Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Israeli Navy Rams Enemy Support Boat

Cruiser "Dignity" carrying international activists and aid for Gaza was rammed by an Israeli naval ship off the Gaza Strip. Activists from the "Free Gaza" movement claimed that the Israelis demanded the vessel return to Cyprus, although it did not have enough fuel. The captain of the Israeli ship told Dignity's captain that he had been involved in terrorism. Finally, the aid boat docked Tuesday in the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre. Hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese had gathered to welcome it. Free Gaza is a U.S.-based organization which has sent regular shuttles of aid to Gaza from Cyprus since August."It was like ramming a Mini (car) with a truck," Eleni Theocharous, a Cypriot lawmaker on board the boat, told reporters. Cyprus state radio said the Cypriot government would seek explanations from Israel over the incident. The vessel was carrying medical aid donated by Cyprus and there were at least three Cypriots on board, including the parliamentarian. A reporter on board said the boat ran no risk of sinking. SYN (Coalition of the Radical Left) stressed in its statement: "We vehemently condemn Israel's new act of war in international waters against Dignity, which carried humanitarian aid to Gaza, a region suffering from a huge humanitarian crisis due to [ Israel defend itself ]. We urge the Greek administration and the EU to step up measures against Israel's raids."

Army Destroys VX Nerve-Agent Munitions

The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency marked the elimination of the last VX nerve-agent munitions from its stockpiles Dec. 24 with destruction of the last land mine containing VX at the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility in Anniston, Ala. "I commend Anniston and all CMA destruction sites on this extraordinary achievement. By destroying the VX agent at each of CMA's destruction sites, you have made the world a much safer place," said Conrad Whyne, director of CMA. The ANCDF Site Project Manager Timothy K. Garrett, declared, "We have reached a truly remarkable milestone following more than five years of deliberate, but careful operations. All nerve-agent munitions - those containing GB and those containing VX -have been safely processed." CMA personnel and contractors have destroyed the VX nerve-agent munitions at six disposal sites: Anniston, Ala.; Umatilla, Ore.; Newport, Ind.; Pine Bluff, Ark.; Tooele, Utah; and Johnston Island approximately 800 miles southwest of Hawaii. CMA continues to safely and securely store the remaining VX in the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile at the Blue Grass Chemical Activity near Richmond, Ky., officials said. A separate Department of Defense organization, the U.S. Army Element Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, is charged with its destruction, with construction currently under way on a neutralization facility there.Destruction of chemical weapons is complete at Newport, Ind., Aberdeen, Md., and Johnston Island in the Pacific. Operations continue at Tooele, Umatilla, Anniston, and Pine Bluff, CMA's remaining destruction sites. These sites are destroying or preparing to destroy blister agent and the only remaining nerve agent for CMA's destruction mission - GA (Tabun) at Tooele. In addition to Kentucky, CMA continues to safely store chemical- agent munitions at Pueblo, Colo., officials said. VX is the least volatile, but most potent of all chemical warfare agents, officials said. They said it attacks the nervous system, causing the muscles to convulse uncontrollably. Exposure can result in loss of consciousness, convulsions, paralysis, and respiratory failure resulting in death. The nerve agent works similarly to pesticide and was originally developed in the early 1950s. The nation's entire original stockpile of approximately 4,400 tons of VX was produced at Newport Chemical Depot between 1961 and 1969. Newport's production facility was destroyed in 2006. VX nerve agent was never used in combat by the United States. "The elimination of this deadly chemical agent from each site's stockpile is a relief to the stockpile communities, and a sign of our commitment to other nations as we move one step closer to a safer world," said Whyne.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

