Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ship rams & Ttopples Rajang River Pavilion

Five persons including two boys ran for their lives just in the nick of time before a cargo ship crashed into one of two pavilions on the river, toppling it and reducing the structure to rubbles yesterday afternoon. The 12.45pm incident also partially damaged the bridge that links the river bank with the two pavilions. The ship was coming to berth at a wharf of Rajang Port Authority when the accident happened. Before the accident, two teenagers were fishing at the double-roofed pavilion further out into the river. With them were two men who were resting while a caretaker of the temple was napping on a bench. When the ship moved towards them the two boys froze as they were too shocked. Only when the two men with them shouted to tell everyone to run did they dash away. When they reached the bank, there was a loud crashing sound behind them and the pavilion came crashing down. The incident punched a large hole in the bow of the ship, but it still managed to berth at the RPA Wharf.The riverside beautification project where the pavilions are situation was carried out by Sibu Chiang Chuan Association as they incorporated the scenic garden into the Tua Pek Kong Temple, the structure which has undergone massive renovation. The temple and the Chiang Chuan Garden is now a landmark of the town. Costing RM1.5 million, the garden was opened in September 24, 2005 by Second Finance Minister and Minister of Tourism and Urban Development Dato Sri Woon Soon Koh. Chairman of Sibu Chiang Chuan Association Chai Then Sien was at the garden yesterday evening with his committee members and officers from Sibu Municipal Council led by Secretary Wong Fu Toh to access the damage. Also present was Assistant Minister of Public Health Datuk Dr Soon Choon Teck. Chai said he would ask the insurance company to assess the damage before seeking compensation from the ship owners.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Somali Pirates Hijack Two More Ship In Gulf Of Aden

Kenya's maritime official confirmed late Thursday that Somali pirates have hijacked two more ships in the Gulf of Aden. Andrew Mwangura of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Program told Xinhua that the ships were seized on Wednesday in the same area where a Dutch-owned vessel was seized by pirates on Monday. "The vessels were seized on Wednesday where the Dutch-owned vessel was hijacked on Monday. We have not received any information concerning the crew members and their nationalities," Mwangura said by telephone. He also said he has no information on who owns the MV Lehmann Timber and the MV Arena or demands by the pirates. Somali coastal waters are among the most hazardous in the world. Last year, more than 25 ships were seized by pirates in Somali coastal waters. The attacks bring the total number of ships hijacked in the area this year to 26.The coastal waters off Somalia, which has not had an effective central government for more than 17 years and is plagued by insecurity, are considered to be among the most dangerous waterways for shipping in the world. The global maritime body advises merchant ships to stay at least 200 nautical miles from the country's coast. Somali authorities have publicly blamed Western firms for paying hefty ransoms thus encouraging more hijackings. Some pirates have been arrested in connection with the attacks, but that has failed to halt the hijackings. Last month the United States and France introduced a U.N. resolution that would allow countries to chase and arrest pirates off Somalia' s coast. Somalia has no navy and is unable to police its own shores. Somalia has not had an effective central government for more than 17 years and is plagued by insecurity.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

USS Kitty Hawk Departs Japan

USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) Sailors spell out ‘sayonara’ on the flight deck as the ship departs Yokosuka, Japan's Truman Bay for the final time. Sayonara is Japanese for “goodbye.” Kitty Hawk will be replaced as the Navy’s only aircraft carrier operating from Yokosuka by USS George Washington (CVN 73). Kitty Hawk operated from Fleet Activities Yokosuka since 1998, when it replaced the USS Independence (CV 62). About 900 Kitty Hawk Sailors will be returning to Japan with George Washington in the coming months; the remainder of the crew will either transfer or help decommission Kitty Hawk in early 2009.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stay Out Of Politics

