Saturday, August 30, 2008

Three Indians In Hijacked Ship Off Somalia

Three Indians on board a hijacked ship on the Red Sea are reported to be safe, the Directorate General of Shipping said. The hijacked ship, MV Iran Deyanat, has been taken to an undisclosed location off Somalia, DG Shipping said in a statement on Friday. "No demands have been made so far by the hijackers," it said. The three Indians are Jeeva Kiran D'Souza of Kasargod, Akbar Ali Rafeeque Juwale of Ratnagiri and Anthony Clive Themudo of Goa. According to reports reaching here, there is a shortage of fresh water and other commodities on board the vessel.
MV Iran Deyanat
Iran Deyanat, which was carrying 40,000-tonnes of iron ore en-route from China to Netherlands, was hijacked on August 22. Besides the Indians, the ship also had Iranians and Croatians totalling 29 persons in all. DG Shipping has sought the assistance of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in the matter. Pirates with weapons came in speed boats and boarded the Iran Deyanat on the Red Sea, DG Shipping said. It said that a few other vessels have also been hijacked by pirates.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ship Explosion Kills 1, Injures 19 In Vietnam

A ship exploded when exploiting metal scraps in Vietnam's sea waters, killing one local man and injuring 19 others, local newspaper Young People reported Thursday. The ship owned by Le Van Cu from Ninh Phuoc district, southern Ninh Thuan province, exploded on Wednesday some 17 km off the NinhPhuoc coast, making itself and a nearby ship sink.Some fishing ships brought all the victims, including eight seriously injured people onshore. Local relevant agencies are probing into the cause of the accident, the newspaper said.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Army Service Uniform

It's now official. The Army Green Class A uniform, which has been in use since the mid-1950s. is out and the new Blue Service Uniform is in. The green uniform has been replaced by a variation of the blue uniform, which has been in testing phase for years. Many Soldiers already own an Army blue uniform (now to be called the Army Service Uniform) and may continue to wear it. However, improvements have been made to the new "Army Service Uniform," or ACU, to to the fabric and fit. The new ASU coat, similar to the existing blue coat, will be made of a wrinkle-resistant material and will have a more "athletic" cut. “World-class Soldiers deserve a simplified, quality uniform. The blue Army Service Uniform is a traditional uniform that is consistent with the Army’s most honored traditions,” said Sgt. Maj. Of the Army Kenneth O. Preston. The consolidation of Army service uniforms is part of a streamlining process. In 2004, the Army reduced the number of battle dress uniforms from three to one when it adopted the Army Combat Uniform in place of the Woodland Green Battle Dress Uniform (winter and summer versions) and the Desert Combat Uniform. That uniform consolidation has been a resounding success in terms of soldier acceptance and reducing the variety of combat uniforms with which they must deal.Army Blue as a uniform color traces its origins back to the National Blue and was first worn by Soldiers in the Continental Army of 1779. Other changes to the uniform include authorization of a combat service identification badge to recognize combat service, overseas service bars authorized on the jacket sleeve for both enlisted Soldiers and officers, the wear of distinctive unit insignia on the shoulder loops of the blue coat for enlisted Soldiers, authorizing paratroopers to wear the black jump boots with the blue ASU, and the decision to transition to a new short sleeve and long sleeve white shirt with shoulder loops. It is also permissible for enlisted Soldiers to wear both overseas service bars and service stripes on the new blue ASU coat. Officers and Soldiers in the grade of corporal and above will additionally wear a gold braid on their slacks to indicate leadership roles. New items for the ASU will be available in military clothing sales after July 2009. Soldiers will have until July 2014 to possess the entire uniform. Soldiers graduating from basic training will receive the ASU during basic beginning in the summer of 2010. The two key components of the uniform, the coat and slacks, are expected to cost around $140, with modifications bringing the total cost to $200. Enlisted Soldiers will receive an increase in their annual uniform allowance to help offset the cost of the uniform.

