Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Troop Cuts In Germany May Be Delayed

The United States may delay a plan to reduce the number of its troops based in Germany, a military spokesman said. The head of the U.S. European Command, Gen. Bantz Craddock, has recommended to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that two of four Army brigades in Europe be kept there a year or so longer than had been planned. Those brigades are currently based in Germany and have been rotating through Iraq. "The secretary is inclined to embrace the concept of leaving there, the two of them for a period longer than was anticipated," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. Whitman said details are being worked out, including the implications for compliance with the most recent base closing and realignment law.
Gen. Bantz Craddock
Craddock questioned the troop reduction plan shortly after taking over the European post late last year. The decrease in troops so far - amid repeated deployments to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by those remaining in Europe - has forced officials to cancel military exercises and other activities with European allies. The idea of cutting troops from 68,000 in 2001 to 28,000 by 2012 was part of an initiative by former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to transform the military into a leaner, more cost-effective force.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

U.S. Destroyer Pursuing Hijacked Ship In Somali Waters

A U.S. destroyer has entered Somali territorial waters in pursuit of a Japanese owned ship loaded with benzene that was hijacked by pirates over the weekend, military officials said. The guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke entered Somali waters with the permission of the troubled transitional government in Mogadishu, U.S. officials said. In recent years, warships have stayed outside the 12-mile limit when chasing pirates. The ongoing operation was confirmed to reporters by two military officials familiar with the details. Gunmen aboard two skiffs hijacked the Panamanian-flagged Golden Mori off the Socotra archipelago, near the Horn of Africa, said Andrew Mwangura, a spokesman for Kenya's Seafarers' Assistance Programme. The Golden Mori radioed for help Sunday night. The Burke's sister ship, the USS Porter, opened fire and sank the pirate skiffs tied to its stern before the Burke took over shadowing the hijacked vessel. When the shots were fired, it was not known the ship was filled with highly flammable benzene. U.S. military officials indicate there is a great deal of concern about the cargo because it is so sensitive. Benzene, which U.S. authorities have declared a known human carcinogen, is used as a solvent and to make plastics and synthetic fabrics. U.S. and NATO warships have been patrolling off the Horn of Africa for several years in an effort to crack down on piracy off Somalia, where a U.N.-backed transitional government is struggling to restore order after 15 years of near-anarchy.
USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51)
In June, the destroyer USS Carter Hall fired warning shots in an attempt to stop a hijacked Danish cargo ship off Somalia, but the American vessel had to turn away when the pirated ship entered Somali waters. In May, a U.S. Navy advisory warned merchant ships to stay at least 200 miles off the Somali coast. But the U.S. Maritime Administration said pirates sometimes issue false distress calls to lure ships closer to shore. The pirates are often armed with automatic rifles and shoulder-fired rockets, according to a recent warning from the agency. "To date, vessels that increase speed and take evasive maneuvers avoid boarding, while those that slow down are boarded, taken to the Somali coastline and released after successful ransom payment, often after protracted negotiations of as much as 11 weeks," it advised. The agency issued a new warning to sailors in the Gulf of Aden, between Somalia and Yemen, after Sunday's hijacking was reported.

Monday, October 29, 2007

North Korean Cargo Ship Capsizes, 22 Missing

Twenty-two people are missing after a cargo ship registered in North Korea capsized in the Yellow Sea about four miles off China's eastern Shandong province today.An official with the provincial maritime bureau said strong winds were sweeping the area when the accident happened and only three of the 25 crew members had been saved. Local fishermen and police officers were organizing rescue efforts, the official said. It was not clear what cargo the ship was carrying.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fire On U.S. Aegis Ship Covered Up

Fire broke out in the engine room of a U.S. Aegis-equipped destroyer during a friendship port call at Kagoshima last November, but its captain ordered his crew to conceal the damage, according to a Navy Times report. Neither the Japan Coast Guard nor local Japanese authorities received any information of the blaze aboard the USS Halsey, Japanese officials said Friday. The Navy Times reported that the fire broke out in the main engine room aboard the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, equipped with the sophisticated Aegis air defense system, on the night of Nov. 2 following an official reception for 40 local Japanese dignitaries. "Some of the sailors were too drunk to even don their firefighting gear.
USS Halsey (DDG-97)
During and after the fire, the captain remained in his stateroom — despite pleas from his officers to take charge of the situation," according to the report. "When the fire broke out, some were too drunk to respond. The next day, Halsey skipper Cmdr. John Pinckney ordered his crew to conceal the extent of the damage," the report said. "Later in the deployment, the same piece of machinery exploded, forcing the Halsey to return to San Diego, and the coverup was revealed," it said. The Navy was stuck with an $8.5 million repair bill and Pinckney was relieved of duty Feb. 2 following a preliminary inquiry and administrative proceeding, the report said. The preliminary investigation "reveals Pinckney's attempt to conceal from his chain of command the details of the fire in one of the ship's two main reduction gears," it said.

Rising Tide of Opposition to L.O.S.T.