The highest-ranking U.S. military officer has written an unusual open letter to all those in uniform, warning them to stay out of politics as the country approaches a Presidential election in which the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be a central, and certainly divisive, issue. "The U.S. military must remain apolitical at all times," wrote Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "It is and must always be a neutral instrument of the state, no matter which party holds sway." Mullen's essay appears in the coming issue of Joint Force Quarterly, an official military journal that is distributed widely among the officer corps. The statement to the armed forces is the first essay for the journal Mullen has written as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and veteran officers said they could not remember when a similar "all- hands" letter had been issued to remind military personnel to remain outside, if not above, contentious political debate. The essay can be seen as a reflection of the deep concern among senior officers that the U.S. military, which is paying the highest price in carrying out national security policy, may be drawn into politicking this year.
Admiral Mike Mullen
The war in Iraq already has exceeded the length of World War II and is the longest conflict the United States has fought with an all- volunteer military since the Revolutionary War. In particular, members of the Joint Chiefs have expressed worries this election year about the influence of retired officers who advise political campaigns, some of whom have publicly called for a change in policy or others who serve as television commentators. Among the most outspoken were those who joined the so-called generals' revolt in 2006 demanding the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary, as well as former officers who have written books attacking the Bush administration's planning for and execution of the war in Iraq. While retired officers have full rights to political activism, their colleagues still in uniform fear its effect on those trying to carry out the mission, especially more junior officers and enlisted personnel. Active-duty military personnel are prohibited from taking part in partisan politics. "As the nation prepares to elect a new president," Mullen wrote, "we would all do well to remember the promises we made: to obey civilian authority, to support and defend the Constitution and to do our duty at all times." "Keeping our politics private is a good first step," he added. "The only things we should be wearing on our sleeves are our military insignia."Mullen said he was inspired to write the essay after receiving a constant stream of legitimate, if troubling, questions while visiting U.S. military personnel around the world, including, "What if a Democrat wins?" and, "What will that do to the mission in Iraq?" "I am not suggesting that military professionals abandon all personal opinions about modern social or political issues," Mullen wrote. "What I am suggesting - indeed, what the nation expects - is that military personnel will, in the execution of the mission assigned to them, put aside their partisan leanings. Political opinions have no place in cockpit or camp or conference room." He noted that "part of the deal we made when we joined up was to willingly subordinate our individual interests to the greater good of protecting vital national interests." Mullen took his message directly to the U.S. Navy's newest officers on May 23, when he spoke to the Naval Academy's graduating class. Military personnel are obligated to give their unvarnished, even critical, advice to their civilian leaders, he told the class. "If it's followed, great," Mullen said. "If it's not, we only have two choices: obey the orders we have been given, carrying them out with the professionalism and loyalty they deserve, or vote with our feet."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mexico Navy Hunts For Sharks

The Mexican Navy searched for sharks in the ocean near Pacific surfing beaches on Monday, after two bathers were killed and another maimed in a rare spate of shark attacks. Three boats and a helicopter patrolled the sea while Navy and rescue officials scanned the horizon with binoculars from popular beaches around the southwestern Mexican resort of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo. They warned surfers not to go far out. "We've been monitoring the beaches; we've done reconnaissance flights," Rear Adm. Arturo Bernal said, adding that no big shark had been detected yet in the area. Surfer Bruce Grimes from Texas was bitten on the arm on Saturday off nearby Playa Linda beach, making him the third target of a shark attack in the area in a month. Two attacks in April and May killed a Mexican and an American -- the first shark deaths off Mexico's Pacific coast in 30 years, according to official records.Grimes, 49, said he paddled madly toward shore on his board after feeling the unmistakable sandy skin of a shark glide across the bottom of his feet as he straddled his surfboard. "Then it bumped me really hard. I thought, 'That's definitely a big shark.' I took about three more strokes and he grabbed my arm," said Grimes, who pulled himself free and made it to the beach. He managed to drive himself to a hospital, where he received 100 stitches. On Friday, Mexican surfer Osvaldo Mata, 21, died after a 6-foot-long (2-m-long) shark seized him, bit off one of his hands and chomped on his thigh. That followed the death in late April of a 24-year-old American who was mauled while surfing nearby. The Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo government is consulting with experts to determine what could be causing the attacks.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Cruise Ship Strikes Manhattan Pier