Other changes announced include:

* Soldiers who wear green, tan or maroon berets, soldiers assigned to air assault coded positions and military police on duty will be permitted to blouse their trousers with the black leather combat boot.
* The black, tan, maroon and green beret will be permitted with all uniforms.
* White shirts will be worn with all Class A and B uniforms.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's Chicks Out For The Vlads

No wonder the Russians have been slow to leave Georgia. Sailors aboard the first ship to head home after the fighting were greeted by these burly Black Sea beauties.
Warm welcome ... fans on the quay
The formidable fans were on the quay as the missle-carrying vessel Mirage moored in the port of Sevastopol, Ukraine.
Homeward bound ... missile-firing Mirage
Large numbers of Russian armoured vehicles also withdrew from Georgia. But top brass said some troops would remain inside zones of responsibility.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wreck Could Be Of Crucial Ship From War Of 1812

A Lake Ontario shipwreck hunter claims to have discovered a legendary vessel from the War of 1812 -- the 32-metre sloop HMS Wolfe, the star of one of the most dramatic naval battles on the Great Lakes at the height of the U.S. invasion of Canada. The ship, renamed HMS Montreal later in the war, was the Canadian-made flagship of commodore James Yeo, commander of the inland British fleet during the crucial struggle against the Americans for control of the lakes. In a famous 1813 engagement known as the Burlington Races, a damaged Wolfe was under intense fire near present-day Toronto, but just managed to escape the enemy assault by retreating rapidly westward to a gun-protected shore near Burlington Bay. A defeat in that battle -- which came just days after a major U.S. victory on Lake Erie -- could have given the Americans free rein in the lower lakes and, according to a leading War of 1812 naval historian, made certain Ontario became "a state of the American union." The ship, which was involved in numerous battles throughout the 1812-1814 war, was scuttled years after the war in waters off Kingston, Ont., along with several other vessels that had outlived their usefulness in peacetime Upper Canada. But Kingston-based diver Kenn Feigelman says he has found, on the murky lake bottom at an undisclosed location near the city, a ships' graveyard with four War of 1812-era wrecks -- including, he believes, the Wolfe. He told Canwest News Service on Friday that he expects the discovery to generate international interest ahead of the bicentennial of the war in 2012. "Although these were derelict vessels, they are a very, very important part of not only Canadian but North American history," he said. Depending on the outcome of the battles fought by the Wolfe -- which carried 20 cannon and 200 crew -- and the other ships in Britain's Lake Ontario squadron, the "political geography of North America could have been completely different," said Mr. Feigelman, a Montreal native who now runs Kingston-based DeepQuest2 Expeditions. He and his dive team have captured sonar images and photographs of the sunken hulks and adjacent debris fields, but Mr. Feigelman insists the wreck sites have not been disturbed and that all information gathered is being shared with Parks Canada archeologists.The find follows the discovery this year of the Revolutionary War-era HMS Ontario and a major Parks Canada-led probe of the Hamilton and Scourge, two American ships from the War of 1812 that went down in a storm near Hamilton. Marc-Andre Bernier, Ottawa-based manager of operations for Parks Canada's underwater archeology unit, said government scientists have conducted surveys off the Kingston shore in the past and identified some potentially significant wreck sites. He added that any War of 1812 wrecks would be considered "important" and worth investigating, but added that there's "nothing conclusive" yet to determine whether the ships spotted by Mr. Feigelman are the same ones already known to Parks Canada, or to prove they include the Wolfe and other vessels under Commodore Yeo's command during the war. "We need to see evidence." If one of the ships is the Wolfe, its discovery recalls what naval historian Robert Williamson has called "a pivotal engagement that would determine the outcome of the War of 1812." In a 1999 essay published in Canadian Military History, Mr. Williamson reconstructed the events of Sept. 28, 1813, using the logbooks of the Wolfe, which had only recently been opened to researchers by the U.S. national archives in Washington. The logs had apparently been seized by the Americans after an 1814 battle in which a British officer was killed -- apparently enroute to Britain to deliver the Wolfe's records to admiralty headquarters. The logs offered a wealth of new details about the Burlington Races, which had appeared to observers on shore more like "a yacht race" than a naval battle, Mr. Williamson wrote. The historian debunked a popular tale that the British ships vaulted a sandbar to escape their U.S. pursuers, but Mr. Williamson concluded that the survival of the Wolfe and the other vessels was a true turning point in Canadian history. "Yeo's Lake Ontario naval squadron survived the scrape of 28 September as strong as ever," Mr. Williamson wrote. "In fact, it went on the offensive in the following spring and helped to capture Fort Oswego.... By maintaining the integrity of his squadron, Yeo played a far more important role in the events of the War of 1812 that shaped our future than generations of historians have been prepared to grant him."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sri Lankan Ship Sinks In Bangladesh

