Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ships Collide On Yangtze River

At least 15 people have drowned and one is missing after two ships collided at the mouth of the Yangtze river near Shanghai, Chinese officials have said. The dead were the crew of one of the two merchant ships, which had 17 people on board when it sank, the Bureau of Maritime Affairs told Chinese media.One sailor is still missing, while another was rescued after the crash. The 5,600km (3,500 mile) Yangtze river, which runs from the Tibetan plateau to the Pacific, is a major shipping route. The cause of the collision remains unclear, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Army To Retire BDUs

The Army's Deputy Chief of Staff for G-1 (Personnel) announced this month that the final wear-out date for the Army Battle Dress Uniform and Desert Battle Dress Uniform will be April 30 for both active-duty and reserve-component Soldiers. The Army began phasing out the woodland and desert-pattered uniforms on June 14, 2004 with debut of the digital-patterned Army Combat Uniform. "Our Army is always looking to constantly improve on everything we do, both on and off the battlefield," said Sgt. Maj. Katrina L. Easley, uniform policy sergeant major at G-1. "We took a look the combat usability of what was once a good uniform, and based upon feedback from the field, decided to improve it and fix the many problems reported. There were at least 20 changes made and the result is the current ACU. "Response has been fantastic. Soldiers have adapted well to the new uniform and they tell us they truly appreciate the improvements that were made. This uniform was designed by Soldiers for Soldiers."All brown T-shirts, black combat boots and green and black jungle boots, woodland and desert-camouflage caps, olive-drab-green name and U.S. Army tapes, subdued-olive-green shoulder-sleeve insignias and the black rigger belt and web belt with open-faced black buckle will also become obsolete on April 30. Active-duty and reserve-component Soldiers can continue to wear the black-knit cap and the black micro-fleece-knit cap with the cold-weather woodland-camouflage field jacket until Sept. 30. The Army Reserve Officer Training Corps wear-out date for these items is April 9. According to Easley, there haven't been any official surveys to determine how many Soldiers still have the BDUs or Desert BDUs, but she said it's probably hard to find many who aren't wearing the ACU. But if Soldiers are hanging on to any of these uniforms, they can save them for posterity. They aren't required to turn them in. The only requirement is that they know the wear-out date and report for duty in ACUs May 1. "Thousands of our great Soldiers spent many years defending our country wearing that honorable uniform. I know it means something to them, just as wearing the ACU will mean something to today's Army," said Easley.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Freighter Runs Aground North Of Bay Bridge

The Coast Guard is responding to a cargo ship that ran aground in the Chesapeake Bay this afternoon. The Mediterranean Shipping Company vessel Japan, a 37,000-ton cargo ship from Panama, ran aground between Sandy Pt. Light and Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Md. after a loss of power at 4:30 p.m.A 25- foot Coast Guard response boat crew is on scene to investigate the cause of the grounding. The vessel has regained power and will try to re-float itself. Two tugs are in route to assist in re-floating the MSC Japan. There is no report of pollution or injuries and container soundings are normal. Vessel was in route to Port Elizabeth, NJ. This incident is currently under investigation.

Monday, January 28, 2008

USS Dewey (DDG 105) Christened

It was a sparkling toast to the "USS Dewey (DDG 105)" as hundreds of military, families and dignitaries gather to celebrate a ship with a glistening future and an unforgettable past. "It's not just a name; it's a legacy," the Dewey's sponsor Deborah Mullen said. She vows to help the ship's future crews and the families they leave behind while onboard. "It really does impact the mission, and the ability of the mission to be accomplished. I'm really passionate about making sure the families are ready, just as the ship is ready," Mullen said.The Dewey boasts 9,200 tons of cold steel, making it one of the largest and most powerful destroyers in the Navy. It's the third ship to ever hold the name, and will carry nearly 300 men and women. But it's more than the massive size that sets this destroyer apart. It's the history behind the name "Dewey" that will help the ship sail forward. "I think that will be with them whenever they step on board. They will always remember Adm. Dewey and what he stood for. And I think that will show in their pride, and as they take the ship out to sea and visit the various countries, I think that will be very evident in everything they do," Mullen said. Jeff Pribet served on the second Dewey ship in the 70's. He lives in New Jersey, but wanted to see the christening in person."It kind sent a shiver a little bit," Pribet said. "It just means a lot more to know that I have a legacy attached to it," Pribet said. And just as the Dewey's predecessors have served valiantly, Pribet says this ship will sail with a legacy of courage and the promise of freedom. The husband of the ship's sponsor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen was on hand today as the ceremony's principal speaker, in addition to Congressman Gene Taylor and several other dignitaries.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Officials Set May Sink Date For Ship Planned As Artificial Reef

