Saturday, March 31, 2007

India Successfully Test Fires Ship-To-Ship Missile

India successfully test-fired the indigenously developed ship-to-ship "Dhanush" missile from a naval ship in the Bay of Bengal along the country's eastern coast.The 8.56 metre missile, the nuclear capable and naval version of India's surface to surface missile "Prithivi" was test-fired this afternoon local time, the news agency Indo-Asian News Service reported."Dhanush" has a striking range of 250 km and can carry a single warhead weighing up to 750 kg. The missile could reach a target of 500 km with a lighter warhead, the news agency said.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Threat That Spurred Cruise Ship Evacuation Hoax

A bomb threat received by the U.S. Coast Guard for the Carnival Cruise ship Sensation turned out to be a hoax. The threat caused an evacuation of guests and crew at Port Canaveral. Law enforcement were notified and issued a vessel-wide search. The ship is clear to leave for its planned four-day cruise.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

First Barge Of Season Moving Up Mississippi River

At long last the first river barge of the 2007 shipping season is moving up the Mississippi River. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in St. Paul the MV Coral Dawn operated by the American River Transportation Co., based in St. Louis will be the first tow and barge to head into St. Paul. The MV Coral Dawn passed through Lock and Dam 10 early Tuesday morning and company officials expect it to pass by Red Wing, Minn., sometime Thursday and arrive in St. Paul late Thursday or early Friday. Weather conditions and river currents will affect the barge's progress.
MV Coral Dawn
The tow is pushing 12 barges loaded with nitrogen fertilizer, according to officials with Upper River Transport in St. Paul. This year's shipping season is off to a late start because of the closing of Locks and Dams 2, 4, 9 and 10. The facilities were closed for maintenance and repair work according to the Corps of Engineers. Behind the MV Coral Dawn on the Mississippi River is the MV Reggie G which is owned by the Alter Barge Line Inc. of Bettendorf, Iowa. The average opening date of the navigation season for the last 30 years has been March 20. In 2006 the Reggie G was the first tow and barge up the river and it arrived in St. Paul on March 22.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

USMC Tattoo Policy

The Marine Corps is getting more strict about tatoos according to Marine administrative message 198/07. “This clarification came about because there was room for interpretation of the old policy,” said Lt. Col. T.V. Johnson, spokesman for the commandant of the Marine Corps. “The commandant had this issue come up at every town hall meeting that he attended and wanted to make the policy fair across the board, squashing any margin for error.” The message details new guidelines for Marines with tattoos, specifically, restricting them from getting sleeve tattoos while protecting those who already have them. Effective April 1, Marines are prohibited from getting sleeve tattoos. Those individuals who have sleeve tattoos are required to be documented by their command by July 1.A sleeve tattoo is a very large tattoo, or collection of smaller tattoos, that covers or almost covers a person’s entire arm or leg. Half-sleeve or quarter-sleeve tattoos that are visible to the eye when wearing a standard physical training T-shirt and shorts are likewise prohibited. Marines who currently have sleeve tattoos need to have them photographed by their command and have them documented in their service record books to be grandfathered into this policy.

Current Tattoo Policy

The Marine Corps takes a conservative approach to personal appearance. Uniform regulations stress that personal appearance is to be conservative and commensurate with the high standards traditionally associated with the Marine Corps. No eccentricities in dress or appearance are permitted because they detract from uniformity and team identity.

Marines are prohibited from:

a. Tattoos or brands on the head and neck.

b. Sleeve Tatoos. A sleeve tattoo is a very large tattoo, or a collection of smaller tattoos, that covers or almost covers a person's entire arm or leg.

c. Half-sleeve or quarter sleeve tattoos that are visible to the eye when wearing standard PT Gear (T-shirt and shorts). A half-sleeve or quarter-sleeve tattoo is defined as a very large tattoo or collection of smaller tattoos that covers, or almost covers the entire portion of an army or leg above or below the elbow or knee.

d. Tattoos or brands that are prejudicial to good order, discipline and morale, or are of a nature to bring discredit upon the Marine Corps. These may include, but are not limited to, any tattoo that is sexist, racist, vulgar, anti-american, anti-social, gang related, or extremest group or organization related.

Marines who currently have a sleeve tattoo(s) prior to 1 April 2007, will be grandfathered. The Marine's command will insert a photograph(s) of the respective (tattoo(s) along with a measurement(s) of the size in inches and of the location(s) on the body and the date the tattoo(s) was documented, on the Page 11 of the Marine's SRB. The Marine will sign the Page 11 entry verifying the information is correct.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The first ship of the 2007 shipping season arrived in the Port of Green Bay. The Phillip Clarke arrived at 10:15 a.m. at the Fox River Dock Co. with 16,000 tons of coal from Sandusky, Ohio.The ship carries the U.S. flag and is owned by Great Lakes Fleet Inc. The Port of Green Bay expects the arrival of 225 vessels during the 2007 shipping season.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Indian Coast Guard Ship To Get Seized Boats Back