A ship carrying more than 3,000 tonnes of rice from India sank near the outer anchorage of Bangladesh’s Chittagong port officials said. They said the Sri Lanka-flagged vessel MV Batulu was in collision with an empty, anchored vessel and sank in the Bay of Bengal during the afternoon. “The ship sank in the bay with its 17 crew on board,” a port official said. The official had earlier said the vessel was carrying a Singapore flag. Tugboats from the port authority and the Bangladesh Navy rescued 16 crew members, he said, but the fate of the remaining member was unknown. The sea was choppy at the time of the accident because of strong monsoon winds.Violence: Fighting in Sri Lanka left dead at least 11 people, including eight Tamil Tiger rebels, the defence ministry said Thursday. One soldier died in clashes with rebels on Wednesday in three areas in the north, the ministry said. The ministry also accused the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of gunning down two civilians gathering firewood in the tense northeastern district of Trincomalee on Wednesday. The latest battles raised to 5,993 the number of rebels that the government claims have been slain since January. The ministry admits losing 557 soldiers over the same period. After ejecting the rebels from the east last July, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse said Tuesday that troops were on the verge of a major victory to dismantle the de facto rebel state in the north. agencies

Thursday, August 21, 2008

US Navy Dispatches 3rd Ship To Deliver Relief To Georgia

The United States is sending a third ship, the USS Mount Whitney, to the Black Sea to deliver humanitarian aid for Georgia, the U.S. Navy said Thursday. The Mount Whitney, flagship of the Sixth Fleet, will join the guided missile destroyer USS McFaul and the Coast Guard cutter Dallas in delivering relief supplies, it said. The Mount Whitney "is currently on-loading humanitarian relief materials in her home port of Gaeta, Italy, and will proceed to Georgia later this month," the fleet said in a statement. "The ships will deliver thousands of blankets, hygiene kits, baby food and infant care supplies to save lives and alleviate human suffering," it said.
USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20)
The McFaul departed from Crete Wednesday for the Black Sea and is expected to be in Georgia within a week. The Dallas is scheduled to follow it from Souda Bay, Crete. "The Russians have been informed along the way about our activities and our intentions," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. U.S. military transport planes also have been delivering relief supplies to Georgia on a daily basis over the past week. Whitman estimated the value of the aid provided since the start of the conflict between Russia and Georgia August 7 at $10.7 million.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Navy Wants New Laser Weapons

The Office of Naval Research held its annual partnership with industry conference this week here in Washington, DC. The envelope-pushing Navy lab is particularly keen on developing "game changing" laser beam and hypervelocity rail gun weapons. Much of the available funding is for early phase modeling and simulation. Some of ONR’s high-priority research areas include:

Solid-State Fiber Laser. Defined by ONR as: "A laser in which the active gain medium is an optical fiber doped with rare-earth elements such as erbium, ytterbium, neodymium, dysprosium, praseodymium and thulium." Okay. ONR says a fiber laser is the way to go for a 100 kW laser weapon that could fit into aircraft pods.

Free Electron Laser. A shipboard point defense weapon, the laser will fight off swarms of both high end anti-ship cruise missiles and low-tech, explosive laden small boats. The trick will be developing controllable laser beam strength for "graduated lethality and speed of light engagement. An Innovative Naval Prototype program is scheduled to begin in 2010.

High-Power Microwave Directed Energy Weapons. A focused microwave beam transmits high levels of energy via concentrated radio waves that will knock out computers, sensors, most anything electronic. So far, ranges have been limited by weak projectors and a cluttered environment, but newer, compact high-power microwaves under development may eventually produce a "destructive capability.

The Revolutionary Approach to Time-Critical Long Range Strike (RATTLRS) Program. An ONR, DARPA, Air Force and NASA collaboration, started in 2004, to build a faster than Mach 3 air-breathing cruise missile. ONR says building the high Mach turbine engine remains a challenge.Next Generation Integrated Power Systems. With a multitude of power hungry electrical and automated systems, including propulsion, launchers, sensors, countermeasures and ultimately high-powered weapons, running simultaneously, shipboard power management and supply will require smaller, lighter, quieter, cooler running and stealthy batteries and generators. As with the rest of the world, the Navy seeks solutions to the battery limitation challenge.