A huge cruise ship was so eager to get to Manhattan this morning that it actually slammed into the island. The Norwegian Spirit--which is a boat belonging to Norwegian Cruise Lines--apparently took a turn too wide and rammed into Pier 90 at 50th St. and 12th Ave. Typical out-of-towners: they never know how to drive in the city! No one on board was injured and the Dept. of Buildings said that the pier was damaged and in need of structural reinforcement, but not in danger of collapse.Passengers noticed that the parking structure (the pier) was coming up awfully close to the ship, but didn't feel much of an impact as concrete crumbled into the Hudson. It's a testament to how large modern cruise ships are--"Iceberg? What iceberg?" In addition to the Dept. of Buildings, the Coast Guard and Dept of Emergency Management were also quick to the scene. The Navy SEALS have been camped out at Pier 90 with one of their functional watercraft for Fleet Week, but they fortunately did not have to be deployed. Norwegian Cruise Lines advertises itself as "Freestyle Cruising." They may want to rein that in a little.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

British Nuclear Sub Crashes 'After Tracing Paper Blunder'

A British nuclear submarine crashed into the seabed after tracing paper was used to help plot its course during a training exercise, obscuring vital symbols from student commanders, reports said. The hunter-killer sub HMS Trafalgar needed $10.3 million worth of repairs after the incident, which occurred off the coast of western Scotland. Three crewmen were injured after the 5,200-tonne submarine steered into the seabed at a depth of 50 metres off the Isle of Skye in 2002, according to a Ministry of Defence inquiry report cited by press reports. The trainee officers were undergoing a test called "Pressure Cooker," to simulate a real-life situation. As well as tracing paper, post-it notes were also stuck on maps while the submarine's satellite navigation system was turned off. The speed of tidal water flow was also miscalculated. "The chart became increasingly untidy ... and elementary mistakes were made with the generation of the estimated position," the report, cited by reporters said.
HMS Trafalgar
One and a half minutes before the impact, someone in the sub's command room was quoted as saying: "We're going to have to change course. This is too dangerous." But it was too late, and the vessel crashed into the increasingly shallow seabed at a speed of 26 kilometres per hour. "On impact, the ship's head was forced to starboard and there was a rapid deceleration, forcing most people to lose their balance and causing at least three minor injuries," the report said. According to reporters, immediately after the collision the vessel's commander, Robert Fancy, ordered the sub to surface to check there was no damage to the hull or the nuclear reactor. The vessel was safe, but extensive repairs were needed. In addition the Ministry report noted that: "Nuclear submarines should only conduct training of this nature if the arrangements for navigational safety are infallible." HMS Trafalgar is one of seven Trafalgar-class submarines in the Royal Navy. Some 85 metres long and able to carry 130 crew, they are armed with Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Panama Ship Carbon Dioxide Gas Leak Kills 3 Onboard

