Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Young Marines

Stand up! Now get on your face! Push up! "Marine Corps!" These words are shouted in unison by several young recruits as they push their bodies off the ground. Does this sound familiar? Of course it does. Although it's not a platoon of Marine recruits sounding off at Marine Corps Recruit Depots Parris Island or San Diego, it's the Camp Foster Young Marines. The Young Marines program is a volunteer organization offered by the United States Marine Corps for boys and girls ages 8 through 17. The program promotes physical fitness, self-discipline, leadership, teamwork and a healthy, drug-free lifestyle among youth. The organization was founded in the United States in 1958 and was established in Okinawa in 1995. Female recruits were added to the ranks in 1975 and the organization has increased to more than 10,000 Young Marines around the world. The mission of Young Marines is to positively impact America's future by providing quality youth development programs for children that nurtures and develops its members into responsible citizens, explained Cpl. Jeffrey McDowell, the Camp Foster Young Marines senior drill instructor.The path to become a Young Marine starts with dedicating 13 Saturdays to attend Young Marine recruit training. During the training recruits perform various physical activities, learn the history of the Young Marines, and receive classes on leadership, close-order drill, teamwork, customs and courtesies, and the Marine Corps rank structure. In order for a Young Marine recruit to complete boot camp, they must also pass two written tests. "These kids are all volunteers here on the island," said Sgt. Dexter White, the Camp Foster Young Marines commanding officer. "They sacrifice every Saturday to better themselves." Upon completion of recruit training, the Young Marines will embark on an adventure that will benefit not only themselves but also have a positive impact on their peers as well, according to White. They will earn rank as they increase in physical fitness, show leadership capability and initiative. In order to earn the next rank, a Young Marine must show the willingness to strive for more, White explained.Once a Young Marine attains the rank of noncommissioned officer, they will be taught how to give classes on topics such as drug, tobacco and alcohol awareness. "When a Young Marine gets promoted to NCO, they are expected to know things such as land navigation, drill and public speaking," White said. "Just like the Marine Corps - we award more responsibility to each of them once they have demonstrated the ability to work beyond their limits." One Young Marine feels the organization has helped him achieve more than the average person his age. "I joined this program to become more disciplined," said Young Marine Cpl. Calen Wood. "Young Marines has given me the opportunity to learn about things that I would not learn anywhere else. Most of my friends play video games on Saturdays and I would rather spend my Saturdays doing this." Parents are always providing positive feedback about their children, McDowell explained. "I definitely recommend it for every child," said Carrie McGuigan, the mother of a Young Marine recruit. "I signed my son up because I think it will build his self-confidence tremendously. This program brings out the best in these children."

Fifteen Missing Sailors Found Inside Ukrainian Sunken Ship

The bodies of 15 missing sailors were found inside the Ukrainian Neftegaz 67 vessel, which sank in the Xianggang bay in late March. The bodies were taken to a morgue for identification. Water is being pumped out of the vessel. Once that is done, experts will assess the condition of the sunken ship and the possibility of towing it to the shore. The Neftegaz 67 was lifted with the help of Asia’s largest floating crane on Sunday. The wreck occurred near the Island of Lantau on March 22 through the collision with a large Chinese dry cargo ship. Seven out of 25 crewmembers of the Neftegaz 67 were rescued. Divers also found three dead bodies. The sunken vessel was lying upside down in a strong current at the depth of 37 meters. It was turned up on Monday and the fuel tanks were secured in order to avoid a leak. However, the hoisting operation was delayed several times because of bad weather. A fog and the strong current made it impossible to lift the vessel on Saturday. About 100 specialists, among them 30 divers, took part in the operation of the Chinese company Guangzhou Salvage. Ukraine was paying $250,000 per day for using the crane, while the entire cost of the hoisting operation was about $10 million. The Chinese company pledged to raise the sunken ship to the surface, pump away water, close the holes, keep the ship afloat, tow it to the shore and dispose of the scrap metal.
Neftegaz 67
The accident occurred in a strait between the Island of Lantau and the New Territories, four kilometers northeast of the international airport. A dry cargo ship en route from mainland China had a head collision with the Ukrainian ship en route from Shenzhen in the sick fog. The Ukrainian ship got a big hole in its hull and sank immediately. Seven people, including a Chinese citizen – a representative of the company that chartered the ship, were thrown overboard and picked up by rescuers. That was the largest wreck offshore Xianggang in the past decades. Chernomorneftegaz CEO Anatoly Prisyazhnyuk said that families of the missing crewmembers would receive aid. “We will give them financial and humanitarian assistance ensured by our laws and extra,” he said. “I think that our company can give assistance not only to wives but also to children if, God forbid, they lose their breadwinners.” Meanwhile, families of the Neftegaz 67 crewmembers accused Chinese rescue services and the Ukrainian government of the insufficiently active search-and-rescue effort. The Ukrainian governmental commission went to Xianggang only two days after the shipwreck. The largest floating crane in Asia, which was due to hoist the vessel on March 28, was late to arrive to the wreck scene. There was no search party on land. Some family members said they had tried to call their husbands by mobile phone but received answers in Chinese.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

