnessed. She waved to the passengers on the Queen Mary 2 as it passed under the bridge. Her only regret was for a view from the center of the span. "I wanted to spit down the chimney," she said. Rex Reader, 68, and three friends from Santa Rosa set out their nylon chairs at 1 p.m. to view the majestic ship from the southern end of the bridge with their cameras and binoculars. Ron Buhlman, 67, called the vessel's arrival a "once-in-a-lifetime experience." Reader said he's looking forward to traveling aboard the Queen Mary 2 someday. "For someone with limited physical stamina, it's a good way to go," he said. "You meet people who are interested in worldly things and you eat good food." Roger Dahl, a former competitive sailor who lives in Montara, watched the event from the Golden Gate Bridge with his wife, Rene, and their 14-year-old son, Nick, Dahl, who has sailed the bay for more than 40 years, estimated there were about 400 sailboats on the water below. He compared the crush of vessels to opening day of the sailing season."The wind has shifted to make it easier for boats to sail downwind to the bridge," he said as about a dozen aircraft hummed overhead in the sunny sky. "It's unusual for this time of year." The ship had been expected to arrive at 3 p.m. but got delayed when it took longer to board locals, including the bar pilot who guided the ship under the span and into the bay. On the expansive beach at Crissy Field, the former bayside air strip, there was standing room only by 3 p.m., and anxious spectators competed to be the first to spot the boat, just as people on board ships vie to spot land. When the ocean liner did finally appear, the smaller boats sounded their horns and the waiting masses cheered. On the bridge, a group of men waved a giant rainbow flag. From the shore, the ship's high, pointed bow seemed to menace the bridge until it finally slipped underneath. "I'm a commercial fisherman, and I've seen a lot of boats, and all I can say is this is huge," said Carl Westrate, 74, who lives in Lafayette. He was at Crissy Field with his wife, reminiscing about her arrival as an immigrant from England aboard the first Queen Mary decades ago. "This is so much bigger than I could have imagined," said Jim Conley, 83, of Mill Valley, who had waited hours to see the ship. A Navy veteran, he recalled traveling on the Queen Elizabeth in 1943 with about 16,000 other troops. Traffic around the bayside of San Francisco was disrupted for the afternoon; it came to a complete halt on the Golden Gate Bridge as the ocean liner passed beneath. Two hours after the ship passed under the bridge, cars were still backed up trying to get out of Fort Baker near the Bay Area Discovery Museum. Hundreds of people had gathered there, climbing the hills, scrambling on the World Ward II bunkers or launching out on kyacks to get a better view. The Queen Mary 2 is scheduled to depart from Pier 27 for Hawaii.

Ship Catches Fire, All 11 Crew Members Rescued

A transport ship "Al-Sakeena Abbas" was burnt to ashes when it accidentally caught the fire this morning. The oil barrels, stored in the ship, caught fire which soon engulfed the entire ship, according to sources.The ship was carrying a eleven-member crew, all of whom jumped into the waters and were rescued by nearby ships, the sources added. The ship had arrived from Salaya port to load onions.

Boaters More Satisfied With Sex Life Than Non-Boaters

When it comes to setting the right mood for an evening of romance, would-be lovers go to all sorts of lengths to woo their mate. But a recent survey found that if you're looking for love, the best preparation might be revving up the engine and heading out on your boat. According to a survey conducted by Discover Boating and Russell Research, boaters expressed a greater level of satisfaction with their sex life than non-boaters. While making waves in the bedroom may be reason enough for many to chart their course, the survey found boaters enjoy plenty of other lifestyle benefits over their land-based counterparts. "Being out on the water, relaxing away from stresses on land instantly sets the right mood for making a love connection," said sociologist and relationship expert Pepper Schwartz, PhD. "Not only is the setting a mood- enhancer, but boaters are more active and exude confidence in their physical appearance, which is naturally going to be attractive to other active people." The survey polled more than 1,000 boaters and non-boaters and compared their viewpoints on several quality of life aspects. Specific to intimacy, participants were asked if they agreed with the statement "I am satisfied with the quality of my sex life."Two-thirds of boaters (67 percent) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, while only 58 percent of non-boaters held the same opinion. Of boaters who agreed with the statement, nearly a quarter (24 percent) strongly agreed with the statement. Boaters also expressed greater satisfaction with their marriage. Seventy- five percent of boaters agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "My spouse and I are happy with the state of our marriage," compared to 70 percent of non-boaters. The boost to a boater's sex life and the increase in marital bliss can be attributed to many aspects of the boating lifestyle. Boating offers unparalleled opportunities to relax and bond with the people who are close to you, whether you're just socializing or looking to make that special someone your "first mate." Additionally, the fantastic vistas enjoyed from a boat can help set the mood for an evening of fun. Feeling healthy and confident when you turn out the lights and turn up the charm also plays a role in an enjoyable sex life. These were two areas where boaters also scored higher than non-boaters, according to the survey. Fifty- eight percent of boaters expressed satisfaction with their overall physical fitness (compared to 50 percent of non-boaters,) while 76 percent of boaters consider themselves leaders among their close friends (compared to 69 percent of non-boaters).

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ferry Collides With Cargo Ship

A Passenger ferry carrying 294 people collided with a cargo ship on the River Mersey but no one was injured. The collision, which happened shortly before midday at the entrance to Alfred Dock, involved the Sea Express 1 catamaran and the Alaska Rainbow cargo ship. The ferry covers the Liverpool to Isle of Man route. Liverpool Coastguard received a distress call at 11.54am and dispatched two tugs, two lifeboats and a coastguard team to rescue crew and passengers.
Sea Express 1
The Sea Express 1 was brought back to its berth at Pier Head, Liverpool, and all of the passengers and crew disembarked. A spokesman for Liverpool Coastguard said: "There were no injuries to any person on the vessels. All 294 passengers and crew disembarked safely. "It is believed there is some damage to the Sea Express 1, which our officers are currently investigating." Steve Cross, Liverpool Coastguard duty watch manager, said the Alaska Rainbow was at anchor and would return to port for an inspection.
Alaska Rainbow
The 74-metre Sea Express 1 is 16 years old. It was formerly known as the Seacat Isle of Man. It is managed by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. A Merseyside Ambulance spokesman said they were called to Liverpool Pierhead shortly after noon. He said: "The first reports at the scene were that a tanker had hit the stern of a ferry. The ferry was able to come into the dock, although it was taking on some water. "All passengers have been evacuated from the ferry. There were no injuries."

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