Carbon dioxide leakage from the Panamanian ship "Hakone" moored on the Chongming island of Shanghai left three foreign crew members dead and 13 others injured, the work safety administration of Shanghai confirmed early Friday morning. The accident happened around 4:30 p.m. Thursday when the crew were repairing the ship's carbon dioxide system. The three dead crew members have been initially identified as Filipinos.
All the injured were rushed to hospital, and their physical conditions were stable, sources with the administration said. Shanghai Vice Mayor Ai Baojun and Xiao Guiyu, deputy secretary-general of the municipal government, went to the ship immediately after the incident and visited the injured at the hospital. They asked doctors to spare no effort to treat the injured crew. The names of the ship and dead crew members are not available at the moment.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A bevy of federal and local agencies continued their investigation into the deaths Tuesday of three men who suffocated aboard a cargo ship at Port Everglades. They are trying to determine whether a leaking container of argon gas was improperly stored in the ship's unventilated hull - and whether the tragedy could have been prevented. It may take months to piece together what happened in an enclosed compartment aboard the Madeleine, a 338-foot cargo ship bound for Ecuador. The men - all employees of Florida Transportation Services - died after breathing in argon gas. The lack of oxygen caused them to suffocate, authorities ruled. President John Gorman Jr. issued a statement Wednesday defending his company's safety record. ''Despite the recent tragic event, Florida Transportation Services has been a safe vendor at Port Everglades for the past 27 years,'' he said. On Wednesday, with Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Coast Guard officials milling around the port, somber dock workers tried to focus on their jobs. Noticeably absent were Hayman Sooknanan, 47, James Cason, 43, and Rene Robert Dutertre Jr., 25. ''People are in disbelief that this happened,'' said David Randall, a crane operator at the port for 12 years. ''It's been really tough.'' A memorial service honoring the three port workers is scheduled for next week at Port Everglades. Florida Transportation Services is organizing the service for the victims' families, port employees and the public.
MSC Madeleine
Among those planning to attend is Chris Sooknanan, 22. He hopes people remember the honorable way his father lived, not his tragic death. ''My father loved his family very much,'' he said. ''And he considered his co-workers family also. It was clear that he lived for his work at the port.'' On Wednesday morning, Sooknanan stopped by Port Everglades to retrieve his father's belongings, including his champagne-colored Honda Accord. Seeing the car - and the blue ship that his father died on - turned into an emotional experience. ''I just broke down,'' he said. ''It was physically draining just to be there.'' A visitation for Sooknanan will be from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Baird-Case Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 4701 N. State Road 7 in Tamarc, Fla. Another viewing will be held from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Church of God Pompano Beach, Fla., 731 SW 10th St., followed by the funeral service. Afterward, Sooknanan will be buried at Star of David Cemetery, 7701 Bailey Rd. in North Lauderdale, Fla.
MSC Madeleine
Funeral services for Cason and Dutertre have not been finalized. Meanwhile, compliance officers from OSHA interviewed dockworkers who were on duty when the incident happened. Randall, a close friend of the three men who perished, told OSHA officers that more stringent safety measures could have prevented the deaths. He suggested tanks holding dangerous contents be properly labeled and that ships be outfitted with a sensor to gauge oxygen levels. ''All this could have been avoided - and it should have,'' he said. According to the Broward Sheriff's Office, Sooknanan, a supervisor, collapsed in the hull of the ship while looking for a reported gas leak. Cason and Dutertre soon followed to help him and met the same fate. It was later discovered that a large white container of argon gas, a tasteless and odorless gas most commonly used for welding, was leaking in an enclosed area. The gas is not toxic, but when in confined areas it depletes the oxygen, making it nearly impossible to breathe. Using evidence it collects and interviews with employees, OSHA will produce a factual account and a timeline of what happened Tuesday, said spokesman Michael Wald. A final report will be issued within six months. Joining the investigation: the Broward Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Superman Competition

Marines, Soldiers and Sailors all lift weights for their own reasons. Some service members dedicate all their free time to grueling workout schedules. At Camp Al Qa'im, Iraq, the staff of the Morale Welfare and Recreation center recognizes an individual once a month for his weightlifting efforts. Military members from around the base came to the MWR here to test their strength with fellow athletes. After registration closed down, brief rules were read before the competition began. "Everyone chooses how much weight they can lift and gets one chance to lift it," said Robert Buck, an MWR coordinator, who then called out the first contestant to the bench-press event. Total scores came from adding the pounds lifted during a bench-press, squat and dead-lift. Servicemembers techniques varied depending on which event they specialized in."If you know that your best event is benching, then you have to conserve energy during the squat and dead-lift to focus efforts on that one event," said Lance Cpl. Philip Swain, 21, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5, from Louisville, Ky. Some men struggled to lift more weight than they could handle, resulting in scores of zero during certain events. The MWR staff kept track of scores, and following the final dead-lift of the evening, they determined the winner. Cpl. Charles Thomas, 21, an infantryman with Company G, 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines, from Hendersonville, N.C., claimed the win with two overall top scores in squatting, 435 pounds, and dead-lifting, 515 pounds. His total combined score with the bench press was 1,225 pounds. The staff does not hand out awards or prizes for these achievements, but in recognition, Thomas' picture will hang on the wall of the MWR with other's who joined the "1,200 club" before him. The only words from Thomas as he left were, "I'll be here next month." But with new competitors arriving all the time, anything could happen during the next contest.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Coast Guard Rescues Three, One Dies In Boat Accident