At Least 11 Killed In Boat Capsize

At least 11 people were killed, 22 survived and an unknown number were missing after a small boat capsized off Indonesia’s main island of Java yesterday morning, officials said. The incident took place about 10am (0300 GMT) when a small wooden boat packed with more than 30 people overturned in the Java Sea off the northern coast of the Central Java district of Pemalang, about 300km east of Jakarta, police and health officials said. “We have so far received 10 bodies and 17 survivors from the accident,” said Vita, a nurse at Pemalang’s M Ashari General Hospital, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name. She said reports from the beach areas indicated that an unknown number of other passengers on the boat were still missing and feared drowned. Among the dead were a seven-month-old female baby, a six-year-old boy and eight-year-old girl. Another body and five survivors were sent to Pemalang’s Santa Maria Hospital, the hospital’s spokesman Hasan Sidik confirmed.Local media reports put the death toll range from 10-to-14, with at least 30 others people surviving in the accident, while at least 12 others were listed as missing. Rescue workers, comprising navy police officers and fishermen, were searching for more bodies or survivors. Witnesses told the Jakarta-based Elshinta private radio that the accident occurred because the boat, which was only allowed to carry up to 10 people, was packed with around 40, including several children on an outing to mark the Islamic New Year. The boat overturned after a huge wave hit at about 200m from the beach, sending passengers into the rough seas. Meanwhile, two bodies were found and three other people were missing after five students were swept away by sea waves in the Tabanan beach area on the Indonesian resort island of Bali yesterday, reported a online news service. One of the two bodies was picked up by rescue workers after washing up on the beach, not far from where the five were reported missing shortly before mid-day, the report said.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Portbury Dock Worker Falls Into Ship's Hold

A dock worker received head and chest injuries after plunging 20ft into the hold of a container ship. The man, in his mid-40s, fell head first as he was working on the Katherine Ann at Royal Portbury Dock. Ambulance crews who were called to the dock asked firefighters for help so the man, whose name has not been released, could be hauled to safety.
The Katherine Ann
Station manager Mark Webb, of Avon Fire and Rescue, said about 20 firefighters attended just before 8am and lowered ropes down to the man. Working with paramedics, they put the man onto a spinal board and he was lifted out. He was then taken to Bristol Royal Infirmary hospital to be treated for his injuries.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Man Rescued In Survey Vessel Off NY Harbor

The Coast Guard says a survey boat operator has been rescued after water began pouring into his vessel as it approached New York Harbor. Coast Guard officials say water started flooding in through a broken bow light fixture on the Michele Jeanne around 11 a.m. Saturday in the Ambrose Channel.
The Michele Jeanne
Officials say the boat's bilge pumps were overwhelmed, and the 34-foot vessel likely would eventually have sunk if help hadn't arrived. Coast Guard personnel pulled up within 16 minutes, pumped out the water and patched the hole. Then Coast Guard vessels escorted the Michele Jeanne to shore in Elizabeth, N.J. No one was hurt.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Whaling Ship Rammed In Antarctic

The anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd is being accused of attacking the Japanese vessel Kaiko Maru in Antarctica. The Kaiko Maru claims protesters used their vessel the Steve Irwin to ram and throw bottles of butyric acid onto the Japanese ship. The Japanese crew allege the Steve Urwin spent three hours in dangerous close-quarters harassing them by repeatedly overtaking and circling the research vessel. The Kaiko Maru's topside starboard rear bulwark was damaged but it will not stop its current operation.
Kaiko Maru
The Kaiko Maru is describing the Sea Shepherd is a terrorist vigilante group that is operating outside of the confines of international maritime law. It says their activity threatens the safety of the Japanese crews and scientists and should not be condoned. The Director General of the Institute of Cetacean Research in Tokyo, Minoru Morimoto, says under the International Whaling Commission Japan has a legal right to conduct scientific research in the Antarctic.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Passenger May Have Gone Overboard From Cruise Ship Near Cancun

The U.S. Coast Guard and Mexican authorities are searching for a missing cruise ship passenger who may have gone overboard near Cancun, Mexico. Authorities say the husband of 36-year-old Jennifer Feitz reported her missing from the Norwegian Pearl Friday morning. Her hometown was not available.
Norwegian Pearl
A Coast Guard search and rescue crew aboard a Falcon jet joined a helicopter and three crews from Mexico to scan the Gulf of Mexico. Norwegian Cruise Line says the ship left Sunday from Miami for a seven-day western Caribbean cruise.