Officials overseeing the transformation of a retired U.S. Air Force missile tracking ship into an artificial reef off Key West said Saturday they are planning to sink the ship May 15. The General Hoyt S. Vandenberg is currently at a Norfolk, Va., shipyard where workers are preparing it for sinking by removing environmental hazards. Plans are to scuttle the ship in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
USAFS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg (T-AGM-10)
Officials with Reefmakers, the organization overseeing the project, are planning to tow the 522-foot-long vessel to Key West sometime in March for final preparations. Supporters say the Vandenberg project will provide additional marine habitat and a new attraction for recreational divers. Before it was decommissioned in 1983, the Vandenberg also tracked manned U.S. space missions, beginning with Mercury blastoffs in the early 1960s. The ship played a role as a Russian science ship in "Virus," a 1999 motion picture starring Jamie Lee Curtis.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Coast Guard Braving Cold To Train With Ice Boat

Coast Guard personnel have been taking Ohio's only ice boat out on Lake Erie for training missions. Five crew members of the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Marblehead braved chilly temperatures this week for a 1 1/2-hour training session which began and ended at Dempsey Fishing Access area in Danbury Township. "It'll go over the water, over the ice. We drove it right up the ramp. It'll go over pretty much anything," said Executive Petty Officer Joe Kreisler as the crew finished loading the boat onto a trailer pulled by a pickup. The vessel, which is also sometimes called an air boat, is one of only a handful used by the Coast Guard. "We're the only one in Ohio that's got one," the officer said. The other crewmen said ice boats are used in the cold Great Lakes regions, including Saginaw Bay in Michigan.
Members of the U.S. Coast Guard tie down the ice boat following training exercises at Dempsey State Park in Danbury.
The vessel is mainly used for ice rescues. "It's mainly for shallow water, and that's why we got it, for the ice," the officer said. He said the vehicle is powered by a large fan which sits on the rear of the vessel. "It's pretty simple, really," Kreisler said. He said it drives in pretty much the same manner as a car. The crew is a minimum of three people, but the officer said more went on the training mission to get experience. Kreisler said the personnel at the Marblehead station have had three training sessions so far this season. The local station performed one ice rescue last year, and has not had any yet this year, according to the officer.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Russian Cargo Ship Missing In East Sea Of China

A Russian cargo ship remains missing after losing contact with coastal services on Sunday in the East Sea of China, the Russian Transport Ministry said Thursday.
Captain Uskov
With 17 Russian crew members on board, the Captain Uskov set out from Nakhodka on Jan. 15 and was scheduled to reach Hong Kong on Thursday. Russia has notified vessels sailing in the area while asking China and Japan for help.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ship Uses Kite To Move Tons Of Cargo

The world's first commercial cargo ship partially powered by a giant kite is setting sail from Germany to Venezuela. The MS Beluga Skysails has a computer-controlled kite, measuring 1,722 square feet. The kite will help the ship cut its fuel consumption by as much as 20 percent. Since fuel-burning ships account for 4 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, or twice as much as the aviation industry produces, the ship's designers hope the vessel's technology might help curb global climate change.The ship's maiden transatlantic voyage is from the northern port of Bremerhaven, Germany, to Guanta, Venezuela, the British network reported. The maiden voyage marks the beginning of the practical testing during regular shipping operations of the SkySails System, Stephan Wrage, managing director of SkySails GmbH, said on the company's Web site. During the next few months, we will finally be able to prove that our technology works in practice and significantly reduces fuel consumption and emissions.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Blue to Green Program

The Department of Defense Blue to Green Program offers transitioning Sailors the option of continuing active-duty service with the Army without any break in service.Transitioning to the Army may be particularly beneficial for Sailors separating from the Navy under Perform-to-Serve (PTS) or E-4 high-year tenure (HYT). Also, junior officers separating from the Navy may apply under this program. Army Recruiting Command is responsible for all blue to green recruiting. Interested Sailors should visit the Army's Operation Blue to Green website.

