Thursday, July 31, 2008

26 Rescued From Ship After Fire Breaks Out In Charleston

More than two dozen people on a charter fishing boat were rescued after a fire broke out on the vessel. There were no injuries aboard the 41-foot boat, the Miss Calabash II out of Calabash, N.C., Lt. Cmdr. Eric King of the U.S. Coast Guard said.A distress call was received about 8:40 a.m. Wednesday from the vessel, which was about 17 miles off Little River on the North Carolina-South Carolina state line. A Coast Guard helicopter and two small Coast Guard boats were dispatched. King says the 23 passengers and crew of three were safely put aboard two passing fishing boats. King said the boat eventually sank.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mechanical Arm Attaches Helps Vehicles With IED Clearance

A new tool may soon help route clearance teams detect and neutralize potentially deadly improvised explosive devices in Iraq. An IED Interrogation Arm for the RG-31 and Husky vehicles has been developed by the Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate, part of the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. NV&ESD Team Leader Larry Jackson said there are several vehicles currently used for route clearance missions, including the Buffalo Mine Protected Vehicle. But, he said, demand for the Buffalo is very high. "The word we got back from theater is that Soldiers often don't have the Buffalos when they need them," he said. "The vehicle is in high demand, and there just aren't enough of them." In collaboration with the team at NV&ESD, discussions began for a new technology that could help teams interrogate IEDs and be quickly developed and fielded."We said we would like to provide a similar arm capability to vehicles such as the Husky and the RG-31 which were being used in security missions but had no arm attachment that would allow for IED interrogation," Jackson said. The new arm, which was initially fielded in Iraq in May 2007 and Afghanistan in July 2007, is designed as an independent component. It is able to be attached to existing vehicles already in theater. Additionally, the arm is lightweight, easily mounted and repaired, easy to use and significantly less expensive than the Buffalo, Jackson said. Stephen H. Bennett , a mechanical engineer with NV&ESD, was present in Iraq last spring to support deployment of the new arm. He reports a positive reaction to the technology. "The feedback has been positive, and the troops like it," he said. As the Interrogation Arm continues to be refined, there is constant communication with the Soldiers on the ground, providing engineers with first-hand guidance on functional improvements, Jackson said. It was as a result of this ongoing collaboration with the Soldiers who use the arm that functional advancements were made, including the ability to examine hard-to-reach areas behind guard rails."We got this information back from the theater and realized we needed to put a pivot point in the middle of the arm so that if there is a guard rail, you can reach out and dip down behind to do the interrogation," Jackson said. After initial fielding in both Iraq and Afghanistan, additional Interrogation Arm units have been ordered for use in theater, and NV&ESD has been working with Program Manager Countermine to feed the continually growing demand. "We have been asked to adapt it to different vehicles and we are getting more and more applications in the field," said Jackson. After 28 years as a civilian engineer for the U.S. Army, Jackson continues to take satisfaction in knowing his work helps to protect our troops. "The satisfaction of getting this piece of equipment into theater where it is helping to save Soldiers' lives is very rewarding," he said. "For me, this has been the most satisfying project I have worked on in my career." Bennett agreed. "There is a satisfying feeling you get when you design something that makes a significant difference," Bennett said.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Navy Commander Relieved After Running Ship Aground

The Navy commander of the USS Pearl Harbor has been relieved of duty after the ship ran aground in the Persian Gulf, officials said Monday. Cmdr. Xavier F. Valverde was relieved of command over the weekend following a preliminary inquiry into the grounding of the ship, according to a statement released by Naval Surface Forces. Rear Admiral Kendall Card of the Navy's Expeditionary Strike Group Three said he lost confidence in Valverde's ability to command. The ship suffered what Navy officials called a "soft grounding" off the coast of Kuwait on July 21. "The ship was able to back off the suspected shoal under her own power," said David Hostetler, deputy public affairs officer for Naval Surface Forces in San Diego. There were no injuries or damage reported. The USS Pearl Harbor is 609 feet long and is in a class of ships known as an LSD, or landing dock ship, which is used to launch and transport amphibious vehicles and their crews to and from shore.
USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52)
Because of Naval security, Hostetler could not comment on the current location of the ship. Pending the conclusion of a formal investigation, Valverde has been temporarily assigned to the staff of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. The Navy did not make Valverde available for comment, and there was no listing for an Xavier Valverde in the San Diego area. Capt. Mike Slotsky has assumed command of the USS Pearl Harbor, which is the first ship in the Navy to be named after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The USS Pearl Harbor is home-ported in San Diego. It deployed in May. Valverde took command of the Pearl Harbor in November 2007. Valverde served as the first lieutenant of the ship when it was commissioned in 1998. He enlisted in the Navy in 1982 and was a machinist's mate until being commissioned as an officer in 1990, according to a report by The Navy Times. Valverde's age and hometown were not released by the Navy.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Army Corps To Offer Tours Of Towboat