17 Boat People Found Off California Coast

U.S. border agents intercepted a 26-foot boat off the coast of Southern California they say was carrying 17 suspected illegal immigrants. Thirteen men and four women were taken into custody. U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Vince Bond said one of the 17 will be charged with smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States. Agents using night vision equipment spotted the boat running without navigation lights about 1 a.m. about 10 miles off the coast of Point Loma.The boat had no registration markings, Bond said. Immigration officials say it's the second time in about a month a boat carrying suspected illegal immigrants has been found. In the last case, 15 people were found adrift in a boat about 15 miles west of Mission Bay. The officials say there have been at least 20 such attempts in the past several months.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Commander Of Legendary Ship Exodus Dies At 90

The man who commanded the clandestine operations that brought in four ships carrying some 24,000 illegal immigrants between 1945 and 1948, Yossi Harel, died yesterday in Tel Aviv at the age of 90. The writer Yoram Kaniuk, a friend of Harel, told Haaretz that when the ships he commanded sailed past the coast of Turkey, Harel would think of the Armenian village in Franz Werfel's novel "40 Days of Musa Dagh," which described the Armenian genocide. "He loved the Armenian people and felt close to them," Kaniuk said, adding that he wanted to mention Harel's sensitivity to the Armenians as a sign of the great humanitarianism and compassion that were central to his Harel's character. Harel was born in 1919, a sixth-generation Jerusalemite. He joined the Haganah at age 15 and later became part of the unit commanded by Orde Wingate, where he earned a reputation for bravery. Kaniuk related that David Ben-Gurion and Shaul Avigur (commander of the Aliyah Bet illegal immigration campaign and founder of Shai, the Haganah intelligence service) had marked him out as suitable to command the clandestine immigration ships because in addition to his leadership skills and fighting prowess, "there was something very hevreman [sociable] about him.
Yossi Harel
He was not the kind of clap-you-on-the-back hero. He was a man of manners, the type who didn't raise his voice. He was a man of conscience and a daring fighter." He was also sensitive, and showed special care for women about to give birth on the ship, Kaniuk said. Kaniuk also said, "Many of the sabras were snobs. They felt like heroes and did not show great sensitivity to the [Holocaust] survivors. It was hard for them to get in touch with their Jewishness. To Yossi, his Jewishness was important, as someone who had grown up in Jerusalem and not in Tel Aviv or on a kibbutz." Harel commanded the major clandestine immigrant operations, including four ships: Knesset Israel, The Exodus, Atzma'ut and Kibbutz Galuyot. By the time he was 28 he had been responsible for about 24,000 immigrants had come in under his command, more than one-third of those smuggled into the country secretly between 1945 and 1948. The Exodus, whose Captain was Yitzhak "Ike" Aharonovich, went down in history for its heroic voyage from France in July 1947, carrying 4,500 Holocaust survivors, and the fight for months to keep it from being turned back by the British. Eventually the ship was forced back to Europe and sailed to Hamburg, Germany.
Jewish immigrant ship Exodus

But the high point in Harel's career was not the more famous Exodus, according to an earlier article in Haaretz by historian Dr. Aviva Halamish. It was the two-and-a-half week voyage of the Knesset Israel. The ship set sail in November 1946 from Yugoslavia with 4,000 souls on boad. According to Halamish, this voyage brought to the fore the contrasts between the Yishuv, the Jewish community in pre-state Israel, and the clandestine immigrants, who were Holocaust survivors and "carried their struggle with them." Inspired by the story of the Knesset Israel, the poet Natan Alterman wrote in the newspaper Davar of the "division of labor" between the two groups. Harel later went on to study mechanical engineering in the United States. He was called back by Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Moshe Dayan to command Unit 131, the intelligence unit that operated the Israeli spy ring that collapsed in Egypt in 1954. Eventually, Harel left the army and went into business. Harel is to be buried tomorrow at Kibbutz Sdot Yam, near Caesarea.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ship Hired By US Fires Warning Shots In Gulf