German Navy Foils Pirate Attack On Egyptian Ship

A German warship and helicopter Thursday succeeded in foiling an attempt by pirates to board an Egyptian bulk carrier travelling in the troubled Gulf of Aden off Somalia's coast. The ship, which had 31 crew aboard, was headed for an Asian port from the Egyptian port of Suez when pirates approached the vessel and started firing at crew members, said Noel Choong, head of the anti-piracy International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur. Crew members immediately called for aid from international coalition forces patrolling the Somalia waters, said Choong. 'The pirates were randomly firing at the ship, resulting in one of the crew members sustaining injuries to his leg,' he said. However, before the pirates could board the ship, a German naval warship and helicopter, responding to the call for help, arrived at the scene and managed to chase off the pirates.Later, the helicopter returned to the Egyptian carrier and airlifted the injured crewmember onto the warship, said Choong. While the IMB hailed the success in thwarting Thursday's attack, Choong warned that pirate activity continued to grow in Somali waters, particularly the Gulf of Aden. Earlier this month, a Malaysian warship and helicopter succeeded in warding off an attack on a Chinese vessel after responding to an emergency call. 'In spite of the increase in naval activity, the pirates are still attacking ships,' Choong said. 'We understand the coalition forces cannot be everywhere, but while they are patrolling in one place, the pirates are attacking elsewhere.' There have been 110 pirate attacks in Somali waters this year. Somali pirates have hijacked 42 vessels, with many of the seizures taking place in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest waterways. Of the 42 ships, 14 vessels remain in pirate custody, with more than 240 crewmembers still being held, the IMB said.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

New Zealand Sailor Rescued Off Norfolk Island

A sailor has been rescued after wreckage from his yacht was spotted in Norfolk Island waters, two weeks after he should have arrived back home. Rewi Kemp, aged in his 60s, was plucked from a rock on Nepean Island, an small uninhabited island off Norfolk Island, after being thrown overboard as the Moonshadow smashed against the rocks. Australian Federal Police on Norfolk Island were last night alerted to debris, including large pieces of yacht and a fastened life jacket, that had washed ashore. Norfolk Island Tourism spokesman Terry Watson said a search was launched after the debris was spotted in Cemetery, Emily and Slaughter Bays. "Working with Norfolk Island locals, a search was organised using a Norfolk Island Government launch," Mr Watson said. "After only 1.5 hours, the yachtsman was found safe and well sitting on a rock on Nepean Island."He was rescued by the launch and taken to Norfolk Island hospital where he was cleared of any serious injury. "It transpired that the yacht has been experiencing serious electrical problems and being so long overdue, the sailor had decided to visit Norfolk Island to let everyone know he was okay. "Sailing in the night before, without navigational aids, he didn't realise how close he was to Nepean Island and the boat hit rocks and Mr Kemp was thrown into the water where he quickly scrambled ashore and waited to be rescued." Mr Kemp was bound for New Zealand after leaving Fiji. He is now expected to fly to Auckland on Sunday.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Army Halts Use of New First Aid Item

Until more testing can be done, U.S. Army medics are being told to stop using a new product just sent to the war front to help control bleeding among wounded troops. Officials were in the process of distributing some 17,000 packets of WoundStat, granules that are poured into wounds when special bandages, tourniquets or other efforts won't work. But a recent study showed that, if used directly on injured blood vessels, the granules may lead to harmful blood clots, officials said Tuesday. The Army Medical Command will continue its research and work with the manufacturer in hopes of figuring out in the next few months whether to resume use of WoundStat, said Col. Paul Cordts, head of Army health policy and services. WoundStat manufacturer TraumaCure, Inc. had no immediate comment.The product had been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It was one of the latest in a series of Army efforts to improve survival rates on the battlefield. Today, 90 percent of injured troops survive their wounds, the highest rate of any war, Cordts said in an interview. He credited better training of combat medics, better body armor the troops wear and better tactics they use on the battlefield, as well improved bandages, tourniquets and so on. Defense Department figures show that as of this month, more than 4,800 troops have been killed in Iraq and fighting terrorism. The latter category counts casualties mostly from Afghanistan. Some 34,000 troops have been wounded in the wars, where insurgents have made wide use of roadside bombs and other explosives. Excessive blood loss is the number one killer on the battlefield, and the Army announced in October that it was sending two potential lifesavers - the WoundStat packets and a bandage called Combat Gauze - to replace older other products that had been in use at the time. A committee of Army medics, Navy corpsmen, surgeons and others recommended the Combat Gauze bandage - which has an agent that triggers blood clotting - should be the first-line treatment for life-threatening hemorrhaging in cases where a tourniquet could not be placed, such as the armpit or groin area.The WoundStat granules were to be used if the bandage failed to work. Cordts said the Army put out a message on Dec. 18, directing the temporary halt in use of WoundStat. Though it has arrived at the war zones, officials are unclear on how widely it has been distributed so far. They're working to identify any soldiers who got the treatment, study their cases and examine them for any problems with blood clotting, Cordts said. He said he did not know whether it had been used on any soldiers and thus had no reports back from the field - positive or negative - on how effective it might have been. Cordts said that after an additional few months of study, officials will likely determine whether they should discontinue its use altogether or perhaps redistribute it with warnings for how it is to be used.