The U.S. Coast Guard is stressing the need for boating safety after one man died and three others nearly drowned this weekend when their boat flipped in the mouth of the Klamath River. The four men were fishing near the mouth of the river around 1:40 p.m., and apparently drifted into the 15-foot breakers piling up there. The 16-foot flat-bottomed jet boat capsized, and a rescue mission got under way that included a boat from the Yurok Tribe, a Del Norte County Sheriff vessel, a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel and a Coast Guard HH-65 helicopter out of McKinleyville. Two of the men were able to stay with the boat, said Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Todd Vorenkamp, and were rescued by the tribal boat. When the helicopter arrived, it spotted one man being tossed in the surf along the beach, Vorenkamp said. ”We pretty much assumed the worst,” he said. The chopper lowered a rescue swimmer to the beach to assess the condition of the man, who was unresponsive to first aid.
Coast Guard HH-65 Helicopter
The swimmer also determined that none of the bystanders on the beach were from the boat, which meant there was one more victim unaccounted for. The man was later transferred to the Del Norte County Coroner's office. About 20 minutes later, the helicopter spotted the other man 2 miles offshore, trying to stay afloat. The helicopter lowered a rescue basket and recovered the man, whose prosthetic leg had made it difficult for him to swim. The man was severely hypothermic after an hour and a half in the 55-degree water. The three survivors were taken to Mercy Hospital. Vorenkamp said that anyone on the water should have personal safety gear and proper clothes. If you are in a boating accident, it is best to stick with the vessel, he said, since it's much easier to spot from the air.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Jordan Fflagged Ship Believed Hijacked Off Somalia Coast

A Jordanian-flagged cargo ship was reported missing about 40 nautical miles off the capital Mogadishu, after communications with the vessel were lost, Minister of Transport Alaa Batayneh told reporters. "Contacts with the 'Victoria', a Jordan-flagged ship, was lost at 8:00am Saturday while it was making its way from India to Mogadishu. It is believed that the ship was subjected to piracy," said Batayneh, pointing out that the ship, owned by the UAE, was carrying 4,200 tonnes of sugar from Denmark donated as humanitarian aid to the citizens of the Somali capital. According to Batayneh, none of the ship's 12 crew members were Jordanians. They included Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi and Tanzanian nationalities, said the minister. Batayneh said the ministries of transport and foreign affairs are coordinating efforts with relevant authorities to ensure the release of the ship and its crew.He added that Denmark, under an agreement with Jordan, provides protection to ships carrying Jordanian flag in the Somali waters. The minister said he instructed the Jordanian maritime authorities to issue a second warning to Jordanian ships and ships carrying the Jordanian flag to avoid sailing through the Somali coast. Around 40 ships of different nationalities carry the Jordanian flag. In return Jordan provides administrative assistance to these vessels in international ports, while their protection is the responsibility of countries in which these ships dock. Last month, four countries introduced a draft resolution at the UN Security Council, urging maritime powers to fight piracy off Somalia's coast and authorising them to arrest pirates in Somali waters. The resolution is aimed at combating a surge in ship hijackings for ransom in waters off the coast of lawless Somalia which has made them one of the world's most dangerous shipping zones.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Foreign Tuna Crews Jumping Ship

Thirteen foreign crewmen of Japanese coastal tuna boats have run away over the past six months, bringing the total number of missing foreign fishermen to 127 since 2003, according to transport ministry officials. The 13 crewmen are Indonesians who came to Japan under the "maru ship" system, which was introduced in 2003 to allow foreigners to work aboard Japanese fishing boats to cover the acute shortage of labor in the nation's fishing industry and to enhance its competitiveness. The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has found that the 13 crewmen ran away from ports at Shiogama in Miyagi Prefecture, Nachikatsuura in Wakayama Prefecture and Choshi in Chiba Prefecture between late October and April, according to the officials.Most of the 127 are believed to have come to Japan to secure other jobs by taking advantage of the easy procedures to work on boats under the system. Some were found doing agricultural work in Ibaraki and other prefectures. Since a series of cases involving missing foreign fishermen was made public in October, a national association of coastal bonito and tuna fishing operators has taken steps to prevent further incidents, including stepping up foot patrols at ports. However, their efforts have proved ineffective, partly because of brokers who arrange jobs for illegal workers.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tugboat Hits Pipeline, Spills Gas Into Carquinez Strait