A cargo vessel under contract with the US Navy fired warning shots on two small boats which approached the ship in the Gulf and failed to respond to radio communications, the US Navy said. The small speed boats left the area after the warning shots and the US ship Westward Venture received radio contract from a unit of the Iranian Coast Guard, the Navy's Fifth Fleet in Bahrain said.
Westward Venture
The Navy could not confirm that the boats during the incident were Iranian. US Navy ships in the Gulf have in the past had encounters with small Iranian boats. One of the bigger incidents between the two countries took place in January, when three Iranian fast boats came dangerously close to three US warships in international waters in the Strait of Hormuz before vanishing as one of the US vessels was preparing to open fire.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Corpse Helped Boat Refugee Stay Afloat

The moonlight illuminated the young woman's fellow passengers from the capsized boat, scattered through the chilly ocean 15 miles from land. Some of them screamed for help. Others bobbed silently, face-down in the water. As the voices grew quiet one by one, Rodene Fileresaint clung to the only life preserver she could find: the lifeless body of a Haitian who had shared her American dream. "I was holding onto a dead woman to keep afloat," the 23-year-old high school student said. Nine hours later, day broke and rescuers finally arrived. Some two dozen people were dead. Three were alive, including Fileresaint. She was still clinging to the corpse. Thousands of Haitians fleeing poverty and hopelessness make the illegal crossing to Florida each year. The U.S. Coast Guard has intercepted 737 since Jan. 1; nobody knows how many more have drowned or been killed by sharks. This group of migrants took a common route, boarding a smuggler's boat to the Bahamas, two survivors told The Associated Press late Wednesday from hospital beds. Bahamian police grabbed several of the migrants as they reached land, and those who escaped made it to a safehouse, where they spent two weeks waiting to move on.
A Haitian migrant who survived the capsizing of a boat off Nassau, Bahamas, is questioned by a Bahamian official at the Nassau Harbour Patrol Unit. The migrant is one of three who survived the tragedy.
On Saturday night, they boarded a speedboat bound for Miami, with a planned stopover in Bimini, a speck of land where police don't have a single vessel to give chase. Fileresaint, the daughter of rice farmers, was excited: Her dream of becoming a nurse in Miami was finally within reach. Fileresaint said she counted 27 people aboard the speedboat. Survivor Johnny Boucher, 26, said they were packed shoulder-to-shoulder. An hour after leaving Nassau, the boat suddenly began to take on water, he explained. "I was sitting in the front of the boat. The boat was speeding," Boucher said through an interpreter, his eyes filling with tears. "Water was coming inside of the boat and we couldn't see where it was coming from. Women started screaming to turn back." Within moments, the boat capsized. Boucher said he had time to strip off two shirts, his pants and his shoes before plunging into the swells. "I thought I was going to die," he said. Boucher said he treaded water for hours as he screamed for help in Creole. The cramps were excruciating, he said, and he was nearly unconscious when he felt someone grab him and pluck him from the water Sunday morning. Fishermen had heard the screams and alerted authorities. Rescuers pulled bodies from the waters, but the Coast Guard told them to focus on the survivors, slipping life jackets onto the corpses so they could be picked up later.
Coast Guard officers carry the body of one of the Haitian migrants who died after their boat sank off Nassau, Bahamas.
The bodies of 12 women and two men were recovered before search operations were called off at dusk Wednesday. Rescuers said they were surprised to find so many bodies floating so soon after the accident. But John Sanders, director of the U.S. National Underwater Rescue and Recovery Institute, said that is to be expected, especially for people killed before hitting the water — say, by hitting their heads. Florida-based family members of one victim, 30-year-old Lorna Eugene, paid the equivalent of US$5,000 for a smuggler to take her to Miami to be with her fiance, according to relatives in Haiti. Her sister, Louna Eugene, said Lorna's family warned her about the dangers of the voyage. "We told her not to get on a boat full of people," Eugene said by telephone from Port-de-Paix in northern Haiti. She said her sister's fiance hopes to travel to Nassau, where Lorna is to be buried on Monday. Fileresaint remained hospitalized Thursday for exposure, while Boucher was taken to a migration detention center, according to William Pratt, the Bahamas' assistant director of immigration. The third survivor, a Honduran, was being held by police for investigation of smuggling.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pilot Boat Aids Sick Sailor