Arizona Senator John McCain has become the latest Presidential candidate publicly to express opposition to ratification of the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST). During a call with bloggers, Senator McCain noted in response to a question about LOST: "…I do worry a lot about American sovereignty aspects of it, so I would probably vote against it in its present form." Other Presidential candidates who have recently come out against ratification of LOST include former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson. Huckabee has expressed opposition to LOST in a series of statements, including during an October 19th appearance on the Glenn Beck show, when he stated that LOST was: "…the dumbest thing we’ve ever done. It’s like taking our sovereignty and handing it over to some international tribunal. What’s wrong with us?...the Law of the Sea Treaty essentially would say that the United States would give up certain controls of its territorial waters, it would give up its sovereign understanding of what it can do within its own seas both at the surface and within the depths, and that we would virtually hand ourselves over to an international body of justice."Meanwhile, in a posting on his campaign website dated October 24th, former Senator Thompson stated: I oppose the ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty at this time. The Treaty threatens U.S. sovereignty and gives a U.N.-affiliated organization far too much authority over U.S. interests in international waters. The American people also deserve ironclad assurances that the problems with the treaty highlighted by President Reagan more than two decades ago have been fixed. At a time when customary international law in this area has proven sufficient, I believe the efforts of treaty proponents would be better spent reforming the United Nations. Until such reforms are complete, I see little reason for the U.S. to move forward on the Law of the Sea Treaty.

McCain’s full statement was posted October 25 as follows: I’d like to make some changes to it. I think that we need a Law of the Sea. I think it’s important, but I have not frankly looked too carefully at the latest situation as it is, but it would be nice if we had some of the provisions in it. But I do worry a lot about American sovereignty aspects of it, so I would probably vote against it in its present form. I would like to see a treaty as far something to bring order, for example, in a place like the Arctic right now, where thanks to climate change, it’s going to be far more important than it was. You watch the Russians asserting their sovereignty over it, and I’d like to see some order out of that chaos. But I’m just too concerned about the aspect of United States sovereignty being handed over to some international organization. (Emphasis added)

The Coalition to Preserve American Sovereignty commends these candidates for expressing their opposition to LOST, and calls on Presidential candidates from both parties to insist upon a critical evaluation of the Treaty by each of the Senate’s nine relevant committees prior to any vote on this accord by the full body.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Nuclear-Submarine Commander Removed From Duty

The commanding officer of the nuclear-powered submarine USS Hampton was relieved of his duty yesterday because of a loss of confidence in his leadership, the Navy said.
USS Hampton
Cmdr. Michael B. Portland was relieved of duty after a U.S. Navy investigation found that required daily safety checks on its nuclear reactor were not done for a month and records were falsified to cover up the omission.
Cmdr. Michael B. Portland
“His oversight of the crew’s performance did not identify these issues” without an outside inspection, Navy Lt. Alli Myrick, a public-affairs officer, said.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Spain Reports 6 Dead, 50 Missing From Migrant Boat Off African Coast

At least six people died and around 50 were missing from a boat that was trying to reach Spain from Cape Verde, the Spanish interior minister said. Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said a Spanish fishing vessel made the discovery off the coast of West Africa, and a survivor from the migrant boat said 50 people were missing. The ship's skipper, Jose Maria Abreu, told Cadena Ser radio he counted seven dead on the boat, and that the survivor was in deplorable physical condition. "The stench was unbearable. They must have been dead six or seven days," Abreu told the radio station.Rubalcaba told a news conference the number of people caught this year trying to sail from Africa to Spain, either to the mainland or the Canary Islands, is down sharply to 13,000 from 35,000 last year. Perez Rubalcaba attributed the drop to a new European surveillance system with aircraft and ships posted off the coast of Africa. He said this is discouraging people from setting out on dangerous journeys to Spain, which for destitute Africans is seen as a gateway to a better life in Europe.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mongolia Becomes New Maritime Ally For U.S.

Somebody should have looked at a map. The State Department with great fanfare signed an agreement with landlocked Mongolia that will allow Mongolian ships to be boarded and searched if they are suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction. This despite the fact that Mongolia, a vast land that's home to the Gobi Desert, windswept steppes and largely populated by nomadic yak herders, has no navy at all and lies thousands of kilometres from open waters. Still, its tiny merchant marine is recognized as one of 32 "flag of convenience" countries by international maritime authorities. The U.S.-Mongolia shipboarding pact, the eighth signed between the United States and usually coastal or island countries, is designed to cover those Mongolian-flagged ships in international waters that might be used by other countries, notably North Korea, to disguise cargos of illegal weaponry, U.S. officials said.Asked what Washington hoped to achieve with the agreement, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said "I'll have to check," but stressed it was a key part of the "Proliferation Security Initiative" that aims to halt trade in nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Although Mongolia has only 62 ships registered under the "flag" program, according to the latest edition of the CIA World Factbook, officials said it is important to sign up as many countries as possible no matter how modest their fleet. The seven countries that have signed agreements account for nearly 10,000 registered ships and include the top three "flag of convenience" countries - Panama, Liberia and Malta - as well as Cyprus and the Marshall Islands, which are both in the top 10, according to the State Department.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