An Indian Coast Guard ship is leaving on Monday for the Sri Lanka to facilitate the return of eleven boats of Tamil Nadu fishermen, after a court in the island ordered their release. The boats were part of the 34 craft from the various south Tamil Nadu fishing ports, which had been seized at sea at various times by the Sri Lankan Navy for allegedly straying into Lankan waters, according to Commandant Vinod Chamoli.Commandant Chamoli is captaining the Coast Guard Ship Habbah Khatan, which will escort a fishing boat carrying seven surveyors from Rameswaram on Monday along with the owners of the 11 boats being released by Sri Lanka. If the boats are found to be fit for the sailing back home, they will be brought back after a final clearance from the court, Commandant Chamoli told this newspaper. The release of the Tamil Nadu fishing boats is the part of an Indo-Lanka initiative to promote goodwill between the Island Navy and the Indian fishermen in the midst of complaints from the latter that they were being targeted for attack, sometimes even resulting in deaths.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

New Navy Destroyer Named After War Hero

The small-town, high school gym where Jason Dunham played basketball provided the backdrop for a U.S. Navy ceremony honoring his sacrifices as a Marine. Navy Secretary Donald Winter formally announced the Navy will name its next destroyer the USS Jason Dunham for the Marine corporal who died after throwing himself on a grenade to save at least two lives during a struggle with an Iraqi insurgent three years ago. “There is no higher honor in the Navy than to have a ship named after you,” said Winters at a ceremony attended by Dunham's parents, Deb and Dan, and much of the 470-member student body in this Allegany County town in southwestern New York. In January, Dunham's parents were in Washington with President Bush to accept a Medal of Honor awarded posthumously to their son, the nation's highest military commendation. Back in the small gym decorated with handmade signs and a poster of the DDG 109 destroyer, the honors continued.
Deb Dunham, the mother of Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, chats with Navy Capt. Beci Brenton in the gymnasium of Scio Central School following the ceremony dedicating a guided missile destroyer to be named for her son, a Medal of Honor recipient.
“With every event, we miss him more,” said Deb Dunham, who was moved to tears when the younger children sang “Proud to Be an American.” “It means we're stepping in one more time to fulfill something that we wish he were here to do,” she said. Dunham, 22, was investigating a report that a Marine convoy had been ambushed when he led his men to the site near Husaybah and halted a convoy of departing cars, according to a Marine Corps account. An insurgent in one of the vehicles grabbed him by the throat when he went to search the car and the two fought. A grenade was dropped, and Dunham covered the explosive with his Kevlar helmet, which, along with his chest armor plate, absorbed some of the blast. He lived long enough to be transferred to a Bethesda, Md., hospital, where he died with his parents beside him. “It's not about war or politics,” Dan Dunham said. “It's that he was willing to give up his life for others. I truly believe that every person on this earth should be that way.” The USS Jason Dunham is under construction, Winters said, and is expected to be commissioned in 2010. Gen. Joseph Dunford, director of operations for the Marines, said it was fitting that a guided missile destroyer be named for the young Marine, since destroyers have historically supported the Marines.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

USS John F. Kennedy Decommissioned

It's the end of the line for what the commander of US Fleet Forces calls "an icon of American might and freedom." The 1,000-foot long aircraft carrier, USS John F. Kennedy, has been decommissioned after nearly 40-years of service. About 7,000 former crew members and military dignitaries gathered Friday at Mayport Naval Station in Florida to say their goodbyes to the steam-powered ship known affectionately as "Big John."
USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67)
Captain Todd Zecchin, the ship's final skipper, presided over the ceremony. The event ended with the lowering of the ship's flag and more than 2,000 sailors in dress blues marching off for the last time. The Kennedy's in-port cabin, designed by Jacqueline Kennedy, will go to a Navy museum. The carrier will be towed to Philadelphia, where it will be placed on inactive status.

Japanese Boat Found Chief Cause Of 2005 Collision With Israeli Ship

A local marine accident inquiry determined Friday that a Japanese fishing boat was primarily responsible for a 2005 collision with an Israeli container ship in the Pacific off Hokkaido in which the Japanese vessel capsized and seven of its eight crew members died.
Shinsei Maru No. 3
The collision occurred because the 19-ton saury fishing boat Shinsei Maru No. 3 had not avoided the course of the 41,507-ton Zim Asia, said Presiding Judge Kenichi Yonehara of the Yokohama Marine Accident Inquiry Agency in handing down the ruling.
Zim Asia
But the judge refused to issue any advisory as requested by investigators that the agency urge both the owner of the Japanese ship and the captain and a navigator of the Israeli vessel to take improvement measures with regard to their ships' lookouts and the emergency evacuation routes for crew members.