Milford Haven Port Authority came to the rescue of a sick sailor yesterday, as they took a crew member from HMS Exeter to an awaiting ambulance. The warship was passing the Haven and diverted her passage in order to convey the crewman, who had a foot infection, to shore.
HMS Exeter D89
The port authority pilot's boat was in the area and, at the request of coastguard operations room,transferred the seaman from the Exeter to the port authority jetty. An awaiting ambulance then took him to Withybush Hospital. "The pilot's boat happened to be at sea when we got a call from the coastguard and we were happy to assist," said Milford Haven harbour master Mark Andrews.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Recruits Enlist Using Biometric Technology

When 20 recruits gathered yesterday at the Baltimore Military Entrance Processing Station to sign their enlistment contracts, none needed a pen. Instead, they read their contracts on a computer screen, then pressed their index fingers onto an electronic pad next to it, becoming the first servicemembers to enlist using biometric technology. Air Force Maj. Michael D. Thomas, deputy station commander, swore in the recruits on Fort Meade, Md. This marked a big step in the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command’s transition to paperless enlistment recordkeeping, said Ted Daniels chief of the command’s accessions division. Nineteen-year-old Krista Hearne of Salisbury, Md., became the first recruit to sign her enlistment contract biometrically before taking her oath of enlistment to join the Army. Eighteen-year-old Chance Muller of Sharpsburg, Md., followed, becoming the first male applicant to use biometrics, in his case, to join the Marine Corps. After swearing them into the military, Thomas used his own index fingerprint to biometrically sign their contracts. When the process was completed, the new servicemembers received print-outs of their enlistment contracts, which included a facial photo and the fingerprint.
U.S. Army recruit Krista N. Hearne, 19, of Salisbury, Md., poses with the electronic Army enlistment contract she signed with her fingerprint as she became the first person to enlist in the U.S. military using biometric signatures.
No other paper was required for a process that once required multiple signatures and took reams of paper. “The process starts off without paper and it ends up without paper,” said Daniels. “But we do print out one copy, for the individual.” Many of the enlisting troops had seen biometrics technology used on television and thought it “pretty neat” to learn that they were to be the first enlistees to use it, Daniels said. “We told them what we were doing was revolutionary, that this was the first time it was being down within the Department of Defense,” he said. “They came through here and said, ‘This is pretty neat, man.’” Biometrics is becoming increasingly widespread in society. Some supermarkets used them at the checkout counter. Even Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., takes biometric measurements from guests’ fingers to ensure the same person uses a ticket from day to day. Daniels said biometrics will offer MEPCOM broad advantages, improving security, reducing redundancy and dollar costs and saving the command an estimated 70 million sheets of paper a year. Last year alone, the command administered 510,000 enlistment Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery tests and 348,000 physical examinations to recruit 266,000 new soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.
Air Force Major Michael D. Thomas conducts an enlistment ceremony for U.S. Army recruit Krista N. Hearne, 19, at the Baltimore Military Entrance Processing Station. Hearne became the first person to enlist in the U.S. military using biometric signatures.
Now using biometric technology, MEPS officials will capture each applicant’s biometric print at first contact. That information will be used to verify the applicant’s identity and track progress throughout the qualification process: from aptitude testing to medical screening to background check to contract signing to shipping off for boot camp or basic training. Biometric information captured at enlistment will become part of the servicemembers’ permanent personnel records. Ultimately it will follow them throughout their military careers, providing concrete verification of their identity. Because biometrics are unique to every individual and can’t be forged, they add security protections just not possible with traditional “wet” signatures, Daniels explained. “What we want to do is make sure whoever is next to you in the foxhole is exactly who they are supposed to be,” he said. Meanwhile, biometrics is expected to provide faster, less redundant personnel processes, he said. As it becomes widespread throughout the department and services, it will help short-cut procedures required for everything from getting a common access card to signing up for Tricare benefits through the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. “There will be no need to start from scratch each time,” Daniels said.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Somali Troops Hold Pirates As Dubai Ship Hijacking Ends

Several hijackers of a Dubai-flagged ship have been arrested after the vessel was stormed by Somali troops off the war-torn East African nation. The hijacking of the 'Al Khaleej' was the 12th such reported incident in Somali waters this year, according to International Maritime Bureau (IMB), which monitors crimes at sea. "A number of pirates have been arrested. We are trying to get a detailed report," IMB's assistant director Michael Howlett told reporters by phone from London on Tuesday. The troops boarded the vessel on Monday and freed the ship's crew. The pirates are believed to be from Somalia.IMB could not say the number of crew members and their nationalities. Information on the ship’s cargo was also not available. IMB declined to disclose the ship’s present location and the crew’s condition. According to a wire agency report, the 'Al Khaleej' was carrying food for sale in Somalia when it was hijacked seven kilometers off the port of Bosasso on Monday. Incidents of piracy have risen in recent months in and around Somali waters amid worsening chaos in the country.