One of the biggest working towboats on the Mississippi River will be open to the public next month, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The open house, on the Corps' Motor Vessel Mississippi, will be Aug. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. The public will be able to take self-guided tours on the boat at Lambert's Landing, at the foot of Jackson Street. One of the towboat's main purposes is to move barges. It was built in 1993 and is 241 feet long, 58 feet wide and five stories high.Visitors should bring photo identification and be able to vouch for members of their party, such as children, who do not have a photo ID. Visitors also should leave backpacks and large purses in their vehicles. Those with small purses and handbags on board will be subject to search by police officers. The towboat will be at Lambert's Landing for an annual low-water inspection of the Corps' three districts on the upper Mississippi River.

Ghost Ship Won't Stop Surfing Event

A world Surfing Championship event will go ahead in Bali, with organisers confident a "ghost ship" stranded at one of the island's most famous breaks poses no immediate safety or environmental risk. Amid allegations of mutiny and murder, the Taiwanese fishing ship was discovered on July 12 abandoned on reef at Padang-Padang, some 20km from Kuta beach. It was leaking oil and petrol and organisers of the $330,000 Rip Curl Pro Search initially believed it posed a serious safety issue for the world's top 44 male surfers who will contend the title at either Padang-Padang or Uluwatu. "When the boat first washed up, it was in the middle of the line-up," said Rip Curl Indonesia chief executive Jeff Anderson.
Ho Tsai Fa No.18
"I climbed on board and waves were breaking on the stern, and I thought, you could surf it but you could run into the boat and die. "We started helping to try and get the boat out, but police arrived and said, 'This is a crime scene, this is not your boat and you don't want to get arrested do you?'." Working with environmentalists from the R.O.L.E Foundation, police failed to tug the 50-tonne, 30m-long fibreglass ship free using eight local fishing boats. Large waves have since pushed it some 50m into rocks. "Now it's not in the way at all," said Mr Anderson. "The best thing right now is for it to stay where it is until after the contest." Scheduled to start between July 30 and August 10, the event will mark the ASP World Tour's return to Indonesia after an 11-year absence caused by travel warnings.
Ho Tsai Fa No.18
Brisbane surfer Mick Fogarty, who runs a small hotel overlooking the next break along from Padang-Padang, said the pollution has been washed away. "Last week it was gagging material, but you can't smell or see any oil now," Fogarty said. "The boat has almost done a Blues Brothers car park, it's swung itself into the rocks and is almost parallel to the beach, so it doesn't affect the surfers or the wave action, but we still haven't had a really big swell yet." The next swell is due mid-week. Taiwanese coast guards received distress signals from the ship in May before it disappeared off their radar altogether. Relatives in Taiwan reported its captain missing in early June, a Taiwanese Interpol officer said. Police are still searching for the crew, believed to be from East Java, but their investigation has stalled with no body, no witnesses and a crime scene compromised by looters who have taken fish, fuel and equipment.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sailor Leaves His Mark On USS Bush

One Sailor in Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) George H.W. Bush's (CVN 77) aviation intermediate maintenance department (AIMD) is leaving a lasting mark on America's newest aircraft carrier. Hull Maintenance Technician 3rd Class Aaron M. Lapre serves AIMD as the ship's engraver.Whether it's an officer's or chief's name tag or the sign on the outside of a hatch that tells which office is inside, the work of the PCU Bush engraver can be seen everywhere in and around the ship. "A job can take 30 seconds or up to four hours to complete, depending on the size and material. We can engrave aluminum, brass, plastic, wood and glass." Lapre has engraved parking signs, name tags, trophy plaques and door signs, but door signs might be his most important contribution to the ship. "If there is a fire and a lot of smoke, it is very important that every door is labeled," said Damage Controlman 2nd Class (SW) John Vigilant. "[The labels] allow us to do our job a lot better."
USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77)
Lapre said the laser engraver he uses makes the job virtually foolproof. "The engraving process is fully computerized. The computer has many templates programmed into it, and I use a program to input text and select the proper settings to get the job done." Lapre said he enjoys his work aboard George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), currently under construction at Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipyard. "Some of what I do today may still be in use upon the decommissioning of the ship many years from now. To me, that is really cool."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