Two Sailors Killed By Explosion On Submarine

Two British sailors were killed in an explosion aboard a Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine in the Arctic Ocean. An injured crewmember was evacuated to a hospital in Anchorage, officials said. The explosion occurred aboard the HMS Tireless, which was submerged under an ice cap about 274km north of Deadhorse. The submarine was conducting a joint exercise with the US when its air purification system malfunctioned, British defense officials said. According to the US Navy, a self-contained oxygen generation candle exploded. The attack submarine surfaced quickly and its nuclear reactor was not affected, according to the British Ministry of Defence. The Tireless does not carry nuclear missiles. The injured sailor, whose name was not released, was transported by the Alaska Air National Guard from Deadhorse, in northern Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, to Kulis Air National Guard Base in Anchorage, 1,006km away, where an ambulance took him to a local hospital. He was taken to Alaska Regional Hospital where he was in stable condition, hospital spokeswoman Kjerstin Lastufka said. The Tireless was operating with the USS Alexandria in a joint operation to test submarine operability and tactical development in Arctic waters. The submarine's forward compartment was damaged in the explosion. The submarine was forced to surface quickly through the ice. The equipment that failed had a 100 percent safety record, according to a Ministry of Defence spokesman.
HMS Tireless (S88)
The piece of air-purification equipment was fitted to the submarine as part of an update in 2001. "I am deeply saddened at the loss of the crew members from the Tireless," said US Navy Vice Admiral Jay Donnelly, commander of the Submarine Force. "We stand by to assist in any way we can." The Alaska Air National Guard in Anchorage received a call at 10:30pm alerting the Rescue Coordination Center of the explosion aboard the British sub. An HC-130 refueling tanker was launched from Kulis 57 minutes later, reaching Deadhorse at 1:26am, said Kalei Brooks, spokeswoman for the Alaska Air National Guard. The HC-130 had about six people aboard, including two pararescuemen, a pilot, co-pilot and crew chief. A private helicopter brought the injured sailor to Deadhorse. The sailor was then taken back to Kulis aboard the HC-130 where an ambulance was waiting. "He was initially reported to have some burns," Brooks said. Since 1986, every Arctic tactical exercise has involved both US Navy and Royal Navy submarines. Lieutenant Colonel Andy Price, spokesman for the Royal Navy, said the submarine, while fully functional, will be evaluated over the next 12 hours to determine whether it will continue to be part of the joint exercises or return to the UK. Two weeks of exercises are scheduled to end on March 30.

Britain Demands Iran Free Seized Sailors

Naval forces of Iran's hardline Revolutionary Guards captured 15 British sailors and marines at gunpoint Friday in the Persian Gulf _ a provocative move coming during heightened tensions between the West and Iran. U.S. and British officials said a boarding party from the frigate HMS Cornwall was seized about 10:30 a.m. during a routine inspection of a merchant ship inside Iraqi territorial waters near the disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway. Iran's Foreign Ministry insisted the Britons were operating in Iranian waters and would be held "for further investigation," Iranian state television said. A U.S. Navy official in Bahrain, Cmdr. Kevin Aandahl, said Iran's Revolutionary Guard naval forces were responsible and had broadcast a brief radio message saying the British party was not harmed. In London, the British government summoned the Iranian ambassador to the Foreign Office, and Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said he "was left in no doubt that we want them back." Iranian TV quoted an Iranian Foreign Ministry official as saying the top British diplomat in Tehran had been called in to receive Tehran's protest of the "illegal entry" into Iranian waters. "This is not the first time that British military personnel during the occupation of Iraq have entered illegally into Iran's territorial waters," the unidentified official was quoted as saying.
HMS Cornwall (F99)
Britain's Defense Ministry said the Royal Navy personnel were "engaged in routine boarding operations of merchant shipping in Iraqi territorial waters" and had completed a ship inspection when they were accosted by Iranian vessels. The eight Royal Navy sailors and seven Royal Marines were part of a task force that protects Iraqi oil terminals and maintains security in Iraqi waters under authority of the U.N. Security Council. The Cornwall's commander, Commodore Nick Lambert, said the frigate lost communication with the boarding party, but a helicopter crew saw Iranian naval vessels approach. "I've got 15 sailors and marines who have been arrested by the Iranians and my immediate concern is their safety," he told British Broadcasting Corp. television. Lambert said he hoped it was a "simple mistake" stemming from the long dispute between Iraq and Iran over demarcating their territorial waters just off the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab, a waterway that divides the two countries. White House press secretary Tony Snow said the Bush administration was monitoring events. "The British government is demanding the immediate safe return of the people and equipment and we are keeping watch on the situation," Snow said. The incident occurred as the U.N. Security Council debates expanding sanctions against Iran seeking to force Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment. The U.S. and other nations suspect Iran is trying to produce nuclear weapons. Iran denies that and insists it won't halt the program. Iran's leaders also have denied allegations by the U.S., Britain and others that Iranians are arming Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq. Hours before the seizure of the Royal Navy team, British Lt. Col. Justin Maciejewski told BBC Radio 4's "Today" program from the Iraqi city of Basra that Iranians provided weapons and money to militants who are attacking British troops in southern Iraq. The U.S. military has leveled similar charges, saying Iranians send arms to Iraqi extremists, including sophisticated roadside bombs. This week, two commanders of an Iraqi Shiite militia told reporters in Baghdad that hundreds of Iraqi Shiites had crossed into Iran for training by the elite Quds force, a branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard thought to have trained Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. With tensions running high, the United States has bolstered its naval forces in the Persian Gulf in a show of strength directed at Iran.
A strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis recentl joined a similar force led by the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. U.S. officials have expressed concern that with so much military hardware in the Gulf, a small incident like Friday's could escalate into a dangerous confrontation. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, warned this week that if Western countries "treat us with threats and enforcement of coercion and violence, undoubtedly they must know that the Iranian nation and authorities will use all their capacities to strike enemies that attack." The seizure of two Royal Navy inflatable boats took place just outside the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, a 125-mile channel dividing Iraq from Iran. Its name means Arab Coastline in Arabic, and Iranians call it Arvandrud _ Persian for Arvand River. A 1975 treaty recognized the middle of the waterway as the border. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein canceled the treaty five years later and invaded Iran, triggering an eight-year war. "It's been in dispute for some time," said Aandahl, the U.S. Navy official in Bahrain. "We've been operating there for a couple of years and we know the lines very well. This was a compliant boarding, this happens routinely. What's out of the ordinary is the Iranian response." In June 2004, six British marines and two sailors were seized by Iran in the Shatt al-Arab. They were presented blindfolded on Iranian television and admitted entering Iranian waters illegally, then released unharmed after three days. Vali Nasr, a senior fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, suggested Friday's detention could be connected to the arrest of five Iranians in a U.S.-led raid in northern Iraq in January. The U.S. said the five included a Revolutionary Guard general. "I think Iran sees this as retaliation for the arrest of their own personnel. They have repeatedly said that they want their personnel released," Nasr said. "So they are either signaling that they can do the same thing or they are trying to bring attention to it."