Monday, April 21, 2008

18 Injured as Louisiana Prison Boat Collides With Vessel On Mississippi River

A boat carrying state prison employees collided with a barge on the swollen Mississippi River upstream from Baton Rouge on Sunday, injuring 18 people. The crew boat Helen G. Calyx with 20 people aboard, was taking workers who had just ended their shifts across the river, said Angie Norwood, spokeswoman for the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. No one went into the water, she said. The employees were first taken to the prison hospital, and 12 were transferred to other hospitals. The two most seriously injured were flown for treatment, Norwood said. Normally, the maximum-security prison uses a ferry to take workers and their vehicles back and forth from the west side of the river to the prison on the east side. But crewboats — typically used to move workers to offshore petroleum platforms — had been used recently because of the high water, Norwood said.
Crew boat Helen G. Calyx used to transport employees of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola across the Mississippi River is docked at the Angola ferry landing after colliding with a barge Sunday night. An investigation is under way and the service is suspended.
At Baton Rouge, about 40 miles downstream from Angola, the Mississippi is expected to crest April 21 at 42 feet. Flood stage at that point is 35 feet, according to the National Weather Service. The Coast Guard, which was investigating, could not immediately say whether high water played a role. Persistent heavy rains to the north have swollen the busy waterway, leading authorities to open a major spillway for the first time since 1997 in hopes of avoiding problems downriver. River pilots had voiced worries about the high water, saying it's harder to anchor and navigate in the quick currents. The Coast Guard had recently limited the number of barges that tugboats could push in the lower Mississippi. Last month, a freighter ran aground near New Orleans and caused 60 nearby barges to break loose from their moorings. A stretch of river was also closed near Vicksburg, Miss., when a barge sank after hitting a bridge. The penitentiary, which consists of prison camps on an old plantation, has about 1,500 employees.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Seaman Acts To Aid Man In Peril

A USS Kitty Hawk sailor was recognized this week for jumping onto train tracks to rescue a Japanese man who was having a seizure. Seaman Phillip Simmons was waiting for his train at Yokosuka’s Kenritsu Daigaku station April 8 when he saw a Japanese man start shaking, according to a Navy release. The man fell off the platform and onto the tracks below, Simmons said in the release. “I saw him start shaking, and start to lose his balance,” Simmons is quoted as saying in the release. “Another Japanese man tried to catch him, but he fell over into the tracks, so I jumped down to him and tried to get him up.” Simmons pulled the man to safety with help from other people at the station, the release said. The volunteers then pulled Simmons off the tracks just seconds before the train arrived, he said.“I could see the train coming and just kept thinking, ‘Oh [no], I need to get back up,’” Simmons said in the release. Once back on the platform, Simmons continued to care for the man, who continued to suffer seizures, while a station attendant called an ambulance, he said. When the man came out of the seizure, he tried to run from the people trying to restrain him, Simmons said. Another sailor, Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Dennis, witnessed this and was quoted in the release as saying, “Simmons was just trying to keep him calm.” “If Simmons wasn’t there that morning, that guy would be dead,” Dennis said. “He’s not the type of person to stand by and watch if someone needs help.” After a Japanese official confirmed Simmons’ story — the incident caused the sailor to arrive late for work in the enlisted barber shop — Simmons’ chain of command nominated the sailor for an award based on his actions.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Dog Rescued After Months At Sea