Ashes May be Scattered From Sailing Ship

Sir Edmund Hillary's final journey will likely be on board the Spirit of New Zealand, with discussions already under way to scatter his ashes from the sailing ship following his state funeral in Auckland today. Spirit of Adventure Trust chief executive John Lister said the ashes were to be scattered into the Waitemata Harbour on Thursday. But the plan was postponed because Lady Hillary wanted more time. "Several days ago we were approached by Internal Affairs and the Prime Minister's Department to see if (the Spirit of New Zealand) would be available," Mr Lister said. The ship was free on Thursday but the arrangement was later deferred. An alternative date had yet to be finalised, Mr Lister said. "We would be honoured to play our part but we're waiting for the funeral to be finished and waiting for the family's wishes from there on," he said.
Spirit of New Zealand
Prime Minister Helen Clark said Sir Edmund's family planned to scatter his ashes in a private ceremony. Mr Lister said the trust would do whatever it could to accommodate the family's wishes. "Sir Ed did say that he wanted the Spirit of New Zealand to scatter his ashes and I can't think of a more fitting way of doing it." Unlike many climbers, Sir Edmund had said he did not want his remains left on a mountain after he died. He wanted his ashes scattered in the Waitemata Harbour, "to be washed gently ashore, maybe on the many pleasant beaches near the place I was born. "Then the full circle of my life will be complete."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mississippi River Re-Opened To Two-Way Navigation After Misphap

The Coast Guard is now re-opening a portion of the Mississippi River to two-way ship traffic. The river had been restricted to one-way traffic near Donaldsonville, from mile 167-177, Saturday night after a tugboat struck a sunken replica of a 17th Century warship, causing the tug to spill 30 gallons of diesel fuel into the river. The tugboat Senator Stennis struck the sunken Le Pelican around 1:30 p.m., damaging the tug's fuel tanks.
Tugboat Senator Stennis
Le Pelican, purchased by the city of Donaldsonville as a tourist attraction, sunk in November 2002 and again in March 2004. After the 2004 sinking, officials decided to leave it where it had sunk, saying that because it was close to shore it would not be a navigational hazard. The original warship Le Pelican, commanded by Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville, sank in 1697 after first sinking two English vessels and running off a third during a battle for a trading post on Hudson Bay in Canada.
Le Pelican
Canadian philanthropist Stewart McDonald built the replica for a reported $15 million. The boat was a tourist attraction in Quebec in the early 1990s, but was sold as too expensive to maintain in the cold, harsh weather, the Associated Press said. The Coast Guard re-opened the river to one-way traffic and said this morning it was being re-opened fully.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Wooden Boat Capsized In Yemen; About 82 African Migrants Drowned

Yemeni officials said Sunday that at least 82 African would-be migrants, mostly Somalis, have drowned off Yemen after their wooden boat capsized in choppy waters as it neared the end of its voyage from Somalia. The officials added that the incident occurred a few miles off the Ahwar town of the southern Yemeni province of Abyan on the Gulf of Aden late Friday.After the boat ran into rocks and capsized, local fishermen rescued 30 passengers and recovered bodies of 22 others. Survivors told authorities there had been about 140 people aboard the boat. A local official in Ahwar told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, "Around 60 bodies washed up on shores of Ahwar Sunday and up to 28 people are still missing."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Two Killed After 'Chemical Leak' On Ship