Friday, March 23, 2007

Fire Boat Sinks Before Maiden Voyage

When fires happen on or near the water, fire boats are usually the first to respond. This time, the emergency involved one of those boats. A fire boat that the city of Newport News was about to buy sank. "The first report came in at seven o'clock this morning that there was a problem," said Dana Perry of the Newport News Fire Department. When crews got to the Leeward Marina, they found a fire boat tied to a pier with its tail end submerged in the James River. Its red front end was pointing straight in the air. "We haven't even gotten to the point where we've been taking it out for training or anything like that. It still belongs to MetalCraft," said Perry.MetalCraft Marine Inc. built the boat. The Ontario, Canada based company hauled it to the marina just two weeks ago. Workers were still putting equipment onboard when the boat took on water. The company released a statement saying the boat is covered under MetalCraft Marine Incorporated's Builders Risk policy and insurers have been notified of the incident. The city of Newport News had not taken ownership of the boat yet, or paid any taxpayer money for it. Investigators are trying to find the cause of the sinking. The marina has security tapes, which they will use in their investigation.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cargo Ship Sinks In Northern Philippines

A cargo ship sank in the northern Philippines on Wednesday, leaving one crewman dead and five missing, the coast guard said. Thirteen others were rescued. The Panamanian-registered ship MV Unicorn Ace sank about 80 miles off Curimao in Ilocos Norte province, which is about 250 miles north of Manila, said Amado Lorenzana, a coast guard officer. He said the ship sent an automatic distress signal, but it was not clear why it sank. The nationalities of the crew were not immediately disclosed.A passing ship rescued 13 crewmen, five were missing and one body was recovered, coast guard spokesman Lt. Armand Balilo said, citing information from the Hong Kong Maritime Rescue Coordinating Center. The Philippine navy and the coast guard sent three aircraft to look for survivors, and another rescue plane was dispatched from Hong Kong, which is relatively close to the site, Balilo said.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

US Navy F-18 Crashes In Arabian Sea, Pilot Rescued

A U.S. Marine fighter pilot ejected from his aircraft over the north Arabian Sea on Tuesday and was rescued after parachuting into the water, the Navy said. The pilot was flying a single-seat F/A-18C Super Hornet based aboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis when he ejected from his fighter Tuesday afternoon. The plane crashed into the sea, the Navy said in an announcement. It did not explain the circumstances of the incident. The plane was not shot down, Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Brown said from the 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain. The carrier has been operating off the southern coast of Iran and Pakistan.
USS John C. Stennis
The pilot, who was not named, was picked up by a search and rescue helicopter about 15 minutes after he ejected, the Navy said. The pilot was undergoing a medical check, but seemed in good condition, the Navy said. The pilot is a member of Stennis-based Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323, currently flying ground-attack missions over Afghanistan.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Death Toll Rises To 9 In East China Sea Cargo Ship Collision, 8 Still Missing

The death toll from a shipping accident in the East China Sea rose to nine on Monday afternoon when rescuers retrieved another body from a cargo ship that sank after colliding with another ship late on Saturday night. Twelve sailors have been rescued but eight others are still missing, sources with the maritime safety administration of Zhejiang Province revealed on Monday. The collision occurred at around 11 p.m. on Saturday near the Langgang islands, northeast of Zhoushan Island, Zhejiang Province, when a cargo ship belonging to a transport company in Shenzhen crashed into another one registered in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong ship, "Huirong", sank immediately and all its 29 sailors on board were marooned out at sea. A panel dispatched by the Ministry of Communications, headed by Wang Jinfu, vice director of China's Maritime Safety Administration, arrived in Zhoushan on Monday morning to conduct investigations into the accident. The Zhejiang provincial maritime safety administration decided to expand its search area on Monday in the hope of finding the missing sailors.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sri Lankan Navy Destroys 2 Tiger Gun Running Ships