Snickers the Sea Dog is barely more than a pup, but he's already an old salt. The eight-month-old pooch spent three months adrift on a 15-metre boat and survived four months on tiny Fanning Island - 1609 kilometres south of Hawaii - where his owners left him after their sailing boat ran aground last December. Now the cocker spaniel, who is in quarantine on Oahu after being rescued April 9 by Norwegian Cruise Line workers and a group of other people, will be flown to Los Angeles to meet a man who desperately wants to adopt him: retired Las Vegas resident Jack Joslin. "I love animals," Joslin said today. "I had two dogs up until the middle of March. Then I had to have my border collie euthanised. The day they called saying the ashes were back was when I read the story (about Snickers).It occurred to me I could do something." Hawaiian Airlines, moved by the dog's survival story, has given the go-ahead on flying the animal for free to the mainland, said Peter Forman, a Hawaii-based airlines historian who helped negotiate Snickers' transport. Forman said he expects Snickers to arrive sometime in the next three days. Snickers' ordeal began when his owners catamaran began experiencing mast problems after setting off from California, said Gina Baurile of the Hawaiian Humane Society. The boat drifted to Fanning Island where it hit a reef and the dog's owners, Jerry and Darla Merrow, swam 200 metres to shore with Snickers and their parrot, Gulliver.They left the island soon after on a cargo vessel leaving their pets in the care of islanders, Baurile said. Efforts to contact the Merrows have been unsuccessful. Robby Coleman, who owns a sail boat off Fanning Island then started watching out for the dog and parrot on the island, Forman said. "Robby put out the SOS and a lot of people got involved," Forman said. After being contacted by Formans wife the Hawaiian Humane Society took the lead on Snickers rescue and organised for a ship to be sent out to Fanning Island to pick up the dog, said Norwegian Cruise Line spokeswoman Krislyn Hashimoto. The dog landed in Honolulu on Wednesday, cleared customs and has been in quarantine since, awaiting transport to LA, Hashimoto said.

Friday, April 18, 2008

South Africa Turns Back Ship Carrying Weapons To Zimbabwe

A ship carrying arms to Zimbabwe has left South African waters after a court refused to allow the weapons to be transported across South Africa. The An Yue Jiang, a Chinese ship, had been at anchor off Durban on South Africa's Indian Ocean coast since Monday, turning into a flashpoint for trade unions and others critical of President Thabo Mbeki's quiet diplomacy toward Zimbabwe. The 300,000-strong South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) refused to unload the weapons because of concerns Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government might use them against opponents in the post-election stalemate. Several hours after Durban High Court Judge Kate Pillay gave her ruling the ship lifted anchor and left, SAPA said, citing sources that requested anonymity. It was not clear where it was going. Pillay issued her ruling after an Anglican bishop and another activist filed an application asking the court to block the arms in a politically charged case that has raised scrutiny of South Africa's policy on Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean officials have failed to issue results of the March 29 presidential election. Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he won the presidential poll and his party took a majority of the parliamentary seats. Mugabe and his supporters are preparing for a run-off as well as challenging some of the parliamentary results. "We are concerned that the current standoff could mean the arms would fall into the hands of those who want to use military force against the people of Zimbabwe," SATAWU General Secretary Randall Howard told Reuters on Friday. "The South African government cannot be seen as propping up a military regime," he said, adding that workers were refusing to handle four containers on the ship that contained ammunition and other arms.
An Yue Jiang
A South African government spokesman confirmed that weapons were aboard the ship but said the government would not interfere with what it regarded as a trade matter between China and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's deputy information minister, Bright Matonga, said on Friday that no party had the right to stop the shipment. "Every country has got a right to acquire arms. There is nothing wrong with that. If they are for Zimbabwe, they will definitely come to Zimbabwe," he told South Africa's SAFM radio. "How they are used, when they are going to be used is none of anybody's business." The row over the ship has added to the pressure on Mbeki, who has been acting as a regional mediator between Mugabe and Zimbabwe's opposition and has come under fire for taking a relatively soft line on Mugabe's government. Tsvangirai called on Thursday for Mbeki to be removed as a mediator. For its part, China is trying to prevent the controversy from fuelling criticism over its human rights record and rule in Tibet ahead of hosting the Olympics in August. Violent protests have followed the Olympic torch across the globe. China's Foreign Ministry said in a short faxed statement to Reuters that it had seen the reports about the ship, but "did not understand the actual situation". "China and Zimbabwe maintain normal trade relations. What we want to stress is China has always had a prudent and responsible attitude towards arms sales, and one of the most important principles is not to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries," the statement said.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ship Sinks Off Puerto Rico

The U.S. Coast Guard has rescued 11 sailors off the coast of Puerto Rico after their Korean-registered cargo ship capsized in heavy seas. Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad says the entire crew of nine Guyanese, a Dominican and a Cuban fled the sinking vessel in a lifeboat.They were plucked unhurt from the Caribbean and taken to Jamaica. Castrodad said Wednesday that the 250-foot Tel Tale II was transporting silica sand when pounding waves caused its cargo to shift. The ship capsized Tuesday night about 300 miles off the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Postmark Commemorates Air Force Reserve

The U.S. Postal Service is helping the Air Force Reserve celebrate its 60th anniversary with a commemorative pictorial cancellation that went into circulation April 14. A pictorial cancellation is a unique postmark offered by the Postal Service for special events. Maj. Todd Copley of the 94th Airlift Wing here worked with the post office in Marietta, Ga., to design the stamp. A postal cancellation, first used the 1840s, is one method of marking stamps at a postal facility so that they can be used only once.Postage cancelled using commemorative designs is usually in limited circulation and highly sought by stamp collectors and historians, said postal officials. Marietta's postmaster is offering a mail-back service to people who want their postage adorned with the cancellation stamp. Enthusiasts can submit envelopes, postcards, photographs, posters and other materials through the mail directly to the Marietta Post Office for cancellations from April 14 to June 14.