Electromagnetic Railgun. A rail gun uses magnetic rails instead of an explosive charge to accelerate a solid projectile to super high velocities, around Mach 7, promising accurate strikes on targets out to 230 miles with damage inflicted by the projectile's kinetic impact. ONR set a world record this year with its laboratory gun for the highest electromagnetic muzzle energy launch of a projectile -- 10 megajoules (I'm told a hand grenade is equivalent to somewhere around 1 megajoule). Drawing enough power -- around 3 million amps per shot -- to fire the guns remains a distinct challenge, particularly onboard smaller destroyer sized vessels. Finding strong enough material to build barrels that can stand up to repeated firings at such high muzzle energies pose another challenge.

ONR is funding research into enabling technologies for next generation air-launched missiles, including: new rocket motors using solid propulsion technologies, low erosion nozzles, pulse motors and advanced radomes designed for ultra-high speeds.

Laser-based Landing Aids. A new start (for 2009) Enabling Capability, the program will develop laser terrain video imaging that can spot obstacles or uneven terrain for helicopter pilots trying to land in brown-out conditions. The hoped for system will be compact, lightweight and rugged.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Missing Sailor Found Alive In Green Bay

A man whose empty sailboat was found drifting in the waters of Green Bay was found alive early Monday and rescued by helicopter. Brown County sheriff's officials said that the 56-year-old Allouez man was reported missing by his wife after he failed to return home by 4 p.m. Sunday. His empty sailboat was later found in the bay.A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter spotted James Nelson in the water about 2:40 a.m. on Monday. A rescue diver dropped into the water and pulled him to safety on board the helicopter. He was taken to Austin Straubel International Airport, then transported to a hospital by ambulance. Authorities said that Nelson is in good condition. He told rescuers the sailboat's boom knocked him into the water after a gust of wind came along.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Boston College Student Killed In Boat Accident

Police said an early morning boat-vs-bridge collision left a Long Island man dead and another injured. Authorities responding to a call found Michael Ruscito, 21, of West Islip dead after his boat struck a support of the Robert Moses Causeway Bridge . Matthew Sullivan, 21, also of West Islip, was taken to an area hospital for treatment of his injuries, which authorities said were not life-threatening.Authorities said the boat was traveling westbound when it hit the bridge. The vessel has been impounded. Boston College released this statement: "The Boston College community is saddened by the news of the passing of Michael Ruscito of West Islip, NY, who was a talented member of our senior class. We offer our prayers and condolences for his family during this most difficult time."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Crew Evacuated from Tall Ship

At just before 10.00 p.m. this evening Aberdeen and Humber Coastguard Stations were made aware of a call from a participant in the Tall Ships Race, 'Lotus', reporting another participant the 'Clyde Challenger', taking water and requesting immediate assistance with 13 people on board. Rescue Helicopter 131 from RAF Boulmer was immediately scrambled. A helicopter from the Ekofisk Oil Field, Helibus 190 was also requested. The sailing vessel 'Loyal' (another competitor in the Tall Ships race) was in the area and Humber MRCC requested they proceed alongwith 'Containerships VII. The weather in the area was fair with a force 3 - 4 wind. The vessel 'Loyal' arrived alongside the 'Clyde Challenger' at approximately 22:40 and began to take personnel off.
Clyde Challenger
The Norwegian Coastguard Cutter 'Andenes' which is also the race control vessel, is also proceeding and has divers on board to assess the damage with a view to any repairs. At just afte 11.00 pm yesterday evening the skipper of the 'Clyde Challenger' reported that all the crew were safe and well on board the 'Loyal' with no injures. He reported that a pipe inlet to the exhaust had fractured resulting in the vessel taking water. The water is confined to the galley. Both of the rescue helicopters have been stood down. All other vessels have been released and proceeding on passage to their destination ports. At one stage there were 4 other Coastguard Stations working together to ensure the safety of the competitors involved.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Scientists Find Wreckage Of Whaling Ship

Scientists may have found the wreckage of a whaling ship that went down off Kure Atoll 170 years ago. Maritime archeologists made the discovery on the first day of a monthlong dive studying shipwrecks in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. It appears to be the remains of the Gledstanes. The Gledstanes is one of the oldest shipwrecks in the Pacific Northwest islands.The whaling ship sank in the summer of 1839 during rough seas. The survirors managed to cobble together what they could of the vessel and set sail to Honolulu to get help. Divers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said they have discovered four of the ship's massive anchors as well as cannons and cannon balls.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pirates Hijack Thai Ship Off Somalia