Sri Lankan naval craft shelled the first ship Sunday after it failed to stop for an inspection and opened fire on the navy, ministry spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe said. He said a second vessel in the area was also challenged and it too had opened fire at the navy, prompting a sea battle. "Both vessels were attacked and they exploded and sank," Samarasinghe said. The defence ministry in a statement said the vessels had no flags or other identification markings. After firing warning shots across the bows the navy shelled the ships, the ministry said, adding the sea battle occurred in deep water off the island's Arugam Bay coast."The naval ships observed huge explosions onboard the vessel, confirming that it was carrying explosives and war-like material to the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam)," the ministry said immediately after the first vessel was said to have been sunk. It said the second vessel retaliated with gunfire just after noon (0700 GMT). "Naval gunfire resulted in massive explosions setting the vessel ablaze, confirming the suspicion that this vessel was also engaged in gun running for the LTTE," the ministry said. There was no immediate word from the Tamil Tigers. The navy carried out a similar attack on February 28 and sank an identical craft off the island's southern coast, according to defence authorities here. There have been stepped up clashes between suspected Tamil Tiger ships and the Sri Lankan navy in recent months amid heavy fighting in the island's northern and eastern regions.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

German Police Detain Lithuanian Ship With Drunk Crew

German water police halted a freighter sailing under a Lithuanian flag after finding it was manned by a drunk captain and engineer. According to police in the northern port of Brunsbuettel, the captain had 2.03 parts per thousand of alcohol in his bloodstream, while the engineer had 2.94 parts per thousand.In terms of the regulations in force on German roads, the captain's alcohol level was more than four times the legal limit, while the engineer was close to six times the limit. The 102-metre freighter, bound from Belgium to Estonia, would have to remain some 24 hours in port while the crew sobered up, police said, adding they were opening a docket on the captain and the engineer.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Passenger Survives Leap From Cruise Ship

The Coast Guard rescued an Orlando man who jumped from a Carnival cruise ship out of Port Canaveral. Michael Mankamyer, 35, was in the water for eight hours before he was rescued. Mankamyer was on the cruise with a 16-year-old family friend, who's flying back to Orlando. The boy's family said Mankamyer is a trusted friend and they were shocked when they heard he went overboard. He spent more than eight hours in the water, before a Coast Guard crew lifted him out about 30 miles from Fort Lauderdale. Mankamyer was on the Carnival Glory cruise ship when he went overboard early Friday morning."I was shocked. He's been our friend for 15 years," said Margaret Wega. He was such a good friend, Wega said, Mankamyer was on the cruise with her son, Salvatore, to celebrate his 16th birthday. "He looks out for Salvi. If Salvi needs something, he's always there," she said. But Wega said she still doesn't know what went wrong. Eyewitnesses said Mankamyer was drunk and was seen running through his cabin and off his balcony, plunging 60 feet into the water."Nothing's wrong with him. Maybe he stumbled. I don't know," Wega said. It's a question the Coast Guard also wants to ask Mankamyer. It said few people survive in the water for so long, but he's now in a Miami hospital and expected to fully recover. Wega said she'll ask her son more about what happened when he arrives at the airport.

Friday, March 16, 2007

British frigate Helps Rescue Romanian Sailors

Sailors aboard a Westcountry-based warship have saved the lives of the crew of a vessel which had started to sink off the coast of Greece. The helicopter on HMS Monmouth, based at Devonport, Plymouth, was used to rescue the crew of Afrodite S, a cargo vessel registered in St Vincent and Grenadines, from the Mediterranean. The Afrodite S was transporting a cargo of bulk cement which suddenly shifted. The ship started to take on water. HMS Monmouth's Merlin helicopter airlifted the 11 Romanian crew to safety. A Greek rescue helicopter also helped to transport the crew to the mainland. HMS Monmouth's Commanding Officer, Commander Tim Peacock, said: "Saving a fellow sailor is one of the fundamental laws of the sea and I am immensely proud of the way my sailors have performed in rendering assistance to the Afrodite S.
The Afrodite S was taking in water after its cargo shifted
"Their actions are in the finest traditions of the Royal Navy and demonstrate the diverse roles Monmouth is able to perform. "We are delighted to have been able to offer our assistance along with our allies from Greece in this dangerous operation. It was apparent to all that Afrodite S was in distress, in worsening weather and sea state conditions and we have done all that we possibly can to help." The Type 23 frigate is on patrol as part of Operation Active Endeavour in the Eastern Mediterranean. She sailed from Plymouth on February 26 for the start of a nine-month deployment heading for the Far East. The ship will be taking part in various operations and carrying out maritime security on her way as well as assisting several nations in developing their own coastal defence forces. HMS Monmouth has recently finished training under the Flag Officer Sea Training organisation at Devonport to complete her preparations. This training followed a prolonged maintenance and enhancement work at the naval base. Although the deployment remains liable to change, it is hoped that planned visits to Singapore and Australia will allow the opportunity for families to fly out and meet their loved ones. HMS Monmouth is due to return to the UK in November.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Navy Temporarily Loses Contact With Submarine