Send requests to:

Pictorial Postmarks

60th Anniversary of the USAFR Station

257 Lawrence Street

Marietta, GA 30060-9998

Submissions must be postmarked no later than June 14 and must bear at least 41-cent, first-class postage. Each requested item must be accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope with applicable return postage. If the item is an envelope or postcard to be passed through the mail stream, it needs to be addressed and must also bear unused first class or greater U.S. postage and sufficient return postage. This is the third postmark designed by Major Copley, a C-130 navigator in the 700th Airlift Squadron at Dobbins ARB. An avid topical stamp collector, his two previous designs included one in 2007 commemorating the Air Force's 60th anniversary and the 1999 Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., air show.

Monday, April 14, 2008

7 Dead After Boat Capsizes In NW China Wetland Park

Seven workers drowned after their boat capsized in the lake of a wetland park in the northwestern Gansu Province on Sunday. The accident happened at 9:55 a.m. in the park which was under construction on the outskirts of Ganzhou District of Zhangye City, said Wang Chaohua, an official of the city's government.Rescuers rushed to the scene at 10:11 a.m. and got them out of water by 11:20. But all of them died later in hospital. The seven workers, two women and five men, had intended to plant trees on the island in the middle of the lake, but none of them could steer the boat properly or swim, Wang said. The compensation for the victims' families has begun, Wang added. Construction on the wetland park started in 2006. The lake covers an area of 44.3 hectares.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ship Collision Off Kyushu Island Leaves 3 Chinese Dead, 13 Missing

A collision between two Chinese vessels has left three people dead and 13 others missing, said reports from the southern port city of Kagoshima on Japan's Kyushu island.Freighter Shinyo Sawako, a vessel from China's Hong Kong Special Administration Region, and the fishing boat Lurongyu 2177 from the Chinese mainland collided late Friday on the waters some 350 km south of Takarajima Island, part of the Tokara chain of islands south of Kyushu, reports said, citing the Japan Coast Guard, who received the information late Saturday. The fishing boat sank immediately after the crash, only two of its 18 crew members have been rescued, said the coast guard, adding that rescue and investigation efforts are under way.
"SHINYO SAWAKO" (ex name "Golden Stream")

Saturday, April 12, 2008

US Navy Ship Encounters Iranian Speed Boats In Gulf

U.S. Navy officials say a U.S. ship encountered three small Iranian speed boats in the Persian Gulf. The officials said Friday the USS Typhoon was in the central Gulf when at least one of three high-speed boats approached the ship. The officials said the boats kept their distance after the Navy ship fired a warning flare.
USS Typhoon (PC-5)
It is unclear whether the speed boats were armed. Iranian arabic television Al-Alam reports the Iranian navy denies the incident. The U.S. Defense Department has said there were three confrontations between the U.S. Navy and Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf from December to January. One ended after a U.S. ship fired warning shots to deter the Iranian vessel.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Canadian Navy Ship Helps Burning Cargo Vessel