USS Porter Visits Mombassa

The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) departed Mombassa Oct. 19 after a port visit that aimed to continue developing a bilateral partnership. Porter's port call to Mombasa is the first visit of a U.S. Navy ship to the port city since guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) in 2005 and only the third ship visit since 1999. “I couldn’t be more pleased over the visit to the port of Mombassa,” said Porter’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Robert Hall. “I spent several days meeting key leadership and discussed our ongoing cooperation to improve stability in the region. Our entire crew enjoyed Mombasa’s rich culture.”
USS Porter (DDG 78)
Based in Norfolk, Porter has been supporting Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the region since arriving in early September. Coalition maritime forces operate throughout international waters in the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Coalition forces conduct MSO under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters so that commercial shipping and fishing can occur safely.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Navy SEAL Posthumously Awarded First Medal Of Honor For Afghanistan

The first Medal of Honor for combat in Afghanistan was awarded posthumously today to Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy of Patchogue, N.Y. President Bush wore a gold dog tag that Murphy's parents gave him moments before he presented them with the nation's highest military honor for valor.
Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, United States Navy SEAL
Murphy, who was 29, is the fourth Navy SEAL to earn the award and the first since the Vietnam War. Murphy's father, Dan, said the family was "deeply moved" by Bush's gesture. "It was very emotional on everybody's part," added Murphy's mother, Maureen.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Skipper Charged In Fatal Oregon Fishing Boat Wreck

The 23-year-old skipper of a fishing boat that crashed on the Tillamook jetty in January has been indicted on manslaughter and negligent homicide charges in the death of a crew member. Kirk Opheim also was charged in Tillamook County with recklessly endangering another person and boating under the influence of methamphetamine. A warrant was issued for Opheim's arrest, but authorities and his family say they do not know his whereabouts.
The Starrigavan
Opheim was at the helm of a 58-foot steel-hulled boat called the Starrigavan when it headed over the Tillamook Bay bar on Jan. 25 with 5,000 pounds of crab. It was hit by a 25-foot wave and Opheim had just enough time to radio for help when two more waves struck, rolling the boat three times before slamming it onto the rocks. One of the crewmen, 50-year-old Ken "Skinny" Venard of Newport, died after the crew was rescued.

Woman Lasts 19 Hours Afloat In Pacific

A 49-year-old woman has managed to stay afloat for 19 hours in the Pacific Ocean, clutching a water container, until she was rescued. Lillian Ruth Simpson said her canoe flipped in strong winds a couple of kilometres off the Hawaiian coast. She could not restore the canoe, and tried to swim to shore and failed. "The times I thought, 'I'm going to die, I'm going to die,' I would say, 'No, I have three kids and you're not taking me anywhere'," she told the Maui News. She spent a long night dozing off, accidentally swallowing sea water, throwing up and trying to keep warm by wrapping her bathing suit top around her head.By the time Joseph Carvalho Jr, captain of the boat Strike Zone, found Simpson, she could not remember her name. "She told me that she kept telling herself, 'At least the water's warm'," Carvalho said. "Your survival instinct kicks in. She made something out of nothing and that saved her life." She was dehydrated and sunburned. She was treated at a hospital and released. A buoy near where Simpson was floating registered an average water temperature of about 26.6 degrees Celsius this week, said National Weather Service forecaster Robert Ballard.

Israeli Ship Kills 2 Palestinians In Boat Off Gaza

An Israeli naval vessel killed two Palestinian lifeguards in a boat off Gaza City on Saturday, the Islamic Jihad militant group and local medics said. An Islamic Jihad official said one of its fighters and a civilian were killed when the Israeli ship fired at their boat in the Mediterranean off the Gaza Strip. The official said the two were lifeguards on duty and were not trying to attack the ship. Palestinian medics said they recovered one body from the water and were searching for the second. An Israeli army spokeswoman said the military were checking the report.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ship Sinks Off Indonesian Island Of Sulawesi

An Indonesian ship that might have been overloaded with passengers capsized off the island of Sulawesi, killing around 30 people and leaving many missing, officials said. The small wooden ship sank just before reaching the town of Baubau, in southeastern Sulawesi. The mayor of Baubau said by telephone that 31 bodies had been recovered, including three babies, and 35 people had been reported missing. He said that 125 people had survived. "We found the babies trapped between dead bodies too. People rushed to get out all together but then they were trapped instead," said Mayor Amirul Tamil. We had already urged people not to insist on getting onboard a few days ago. The boat was overloaded, but we could not do anything since the boat started sailing far away from Baubau.Earlier, Transport Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said that 15 people had died, but Tamil and a Indonesian Red Cross official later said the figure was roughly double that. "Preliminary investigations have indicated that the ship may have sunk because passengers piled onto one side ... tipping its balance and causing it to roll over," Ervan said. Authorities were still investigating the cause but Ervan said the seas were calm at the time of the accident. Mayor Tamil said the ship was towed back to shore and that some survivors were found clinging to the bottom of the vessel. "Relatives of the dead have come to get the bodies and they get 500,000 rupiah ($55) of compensation," he said.