Pirates have hijacked a Thai cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden off the Somali coast, the Kenya Seafarers Association said Thursday. The ship, the MV Thor Star, was hijacked Tuesday with 28 Thai crew members on board, said Andrew Mwangura, a spokesman for the association, which acts on behalf of merchant vessels in the region.The Thai-flagged ship is owned by Bangkok-based Thoresen Thai Agencies. Pirate attacks are frequent in the waters off Somalia, a notoriously unsafe area for unescorted vessels. Earlier this month, Canada announced it was dispatching a warship to the area to protect U.N. aid ships after more than two dozen reported pirate attacks in the waters off Somalia this year.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Russian Ship Barred From NATO Anti-Terror Patrol

NATO has barred a Russian ship from joining its multinational anti-terrorism patrol in the Mediterranean in apparent retaliation for Moscow's military action against Georgia, a NATO diplomat said on Wednesday. The Black Sea patrol ship Ladny had been due to take part in NATO's Operation Active Endeavour in August and September involving anti-terrorism exercises and practicing search and rescue operations at sea, Russia's navy command said last month. It had already arrived off the coast of Turkey to take part in the operation.
Guided Missile Frigate, Ladny (801)
But the diplomat said that following the fighting in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, Washington had withheld its agreement for the Russian ship to join the mission, launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. NATO diplomats said the U.S. administration had also blocked so far a Russian request for an emergency meeting of the NATO-Russia Council to discuss the crisis in the Caucasus. Russian ambassador Dmitry Rogozin submitted the request on Monday and NATO officials had originally said the meeting could take place on Tuesday, but it was put off and NATO said more time was needed for preparation. Instead, Washington has called a special meeting of NATO foreign ministers next Tuesday to discuss the Georgia crisis without Russia.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

US Soldier Strikes Gold In Beijing

Glenn Eller of the United States won the gold medal in double trap shooting Tuesday, building a solid lead during qualifying and then hitting 45 of 50 targets in the final round. Eller set an Olympic record with a total score of 190 - and also with a qualifying score of 145. Francesco D'Aniello of Italy won the silver, and Hu Binyuan of China took the bronze. Eller led by four shots entering the final, meaning a 47 would have clinched the gold even if every other competitor shot perfectly. Eller missed the first two targets of the final, but recovered quickly. He clinched the gold by hitting both targets in the next-to-last pair, then turned and immediately pumped his fist.
Army Spc. Glenn Eller listens to the national anthem during the medal ceremony after winning the gold in the men's double trap final at the Beijing Olympics.
Eller, a Texas native, is a three-time Olympian. He finished 15th in 2000 and 17th in 2004. At 26, he was the youngest of the six finalists this year. The final round included past Olympic champions Russell Mark of Australia and Richard Faulds of Britain. Jeff Holguin of the United States finished fourth. Afterward, Holguin immediately went over to congratulate the victor. Eller, a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, won the first American gold in Beijing in shooting, a Chinese strength. D'Aniello and Binyuan shot the best final rounds, hitting 46 targets each. D'Aniello and Binyuan finished with total scores of 187 and 184.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

US Navy Stops Pirate Attack

The U.S. Navy says it has stopped a pirate attack on a merchant vessel north of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden. The Navy says the USS Peleliu responded to a call for help from the Gem of Kilakari. The ship said it was under attack from armed pirates as it was traveling to the Suez Canal.
The Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said in a statement that the USS Peleliu was about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the Gem of Kilakari when it received the distress call. The Navy says the suspected pirate ships fled the scene after the USS Peleliu launched three helicopters. The Navy says one grenade landed on the Gem of Kilakari's bridge wing but didn't explode, and no injuries were reported.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Russian Navy Sinks Georgian Boat

Russia's navy sank a Georgian boat carrying missile launchers on Sunday after a skirmish at sea, news agencies quoted the defence ministry as saying. Georgian boats had made two attempts to attack Russian ships which "returned fire, as a result of which one of the Georgian boats launching the attack sank", agencies quoted the ministry as saying.The reports gave no indication which ships were involved in the incident or where it took place. The navy earlier said Russian warships originally said to be near Georgian waters had put into Novorossiisk, a Russian Black Sea port to the north.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Pirates Seize French Ship Off Somalia In Gulf Of Aden