45 Dead In Congo Boat Disaster

A boat tragedy on a river in a remote part of Congo ended in the drowning of at least 45 passengers, while more than 70 others remain unaccounted for, officials said today. A barge carrying 182 passengers from the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic sank early on Wednesday after hitting a rock on the Oubangui river in northern Congo. “Forty-five bodies have been recovered,” district commissioner Mathieu Bella said. Sixty people managed to escape and “we have no news on 77 passengers”, he said, adding that some of those missing may have made their way home without alerting the authorities. At the time of the accident, the barge was on its way to the capital of the Central African Republic Bangui, having filled up with passengers, sacks of maize and barrels of oil in the Congolese town of Mobayi-Mbongo, he said.It sank near Gbongi, in Bosobolo territory, more than 600 km north-east of Mbandaka, the capital of northern Equateur region. Boats frequently sink in Congo's network of lakes and rivers, often because they are overloaded with passengers. But the country's waterways are also poorly surveyed, increasing the risk of accidents. Most vessels do not comply with the basic safety requirements, lacking proper navigation equipment, lights and safety items such as life jackets. Mr Bella said the barge that sank on the Oubangui had the right to travel at night, but added: “The old markers no longer exist and the ones that have been replaced – namely barrels – have been stolen.” The barge belonged to an unnamed owner from the Central African Republic. Dozens of people died when a boat carrying an unknown number of people sank in Lake Tanganyika in May, while 17 people died and dozens more were reported missing in a similar accident in January.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ship-Barge Crash Closes Mississippi At New Orleans

No one was properly licensed to pilot the tugboat pushing an oil barge that spilled 400,000 gallons of heavy oil after it was split in two by tanker early today in New Orleans, the U.S. Coast Guard says. Reserve drinking-water supplies may run out later today in several communities after intakes were closed to prevent contamination. A 58-mile stretch of the Mississippi River could remain closed for days as clean-up efforts continue. Crews are trying to keep the oil from drifting farther south, where levee breaks would allow it to seep into wetlands.
Tugs hold the two pieces of an oil barge involved in a collision in the Mississippi River
The Coast Guard has determined that no one aboard the tugboat had the required master's pilot license. One crewman had an apprentice mate's license, but no one else was licensed. The Coast Guard has not released results of drug and alcohol tests on the Captains of the tugboat and the tanker. About 1:30 a.m. CT the 600-foot tanker Tintomara rammed into the 61-foot barge carrying 9,983 barrels of #6 fuel oil, more than 400,000 gallons, and Coast Guard Capt. Lincoln Stroh. The river was closed two hours later.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Re-Enlisting In The Marine Corps Is Going To Get Harder

If you’re a Marine trying to decide whether to stay or go next year, don’t think on it too long. You just might miss the boatspace. After a stellar year of recruiting and retaining Marines, re-enlistment competition will get tougher in 2009. Blame it on the return of “boatspace caps” for enlisted military occupational specialties. Boatspaces are the number of re-enlistment opportunities available within a given MOS, and limits are set for each MOS based on the needs of the service. The caps were suspended for fiscal 2008, as the Corps worked to ramp up total end strength. Now, the caps are back for fiscal 2009, and space is limited. Once the spots are gone, they’re gone, officials say, and waivers will be precious exceptions save for certain high-demand jobs. In fiscal 2008, the Corps focused on the aggregate number of Marines retained across the service. The idea was that overpopulating certain occupational fields wouldn’t hurt the Corps, because of the plan to grow to 202,000 by the end of fiscal 2011. Marine leaders and career planners went on a retention rampage. Midway through the year, however, officials were forced to cancel re-enlistment bonuses for 21 jobs because of the even higher-than-expected response rate, said Capt. Patrick Haines, the Corps’ first-term alignment plan officer for the enlisted retention section. “At the unit level, they’ve done an awesome job,” he said. To date, more than 16,000 Marines — first-termers and careerists — have re-enlisted in fiscal 2008, and there’s still three months to go. That’s 4,000 more than re-enlisted in all of 2007. All that action has helped spur a slowdown for fiscal 2009. Marine administrative message 367/08 details the guidelines for next year’s first-term re-enlistments, including:

* First-term Marines re-enlisting in their primary MOS may submit requests immediately. Once approved, the authorizations also may be executed immediately.