Friday, October 19, 2007

US Sailor Brought To Hospital With Gunshot Wound

An American sailor was rushed to Larnaca General Hospital after an incident on a US Destroyer. The USS Bainbridge was sailing in international waters, 66 nautical miles east of Larnaca, when a call came in from her commander to the Cyprus Search and Rescue Co-ordination Centre. A medical helicopter was despatched to the Bainbridge, with 30-year-old Brent Roussell rushed to hospital a little after 10pm.
USS Bainbridge (DDG-96)
The doctor treating him told reporters that he is suffering from, “a pretty serious injury to his left leg. We were told it was caused by a firearm but do not have any further details.” A spokesman at the US Embassy in Nicosia said: “We can confirm that there was an incident involving a US citizen, but we cannot make any further comment.” The USS Bainbridge is an Arleigh Burke-class Destroyer in the United States Navy. Currently, she is the only ship in the fleet with an operational Remote Minehunting System, an unmanned craft that seeks out underwater mines to protect the ship and sailors.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Greek Cargo Ship Sinks After Collision

Two cargo ships collided near the Greek port of Thessaloniki at noon on Wednesday, leaving one captain missing with his sunk vessel. The Panama-registered cargo ship "Dubai Guardian" was entering the harbor in northeastern Greece when it rammed into the Greek-flagged "Diamond I" carrying lignite, about 1 nautical mile (less than 2 km) off the coast.
A helicopter, a coast guard and other vessels search waters outside the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, after two cargo ships collided.
"Diamond I" sank, taking its captain with it, reported the Athens News Agency. But six other crew members were picked up by a rescue ship. The Thessaloniki Port Authority has launched an investigation into the causes of the collision. It was the second maritime accident near Thessaloniki in less than a week. Last Friday, a Greek ferry collided with a fishing boat 23 km off the coast. All the 143 passengers on board were safely disembarked and the six fishermen were unharmed.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Joining The Air Force Is Going to Remain Hard

The good news is that the Air Force is planning to take in almost 1,000 more new recruits in Fiscal Year 2008 than they did in Fiscal Year 2007 (28,700 vs. 27,801). The bad news is that on the first day of the new fiscal year (Oct 1), the Air Force had already signed up 35 percent of their requirements for the entire new fiscal year, according to an Air Force News Service article.Unlike the Army and Marine Corps, which are increasing in size each year until 2013, the Air Force continues a multi-year downsizing. This means that those wishing to join the Air Force during this fiscal year can expect another year of high enlistment standards, limited job choices, and long waits in the Delayed Enlistment Program.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ship's Chief Officer Loses Fingers

The Chief Officer of the Iranian tanker Iran Susangird lost three fingers during crew change off the Grand Harbour at around 1740CEST. The Armed Forces of Malta dispatched a helicopter to the tanker and the injured seaman was transported to St Luke's Hospital.
Iran Susangird
Preliminary reports show that as the Chief Officer was being lowered onto the Maltese flagged utility vessel Maria-C from the tanker, the Personnel Basket which was holding the officer lost control with the consequence that it hit the ship's side. Further investigations are underway.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Oldest Fishing Boat Back In Business

A gently rising tide yesterday refloated a Cornish fishing lugger at the place where she last landed fish 74 years ago. The Ripple, a 44ft tarred boat built 111 years ago, has been subject to a four-year restoration project near Newlyn harbour and is now the world's only working Cornish lugger. In a ceremony aided by the raw brawn of Cornish Pirates rugby team members, she has now been placed back in the water.Owner John Lambourn said she was a special kind of boat - in and out of the water. "The Ripple symbolises regeneration in Newlyn," he said. "She is a tangible example of getting the past to work for the future, inspiring the next generation to find ways of benefiting from the richness of Newlyn's fishing heritage and learning how the past can help shape a vision for a sustainable fishing industry."The Ripple SS.19 was built on the Harbour Beach in St Ives in 1896 and is now the oldest fishing boat on the UK Fishing Vessel Register carrying her original name and fishing registry number. The historic ship, which was restored by the West Cornwall Lugger Industry Trust, will tomorrow be blessed by the Rev Julyan Drew, Methodist minister for Newlyn and Mousehole.