A container ship has been forced to dock in Dover after two crew members were found dead. They were believed to have been killed by a chemical leak on board the Latvian-registered Sava Lake. The ship's crew alerted Dover Coastguard after the deceased, believed to be either Latvian or Russian, were discovered. The 90-metre vessel, which was carrying ferrous metal from Denmark to Portugal, had been sailing in the Channel.
Sava Lake
There were seven crew members on board. The ship then moored at Dover Harbour after the alert. A spokesman for Kent Fire and Rescue said: "A specialist chemical response team were sent to identify any dangerous atmospheres on board." They later said there was no risk to the public from the cargo. Kent Police said they were investigating the incident but they added the deaths were not being treated as suspicious.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Drifting cargo ship sinks

Severe weather was today hampering attempts to salvage the sunk cargo ship Ice Prince which was abandoned by its crew after it got into difficulties in the English Channel. The Greek-registered ship, which was carrying a cargo of 5,258 tons of sawn timber, sank in rough weather off Portland Bill in Dorset at 12.45am. Salvage experts and Secretary of State's Representative for Maritime, Salvage and Intervention Hugh Shaw were to discuss ways of recovering the crewless cargo ship at a meeting in Portland this morning. Gale-force winds and torrential rain stopped a Coastguard counter-pollution aerial surveillance aircraft flying over the stricken vessel, whose stern was on the sea bed and bow was above the water this morning. A Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) spokeswoman said: "There are force nine gales so it's not safe to fly. "As soon as the weather abates, we would like to get the plane up there taking some footage and assessing the situation." The surveillance aircraft will be able to see how much cargo has been lost and the extent of any pollution.French Coastguard tug Abeille Liberte and a further JP Knights tug, the Anglian Earl, were guarding the Ice Prince and vessels in the area have been alerted to the shipping hazard. Salvors are aboard both tugs. An MCA spokesman said: "Just before she sank, the crew of the Abeille Liberte reported that further deck cargo had been lost to the sea and that the angle of the list had increased, but that visibility is very poor at present in very rough weather." The 6,395-ton Ice Prince, which is more than 328ft (100m) long, sent out an emergency call at 7pm on Sunday after getting into difficulties. Twenty crew were rescued by helicopter and lifeboat in storm conditions before midnight on Sunday after the vessel's cargo of timber shifted and she listed to 40 degrees off the Devon coast. A Portland Coastguard helicopter, India Juliet, airlifted 12 of the crew, including a 41-year-old Greek man with a broken leg, while the remaining eight were taken to safety by two volunteer RNLI lifeboat crews from Torbay and Salcombe.They battled against gale-force winds and rough seas with 16ft (5m) swells to evacuate the men in a mission one lifeboatman described as a "once-in-a-career" rescue. The operation was co-ordinated by Brixham Coastguard in cooperation with the French authorities. It is understood Ice Prince's crew were all foreign nationals and were wearing lifejackets and immersion suits when rescued. The MCA said police forces were aware of the sinking but any impact on the shoreline might take some days. An MCA spokesman said the vessel was carrying 5,335 tonnes of sawn timber in 20ft- to 33ft-long (6m to 10m) bundles, which had all gone overboard. "All the cargo has been lost," he said. "The wood is in bundles but they may break up in these weather conditions." The cargo ship has now completely sunk and is lying 190ft (58m) deep on the seabed. Gale-force winds up to force nine were forecast to die down to force five later today, he added. The cargo ship was also carrying lubricating oils in the engine space and around 313 tonnes of intermediate fuel oil.