Wreck Of Grounded Ship Removal Successful

The wreck of the San Cuvier has been completely removed from the Opotiki Coast. Environment Bay of Plenty staff oversaw the removal to make sure the impact on the coastline was minimal and there was no pollution of the area. The San Cuvier was grounded in July on a rocky stretch of coastline east of Opape and west of Torere. The vessel's owners Sanford and its insurers were responsible for the removal plan and they worked with an experienced salvage company which removed the vessel. Under the plan the vessel was cut up and sections of the ship were air-lifted to a safe location for scrapping. Environment Bay of Plenty Pollution Prevention Team Leader Steve Pickles and an iwi representative did a site visit on the weekend after the last remaining sections of the vessel were safely removed."The removal operation went without a hitch and the salvage company did a very thorough job," Mr Pickles said. "My final inspection revealed that there were very few signs that the vessel had even been wrecked on the coast and as a result we were satisfied that everything was done to minimise the impact on the coast and the sea." Before the removal operation approximately 18,000 litres of liquids were successfully taken off the boat - about 11,000 litres of this was diesel fuel. During the past five months Environment Bay of Plenty's Eastern Bay Harbour Master has regularly checked the coastline near the grounded boat and has seen no signs of contamination. Mr Pickles stressed how special this unspoilt stretch of coastline was and thanked everyone involved for the success of the operation.

3 Bodies Pulled From Sunken Cargo Ship Off Coast Of N.L.

French authorities have recovered the bodies of three of four men who had been missing since the sinking of a St-Pierre-Miquelon cargo vessel off the south coast of Newfoundland on Dec. 2. French searchers used a submersible vessel to pull the bodies out of the ship, which was under 130 metres of water. The fourth body could not be found.
The Cap Blanc
There are no plans to salvage the ship. The 36-metre ship, known as the Cap Blanc, was travelling from Argentia, N.L. to the French-owned St-Pierre-Miquelon islands with a load of road salt when it sank in rough seas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

'Three Blondes In A Boat' Will Not Race Together Again

Britain's "three blondes in a boat" have confirmed that they will no longer race together as a trio after the Yngling class boat in which they won gold at the Beijing Olympics was removed from the sailing program for the 2012 London Games. The International Sailing Federation decided last month to introduce a women's match racing event for 2012, in modified Elliot 6 metre boats in place of the Yngling.
British Olympic sailing gold medalists (L-R) Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson.
The trio of 28-year-old Sarah Ayton, 31-year-old Sarah Webb and 22-year-old Pippa Wilson are considering their options for 2012 in the remaining women's Olympic classes. The three said on the Royal Yachting Association's website they would announce their future plans in the New Year, but ruled out match racing in the Elliots. "Our strengths are definitely in fleet racing and as there's no fleet racing option for three women any longer, that effectively means the end of the line for us as a team," Ayton said. The three have been an integral part of Britain's recent domination of Olympic sailing.The British team won six medals - four gold, a silver and a bronze - at the Beijing Games, making Britain the most successful sailing nation for the third straight Olympics. "It's been an incredible journey for the Yngling Girls and for everyone who has helped and supported us in our mission to dominate the fleet and be the best in the world," Ayton said. Ayton and Webb won gold in the Yngling class with Shirley Robertson at the Athens 2004 Games, but became an even more dominant force on the world circuit after joining up with Wilson at the end of 2006.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Boat Capsizes In Mangalore

A fishing boat capsized near estuary in Mangalore on Sunday morning. According to police, the boat ‘Suvarna Sagar’ reportedly hit the remainings of another boat which had capsized two years ago.The boat belongs to Madhava Suvarna. As many as 25 fishermen were returning after fishing in the boat when it capsized. They escaped with the help of a small boat as soon as the boat capsized. The loss is estimated as Rs 8 lakh.