* Not all re-enlistments must be four years. Two-year contracts are available for some but carry no re-up bonuses.
Even so, the return of boatspace caps means that procrastination is a risky proposition. “There are definitely MOSs that are going to hit 100 percent,” Haines said. First-term Marines whose contracts end after fiscal 2009 generally are not eligible for early re-enlistment this year. That may be waived for some Marines working in 13 high-demand, low-density specialties, including jobs in the intelligence, reconnaissance and linguist fields as well as aircraft maintenance and avionics Marines trained on MV-22 Osprey, KC-130 Hercules and EA-6B Prowler aircraft. First-term Marines whose re-enlistment packages are approved generally have 10 days to seal the deal before the offer expires. Expired offers or extension requests must be re-submitted — and may not be available later, because of the boatspace caps. Failure to execute the terms of the re-enlistment deal or changes in status can lead to the Corps taking any bonus money back. First-termers whose contracts expire between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 may be extended to May 31, 2009, if they are planning to apply for a lateral move to an MOS that needs Marines. The extension is designed to offer manpower officials enough time to process the lat-move request. Other specific rules for first-termers are detailed in the MarAdmin. Career Marines may submit for re-enlistment up to one year before their current contracts expire. Once approved, careerists have 30 days before the deal is void.
Despite the boatspace caps, the Corps wants to keep its best Marines. The Quality Re-Enlistment Program authorizes additional boatspaces for first-termers in closed occupations, under a certain set of unwaiverable guidelines. These QRP spots are designed for first-termers in fast-filling or closed specialties who have exceptional performance records and wish to remain in their primary MOS instead of taking a lateral move. The Corps can only go over the boatspace cap in any individual MOS by 5 percent, so even the number of QRP spots is limited. The opportunity is open only to corporals and sergeants with the recommendation of their commanding officer. “Exceptional record” criteria include: pro/con scores averaging 4.5/4.5 in service, a first-class Physical Fitness Test, no history of assignment to weight control or the body composition program and clean criminal and nonjudicial punishment records. In other words, this opportunity is for the cream of the crop. Monthly QRP boards will meet to select Marines competing for the spaces available. Board members include staff NCOs and officers from Manpower and Reserve Affairs in Quantico, Va. QRP requests must be submitted by the last day of the month to be considered the following month, and commands may submit recommendation letters, special qualifications and other relevant documentation to help sway the board.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cruise Ship Dancer Killed After Jumping Overboard

A cruise ship dancer who jumped 30 feet off a deck into San Diego Bay last weekend was killed by police after attacking an officer who had helped pull him onto a rescue boat, officials said Monday. Steven Hirschfield, 37, a performer and bodybuilder who lived in West Hollywood, was hired to dance aboard Saturday night's Circuit Daze harbor cruise, a dance party attended by about 900 revelers as part of the weekend's gay pride celebrations. Crew members aboard the Hornblower Cruises boat Inspiration called harbor police just after 11 p.m., about an hour into the cruise, to report a man overboard. Hirschfield, clad only in shorts and sneakers, refused to climb aboard a small rescue vessel or grab flotation devices, according to Jim Unger, general manager for Hornblower Cruises. "He didn't want to come aboard," Unger said. "There was something wrong. Logically, when people go in the water, if they fell or didn't want to be there, they would quickly want to get help."Police said Hirschfield apparently jumped off the boat voluntarily but did not know why. He initially refused to climb onto the swim deck of a harbor patrol boat but then hauled himself onto the front end by a hanging rope, said acting San Diego police Lt. William Stetson. Once on the boat, Hirschfield grabbed an officer's stun gun and beat him in the face before reaching for the officer's weapon, according to harbor police Lt. John Forsythe. A second officer then fatally shot Hirschfield in the chest. The injured officer was treated for face and leg injuries. The officers' names have not been released. The San Diego district attorney's office and police homicide investigators will investigate the shooting. Toxicology reports will be completed in about a month, according to the San Diego County medical examiner's office. According to court records, Hirschfield was arrested in 2004 for possession of a controlled substance, but charges were dropped in 2006 after he agreed to an 18-month drug rehabilitation program. A message left with Hirschfield's attorney in the case was not immediately returned. Circuit Daze promoter Bill Hardt did not respond to messages left by reporters seeking comment. Efforts to reach Hirschfield's relatives were unsuccessful.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ship Drifts Dangerously With The Ttide