Friday, January 18, 2008

AFRICOM Ship Heads for Gulf of Guinea

Despite opposition by African governments to United States African Command’s (AFRI-COM) presence in the continent, the command said yesterday that its “amphibious dock landing ship” was heading to the Gulf of Guinea in an initiative to enhance security in the West African sub-region. “The USS Fort McHenry will port off Africa's west coast to train African volunteers as part of the Africa Partnership Station (APS) to bolster regional security,” a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York, AFRICOM said. “The concept of the African Partnership Station emanates from requests from the Africans themselves to be in a position where they could establish the situational awareness and control over their maritime environment,'' Vice Adm. Robert Moeller, AFRICOM 's deputy commander for military operations, said. Moeller said the training would include “responding to maritime security threats among other initiatives in a region where 62 piracy attacks were reported in African waters in 2006”. “Allowing Africans essentially to police and have control over the maritime environment assures the ability of those countries to develop economically in a very stable way.
USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43)
“There is a direct relationship between a secure maritime environment and a secure and stable terrestrial environment," he stated. President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, during his visit to US President George W. Bush, late last year, said that the Federal Government was in support of AFRICOM. The Special Assistant to the President (Communications), Mr. Segun Adeniyi, had clarified the President’s statement, which had generated controversy. He had explained that President Yar’Adua’s statement negated what people thought he meant, adding that his support for AFRICOM did not mean that he wanted its headquarters sited in the country. Also, last December, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, in Washington DC, said that Nigeria did not endorse the presence of the AFRICOM on the continent. “Nigeria's position on AFRICOM remains that African governments have the sovereign responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security on the continent," Maduekwe said. Africa is, however, united in rejecting US requests for a military headquarters site. AFRICOM is a new Unified Combatant Command of the United States Department of Defence, to be responsible for U.S. military operations in and military relations with 53 African nations - an area of responsibility covering all of Africa except Egypt - and to be fully operational by September 2008.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Two Crew Members Rescued From Shipwreck In Philippine Waters

Two crew members who survived a shipwreck in Philippine waters are receiving treatment for hypothermia at the Pingtung Christian Hospital, according to the National Rescue Command Center under the Cabinet. Labrabor Melvin, 32, and Capiz Gregorio, 31, are the only known survivors from the ill-fated cargo ship Ho Feng No. 7. The other 17 crew members are still missing. The Taipei-based rescue command center dispatched three helicopters from southern Taiwan for the humanitarian mission after the Philippine sea rescue authorities requested help through the Hong Kong Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Center. The two Filipino sailors were pulled from the sea by crew members of another cargo ship passing through the wreckage site. The Taiwanese airborne rescue team airlifted them to the Pingtung Airport, and an ambulance rushed them to hospital. Ho Feng No. 7 was owned by a Taiwanese businessman, although it was registered in the Philippines and manned by a Filipino captain, with all his crew members being Philippine nationals.
Ho Feng No.7 sank off Itbayat island in the northernmost Batanes province
Gregorio told reporters through an interpreter that the ship left Miri Seaport in eastern Malaysia early Jan. 16 heading for Shenzhen in China's Guandong province, and that hours later the vessel began to take on water after a huge wave spilled the ship over onto its right side. Regretting that he and Melvin appeared to be the only survivors, Gregorio thanked the Taiwanese rescue team for saving their lives in his own language, "Salamapo!" Doctors at the hospital said the two Filipino crewmen suffered no injuries, except for signs of hypothermia, but that to be on the safe side, they will remain in an intensive care unit until their
conditions improve further.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Navy Mulls Reviving The Fourth Fleet