Pirates seized control of a French luxury yacht carrying 30 crew members Friday off the coast of Somalia, the French government and the ship's owner said. Attackers stormed the 288-foot "Le Ponant" as it returned without passengers from the Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean, toward the Mediterranean Sea, said officials with French maritime transport company CMA-CGM. The corporate officials said they were in close contact with the French Foreign Ministry, which said in a statement that the boat and its crew had been attacked by pirates. The ship was in the high seas in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia in the Indian Ocean, the ministry said. At least some of the crew members are French, it said. According to the company's Web site, the three-mast boat features four decks, two restaurants, and indoor and outdoor luxury lounges.
Le Ponant
It can hold up to 64 passengers. Pirates seized more than two dozen ships off the Somali coast last year. The U.S. Navy has led international patrols to try to combat piracy in the region. Last year, the guided missile destroyer USS Porter opened fire to destroy pirate skiffs tied to a Japanese tanker. Wracked by more than a decade of violence and anarchy, Somalia does not have its own navy, and a transitional government formed in 2004 with U.N. help has struggled to assert control. The International Maritime Bureau, which tracks piracy, said in its annual report earlier this year that global pirate attacks rose 10 percent in 2007, marking the first increase in three years.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Tanker Is The 75th Ship To Leave The 'Ghost Fleet'

Government officials celebrated as the 75th ship departed from the James River Reserve Fleet, saying the event illustrates the quickening pace of the disposal of obsolete Navy vessels that pose an environmental risk as they sit idle in the river. The milestone also raises the question: Will the "ghost fleet" disappear? Since 2001, the fleet has been reduced to about 30 vessels, and the government now makes millions of dollars selling the ships to scrap-metal dealers. In the next two years, the number of ships in the fleet could fall to fewer than 10, all of them retention ships that can be used if needed, said Sean T. Connaughton, head of the U.S. Maritime Administration. Despite the reductions, the fleet is here to stay, Connaughton said, because the government always needs reserve ships. "It's a living fleet, so as vessels move out, new vessels move in," he said. "The ships that will be here will be ships that can very quickly be put back into service in case there is a natural or man-made disaster," he said. The ship that departed Wednesday, the Truckee, is a 9,000-ton oiler that fueled 152 ships during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. The tanker has been out of service since 1994, and for the past nine years it has been part of the ghost fleet, located off Fort Eustis in Newport News. Bay Bridge Enterprises purchased the tanker for $1.2 million and plans to melt the ship into 2-by-5-foot chunks of steel, a process that takes about a year.
USS Truckee (AO-147)
The Chesapeake-based company will sell the scrap metal in hopes of turning a profit. "This has a positive local impact," said U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st District, who boarded a small service vessel Wednesday to get an up-close look as the Truckee departed. "Right now we're at an advantage because the price of scrap steel is high, so that's going to accelerate the effort to remove these ships," he said. "Obviously we want to do as many as we can when there's a net gain." Five tugboats pulled the half-century-old ship toward a Bay Bridge Enterprises facility about 26 miles down the river. Rebecca Robinson, a vice president at Bay Bridge, said the company paid $80,000 to tow the ship that distance, and about half of the money covered fuel costs. The company soon will begin stripping the ship of waste products such as fiberglass, asbestos, mercury and electrical transformers. Fear of these hazardous materials leaking into the river is what prompted the government to start disposing of the aging vessels in 2001. The government used to pay private companies to dispose of the ships, but that's changed as the value of the ships has increased with the price of scrap metal. Companies now bid for the chance to take and dismantle the obsolete vessels. "Our staff is working diligently to go out and sell these ships," Connaughton said. "Another five more should be gone by the end of the year."