A Canadian navy frigate was sent on Thursday to help a Panama-flagged merchant ship that reported an engine fire off the coast of Massachusetts. HMCS Toronto arrived on Thursday afternoon at the 176-metre Sea Venus, which was en route from Rhode Island to Belgium when a fire broke out in the engine room. The fire had knocked out all power on the Sea Venus's board and was still burning, but had died down since it was first detected in the morning, Cmdr. Alex Grant of HMCS Toronto said. The HMCS Toronto's crew was assessing the health of Sea Venus crew members, damage caused by the fire and trying to restore the vessel's firefighting capabilities.
HMCS Toronto (FFH 333)
"I don't see any immediate danger to the vessel," Grant said in an interview from the Toronto. "My away team … has not raised any alarms. They are slowly and deliberately assessing the situation. But the vessel is not in danger of sinking at this time." The Sea Venus, a car-carrying vessel with a crew of 23, issued a satellite distress signal around 7:30 a.m. ET and a rescue centre in Halifax established communication with their crew. The Toronto, with a crew of 200, was conducting a fisheries patrol when it was diverted to the disabled ship, which was about 1,900 kilometres east of Cape Cod, Mass.
Sea Venus
Three other merchant ships were also on scene and were arranging for a tug to take the ship into port. Initially, the Sea Venus reported that the fire had been extinguished but in a subsequent distress call reported the fire had reignited. Also earlier on, the vessel reported that at least one crew member had been injured. "There was an injury, but we're not sure of how extensive it was because we haven't been able to have communication with them," said Lorraine Brooks, a coast guard in Portsmouth. The U.S. Coast Guard, which was co-ordinating the rescue, said there were no immediate plans to abandon ship. Visibility and winds were good, with waves up to three metres, said Lt. Marie-Claude Gagne of the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

USS George Washington Departs for Yokosuka, Japan

The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) with its crew of approximately 3,200 Sailors departed Norfolk, April 7, to begin its journey to Yokosuka, Japan to replace USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as the United States' only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier. Commanded by Capt. Dave Dykhoff, the carrier will be the flagship for the George Washington Strike Group, commanded by Rear Adm. Phil Cullom and comprised of: Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17; guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59); homeported in Norfolk, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40 and the guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99); homeported in Mayport, Fla.
USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63)
"Our Sailors, our families and the Navy have put together a tremendous effort to prepare GW for all aspects of this transition, and while it is difficult to leave the Hampton Roads community, which has been so supportive of GW, we are excited about the vital importance of this new mission and the warm welcome we expect from the people of Yokosuka," said Dykhoff. The George Washington Strike group will head to the U.S. Southern Command area of focus (AOF) to participate in Partnership of the Americas. After approximately two months, the ship will continue on its transit while Carrier Strike Group 8 and CVW-17 return to Norfolk. DESRON 40, Kauffman and Farragut will remain in the SOUTHCOM AOF to continue their participation in Partnership of the Americas for a six-month deployment.
USS George Washington (CVN 73)
George Washington is scheduled to reach its destination in Japan in August. George Washington's replacement of Kitty Hawk is part of the Navy's long-range effort to routinely replace older ships assigned to the Navy's forward deployed Naval forces with newer or more capable platforms, and is part of an ongoing effort to consider the nature of all forward deployed forces when looking at the unpredictable security environment in the Western Pacific. The Kitty Hawk is scheduled be decommissioned later this year.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Army's New Field Manual Discussed

The commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., testified this week to the Airland Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee about the Army's new operations manual, FM 3-0. Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV told Senate Subcommittee Chairman Joe Lieberman and Ranking Member John Cornyn that while Soldiers are performing magnificently in the war on terrorism, FM 3-0 is their blueprint for operating in an uncertain future. He also said creating a total-government approach for future conflicts is crucial for success, adding that this depends on Congressional resourcing of other government agencies. FM 3-0 marks the first major changes to Army doctrine since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and institutionalizes simultaneous offensive, defensive and stability operations. In fact, stability and combat operations are given equal importance. "A tremendous amount of change in FM 3-0 has come from lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan," Caldwell said after the manual's launch in February. "It was important for us to go back and take those lessons that we have learned over time and incorporate them into our doctrine, training and leader development." Both Lieberman and Cornyn were concerned about how the Army could support and budget for such a wide spectrum of operations, but Cornyn congratulated the military for its ability to successfully perform so many missions.While Caldwell was in the capital, he also stopped by the Army's Worldwide Public Affairs Symposium and talked to public affairs officers about the changing face of media and the importance of engagement. "Telling the story of the United States Army and our Soldiers is not only a noble calling, but in today's information environment, it is essential to the success of our mission and to the overall success of our nation in this era of persistent conflict," said the former Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman. Now every student at the Command and General Staff College, which falls under Caldwell's direction, is required to conduct at least one media interview, one public-outreach event and write one blog. "As Soldiers, we understand the maximum effective range of our primary weapons systems and exactly what that means," he said. "But with the emphasis on information as an element of combat power, we need to understand that the maximum effective range of a message, once it is launched, is unlimited. "All communications have the potential to be global, and we need to expect that our messages will be heard and understood in multiple countries, in many different languages, and more importantly, through many various cultural filters. Always think through the implications of your messages and how they will be perceived on a global scale. Remember that in many parts of the world, an American Soldier will be the only contact that many people will have with our great nation."

blog counter