The Navy is considering restoring the Fourth Fleet in the Atlantic Ocean, a bureaucratic change that would raise the prominence of Pentagon maritime activities in Latin America and Caribbean. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the disclosure during a visit to the Southern Command on Monday - calling it "a great idea" that "as far as I know is moving forward." The move would bring no new vessels to the region but would put Southcom on par administratively with other Pentagon outposts that have large budgets and bigger muscle. For example, the Central Command operates the Fifth Fleet in the Middle East. It would also restore an institution that sent U.S. Navy warships into southern waters in search of Nazi U-boats. The Navy created the Fourth Fleet in 1943 to hunt submarines in the South Atlantic during World War II. It was disbanded seven years later with naval operations in the region run from Norfolk, Va. At the Pentagon, Navy Cmdr. Jeff Davis said no final decision has been made. Mullen said if such an institution were created, it would be worked out between the Navy's top officer, Adm. Gary Roughead, and Adm. James Stavridis, the Southcom commander who runs the region's U.S. military operations out of South Florida. In theory, the Fourth Fleet would operate out of Mayport, Fla., now a smaller headquarters for Navy South, which coordinates Navy activities in Latin America and the Caribbean for Southcom.It is run by a one-star officer, Rear Adm. James W. Stevenson Jr. A Fourth Fleet would be run by a two- or three-star admiral, and may need congressional approval. Davis emphasized that no new vessels - and no additional budget - would come with the creation of a Fourth Fleet. Instead, warships from various bases would be assigned to sail in the fleet - in waters stretching from the Caribbean through Central and South America. Military analysts said the establishment of a Fourth Fleet admiral could elevate Southcom's prominence in discussions on where ships are deployed - and would surely send a signal to southern neighbors. "It gives the Navy a bigger profile in the region," said Frank Mora, professor of national security strategy at the National War College in Washington, D.C. "It sends a message to the region that you are important at a time when there is a sense that we don't care." Moreover, it may also reflect the Navy's increasing commitment to Latin America and the Caribbean at a time when the Pentagon is preoccupied - and when ground forces are focused on Middle East operations. In recent years, the Southern Command has increasingly relied on the Navy for humanitarian operations. "Symbolism is something that has some currency," said Mora. "It's a way of compensating for limited resources and funds, perhaps lack of focus in Washington or other things." Mullen, the top U.S. military officer since October, was at Southcom as part of a five-day trip to the region that includes Colombia and El Salvador.

Two Anti-Whaling Terrorists Detained On Japanese Ship

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has appealed to the British and Australia governments to secure the release of two environmental terrorists being held aboard a Japanese whaling ship. The two boarded the Yushin Maru number 2 to hand the Captain a letter about killing whales - and were prevented from leaving the vessel.Sea Shepherd says the men, who are part of the crew of the vessel Steve Irwin, were tied to a radar mast on the ship, but Japan's Institute for Cetacean Research - the front for the whaling industry - denies that. It says the men, an Australian and a Briton, are locked in a cabin for illegally boarding the ship. Sea Shepherd's ship Steve Irwin is now pursuing the Japanese whaling vessel.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sailor Sends Mayday To His Local Bar

A British yachtsman thousands of miles from home and seriously injured during a solo transatlantic voyage managed to summon help from an unlikely but familiar source: his local pub. Alan Thompson, 61, an experienced sailor, broke his pelvis while sailing 600 miles northeast of Bermuda. He was in severe pain and hardly able to move but he managed to use his satellite phone to call the Bull’s Head in Fishbourne, West Sussex. Roger Pocock, 62, the licensee and a friend of Mr Thompson, immediately alerted Falmouth coastguards, who located the yacht and organised a rescue operation by the US coastguard. Within hours two coastguards were airlifted aboard the 37ft yacht Padolu to help her owner to abandon the vessel and climb aboard an oil tanker that had responded to a mayday alert. Before the rescuers arrived, a doctor from Queen Alexandra hospital in Portsmouth spoke to Mr Thompson via satellite phone and prescribed medication that was stored on board. Mr Pocock said: “We received a call from him, saying he was in trouble. He said he’d been on deck and taken a fall. I don’t know why he didn’t put out an SOS, but maybe he didn’t want to make a big alert.” The yachtsman, from Chichester, in West Sussex, had just bought the Hunter Legend yacht from a Florida dealer and set off to sail her back to Britain alone. He had crossed the Atlantic on two previous occasions, but with a crew and 20 years ago.
Alan Thompson
A spokesman for Falmouth Coastguard said: “This gentleman had just spent quite a lot of money in Florida and bought this boat. He was in a terrific amount of pain. “We told him he would have to come off and it would be the last he would see of the boat, which isn’t insured. Now he’s back on his way to the USA and I’m afraid the yacht has been abandoned.” Mr Thompson had paid about $33,000 (£16,866) for the secondhand racing sailboat. It sleeps six people, has a full-length settee and U-shaped kitchen-diner in the salon. “He was talking on the phone to us, you could tell he was in agony,” the spokesman said. “He was upset at the fact he was going to have to leave it [the yacht] as you can imagine, after just paying out all that money. “We put it to him – you have to come off, we can’t get you treated on board. In the end he agreed it was the best course of action. It would break my heart. He was gutted but I think he knew that was it.” Mr Thompson had flown over to the US and probably stayed there for a few days to check the boat over first, which would have added to the cost. Padolu will either sink or the prevailing winds and current will take her back to America. If she hits the Gulf Stream she could even end up somewhere off the British Isles, the Coastguard said.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Stateless Ship's Crew Left Out In The Cold