A gasoline spill at a pier in Martinez that was initially estimated to be 1,500 gallons has turned out to have been only about 5 gallons, California Department of Fish and Game Office of Spill Prevention and Response spokeswoman Carol Singleton said. The 78-foot tugboat Independence was passing by the Tesoro's Golden Eagle refinery Avon wharf facility when it hit three pipes at about 12:20 a.m., Coast Guard spokesman Kevin Neff said. The tug was headed west toward the San Francisco Bay when it hit the landward side of the wharf. The pipes are used to transfer gasoline to ships, Neff said. The pipes, about 12 inches in diameter, were not transferring gasoline when struck, but residual fuel left in the pipeline spilled into waters in the area of the Carquinez Strait about a mile and a half from the Benicia-Martinez Bridge, Neff said. A rough initial estimate suggested that about 1,500 gallons of gasoline spilled. Neff said other liquid may have leaked into the water, but the amounts were hard to determine due to a lack of early-morning light.
tugboat Independence
The Coast Guard response to the spill will include drug and alcohol testing of the tugboat crew, and emergency response agencies have been notified, Neff said. There were no other boats and no other activity in the area at the time of the crash, according to the Coast Guard. Coast Guard crews had not deployed boom at about 4:30 a.m. while an investigation in the dark continued, Neff said. Wednesday's spill comes about six months after the Cosco Busan crashed into a support tower of the Bay Bridge, spilling more than 50,000 gallons of fuel into the bay. The pilot at the helm of that ship, Captain John Cota, is charged with two felonies for allegedly lying to the Coast Guard about annual medical reports. Cota's lawyer is trying to move the trial outside the Bay Area, because, he said, potential jurors have been exposed to leaked government accusations. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newson was one of many who complained that the city was not notified for 12 hours after that spill. Initial reports suggested just 140 gallons poured into the bay that foggy day. That spill is known to have killed about 2,000 birds. But some wildlife biologists feared that more than 20,000 birds may ultimately have died from that spill.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Paint Makes Things Invisible to Radar

A German inventor has developed a paint called AR 1 that can hide a vehicle from radar, and most importantly, "all militarily relevant frequencies." How it works is unclear, though one test researcher proposes it's either by reflecting radar waves in a pattern so they cancel one another out, or by utilizing microscopic magnets to absorb radar radiation. And no, it won't get you out of speeding tickets.The inventor's story is an interesting one, involving thousands of hours of lab trial and error, as well as international military interest in his product ... that far outshined the response from his own country's military. But apparently the most promising and equitable use for such a paint could be civilian. Airport towers and buildings have a long history of interfering with flight control radars. And to simply make them disappear would be quite useful—as opposed to calling hangar 12 in for a landing or something.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Coast Guard Rescues Sailor Off Ocean City, Md.

A Coast Guard helicopter pulled a stranded sailor to safety when his sailboat went aground off Ocean City, Md., today, officials said. Officials said someone on shore saw the boat go aground and called the Coast Guard.A helicopter from Atlantic City and a rescue boat from Ocean City arrived, and the copter crew hoisted Robert Pollak of Sayville, N.Y., to safety. He was reported in good condition after being taken to Ocean City Municipal Airport.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Spirit of Columbia towed by Coast Guard

A 143-foot cruise ship, Spirit of Columbia, had to be towed by the Coast Guard after the ship reportedly lost power to both generators and was operating on one of two propellor engines. The Coast Guard responded to a call from a disabled 143-foot cruise ship, Spirit of Columbia, with 89 passengers onboard that reportedly lost power to both generators and was operating on one of two propellor engine's two miles from Warm Springs Bay at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Spirit of Columbia
Coast Guard Cutter Liberty stationed in Auke Bay responded to assist. While the Liberty was en route to the scene, Spirit of Columbia effected repairs to both main generators but still had only one operable propellor. Escorted by Liberty, Spirit of Columbia is estimated to arrive in Auke Bay at 4:30 p.m. today. The Spirit of Columbia does not know what caused the propellor engine to stop working. No injuries have been reported. The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Missing Couple's Boat Found In Mexico