M/V Laighton On 'Ghost' Show

In an upcoming season five episode of of the Sci-Fi Channel hit show "Ghost Hunters," the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company's M/V Thomas Laighton was used as the vessel to take the ghost hunter investigators to and from Star Island in search of ghosts. The episode was filmed on Nov. 22, and will be aired in March. The ghost hunter investigators were accompanied by the crew of the Laighton to set sail in search of Star Island for the existence of life after death.The Isles of Shoals Steamship Co. was responsible for dropping off and picking up the production crew for the show. This charter was unusual as the M/V Thomas Laighton has not been docked at Star Island since 2004 when the ferry service was discontinued. Capt. Jeremy Bell and the crew of the M/V Thomas Laighton navigated the boat through the darkness and fog of Portsmouth Harbor and the Isles of Shoals, and managed to dock along the shoreline of Star Island. What the crew discovered during this charter is not known, but the possibility of paranormal activity on the M/V Thomas Laighton is still up in the air.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ship's Anchor May Have Severed Undersea Internet Cable

Technicians are trying to restore full internet and phone services between Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The services have been seriously disrupted due to an undersea cable which has been severed. A ship has been sent to a site in the Mediterranean so that repair work can begin. Officials say they think a ship's anchor may have been the cause of the damage.

Japan's First Solar Cargo Ship

The world's first cargo ship partly propelled by solar power took to the seas on Friday in Japan, aiming to cut fuel costs and carbon emissions when automakers ship off their exports. Auriga Leader, a freighter developed by shipping line Nippon Yusen K.K. and oil distributor Nippon Oil Corp, took off from a shipyard in the western city of Kobe, officials of the two firms said. The huge freighter capable of carrying 6,400 automobiles is equipped with 328 solar panels at a cost of 150 million yen (S$2.4 million dollars), the officials said. The ship will initially transport vehicles being sent for sale overseas by Japan's top automaker Toyota Motor Corp.
The project was conceived before the global economic crisis, which has forced automakers to drastically cut production as sales dwindle. Company officials said the 60,213-tonne, 200m long ship is the first large vessel in the world with a solar-based propulsion system. So far solar energy has been limited to supporting lighting and crew's living quarters. The solar power system can generate 40 kilowatts, which would initially cover only 0.2 per cent of the ship's energy consumption for propulsion, but company officials said they hoped to raise the ratio.The shipping industry has come under growing pressure to take part in efforts to curb global warming, which is blamed on carbon emissions. Estimates say maritime transport accounts for anything from 1.4 per cent to 4.5 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. But the industry remains largely unregulated due to its international nature. Nippon Yusen, Japan's largest shipping company , has set a goal of halving its fuel consumption and carbon-dioxide emissions by 2010.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sri Lanka Navy Destroyed Suspected Rebel Ship

Three boats belonging to the Tamil Tigers have been sunk off the east of Sri Lanka, killing a senior rebel naval commander, the navy says. Military spokesman Brig Udaya Nanaykkara told the Reuters news agency that 18 rebels were also killed. The navy says that the battle began on Thursday and went on into Friday. It says that one navy sailor was killed. But the Tigers say that three navy gunboats were destroyed in the battle and the navy was forced to retreat. According to the pro-rebel website, Tamilnet, a Sea Tiger flotilla was attacked by 17 navy vessels in heavy seas on Thursday night. Tamilnet said that three Sea Tigers were killed in the overnight fighting, which forced the navy to retreat back to harbour, towing damaged boats. Correspondents say it is impossible to verify the claims of either side. Displaced Sinhalese civilians in Sri Lanka.The navy says that the Sea Tigers were trying to evacuate rebel fighters trapped after a government offensive had left them surrounded in jungles in the east. It says that when naval vessels intercepted, a long sea battle began, culminating in the sinking of three rebel vessels and the death of top rebel officer, Lt Col Nishan Than. The navy says that one Sri Lankan sailor was wounded in addition to the sailor who was killed. The sea battle - which both sides agree took place about 40km (25 miles) north of the eastern city of Trincomalee, comes as land fighting around the rebel's northern stronghold has intensified over the last few days. The army says that more than 60 rebels have been killed in fighting throughout this week. It has made significant advances recently against the rebels in the east of the country, but the Tamil Tigers still control large parts of the north. Around 70,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced since the war first erupted in 1983.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Captain Dies As Boat Sinks Off Sharjah