An unmanned ship that drifts and poses a danger to vessels in the Suva harbour has raised concern. Marcus Hill, of Lami, said the vessel had been in the Suva Harbour for more than three years and drifted with the tide. He said the ship broke its mooring again for the second time in a month and was a risk to ship anchored in port. He said the vessel could damage yachts berthed at the Tradewinds Hotel and called on relevant authorities to deal with the matter.Mr Hill said he had raised the matter with the Fiji Islands Maritime Safety Administration and was referred to Ports Authority. "The tide was out this morning and the boat was sitting on the beach," said Mr Hill. "The last time I had to hire a boat to pull it out." Fiji Island Maritime Safety Administration acting director Captain Inoke Ratotodro said he requested marine checkers to approach Ports Authority to deal with the matter. Captain Ratotodro declined to comment further and referred all questions to Works and Transport Ministry public relations officer Sainiana Waqainabete.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bronze Cannon From Ship That Sank 140 Years Ago Found In Alaska Waters

Divers have recovered a bronze cannon from a ship that sank in Cook Inlet 140 years ago, according to Alaska's State Historic Preservation Office. The cannon was recovered from the wooden sailing bark Torrent. Such small, lightweight field artillery pieces were first produced in 1837.They were used by both Union and Confederate troops in the Civil War, and used by the U.S. in battles with American Indians. On July 15, 1868 the Torrent sank after a strong tidal current carried it into a reef. All those on board reached shore, but the vessel and its contents were lost. The Torrent shipwreck site has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Damaged Cruise Ship Cleared To Leave NY

A cruise ship that was detained due to hull damage has been cleared to leave New York. The Coast Guard said Thursday that the Clipper Pacific may now safely travel to Tampa, Fla. for permanent repairs. It originally was bound for Venezuela. Passengers were allowed to come and go during the temporary repairs.The Clipper Pacific was arriving from Greenland when it was stopped on Sunday for a routine inspection in New York Harbor. It later was moved to the Brooklyn Cruise Ship Terminal. The Coast Guard says its original inspection also found 66 safety problems, including damage to lifeboats and life jacket issues. Messages left with the cruise ship's operator, Miami-based International Shipping Partners, wasn't immediately returned. The ship's home port is in the Bahamas.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chemical Robot Ready for Debut