A crew of 14 has been left aboard a stranded fishing ship in freezing weather after it ran aground on Rishirito (Rishiri) island off northern Hokkaido on Jan. 1. There have been no reports of oil leaks or injuries from the accident. The ship, named Derbent, has no protection or indemnity insurance. It also does not have a valid registry, rendering it stateless. Although the crew said that the ship was of Cambodian registry, the Japan Coast Guard officials found that its registry had expired in July 2006. The 602-ton ship did not plan to call at a Japanese port, and therefore it did not take out protection and indemnity insurance, required for any foreign vessel of 100 tons or more making a port call in Japan, sources said. Local officials said that makes salvaging the vessel problematic, as they are unsure if they can recover the costs involved in removing the ship. A salvage company has been called in by local officials, however. It is expected to survey the scene today to figure out a way to remove the ship.Meanwhile, town officials have decided not to allow crew members to leave the ship unless their lives are threatened by severe weather. "We fear that they may run away and leave the ship stranded," an official explained. Local inns have refused to open their doors to crew members despite efforts by the ship's owner to find lodging for them. An official from a local group of fishermen alerted the Wakkanai Coast Guard Office about the ship's accident around 8 p.m. on Jan. 1. The ship, sailing from South Korea to Russia, initially did not respond to radio inquiries, coast guard officials said. The next morning, 14 crew members were found aboard the ship, including Russians and Ukrainians. Local officials initially tried to tug the ship from its stranded location because areas surrounding the site include seaweed cultivation beds. But cables from a tugboat were severed and other difficulties arose in the rescue attempts. Coast guard officials said they could not estimate when the Derbent might be freed.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ship Loses Battle With Ice

A fishing vessel that cracked its hull and began taking on water after its crew tried to plow through several hundred yards of ice was repaired and refloated according to the Coast Guard. The 55-foot My Oar radioed for help from Anton Larsen Bay, but communication with the ship -- via its VHF radio -- was lost shortly after and the Coast Guard deployed a Jayhawk helicopter to the scene. The chopper found the vessel taking on water near the boat launch in the bay, with a crack about seven feet from its bow, according to the Coast Guard. The chopper lowered a rescue swimmer and a water pump onto a nearby road and the crew tied the ship to the shore when the tide receded.The pump was able to dewater the vessel, but it remained aground because of low tides, said Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis. The Coast Guard directed the vessel not to leave port until repairs are complete, she said. Based on reports from the ship's owner and operator, the crack was located on the port side of the vessel underneath its bunk room, Francis said. The crew began trying to make repairs to the hull before the tide returned, she said. More permanent repairs were completed in time to catch the high tide the Coast Guard said. No one was injured and there were no reported spills, according to the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard marine safety detachment Kodiak is investigating.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Crew Rescued From Sinking Vessel

Five fishermen have been rescued after their boat sank in the North Sea. The Fraserburgh-registered Fisher Boys, with five people on board, began taking on water about 40 miles off the coast. Three of the crew were taken to an offshore supply vessel while the skipper and one other crew member stayed on board with pumping equipment. However, their efforts were in vain and the pair were also transferred to the support vessel before the Fisher Boys sank at 1108 GMT.
The Fisher Boys (FR 940)
Aberdeen Coastguard said a helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth had lowered additional pumps on board in a bid to save the boat, but the efforts were "ineffective". One of the boat's crew was reported to have chest pains. The crewman was being flown to Lossiemouth with the RAF helicopter - which refuelled on a drilling rig - so he could then be taken onto Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin by ambulance. The other four crew decided to accompany the support vessel into Peterhead.

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