Man Found After 15 Hours At Sea

A man has been found alive after apparently clinging to a fuel tank for up to 15 hours in the sea off Perth following a boating acccident. The 37-year-old man was found on a beach just after 1am (WST) near Yanchep Lagoon, about 25km from Perth. It was about 15km from where a man, 39, and his son, about 14 - who were missing from the same boat - were also found alive. The body of a 23-year-old man who was also aboard was found last night about 1.8km off the coastal community of Yanchep.The four were aboard a 5.5m cabin cruiser which failed to return to the Mindarie Quays, in Perth's northern suburbs, at 5pm yesterday. The 37-year-old survivor was suffering exhaustion and hypothermia, said Sergeant Graham Clifford. The man was believed to have clung to a fuel tank while floating in the water for 12 to 15 hours, Sgt Clifford said. He was in intensive care at Royal Perth Hospital.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Australia Participating In Martime Exercise In Japan

Australia is taking part in a multi national exercise off Japan this weekend aimed at halting the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Our North Asia Correspondent Shane Mcleod in Tokyo says this is the second time the countries involved in the Proliferation Security Initiative have conducted a joint exercise.Australia is joining Japan, Britain, France, New Zealand and the United States to stage mock pursuits and inspections at sea, and a chemical spill to test the response of the initiative members. Japan is hosting the event, and its Maritime Self Defence Force is taking part along with other government agencies. Japan has also reportedly decided to test fire its new Aegis anti missile interception technology for the first time in December off Hawaii.

Pub Completes 25,000km Journey By Boat

New Zealanders mourning the World Cup loss have been able to drown their sorrows patriotically after a pub with 75 kegs of a local brew arrived in London on a container ship. The MV Lida arrived this week at Canary Wharf after 76 days at sea travelling from New Zealand as part of a promotion by Dunedin brewery Speight’s. More than 2000 keen drinkers applied to be one of five punters making the voyage.
The MV Lida passing under Tower Bridge in London carrying a pub
The boat travelled almost 25,000km, stopping in Western Samoa, Panama, New York and the Bahamas before arriving in London. The pub was purpose-built in six weeks by Christchurch company 3 Bald Men inside two five-tonne containers and will stay moored at the wharf for two weeks before setting up in a central London site.

Men Airlifted From Upturned Boat

Three men have been winched to safety from the hull of their upturned boat in a dramatic rescue off the Northumberland coast. The alarm was raised after the men's small fishing boat was overturned by a large wave at a strip of rocks called Cresswell Scars, near Newbiggin.An RAF helicopter crew airlifted the men to Wansbeck General Hospital. A spokesman for Newbiggin lifeboat station said the men were being treated for shock and hypothermia.

Philippine Coast Guard To The Rescue

Philippine Coast Guard personnel here rescued nine crew members of a motor tug in distress in the waters off Lakshadweep. The Panama registered vessel had been adrift since October 7 following a technical snag. It was sailing from Sharjah to Singapore. The crew members are from the Philippines. Coast Guard Ship Annie Besant reached the vessel and brought it to New Mangalore Port, Nitin M. Rathore, Deputy Commandant and Operations Officer, Coast Guard, Karnataka, said in a press release.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Captain Ate Breakfast As Ship Sailed To Doom

A new report into the Pasha Bulker incident, in which the massive bulk carrier ran aground on Nobbys Beach in Newcastle, says the captain left the stricken ship in the hands of junior crew members while he had breakfast. Fairfax newspapers say there were several blunders leading to the ship beaching itself in June, which included the captain steering in the wrong direction in his attempt to avoid the shore.
Pasha Bulker
The NSW government report into the incident says the captain left control of the ship with junior crew on the morning of June 8 while he went below decks to eat breakfast. It says in the last moments before the Pasha Bulker ran aground the desperate captain ordered the ship to go full astern, literally backing into the waves which were crashing down upon it. Then, after the ship had hit a rock shelf called Big Ben Reef, he ordered his crew to abandon ship, despite the need for a small crew to be on board the stationary ship to minimise damage and avoid an environmental disaster.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Search For Skipper Called Off

Rescue crews scouring the North Sea for the skipper of a fishing boat which collided with a cargo ship have called off the search. Helicopters and boats had been searching for the skipper on Thursday. Three others on the fishing boat, including the skipper's son, were rescued by the cargo ship, Nautica, 28 miles south east of Flamborough Head. A Humber Coastguard spokesman said it was unlikely the search would resume at first light. The boat's skipper was "missing, feared dead", the spokesman added. RAF helicopters and lifeboat crews had been searching the area with the help of other local fishing vessels.In a statement, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency revealed that at 1414 BST Falmouth Coastguard picked up a distress alert from a fishing vessel called Flourish. Humber Coastguard attempted to contact the fishing vessel without success. Other fishing vessels in the area responded to the coastguard's broadcast to shipping and reported sighting the Flourish 30 minutes earlier. A few minutes later Humber Coastguard received a call from the Nautica reporting that they had picked up three of the crew who were safely on board but the skipper was missing after a collision between the two vessels.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ottawa Floating Idea Of New Subs

The defence minister's office recently requested a briefing on how long it would take to introduce new submarines – a move that could set the stage for the replacement of the troubled Victoria-class boats, defence sources have told The Canadian Press.At the same time, a key refit contract involving the compressed-air system aboard HMCS Victoria has been put on hold, an upgrade which left incomplete would mean the warship would not be able to fire torpedoes. Both actions raise questions about the future of the four glitch-plagued submarines that were purchased from Britain in 1998 under the former Liberal government and have yet to reach full operational status. In the briefing, which was reportedly delivered by senior officials last week to Peter MacKay's new deputy minister, the government was told it would take six years to bring new submarines completely up to snuff, starting from the moment of contract signing.A second defence source said a more conservative estimate of the timeline would be up to eight years. A spokesperson for MacKay declined to give details of the briefing. "The minister has no comment on the substance of briefings, which are often sensitive in nature," said Jay Paxton, the minister's press secretary. "The minister does view these subs as an important strategic asset for Canada." The conjecture comes at a time when the Harper government is casting around for ways to bolster the country's sovereignty over the Arctic. The issue of the Far North is expected to figure prominently in next week's throne speech.