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Coast Guard Assists Fishing Boat Taking On Water

The Coast Guard reports that they responded to a fishing vessel in distress of the coast of North Carolina. According to a news release, the master of the 72-foot fishing vessel Capt. Alfred notified the Coast Guard at approximately 6:45 a.m. this morning, and reported that the vessel was taking on water East of Jones Bay in the Pamlico Sound. There were four people on board. A 25-foot response boat from Coast Guard Station Hobucken, N.C., arrived on scene and assisted the vessel in dewatering their flooded engine room and patching up the cause of the leak.A 41-foot rescue boat from the station and a rescue helicopter from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., also responded to the distressed vessel. All passengers have been transferred to the fishing vessel Gentle Breeze which is currently towing the Capt. Alfred to Lowland, N.C. "The Captain of the vessel handled the situation very well," said Senior Chief Petty Officer Jeremy McConnell, officer in charge of Station Hobucken. "Our inter-agency response with the Marine Corps helicopter helped tremendously in our crew being able to assist the vessel safely."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Ghost Yacht

Three sailors who vanished off the ghost ship Kaz II may have been involved in a 'scuffle' before they disappeared. On the first day of an inquest into the mystery which occured off the north Queensland coast, grieving family yesterday asked the state coroner to investigate the possibility of an onboard knife fight. Other explanations for the mystery included the possibility they were all knocked overboard by a swinging boom or that they ran aground on a sand bank. State Coroner Michael Barnes yesterday opened a five-day inquest in Townsville into the disappearance of skipper Derek 'Des' Batten, 56, and brothers, Peter and Jim Tunstead, 69 and 63 respectively in April last year. In an emotion-charged scene, the grieving wives of the three missing men hugged and sobbed openly as they visited the back deck of the 10.6m Osprey sailing catamaran berthed in a dry dock. The newly bought yacht was found off Bowen on April 18 adrift, unmanned and under sail, with food still on the table, but no sign of the three men. They had embarked two days earlier on an ambitious attempt to sail from Airlie Beach to Perth in a six to eight-week journey. An extensive air and sea search involving up to 10 aircraft was called off after experts ruled out any chance the men would have survived in the water.
Kaz II discovered drifting.
About 15 family members made the trip from Western Australia for the inquest. Counsel assisting the coroner Julie Wilson likened the case to the enduring mystery of the Marie Celeste, saying many theories abounded as to their fate. These included a misadventure or accident at sea; a possible raid by an unknown third party; a midnight swim with the boat sailing off; and the possibility the men staged their own disappearance. The Marie Celeste, the archetypal ghost ship, was a brigantine discovered unmanned and under sail in the Atlantic Ocean in the 1800s. Francis Tunstead, wife of Peter, asked the coroner to investigate signs of a 'scuffle'. She said the helicopter rescue paramedic who was first onboard told of 'signs of a scuffle' and 'knives on the floor' immediately after he was winched back into the chopper. But police did not take fingerprint samples of the cabin interior or any other forensic tests, she said. 'It is something I want to know for my own heart,' she said. She believed that police did little more than to identify the three men by looking through their wallets and that they assumed they had all been lost overboard in a freak accident. The inquest continues.

USMC Martial Arts Not Just For Marines

Marines from Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team (FAST) Company Europe, at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Rota, continued their green belt training in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) which began July 23. MCMAP trains Marines and Sailors attached to Marine units in unarmed combat, edged weapons, weapons of opportunity, and rifle and bayonet techniques. The training also stresses mental and character development, including the responsible use of force, leadership and teamwork. Recently, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Conway, realeased an instruction requiring all infantrymen to complete MCMAP up to green belt by October 2008. A Marine must become proficient before attaining the next belt level, with a green belt consisting of about 128 hours of training. "Some people think only Marines can do it. I've had Navy, Army, Air Force and civilians," said Sgt. Alfredo Alvarez, a black belt MCMAP instructor for NAVSTA Rota. "I want to let everyone know that if they have a week or two, I can teach them how to defend themselves. Not only that, but it can be a team-building experience." MCMAP teaches students to act instinctively and decisively in hand-to-hand combat by dominating opponents quickly. It is designed to balance mental, character and combative disciplines with the primary emphasis on mental and character development. It also builds character discipline, built around the Corps' core values of honor, courage, and commitment, and it stresses the role of the warrior on and off the battlefield."This training is important because it applies to combat and out in the real world," said Pfc. Francis Gonzalez, a MCMAP participant who is testing for his grey belt, which is an important step toward earning a green belt. "One day, I might have to use it to save myself or save someone else." For civilians, it can build confidence in their abilities and prepare them mentally to deal with situations where they might need to defend themselves. "Everyone thinks the training is just for combat, you can go out and someone can mug you. We can teach you how to defend yourself, which is the best benefit anyone can think of. The confidence of knowing you can handle yourself in that type of situation should be incentive enough." Alvarez said MCMAP requires a lot of hard work and takes a great deal of dedication and sweat. "This isn't given to you, this is earned," said Alvarez. "Trust me, at the end; you are going to feel you have earned it. Marines, anybody, will tell you the same, 'I know that I have earned the right to wear this belt and you know what, I have put my time and effort into it and I strive to do better.' It's an excellent opportunity."