A boat Captain who told his crew to jump off the sinking vessel to safety could not save himself from drowning. The boat heading to Khalid Port carrying Captain Alexander Fernando and four men developed engine trouble 15km off Sharjah coast, before sinking. Sharjah Police confirmed that all members on board survived except Captain Fernando, who was from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Nasser Siddiqui, one of the survivors of the ship, narrated his ordeal to Gulf News yesterday over how a simple routine turned into the most terrifying experience of his life. It was a typical day for Siddiqui, who runs Abhath calibration services, when he was requested to travel offshore and submit a quotation for equipment required for three ships. "It was around 1:30pm when I inspected the first ship and by the time I was to inspect the second ship, the wind was picking up speed. I was accompanied by Captain Fernando and his assistant Ali and other crew." They were 15km off Khalid Port of Sharjah, at the time of the incident. It was then that Captain Fernando told them to head back to shore and escape the foul weather before it got worse.
Nasser Siddiqui (in navy blue jacket), one of the survivors of a boat that sank off Sharjah coast, alongside the body of Captain Alexander Fernando (in striped T-shirt) seen in a boat that brought them to the Khalid port.
"We were back on our small boat heading back to the Port when we saw that the engine room was filling with water. I had no idea how it started or where it came from, but we started to panic as the level of water was rising. "The captain immediately telephoned for help and when we were 5km away from the shore, the engine broke down. He was courageous and took great care of me, offering me a life jacket before assisting himself, and he kept telling me words of assurance that we were going to be fine." Twenty minutes after that, the boat started to sink. By then the engine room was submerged in water and the Captain was telling them to jump. "I was too scared to jump and all sorts of thoughts were going through my mind. I thought about my parents, my wife, my family, and my life passed before me. The 50 seconds it took me to jump out of the boat felt like a life time." The men were swimming for at least half an hour before they were rescued by a small boat. "I do not know how Captain Fernando lost his life and I would really like to know how it happened. He was a very humble and courageous man who put the safety of the crew before his own. He will be deeply missed by us all." He was a very humble and courageous man who put the safety of the crew before his own. The 50 seconds it took me to jump out of the boat felt like a life time."

Captain Left Doomed Ship To Find Girlfriend Who He Thought Was With Another Man

The Captain of the tugboat involved in a massive oil spill on the Mississippi River in July testified Thursday. After first pleading Fifth Amendment and not wanting to testify in the Coast Guard hearings, the Captain of the tugboat Mel Oliver finally spoke out. Terry Carver was the assigned captain of the Mel Oliver when it crashed, but today he corroborated former testimony and said he was not on board at the time of the crash. He said he got off the boat three days before the crash after getting a phone call from his nephew in Illinois, who said he saw Carver’s girlfriend in a truck with another man. Hours after that call Carver got off of the boat and drove 12 hours to Illinois to see his girlfriend, saying he’d be back in two days.
Tugboat, Mel Oliver
His departure left apprentice pilot John Bavaret in charge of the ship at the time of the crash, but Bavaret was not licensed to operate the vessel alone. However, Carver testified Thursday that Bavaret has captained other vessels in the past, and that no crew members had reported any problems to him in the 8-10 calls that he made while traveling to and from Illinois. He added that his employer, DRD Towing of Harvey, was aware that Bavaret did occasionally captain the ship. Carver admitted that back in the 1990s he had his Coast Guard license suspended for 14 months for marijuana use. The Coast Guard is expected to issue a report that could include some penalties for those involved, but that is forthcoming.