Authorities have found a fishing boat belonging to an Oceanside couple who were reported missing this week. The boat belonging to Josh Hartman and Ana Martin washed ashore near Rosarito, a Mexican beach community 20 mile south of the border, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The couple were last seen heading out Thursday morning from Oceanside Harbor to fish for bait.Hartman's mother said her son called that afternoon to say he caught a lot of fish and was heading back. No one has heard from them since. Two rifles were found on board the boat, but according to the Coast Guard, the family said the rifles would have been there anyway. Authorities continue to search for the couple.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Landmark Tugboat Demolished In Gulfport

The S.S. Hurricane Camille tugboat is no more after demolition crews tore it down. Long a popular tourist attraction, in recent years the 72-foot-long landmark had deteriorated into more of an eyesore. Owner Lucille Moody said it was time for the boat to go after 35 years sitting just off the beach in Gulfport along U.S. Highway 90.Built in 1943, the tugboat was pushed ashore in August 1969 by Hurricane Camille. Moody eventually opened a gift shop on the property, using the old boat to lure customers. For local residents, the familiar tugboat became a symbol of strength against two storms — Camille and Katrina. For visitors, it was a favorite landmark and photo opportunity.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Grounded Container Ship Freed

A container ship that ran aground in Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay this morning has been refloated and is heading back to port. The Francoise Gilot came to grief about 5.50am (AEST) today when it lost power and drifted out of the shipping channel and on to sand in the south of the bay.
The Francoise Gilot after it ran aground.
Two tug boats were sent to assist the stricken 160m vessel but it managed, under its own power, to pull free of the sand at Hovell Pile, near McCrae. "She's free and she's making her way up to the north of the bay on her own steam," Port of Melbourne Corporation (PoMC) spokesman Peter Harry said.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Navy To Name Ship After SEAL Who Won Medal Of Honor

The Navy will name a new destroyer in honor of Lt. Michael Murphy, a SEAL commando who died in a firefight with Taliban militiamen nearly three years ago and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism. Navy Secretary Donald Winter announced the new ship’s name at a ceremony in Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y., a community on Long Island near Murphy’s hometown of Patchogue. The ship is scheduled to join the fleet in 2010. Murphy, 29, was killed as he radioed for help for himself and three other SEALs during a battle on an Afghan mountainside. Already wounded, he moved into an open area in order to get a clear signal for the distress call; a fatal round caught him in the back as he was speaking on his satellite phone.Murphy was the first Navy member to be awarded the medal since the Vietnam War. Along with Murphy and two SEALs on the ground, 16 American troops who answered the distress call were killed when their rescue helicopter was downed by a rocket-propelled grenade. The dead included six SEALs based in Virginia Beach, one of them a member of Murphy’s ground team. The engagement was the single bloodiest fight to date for American forces in Afghanistan and the deadliest single day for the Navy’s special forces since World War II.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Number Of Dead In Brazilian Boat Accident Rises To 26

The number of dead in a boat accident in the Brazilian Amazonian state of Amapa rose to 26 on Tuesday, with 20 people still missing, authorities said. The unlicensed ship, Comandante Sales, floundered and partially sank in the Solimoes River near the town of Manacapuru, some 80 kilometres from state capital Manaus. An estimated 110 passengers were travelling on the boat at the time of the accident, based on the accounts of survivors. Some 100 Navy, Civil Defence and Fire Department officers continued Tuesday to look for victims.
Rescue workers search the capsized Comandante Sales boat in the Solimoes River.
The shipwreck occurred some 20 minutes after the boat left Lago del Pesquero, where many of the passengers had taken part in a religious celebration. Many of the passengers were able to swim to the riverbank. Another boat immediately went to the aid of the passengers, and Fire Department forces later succeeded in getting the ship righted and anchoring it on the riverbank. The Navy Command said in a statement that the ship had not been unauthorized to leave port since January, because it lacked the necessary documents and its crew lacked required training. Authorities had launched an investigation into the causes of the accident.