Coming soon to theaters: A robot destined for the junk pile after being replaced by a more current model gains new life and a new purpose - going into potentially contaminated areas so Soldiers don't need to risk their lives. While it may sound like the basis for a new animated movie, this describes the robot system the 95th Chemical Company has been testing and training with since 2005. Now, thanks to that hard work, the system is set to be fielded to both the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters this fall. The robot is the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Unmanned Ground Vehicle, or CUGV for short. It is part of the CBRN Unmanned Ground Reconnaissance, or CUGR, concept. The robot saw previous use with explosive ordnance disposal units around the Army, according to Herschel J. Deaton, CBRN programs technical staff for Concurrent Technologies Corporation, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. "The CUGR (Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration) was not formed to develop new robots or detectors. Basically it was established to integrate detectors onto a robot for the purpose of helping the operational community determine if this provides military utility," Deaton explained. "The EOD community has been working with this robot for many, many years," he said. "Now they've moved up (from iRobot Corporation's PackBot 500) to a Talon, or 510 series. So the Department of Defense decided to take the robots they're not using anymore and design a detection suite so we can give the Soldier something that can go downrange and detect instead of a Soldier having to get in a Level A suit. "When they get into a Level A suit, they really only have 45 minutes to go downrange to do what they need to do, depending on how they breathe," Deaton said. "The robot will give you four hours downrange to be able to do all of the site characterizations and sampling that needs to happen."Deaton said Level A suits are airtight. Soldiers wear self-contained breathing apparatus with a tank of air, much like a scuba diver, inside the suit. They are used in situations where contamination is possible, but the type of hazard is unknown. The suits are hot, humid and bulky. They limit mobility, vision and dexterity and are generally all-around uncomfortable, Deaton said. The 45-minute time limit includes from the time the Soldier goes on oxygen, all movement to the location, the work done there, the trip out and an extended decontamination to remove any substances that may have been contacted. If a Soldier breathes faster than normal due to excitement or exertion, the time limit can be considerably shorter, Deaton added. On their recent training mission in Valdez, the 95th Chemical Company Soldiers who entered the building were limited to 10 minutes of work time out of their 45 minutes. Soldiers will still have to enter the contaminated area, Deaton said, but their time can be better used when they get in there. The CUGV detects ammonia, chlorine, carbon monoxide, oxygen levels, lower explosive limits, volatile organic compounds, gamma radiation rate and dose rate, temperature and humidity, Deaton said. It will also carry the new Lightweight Chemical Detector, which will replace the Improved Chemical Agent Monitor, to detect nerve and blister agents. Besides just finding contaminated areas and deciphering the level of danger, the robot can also mark the areas for further sampling and investigation or decontamination, explained Capt. Julia Dorans, 95th Chemical Company commander. "It can go in and mark, so you don't even have to send a reconnaissance team in suits," she said. "You can send the CUGR in, and the CUGR does the marking, and then the sampling team goes in right after that. There's less risk of human life or limb." The lower risk factor is a big selling point for the system, said 1st Lt. Kathleen Bercume, platoon leader for the reconnaissance platoon."You send the robot in, and if that blows up, you just order another part instead of losing a Soldier," Bercume said. The robot also allows the team to stay aware of what's happening inside the contaminated area. "The robot itself also has a versatile camera system, which provides the operator a good degree of situational awareness," Deaton said. Deaton said what the camera sees can also be taped from the operational control unit and relayed to higher level commanders for planning and decision making. The robotic arm can be used to open doors and position the camera or detectors for specific areas of interest or to put the robot back on its track if it happens to fall over. "But the robot can't take a sample; it can't pick up a sample of water, ground or vegetation," Deaton said. What the robot can do is a site characterization - a map of the area showing exact locations of contamination and types encountered. This allows the Soldiers entering the contaminated area to dress in a preventive posture on a level matching the hazard. Also, with the mapping already done, the time they would use searching is cut to an absolute minimum. "Once the team does the site characterization, they know exactly the spots they have to go," Deaton said. "The robot's already been through there, so he's already looked for any IEDs (improvised explosive devices) or tripwires. So now the Soldier can get in his Level A suit and instead of spending 45 minutes trying to figure out where to go, he can go directly to the site where he needs to take the sample."

Ghost Ship Wrecks Bali Surfing Contest

An illegal fishing ship whose captain is rumoured to have been murdered has thrown plans for the World Surfing Championship in Bali into chaos by running aground on the island's best surf break. Mystery surrounds the arrival of the Taiwanese vessel Ho Tsai Fa No. 18 off Padang Padang beach. Locals woke on Saturday to see the 30-metre-long vessel foundering on a reef, and reaped a barbecue bonanza by emptying its holds of tuna and shark. Police are still trying to find the boat's Indonesian crew and its Taiwanese captain, Tsai Wen-chen. Taiwanese authorities had requested Indonesia's assistance to locate the boat several weeks ago after it failed to return from a fishing trip off Papua. Three weeks ago it was spotted by another Taiwanese vessel but sped away when approached, prompting concern it had been taken over by a mutinous crew. Fishery officials said the Ho Tsai Fa's monitoring system had been turned off since May 13, and it had refused to answer radio messages.Several Balinese said the ship's dozen Indonesian crewmen had thrown their captain overboard and tried to return home, but had lost control of the vessel approaching Bali and fled after it foundered. In May, Greenpeace intercepted the ship illegally fishing with long lines in the Pacific. Central Java's coast guard chief, Sutrisna, said a search was under way for the crew members. He would not comment on allegations the captain had been murdered. "We have just found the ship - we cannot say or conclude anything till we investigate further," Commissioner Sutrisna said. Bali's coast guard chief, Oka Eswara, said attempts to refloat the vessel had been foiled by the weather and tides. "We have notified the Taiwanese embassy to assist, but we simply have to wait until the weather permits," he said. The accident threatens to disrupt the return of the World Surfing Championship to Bali after an 11-year absence. The event is scheduled to take place next month, but organisers have not announced it for security reasons. It is also disrupting the Rip Curl Cup, the Indonesian championship, scheduled to be held at Padang Padang this week.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