Drought Uncovers Rare Pole Boat

Thanks to low water levels caused by a drought, the remains of a rare wooden boat that could be nearly 200 years old have turned up in North Carolina's Tar River. Assistant State Archaeologist Nathan Henry says officials believe the 80-foot-long vessel could be a North Carolina pole boat, which were made in the 1820s and preceded steamboats.He says it turned up near the Old Sparta bridge in Tarboro. The town about 60 miles east of Raleigh was once a thriving port center. Henry says common practice at the time was to desert a boat if it was too leaky or had other problems. He says that's likely what happened to this vessel. State officials plan to do more research on the boat and ask the public not to disturb it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Army Celebrates Recruiting Success

Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Richard A. Cody swore in six new recruits and re-enlisted six Soldiers in a ceremony today celebrating success in recruiting and retention for fiscal year 2007. Although the numbers won't be available for another week, the Army met all Active, National Guard and Reserve recruiting goals, according to Army officials. The ceremony also kicked off the 2008 recruiting campaign. On the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren reminded the audience that the American Soldier is responsible for every freedom Mr. Jefferson outlined in the Declaration of Independence. "Were it not for the American Soldier, the Declaration of Independence likely would have been exhibit one in Thomas Jefferson's trial for treason in a British courtroom," he said. "Were it not for the American Soldier, George Washington would likely be remembered as the most famous traitor to Mother England, and were it not for the indomitable American Soldier, we would remember Abraham Lincoln as a failed president who lost the Union. All of you today join or rejoin generations of men and women who have answered when our nation called." Building the force - the right force - is crucial for success. According to Gen. Cody, only 35 percent of males between 18 and 34 meet the Army's minimum mental, physical and moral qualifications.He praised Soldiers' selflessness and said he believes this is the best the Army has ever been, and that history will call this America's "Strongest Generation." "To re-enlist at a time of war is a powerful commitment," said Gen. Cody. "It says a great deal about these noncommissioned officers and our Army. Soldiers don't re-enlist in an Army at war for incentives or college benefits. They do it because they believe in the mission, because they trust in themselves, their units and their leaders. They do it because they don't want to leave their buddies and because they believe in you - the future Soldiers. "You new recruits raised your right hand today and said, 'America, in your time of need, send me. I will defend you,' he said. "That takes personal courage and a sense of duty that we should all respect and take pride in." Many might ask why anyone would volunteer knowing they will probably deploy, but to these new recruits and Soldiers, the answer is simple."To the Soldiers I say, I think we all know," Logan Bilyeu told the crowd. "Look at the Soldiers next to you. To everybody else, I say, it's not about the people or a certain person, it's about the flag. We all have to fight for our rights and what we believe. We have a lot of liberties that not a lot of people enjoy and I joined to earn those rights and to follow the footsteps of my father, my grandfather and my great-grandfather." "It's what I do. Civilians have their jobs. This is my job," said Staff Sgt. Christopher A. Brown of the 3rd U.S. Infantry, known as the "Old Guard." He deployed during the initial phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and has some advice for the new recruits: "Believe in your team and the person standing next to you. Trust your NCOs, because your NCOs will not lead you wrong. Fight for what you believe is right. Make it what you want it to be. Take advantage of all the education. Use that and prepare yourself for when you do decide to get out." Staff Sgt. Ken Kercado and Army-wife Yanitza Lopez-Guerrero are also prepared to deploy, but said they re-enlisted and enlisted today because of the way the Army has cared for their families. Daniel Otugare is from Nigeria and joins a group of 15,000 immigrants in the Army. "I was so excited because I like the Army and I'm proud to serve a country like this. I see the equality," he said with a smile.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Missing Sailor Found On Mothers's Sofa

Rescue teams mounted a frantic search for a missing sailor after his boat was found wrecked off the Norwegian coast – only for the man to be found drunk on his mother's sofa. The rescue team were called out after witnesses first heard a loud crash, just before midnight and then found the wreckage of a boat when they went o investigate. A search for the man was immediately launched in the sea off the coast of Bærum, a suburb of Oslo, a local newspaper reports.However, a bag was found near the wreck with an address tag on it. About two hours after the search began, police at the address found the boat's driver relaxing on his mum's sofa. He is thought to have been on the booze. 'We have a suspicion of intoxication and a blood sample has been taken. He can at least expect repercussions for not reporting the accident,' commented police spokesman Tore Haugen.