Soldiers Say Porn Ban May Hurt Morale

Legislation that would restrict the sale of certain men's magazines on U.S. military bases around the world would be bad for morale, according to soldiers at Grafenwöhr. U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., has introduced legislation that would close a loophole in the current law that allows the sale of some sexually explicit material on military bases by lowering the threshold required to deem material "sexually explicit." A Department of Defense committee that reviews materials sold on bases ruled last year that magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse are not pornographic. But Broun's Military Honor and Decency Act includes language that could make those magazines eligible for the ban. The prospect of missing out on men's magazines was not welcomed by soldiers at Grafenwöhr. "We all read 'em," said Pfc. Paul Rubio, 31, of Bakersfield, Calif. "There are times we just read 'em for the technological parts like the new gadgets that come out. They have good stories sometimes too."Sgt. Simon Brown, 34, of Daytona Beach, Fla., said men's magazines build morale. "It's not all about the pictures, although 80 percent of it is," he said. Pfc. Greg Smith, 21, of Northboro, Mass., a regular Playboy reader, said soldiers should be allowed to buy nudie magazines at the exchange. "Playboy is good entertainment while you are on the can. They have jokes and good stories," he said. Broun, a Marine veteran, told Newsweek recently that the magazines sold in military exchanges are partly responsible for a rise in sexual assaults in the military and other problems. "Allowing the sale of pornography on military bases has harmed military men and women by: escalating the number of violent, sexual crimes; feeding a base addiction; eroding the family as the primary building block of society; and denigrating the moral standing of our troops both here and abroad," Broun says on his Web site. The legislation would require the DOD to annually review material that is not currently deemed sexually explicit to determine if it should be prohibited, according to the Web site. Some soldiers say magazines that could be banned are particularly important downrange. Brown deployed to Afghanistan in 2002 and 2005 and is preparing to go to Iraq with the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade this summer. When he was in Afghanistan he was one of the first to pick up a new copy of Maxim or FHM when it came out, he said."It would suck if they ban it," he said. "It's bad enough we are down there to begin with. Taking that away would be like a knife in the chest. I'm not saying I'm depending on Maxim to keep me alive over there, but it helps." Publications such as Maxim and FHM are not named by Broun, but lowering the threshold of the sexually explicit definition might mean such magazines would be targeted for a ban. Some troops in the Pacific region said the proposed legislation would impinge upon their personal freedoms. "They're making it a point of undermining soldiers to almost make them feel like we're back in elementary school," Pfc. Nickolas Sears said Friday at Camp Red Cloud, South Korea. "We're all adults here, and if it's something we want to do, we should feel free to choose as we please." Other than on base, there's no place in South Korea to buy magazines like Playboy, he said. "I believe it's a breach of freedom of speech," said Senior Airman Garrett Deese, 25, of Elk Grove, Calif., who just completed a tour with the 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. He said he wonders whether such a ban would lead to barring other types of magazines lawmakers chose to challenge. He also questioned whether Broun's link between magazines and sexual assaults within the military would stand close scrutiny.At Yokota Air Base, Japan, military spouse Roberta Woolley said she understands the need for balance between rules and individual rights, but said the military has tougher standards than the rest of American society. "It's a good idea," she said of the proposed ban. "I think there's better literature out there.... In the military, we sell cigarettes and alcohol legally. But it's also questionable whether they promote a healthy lifestyle. "I've seen all these magazines, and they don't make men or women intelligent or beautiful. And even though they're hidden, there is still exposure to children as well. It's the parents' responsibility to give ideas about body awareness to their children. I don't think Mr. Hefner presents a positive image of men or women in his magazine." A female soldier at Grafenwöhr -- Sgt. Pou McCall, 23, of Riverside, Calif. -- said men's magazines don't bother her a lot, but she'd support a ban. "What if it was their (soldiers') sisters (in the magazines)? It doesn't take a magazine for sexual harassment to happen but it increases it," she said. Army and Air Force Exchange service public relations manager Judd Anstey said AAFES sold $231,000 worth of Penthouse, Playboy and Playgirl magazines in Europe last year. "Sales of these three titles account for 2.7 percent of total European magazine sales ($8.5 million) at AAFES facilities," he said. The sales accounted for 0.5 percent of worldwide AAFES magazine sales of $46.4 million, he said.

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