US Navy Comes To Aid Of Ship In Distress

USS Momsen (DDG 92) and its embarked helicopter detachment provided assistance at sea to Motor Vessel Lehmann Timber yesterday. Lehmann Timber experienced trouble with its main engine leaving it unable to operate at sea. Assigned to Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, Momsen is providing food and water to the motor vessel crew until a tug arrives to tow the Lehmann Timber to Salalah, Oman where it will undergo repairs.
USS Momsen (DDG 92)
The sea state in the area is currently 12-15 feet, with winds in excess of 30 knots. USS Momsen will remain on scene and continue to provide requested assistance until the tug arrives.
MV Lehmann Timber
The crew of Lehmann Timber, recently released by pirates, is reported to be in good condition. Coalition forces have a long standing tradition of helping mariners in distress by providing assistance, such as food, water and rescues at sea. This marks the third time in the past month that Coalition ships have rendered assistance in the Arabian Sea to ships in need.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Crew Of German Dry-Cargo Ship, In Distress, Without Food And Water

The German dry-cargo ship Lehmann Timber, bought out from Somali pirates several days ago, is in distress in the Arabian Sea off the Oman coast. The crew of 15, including Ukrainian seamen and Russian captain Valentin Bartashev, remain without foodstuffs and water. “The crew feel as before without food and drinking water; people are weak, but all are alive for the time being,” said chief mate Ardo Kalle by phone to the Vesti TV news channel. “The vessel is now drifting some 300 miles from the coast. The engine is broken; we cannot move from exhaustion and are waiting for assistance,” he explained. “There is a ship not far away, passing by our vessel. They intend to hand over a small package of food and water to us,” the chief mate noted. “We are waiting for help from a rescue ship which is to come at around 10.00 or 12.00 (Eds: local time),” he added. The ship that had been released from a pirate capture recently, ran into a strong gale. The main engine in the Lehmann Timber broke up, and the dry-cargo ship has been drifting for 24 hours in neutral waters.The situation is aggravated by the fact that the seamen have no drinking water and food; besides, the crew are very weak. The captain took a decision on Saturday evening to send a SOS signal. The vessel is 200 miles northeast of Socotra Island. A helicopter of coalition forces with a cargo of food, water and medicines is to fly to the ship late in the morning. The US Monson ship is to come to the vessel in distress in the near future. It is to evacuate the crew that includes, apart from the Russian and Ukrainians, an Estonian and nine Myanmar residents. The ship owner promised to dispatch a tugboat from the Oman port of Salalah. However, this is impossible to do now over the gale. The Lehmann Timber had been in captivity of Somali pirates for over 45 days since May 28. A ransom of over 700,000 US dollars was paid for the vessel on July 8, after which it was released.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Colombo Dockyard launches ‘Great Ship Abha’

The third 80 ton anchor handling tug supply vessel “Great Ship Abha” built by Colombo Dockyard Ltd (PLC) (CDL) for Great Ship(India)Ltd was launched recently. This proves the strength of Colombo Dockyard(PLC) in ship building. Superior technology and engineering and working capacity of CDL have been utilised. V.K. Chandrasekharan, Head-sales and purchase (technical), Great Ship(India)Ltd was the chief guest while S. Tatebe, Chairman and Managing Director(CEO), Mangala Yapa of CDL as well as staff and employees were present. Prince Lye, Assistant Marketing Manager (Ship building), Colombo Dockyard(PLC) said, This a another exceptional performance that we have achieved. Prior to this we delivered “Great Ship Anjali” in January and “Great Ship Amritha” in April 2008. We plan to deliver “Great Ship Abha” on January 30, 2009. However, we will try our best to deliver this vessel one month in advance on December 30 this year”.“More than 380,000 hours of manpower have been used to build this vessel since it was started. About 960 tons of iron were used for this anchor handling tug supply vessel. The value of this “Great Ship Abha” will amount to $ 17.5 million. The salient features of this vessel are that the overall length is about 63.04m, breadth 15m, depth 6m. The deadweight of this vessel is 1,600 tons and the speed of this vessel is about 13 knots. These vessels are used for anchor handling, towing and to supply cargo to offshore installations.” “I appreciate the work done by our workforce. We have achieved this target because of their commitment and are trying our best to complete and deliver the fourth 80 ton anchor handling tug supply vessel for Great Ship(India)Ltd very soon”, he said.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Naval Base San Diego Thanks Navy League