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

USCG Commissions First National Security Cutter

The Coast Guard has marked its 218th birthday by commissioning the first National Security Cutter, USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750), into the fleet in ceremonies at Coast Guard Island, Alameda, Calif. The ship was built by Northrop Grumman's Pascagoula, Miss. shipyard under the much troubled--and now much reformed--Deepwater acquisition program. But at the commissioning Deepwater's past woes weren't on parade. "I know firsthand that the ship we commission today will be the most capable ship that the Coast Guard has ever sailed," said Rep. Elijah Cummings from Maryland's seventh district and Chairman of the House Coast Guard subcommittee. "Hopefully our children will look back on this day of Aug. 4, 2008 and say that under their watch, they created a great ship, and that ship is going out to defend our way of life, guard our borders, interdict drugs and make sure our nation is safe." Meryl Chertoff, the ship's sponsor and wife of the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, ordered the men and women of the Bertholf crew to "man our ship and bring her to life." The crew responded with an "aye aye ma'am" and double-timed it through the 2,500 spectators on Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif.
U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750), the first new ship delivered as part of the Coast Guard's Deepwater program.
"We are in an era of a persistent conflict, with hazards and threats to be dealt with," said U.S. Coast Guard commandant Adm. Thad Allen. "This ship represents a remarkable step forward, not only in capability and capacity, but also in the competency of this crew. Today, the crew will bring this ship to life and Bertholf will be up to the challenges of the 21st century." U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Patrick H. Stadt, of Ft. Belvoir, Va., assumed command as commanding officer of Bertholf. The ship will be homeported in Alameda. Bertholf, is named to honor Commodore Ellsworth P. Bertholf, the first commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. The ship is 418 feet long, with a 54-foot beam. Powered by a twin-screw combined diesel and gas turbine power propulsion plant, the NSC is designed to travel at 28 knots maximum speed.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Millionaire Skipper Abandons Ship Off Australia

Peter Turner, 70, a veteran sailor with half a century of experience, and a crewman had to be plucked to safety by helicopter in a long-range rescue mission. Mr Turner said his 49ft cruising yacht Asolare, launched in June 2007, had been valued at £800,000 but was now unsalvagable. He said he had to escape in a life raft about 4am after hitting an "uncharted" reef in the Coral Sea near Willis Island, about 300 miles off Cairns. "Nowhere is nice to smash into a reef," he said. "But if I had to choose somewhere this was as good a place as any. "Our charts did not show any reef in that area at all. We hit the reef really heavily. There was an amazing crash and immediately she turned over on to her side. "It started leaking water and we had a rough time for three hours." Mr Turner said they contacted rescue authorities before taking passports, valuables and money and abandoning the ship.
"We got what we could off. The rest we just had to leave but you are very welcome to it - there are a lot of nice goodies out there." The only catch was it would be almost impossible to salvage. Mr Turner, from Nottinghamshire, was on a round-the-world sailing trip as part of the World Cruising Club with 35 other yachts and crew. "The whole thing has been quite eventful, not quite what I planned for a Sunday morning," he said. It was Mr Turner's first rescue and he had nothing but high praise for search-and-rescue crews, who had a spotter plane overhead within half an hour of his distress call. An Emergency Management Queensland spokesman said the rescue had been made difficult by the extremely long range mission into the Coral Sea. The Cairns-based chopper and crew had to stop to refuel at tiny Willis Island before carrying out the rescue about midday.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Rescue Underway After Call From Sinking Boat

A helicopter has set out from Cairns to rescue two people who sent a distress signal from their sinking boat off far north Queensland. A spokeswoman for Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ) said the pair radioed for help around 6am (AEST), saying their vessel was going down north-west of Willis Island.A fixed wing aircraft spotted the two on the top of the boat but was unable to winch them to safety. An EMQ helicopter from Cairns has been sent to get them and was expected back in Cairns around midday.

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