Monday, October 08, 2007

24 Reported Killed In Sri Lankan Naval Attack On Ship

At least 24 people are believed to have been killed when Sri Lankan Navy destroyed a ship reportedly carrying arms for Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) off the countrys southern coast.
Sailors cheers as the Sri Lankan Navy Approaches Naval Headquarters
"The attack took place in the Indian Ocean, at the high seas off Dondra Head, of the southern coastal tip of Sri Lanka this morning," a top official of Sri Lankan Navy told reporters in the capital Colombo today, news agency Press Trust of India reported.
"There were 24 to 25 people aboard the ship and it is believed all of them have been killed," Defense Spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara told reporters.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Navy Ship's Wake Frees Stranded Pleasure Boat

The wake of a passing Navy ship helped the Coast Guard save a boater stranded on the rocks at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel this morning. A call that a recreational boater was stuck on the rocks at first island of the bridge came in at 9:40 a.m. Beach rescue officials and the Coast Guard responded, and found the boater could not get out of his craft, said Coast Guard Lt.j.g. Scott Higbee.The Coast Guard had trouble reaching the boater, and they considered a rescue attempt by fire fighters from the land – or even reaching the man by air. Along came the Navy. An unidentified ship passed, and its wake lifted the stranded boat free and clear. The Coast Guard tied the damaged 18-foot craft to the side of a 25-foot response boat, and took the stranded man to shore.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Leaking Ship Full Of Kids Reaches Port

Rescuers went to the aid of a leaking tall ship carrying 42 children Friday afternoon about six miles off the coast of Long Beach. The 130-foot schooner, American Pride, began taking on water sometime around noon. Fire crews and U.S. Coast Guard boats were sent to the scene to assist, and no injuries had been reported. The ship was headed back to Rainbow Harbor, where additional crews were headed to help off-load passengers. No one had to be evacuated from the ship and it was never at risk of sinking, according to Helen Clinton, director of the Children's Maritime Foundation, which operates the American Pride. "She took on a little bit of water, and to be conservative (the crew) called the Coast Guard and asked them to stand by," Clinton said. "Her waterline was never low, she was never listing, she was sailing just fine."The children were returning from a five-day educational trip to Catalina Island during which the students do science experiments and participate in living history demonstrations, Clinton said. "They put on their life vests, and they were just hanging out watching the show," Clinton said. The students are from Polytechnic High in Pasadena. The American Pride, a three-mast schooner built in 1941 and originally used as a fishing ship in New England, is known as "the children's ship" because of the educational programs it has offered for almost 12 years. Clinton said the ship is used for "hundreds" of school trips each year, among other uses such as weddings and whale watching. The ship is scheduled to sail this weekend during the 18th annual Buccaneer Days at Two Harbors at Catalina Island.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Boat locked Up On Rocks Near Historic Lighthouse In Sleepy Hollow

Police summoned a fire department boat shortly before 1 p.m. today to investigate how a boat got locked up on the rocks near the historic lighthouse. It was not clear who, if anyone, was aboard the boat. Police and the village fire department were at the scene on the shore of the Hudson River near Kingsland Point Park.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Crew Of Sunken Ship Feared Eaten By Sharks

Fourteen crew members of a cargo ship which sank in waters off western Philippines' Palawan Island last weekend were believed to have been eaten by sharks, reported the Philippine News Agency. The news agency quoted Roulette Sapallida, one of four people who survived the wreckage on September 29, as saying that the ill- fated MV Mia was in a shark-infested area. MV Mia sank on September 29, some 28 nautical miles southeast off Cagayancillo in Palawan due to strong waves brought about by tropical depression "Hanna".The town island of Cagayancillo, Cabili Island, is also haunted by sharks which live near a World Heritage Site-declared Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park. Sapallida and three other crew members of the ship were rescued by a passing fishing boat. The Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard divers and rescuers have been in the area for a joint rescue operation for days without finding any survivor.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Army Showcases FCS Technologies