The Navy temporarily lost communication with a submarine off Florida's coast and sent ships and aircraft to search for the USS San Juan before the vessel was contacted early Wednesday, military officials said. There were no problems with the Los Angeles class sub, based in Groton, Conn., and the Navy was investigating the incident, the Naval Submarine Force said in a statement.
USS San Juan (SSN-751)
Units of the USS Enterprise Carrier Strike Group saw a red flare in the area where the sub was operating off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla., Tuesday night, said spokesman Phil McGuinn. The Navy immediately started searching and also contacted the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office in Norfolk to assist with the efforts. Family members of those on board also were notified. "Fortunately, the submarine established communications in the early morning hours ... and indicated that there were no problems; hence, units were able to stand down from the search and rescue that was already well under way," the Navy said in a release.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Gen. Pace Calls Homosexuality Immoral

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday he considers homosexuality to be immoral and the military should not condone it by allowing gay personnel to serve openly. Marine Gen. Peter Pace likened homosexuality to adultery, which he said was also immoral, the newspaper reported on its Web site. "I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way," Pace told the newspaper in a wide-ranging interview. Pace, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and a 1967 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, said he based his views on his upbringing.He said he supports the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell policy" in which gay men and women are allowed in the military as long as they keep their sexual orientation private. The policy, signed into law by President Clinton in 1994, prohibits commanders from asking about a person's sexual orientation. "I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts," Pace said. Pace did not address concerns raised by a 2005 government audit that showed some 10,000 troops, including more than 50 specialists in Arabic, have been discharged because of the policy. With Democrats in charge of Congress, Rep. Martin Meehan, D-Mass., has introduced legislation to reverse the military's ban on openly serving homosexuals.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Auckland Dragon Boat Festival 2007

Auckland Dragon Boat Festival Director, Gavin Franicevic says: “We’re expecting several thousand spectators to attend the final races of this year’s festival. “This is the festival’s 23rd year in Auckland and the level of competition we’ve seen in the training sessions suggests the finals are going to be a nail biter. “Last year’s Corporate category winner was the NZ Air Force, Kiwi Paddling Club (KPC) won the Open division and Epsom Girls Grammar School took out the School’s division.“The NZ Air Force dragon boat team is in great form again this year but they will have stiff competition from Auckland Regional Council and Auckland City Council who have both been training hard. “Corporates love competing in the dragon boat race as it creates fantastic teamwork among their colleagues and a fun rivalry between industries. School’s enjoy supporting dragon boating as it promotes water education and active lifestyles among young New Zealanders.”

Monday, March 12, 2007

Search underway for missing Taiwan fishing boat

A Taiwan fishing boat with six crew on board has overturned in rough seas northeast of the island, leaving the skipper dead and four crew missing.
The coastguard rescued a Chinese sailor and retrieved the body of the Taiwanese skipper, Chien Chin-tsai, after the 44-tonne vessel "Ta Shun Hsin" capsized more than than six kilometres off Toucheng, a coastal town in Ilan county. An official says a search is underway but he fears the other four Chinese crew on board may be dead, given the low temperatures and bad weather.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Newest Navy Ship Commissioned In New Orleans

With the boom of cannons, the Navy commissioned the USS New Orleans (LPD-18)before thousands of onlookers marking the first time since at least World War II a Navy ship has been built and commissioned in its namesake city. "May God bless and guide this warship and all who sail on her," the secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter, said before hundreds of sailors - in crisp, white uniforms - ran onto the ship to set the traditional first watch and to salute those in the celebratory crowd below. The $1.3 billion USS New Orleans is the fourth ship to bear the New Orleans name. The last one was an amphibious assault vessel that served during the Vietnam War and in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm. It was decommissioned in 1997 and is slated to be sunk for gunnery practice. It took about five years to build this ship, including a months-long interruption in construction due to Hurricane Katrina. The work was completed Monday. "We are proud of this city and proud of this ship," Mayor Ray Nagin said. "We both survived Katrina."Speakers at the ceremony, including U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Navy Cmdr. John B. Skillman, touched on the city's military history and traditions, including the Battle of New Orleans and construction of the Higgins boats in New Orleans that were used on D-Day. Speakers also touched on the city's residents and their resiliency in the aftermath of Katrina, particularly those who worked to build the ship. "They could have done something easier," Skillman said, "but they continued to build this ship while they tried to rebuild their lives." The commissioning was a point of pride for Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Greene, a 36-year-old San Diego native who decommissioned the last USS New Orleans and helped prepare this one for its unveiling near the French Quarter. "There's only four ships with this name, and I served on two. That's pretty unique," Greene said as he prepared equipment on the flight deck of the ship earlier in the week. "I really wanted to serve on this ship." The ship, built at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in the New Orleans suburb of Avondale, is about a dozen stories high and takes up the length of about two French Quarter blocks. It has state-of-the-art communications systems, a post office, two gyms, a convenience store and pharmacy, a hospital and dental office and sleeping quarters with lockers for up to 800 Marines, which the ship could transport in times such as war, and a crew of 360.Ensign Ashleigh Teitel said she couldn't have asked for a better assignment than serving on the USS New Orleans: The Long Island, N.Y., native was in her senior year at the New York Maritime Academy when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005. Within days of Katrina's landfall, Teitel helped load food, water, clean linens and supplies onto ships in New York that were headed to New Orleans. "For me personally, for all of us who have been a part of this commissioning, it's an honor," she said. "I know what this ship means to this city." References to the ship's namesake city can be found throughout the vessel. There's a Big Easy Cafe, a Carnival doubloon contained in a small display case and a musket ball from the Chalmette Battlefield, the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans. The banner for the ship's newspaper is The Big Easy Bugle, and NOLA, or "November Oscar Lima Alpha" in the international maritime phonetic alphabet, is the ship's call name. Free public tours were given during the week. Joel Gray, of Rochester, Minn., and his wife were in line Thursday for more than an hour for a walk-through. "You look at it and wonder how all that stuff fits in there," he said. "It was worth it. It was really cool." The USS New Orleans will leave New Orleans Monday for Pascagoula, Miss., and will eventually head to its home port of San Diego.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Big Ship Gives Little Ship A Lift