Military To Be On High Alert For Inauguration

The U.S. military will be on high alert during Barack Obama's inauguration, increasing air defenses and deploying chemical attack experts and medical units, a general said. Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., who heads the military command that oversees security for North America, said the Defense Department had not been told of specific Inauguration Day threats. Nonetheless, he said, the armed services must be ready. "It would make news for a terrorist element or rogue element to interrupt that event," Renuart said. "So it is prudent to plan for the possibility of that event and to deter it or to respond to it." The preparations come amid heightened security concerns during the presidential transition. The Bush administration is planning to provide the president-elect with a series of contingency plans for potential international emergencies, including terrorist strikes and electronic attacks, that could occur after Obama takes the oath of office. The Secret Service is in charge of security for the inauguration. The agency is coordinating with local police departments, as well as with 4,000 law enforcement officers from 96 jurisdictions. About 11,500 military personnel will take part. Secret Service officials have established 23 planning teams but have provided few details. Inauguration organizers are considering a loudspeaker system to broadcast evacuation instructions in the event of an attack. Renuart said the military's preparations were meant to support civilian-led efforts. After 2001, the U.S. Northern Command, frequently called Northcom, was given broad responsibility for assisting with domestic security. Renuart is also the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which guards U.S. airspace.The military response is not unprecedented. Northern Command officials said they provided security for inaugural activities in 2005, as well as for national political conventions and major athletic events such as the Super Bowl. Some military personnel will be part of the inauguration, playing in bands, marching in parades and conducting honor ceremonies. But Renuart said much of the force would have a security role. About 4,000 National Guard members will provide support to local law enforcement, boosting security on the National Mall and around Washington, where millions of people are expected. There also will be 7,500 troops under federal control, including emergency medical teams and experts in chemical attacks. Air defenses around Washington are always tight, but Renuart said the number of patrols would increase. The contingencies to be conveyed by the White House to the Obama team are separate from the inaugural preparations. They are meant to ensure that the new administration is as prepared as possible on Jan. 20. The White House briefing, first reported by the New York Times, is part of a larger transition effort by the National Security Council to identify international trouble spots for the new administration. Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said: "We want to provide them, especially in the first few weeks, the basis for which they can have some information to make their decisions. This is a menu of contingencies and possible options." Obama is trying to fill key national security jobs, hoping the Senate will confirm many of his appointments on the day of the inauguration or soon after. Johndroe said the Bush administration would make sure there were career officials ready to act should a crisis develop before Obama's appointees were confirmed.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pentagon Official: Navy To Buy More Combat Ships

Navy officials are encouraged by the maiden voyage of a small combat ship that maneuvers easily and swiftly in shallow waters. John Young, the Pentagon's top weapons buyer, says the Navy is likely to buy 64 or more vessels like the USS Freedom, which has been making its way from Milwaukee to Norfolk, Virginia.
USS Freedom (LCS 1)
Freedom crew member Lt. Daniel Albright from Akron says sailors don't yet know everything that the ship can do and are still finding things that could make it better. Young says the small surface vessel has the speed to deal, for example, with the pirate situation off Somalia.

British Navy Ship That Lost Engine Power Near Tip Of South America Now Safely Anchored

The Chilean Navy said Wednesday that a British Navy ice patrol ship that lost engine power at the eastern mouth of the Strait of Magellan on the southern tip of South America is now safely anchored. Navy spokesman Capt. Allan Nettle said that 10 civilians aboard the HMS Endurance were evacuated by helicopter early Wednesday the 128 crew members on board "are not in danger." The passengers were transferred to a nearby lighthouse while at least one Chilean tugboat and a Norwegian cruise ship sailed to help the idled vessel.
HMS Endurance (AV 171)
The British military said in a statement that a flood in the engine room affected the ship's power. The statement added that the flooding had been contained and confirmed the ship was being held by its own anchor. But the Chilean Navy said a second flooding occurred early Wednesday and it was being contained. A Chilean tugboat was preparing to tow the Endurance to Punta Arenas, Chile's southernmost city, if necessary. The ship's mission is to patrol and survey the Antarctic and South Atlantic.

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