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. showed members of Congress equipment now being used in Iraq that incorporates technologies developed under the Future Combat Systems program. Gen. Casey and Secretary of the Army Pete Geren spoke to the House Armed Services Committee Sept. 26 about the need to reset and modernize the Army to improve its overall readiness. "We are ultimately working toward an agile, globally responsive Army that is enhanced by modern networks, surveillance sensors, precision weapons and platforms that are lighter, less logistics-dependent and less manpower-intensive," Gen. Casey said. Research and development of such systems is well underway with the FCS program, Gen. Casey said, but he added that the Army needs the support of Congress to keep up the momentum. While major new FCS systems may not be fielded until 2012 with the new FCS Brigade Combat Teams, Gen. Casey pointed out that a number of new technologies "spun out" of the research are already helping Soldiers today in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I'd like to give you a quick show and tell here," Gen. Casey said at the end of his opening statement to the committee.First he pointed to the Micro Air Vehicle or MAV unmanned aerial vehicle, of which 50 are currently in Iraq with the 25th Infantry Division (Light). Soldiers have nicknamed it the "beer keg UAV" or the "scrubbing bubble" because of its appearance, he said. "It's a squad or platoon-level unmanned vehicle that you can run down an alley, look around a corner or look on a roof and see what's up there." Then he showed the lawmakers a Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle or robot that has already defused about 11,000 improvised explosive devices in theater. Close to 5,000 of these robots are currently fielded in theater, he said. "Sending a robot up to defuse an IED is much safer than having a Soldier do it." Further demonstrating Soldier safety, Gen. Casey showed the Unattended Ground Sensor that is being used in the Iraq theater to detect enemy activity. "These are critical for us," Gen. Casey said. "A Soldier can take this and put it in a building or along a road and watch it back at his base."Several variants of the Joint Tactical Radio System, which have not yet been fielded, were also on display, to include the man-pack version that can be carried in a rucksack and a larger Ground Mobile Radio with multiple units designed for vehicles. The JTRS will use new wave forms and be tied into a wide-band network of surveillance systems that bring unprecedented situational visibility to the battlefield, said Nikolich Graciano, deputy product manager for the Ground Mobile Radio, after the hearing. Also on display in the hearing room were Rapid Fielding Initiative items such as the Advanced Combat Helmet and RFI clothing being issued to troops deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. Gen. Casey noted that the one millionth set of RFI equipment had been issued this week to a Soldier at Fort Polk, La. Sgt. Joshua Cantrell of the U.S. Army Trial Defense Service then demonstrated the rapid-release feature of the new, lighter Interceptor Body Armor. The feature can be used in such emergencies as a vehicle rollover, fire or when a Soldier faces potential drowning. "This system is now the second generation of individual body armor that we've fielded," Gen. Casey said. "So we're continuing to improve what we're giving to Soldiers over time."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

HMCS Toronto To The Rescue

A Canadian navy ship has rescued a Yemeni soldier and recovered the bodies of two others following a volcanic eruption on a small island in the Red Sea. A total of four survivors were pulled from the water. HMCS Toronto was part of a NATO fleet sailing toward the Suez Canal when the Yemeni government asked them to assist in the search for eight soldiers believed at sea after the volcano. Navy spokesman Ken Allen, aboard HMCS Toronto, told The Canadian Press the survivors were found this morning as the ships were leaving the area after the Yemeni coast guard no longer required their services. Allen said that HMCS Toronto rescued one of the eight missing Yemeni soldiers and recovered the bodies of two others. Three more survivors were pulled from the water by Dutch and American ships.
HMCS Toronto (FFH 333)
Twenty nine soldiers were based at the island, located about 140 kilometres off the Yemeni coast, that is used for naval control and observation because large cargo ships pass nearby. The eruption collapsed part of the island and covered the rest with lava, forcing authorities to evacuate the base, the Yemeni news agency SABA reported. Lava and ash, which shot hundreds of feet into the air in the initial eruption, continued to spew from the volcano Monday, the Yemeni Defense Ministry said. The six-ship NATO fleet was asked by Yemen to assist in the search and found two survivors, as well as the four bodies, said Cmdr. Stuart Moors of the Canadian navy who was aboard the USS Bainbridge, in an interview with The Associated Press. The Yemeni coast guard and navy had earlier evacuated 21 personnel from island base, leaving the eight missing, Moors said. Yemeni officials would not confirm how many of its personnel were originally on the island.
Lava flows and clouds of smoke and ash reach skyward after a volcano eruption on a Red Sea island, 130 km off the coast of Yemen, in this photo taken from the deck of the Canadian frigate HMCS Toronto.
It was not clear whether the victims were killed by the eruption or by drowning. “We’re still searching” for the other two missing Yemenis, Moors said from the Bainbridge, which is based in Norfolk, Va., and is the flagship of the NATO fleet. “As soon as we found these people, we offered to remain and assist. We have continued our search through the day and we’re remaining in touch with Yemen authorities,” he said. The two rescued men were turned over to the Yemeni coast guard, Moors said. One of the survivors who was found by the Bainbridge reported being in the water for more than 12 hours, and “he was in quite good shape, considering the hardship." He had no information on the other survivor, who was picked up by the HMCS Toronto. Canadian navy spokesman Ken Allen, who was aboard the Toronto, said the eruption was “catastrophic.’’ On Sunday evening, he reported that the entire island “is aglow with lava and magma as it pours down into the sea.’’ “The lava is spewing hundreds of feet into the air, with the volcanic ash also (rising) a thousand feet in the air,” he said in an e-mail from the ship.Sailors on Monday could hear “what sounded like popping noise from the lava going up in the air, and you could see big steam plumes and smoke,” Moors said. Jabal al-Tair — meaning “Bird Mountain” — is one of a number of volcanos at the southern end of the Red Sea in the narrows between Yemen and Sudan. The island last saw an explosive eruption in 1883, according to the Washington-based Smithsonian Institute’s Global Volcanism Program. In the past two weeks, the area around the island had seen light earthquakes between magnitude 2 to 3.6, with three larger ones Sunday reaching magnitude 4.3, the Yemeni Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources said, according to SABA. Fishermen and other boats had been warned from approaching the area, it said.

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