A little ship with a big history turned into a flying boat at the weekend. The 40ft Vere arrived on the Island on a low loader at Fishbourne last Friday and the next day was craned into the J. Samuel White Estate at Cowes for restoration. Built in 1905, Vere was a houseboat in Chichester in recent years before she sank and was sold by the receiver of wrecks. She was snapped up by Cowes powerboat racer Tony Hamilton, who will restore her to her former glory.He said: “She is a former teak naval pinnace converted first into a cabin cruiser, then into a houseboat and will be absolutely beautiful again. I have all her paperwork and she is a craft with a fascinating history. “She was one of the Dunkirk little ships, making crossing after crossing in 28 hours non-stop running and is credited with saving more lives than any other small craft in the evacuation of Allied troops from the French beaches in the early stages of the Second World War.”

Friday, March 09, 2007

Container Ship Capsizes In Antwerp

A roll-on-roll-off container ship capsized during loading in the port of Antwerp, Belgian officials said. No injuries were reported. Port authority captain Jan Persi said that, for reasons still unknown, the 216-metre Republica slowly rolled onto its starboard side in a deadend dock.
Containers float in the water after the roll on/roll off containership 'Republica' capsized during loading in the port of Antwerp.
He said as the huge vessel started to take in water “the captain ordered the entire crew off the ship. It was a very slow manoeuvre.” The vessel, which is 30 metres wide, lies on its side, part of its hull above the waterline in the dock.

Israel Unveils Portable Hunter-Killer Robot

An Israeli defense firm unveiled a portable robot billed as being capable of entering most combat zones alone and engaging enemies with an onboard armory that includes a machine-pistol and grenades. The VIPeR, roughly the size of a small television, was invented as part of Israel's efforts to develop weaponry that could reduce the risks to its forces from hand-to-hand fighting against Palestinian or Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas.The manufacturer, Elbit Systems Ltd., said that the VIPeR's small size and dual treads enable it to move "undeterred by stairs, rubble, dark alleys, caves or narrow tunnels". As well as bomb-sniffing and bomb disposal equipment, the VIPeR can carry an Uzi machine-pistol or plant a grenade. The weapons would be aimed using an onboard video camera. According to Elbit, which has close links with the Defense Ministry, Israel plans to deploy the VIPeR among its infantry units after field tests. The robot could also be of interest to foreign police units or U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Sunken Ship May Have Stopped Napoleon From Taking Middle East

A tactfully sunken ship might have blocked Napoleon from entering a Middle Eastern port on his quest to conquer the British Empire in Egypt and India, and sent the future emperor retreating back to France. A new study of the ship's excavated cargo will help marine archaeologists analyze the role of sunken ship and reconstruct the 61-day battle between the British and Napoleon's army at the entry to the Israeli city Akko, known then as Acre, more than 200 years ago. Over the past 40 years, notable marine archaeologists have examined the wreck, yet no one has come to any agreement as to why the 30-meter-long ship entered the shallow waters of the harbor. "The origin of the wreck and its place in the maritime history of Akko remain a mystery," said Debbie Cvikel from the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies and the Department Of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa. "One of the possibilities is that She was scuttled by [Royal Navy officer] Sidney Smith in 1799, in order to block the harbor against Napoleon Bonaparte".
Cannon ball found wedged into the keel of a ship that sunk during the battles between Napoleon and the British Royal Navy.
A map drawn by a British soldier in 1799 depicts the British navy in combat with Napoleon's ships. In the illustration, a symbol of a sunken ship marks the exact location of the wreck. Cvikel and colleagues have found the wreck well-preserved, including lead shots and cannon balls. The angle and precise spot of one cannon ball lodged into the bottom of the hull appears to have been shot on purpose. Further research on this shipwreck could also shed light on a so-far unstudied chapter in the maritime history of the city of Akko at the end of the 18th century. From the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s, Akko was considered the key to the East and became a battleground between European powers. Fleets from the shores of Europe and the Levant area in the Middle East reached the harbor where ships were sunk in it and in its surroundings. "At this stage, I believe we have more than one wreck in Akko harbor," Cvikel told reporters.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Brannan Goes From Iraq to Padres

He may be missing a finger, but the San Diego Padres say he has a pretty good curveball. Cooper Brannan is a righthanded pitcher trying to win a minor league job in the Padres organization. The Marine lost the pinky on his left hand when a grenade malfunctioned during his second tour of duty in Iraq.
Marine Cpl. Cooper Brannan
Brannan's in spring training with the Padres in Arizona. But he can't sign with the team until his military service ends May 31st. The Padres say this isn't just a publicity stunt. They say Brannan's a good prospect with an above-average curveball to go with his far-above-average life experiences.He played high school ball and pitched for an all-Marine corps team last summer.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Sailors Got Creative With Booze & Smokes