The Naval Base San Diego's commanding officer thanked San Diego-area Navy League July 9 for its support of the sea services. Rear Adm. (Sel.) Dixon Smith spoke to those at the Navy League luncheon about NBSD's local economic impact and the base's commitment to providing support to the fleet, fighter and family. To illustrate the depth of the base's impact on the community, Smith noted that 15,000 businesses in San Diego County rely on Department of Defense (DoD) contracts, and five percent of all civilian jobs in the county are military-related. He explained that the Navy needed its large infrastructure footprint in San Diego to support on-going naval operations around the globe. "We could not do what we do without San Diego," Smith said, "and I would submit that San Diego probably wouldn't be quite the same if we weren't here."Smith provided a virtual tour of the base with a slide show entitled "NBSD – A Day in the Life." The presentation highlighted the world-class facilities on the base, including the world's largest commissary, the recreation yard for single Sailors and the on-going construction on the public-private luxury barracks Pacific Beacon. He expressed his gratitude for the Navy League's voluntary support of Sailors and their families. "Thank you for what you do on behalf of all of our Sailors," said Smith. "Without organizations such as yours, we would not have the retention that we do because you do a lot for us wherever we go." Supporting 53 ships, more than 120 tenant commands and more than 35,000 Sailors, Soldiers, DoD civilian employees and contractors, NBSD is home to the majority of the U.S. Pacific Fleet's surface combatants, all of the Navy's West Coast amphibious ships and a variety of Coast Guard and Military Sealift Command vessels.

Friday, July 11, 2008

First Littoral Combat Ship, Freedom, Ready To Begin Dock Trials

The propulsion plant of the nation's first Littoral Combat Ship, Freedom (LCS 1), has completed testing in preparation for dock trials. The ship is now ready to begin dock trials -- the final stage of testing before underway trials. "Freedom is now exercising her propulsion train to the full extent possible in port, running the gas turbines and diesel engines; spinning shafts and pumping water through the steerable water jets," said Dan Schultz, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin's Maritime Security & Ship Systems line of business. "We are looking forward to beginning underway trials in the lakes and demonstrating the capabilities this unique ship will bring to the U.S. Navy." The agile 378-foot Freedom is powered by an innovative, combined diesel and gas turbine propulsion plant, with steerable water jet propulsion. This system will power the ship at cruise speeds out to ranges exceeding 3,500 nautical miles and will also allow the ship to sustain sprint speeds over 40 knots. Dock trials includes a series of demonstrations of propulsion, navigation, communication and other systems conducted to ensure the ship is ready for sea trials.There has been rapid progress on Freedom since the beginning of the year. In February, LCS 1's four 750-kilowatt Fincantieri Isotta Fraschini diesel generators were lit off and its three-megawatt electrical power plant was successfully tested. In March and April, initial testing of the two Fairbanks Morse diesel engines occurred. The two Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbine engines -- the largest and most powerful ever installed on a Navy ship -- were successfully lit off and tested in May, as were the steerable Rolls-Royce Kamewa water jets. Over the next few weeks, dockside testing of the ship's engines and other systems will conclude at Marinette Marine in preparation for underway trials. Freedom will be delivered to the U.S. Navy in 2008 and will be home ported in San Diego. The Lockheed Martin team's design for LCS is a survivable, semi-planing steel monohull that provides outstanding maneuverability with proven sea-keeping characteristics to support launch and recovery operations, mission execution and optimum crew comfort. Team members also include naval architect Gibbs & Cox, ship builders Marinette Marine, a subsidiary of The Manitowoc Company, Inc. , and Bollinger Shipyards, as well as best-of-industry domestic and international teammates to provide a flexible, low-risk war fighting solution.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ship's Cat Thrown Into River

Three teenagers are being hunted in connection with the drowning of a ship's cat in the Thames. Police believe the trio threw the cat, named Kilo, from a gang plank that connects HMS Belfast to the dock, between London Bridge and Tower Bridge.
HMS Belfast
Kilo's body has not been found. Officers have released a CCTV image of two girls and a boy they want to quiz. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "The actions of the people responsible for this are truly despicable."
Kilo, The ship's cat
The cat was thrown from the moored ship . The police spokesman added: "Kilo was beginning to feel at home of the ship after the crew had taken him in from Battersea Dogs and Cats home and was a great companion to those who serve on the ship."
Police have released the image of the three teenagers, two girls and one boy, taken from a street CCTV camera at the time of the incident.

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