A Canadian warship pressed into service to help catch drug-runners off the African coast last year did a little dealing of its own, newly disclosed documents show. An apparent loophole in navy rules allowed HMCS Fredericton to subsidize the cost of beer for the crew by using profits from the normally forbidden sale of duty-free tobacco. The unusual cross-subsidization occurred during Operation Chabanel, an elaborate RCMP-led sting to seize 22.5 tonnes of hashish off the coast of Angola. The smuggled dope was destined for Montreal. HMCS Fredericton's report on the 44-day mission shows officials ran a nicotine-and-alcohol operation on the side as they struggled to provide two of a sailor's favourite vices. The frigate was on fisheries patrol on the Grand Banks last spring when it was unexpectedly diverted to support the RCMP sting operation off Africa.
HMCS Fredericton
The secret assignment meant a surprise extension of the voyage by several weeks - bad news for smokers, who carried only enough cigarettes to get them through to the end of April. There was a run on cigarettes at the ship's canteen until all that was left was a stock of duty-free smokes, intended to be issued to sailors once back home under strict Canada Customs rules. The navy's anti-smoking rules forbid canteens from selling cheaper duty-free tobacco so as not to encourage smokers. To get around the restriction, the canteen operators simply tacked on an extra $33.75 per carton, the equivalent of Canadian tobacco duties. The move "respect(ed) the spirit of the policy, since it did not promote smoking through lower prices but simply allowed us to provide the same level of service despite the shortage caused by the extension of our deployment," says a report obtained under the Access to Information Act. Ship officials considered turning over that extra cash to Canada Customs but decided against it, since federal regulations were silent on the matter. Instead, the profits were used to subsidize the cost of beer.

Earth Crust Missing In the Center of the Atlantic

Scientists have discovered a large area thousands of square kilometers in extent in the middle of the Atlantic where the Earth’s crust appears to be missing. Instead, the mantle - the deep interior of the Earth, normally covered by crust many kilometers thick - is exposed on the seafloor, 3000m below the surface. Marine geologist Dr Chris MacLeod, School of Earth, Ocean and Planetary Sciences said, “This discovery is like an open wound on the surface of the Earth. Was the crust never there? Was it once there but then torn away on huge geological faults? If so, then how and why?”
RRS James Cook
To answer some of these questions Dr MacLeod with a team of scientists, led by marine geophysicist Professor Roger Searle, Durham University, will travel to the area which lies mid-way between the Cape Verde Islands and the Caribbean. The expedition will be the inaugural research cruise of a new UK research ship RRS James Cook. The team intends to use sonar to image the seafloor and then take rock cores using a robotic seabed drill. The samples will provide a rare opportunity to gain insights into the workings of the mantle deep below the surface of the Earth. Cardiff University scientists set sail March 5th to investigate a startling discovery in the depths of the Atlantic.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Sailor's Re-Enlistment Is First of Its Kind Astronaut In Space Leads Oath Recitation

A recent re-enlistment ceremony for a Grovetown sailor and more than a dozen shipmates aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) was an out-of-this-world experience. Navy Senior Chief Jimmie Hatcher and 15 fellow noncommissioned officers re-enlisted via video conference by Navy Capt. Mike Lopez-Alegria, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. Orbiting 200 miles above the Earth, Lopez-Alegria appeared on a video monitor in the ship's war room and led the sailors in a recitation of their oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, according to a Navy news release. It was the first re-enlistment ceremony of its kind, according to the release.
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69)
Hatcher, a hull technician aboard the Eisenhower, is a 23-year veteran of the Navy and is beginning his fifth tour of duty in the Middle East. The ship and its warship battle group are deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The energy and excitement for me was a feeling I will never forget," the senior chief wrote about the ceremony in an e-mail. "I will always cherish this moment in my naval career. "Definitely, a story to tell long after I am retired from the United States Navy." Lopez-Alegria forged a relationship with Eisen-hower's commanding officer, Capt. Dan Cloyd, before the astronaut's trip to the space station in September, according to the release.
International Space Station
Lopez-Alegria took two Eisenhower commissioning pennants with him to space and will return one to the ship after his return to Earth, according to the release. The sailors' families were permitted to watch the ceremony live via video conference from Norfolk, Va., the home port for the aircraft carrier. Unfortunately, Hatcher's family was not able to attend, the senior chief wrote. Hatcher lives in Grovetown with his wife, Rhea, sons Eric and Michael and daughters Peyton and Spencer. Hatcher expects to return from his tour this summer.

Lifeboat Crew Saves Sinking Ship

A fishing boat carrying six crew had to be towed back to shore after it began to sink. The Royal Sovereign got into trouble a mile and a half south of Beachy Head, near Eastbourne. They were rescued by Newhaven Lifeboat at 2.30pm, who had been doing a training exercise with Seaford Lifeboats nearby.It is not known what caused the leak on the 56-foot crabbing boat but lifeguards said the decks were covered with water and the incident could have been serious. But no-one was injured and the lifeboat pumped the water out of the boat and towed it into Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne.

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