Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hijacked Ship’s Captain Is Dead

The Russian captain of a Ukrainian cargo ship hijacked by pirates off Somalia has died of high blood pressure, despite reports he could have been treated on a watching US ship, Russian media said. “We lost a member of the crew. The captain was seriously ill, he had an attack of high blood pressure,” fellow Russian crew member Viktor Nikolski told Pervyi Kanal television, referring to the ship’s captain Vladimir Kolobkov. The crew hoped an American ship located less than a nautical mile (two km) away could come to Kolobkov’s rescue, added Nikolski, ordered by his Somali hijackers to speak to the TV station in English. Nikolski was previously identified by French radio as the ship’s captain. Reached earlier by Radio France International, he said Kolobkov had been suffering from high blood pressure prior to his death. “He’s been put in the cold locker,” he said. “He was sick.” In one of their more daring bids after a surge of hijackings, Somali pirates boarded the MV Faina Thursday as it sailed toward Kenya with a shipment of tanks, grenade launchers and ammunition.The attackers have demanded a $20 million ransom for the vessel, its cargo and crew, despite being shadowed at sea by three warships, including an American one. Kolobkov could have been saved had he been evacuated to the US ship for treatment, the daily Russian Komsomolskaia Pravda reported on its website, citing the Ukrainian company Tomex Team that owns the Faina. “We contacted the Faina. The pirates had accepted to transfer Kolobkov... to the Americans... who gave the green light on condition that Russia made an official demand and confirmed his citizenship,” a Tomex Team official was quoted by the newspaper as saying. The US Navy said the destroyer USS Howard “is in visual range of MV Faina, which is anchored off the Somalia coast near the harbor city of Hobyo.” “My crew is actively monitoring the situation, keeping constant watch on the vessel and the waters in the immediate vicinity,” the ship’s commanding officer, Curtis Goodnight, said in a statement. There was confusion over the intended recipient of the tanks, with the US Navy claiming it was destined for Sudan while Kenya and Ukraine insisted the shipment was for Kenya.

Monday, September 29, 2008

US Destroyer Monitoring Hijacked Ship

A heavily armed U.S. destroyer was stationed off the coast of Somalia on Sunday, making sure that pirates there don't remove tanks, ammunition and other heavy weapons from a hijacked Ukrainian cargo ship. A man claiming to be a spokesman for the pirates says they want $35 million to free the cargo ship Faina and warned of dire consequences if any military action was taken to try to free the ship. Pirates seized the Ukrainian-operated ship Thursday as it traveled to Kenya with a load of 33 Russian-built T-72 tanks and a substantial quantity of ammunition and spare parts ordered by the Kenyan government. U.S. officials said the American warship was concerned about the large amount of weapons on the hijacked freighter. In a rare gesture of cooperation, the Americans appeared to be keeping an eye on the Faina until the Russian missile frigate Neustrashimy, or Intrepid, reaches the area. Pirate attacks worldwide have surged this year and Africa remains the world's top piracy hotspot, with 24 reported attacks in Somalia and 18 in Nigeria this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center. A surge of audacious maritime attacks have taken place recently off the coast of Somalia, a war-torn country without a functioning government since 1991.
A U.S. defense official said the destroyer USS Howard was within a few thousand yards of the Faina, which is anchored a few miles off the Somalia coast. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the situation. The destroyer is watching to make sure the pirates do not try to remove anything, the official added. He did not say what the U.S. reaction would be if they did. The USS Howard's Web site says it has surface-to-air missiles, Tomahawk cruise missiles, anti-submarine rockets, torpedoes, and a five-inch rapid-fire deck gun. Five nations were sharing information to try to secure the swift release of the ship and its crew - Ukraine, Somalia, Russia, the United States and Britain. Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua, however, insisted his country does not negotiate with pirates or terrorists. A man called The Associated Press in Somalia by telephone Saturday and claimed to be a spokesman for the pirates. "We want the Kenyan government to negotiate with us about a $35 million ransom we want for the release of the ship and the cargo," said the man, who identified himself as Ali Yare Abdulkadir. "If not, we will do what we can and offload the small arms and take them away." Abdulkadir would not reveal his whereabouts, and there was no way to immediately verify his claim, but residents in the northeastern Somali region of Puntland said he did represent the pirates. He also warned against any attempt to storm the ship.
Somali pirates in small boats hijack the MV Faina, a Belize-flagged cargo ship owned and operated by Kaalbye Shipping Ukraine.
"Any one who tries it will be responsible for the consequences," Abdulkadir said. A Russian Web site posted what it said was an audio recording of a telephone conversation with the Ukrainian ship's first mate. There was no way to immediately confirm the authenticity of the report on Web site Life.ru. On the recording, a man who identified himself as first mate Viktor Nikolsky said the hijackers were asking for a ransom but he did not know how much. Nikolsky said the ship was anchored near the Somali town of Hobyo and that two other apparently hijacked ships were nearby. Hobyo is in the central region of Mudug, south of Puntland. Nikolsky said there were 35 people on the ship - 21 of them crew - and most were being held in a single overheated room. Nobody was injured, but the captain was suffering from heatstroke and his condition was "not so good," he said. It was unclear exactly when the purported conversation took place. An international anti-piracy group on Saturday announced yet another hijacking. A Greek tanker with a crew of 19 carrying refined petroleum from Europe to the Middle East was ambushed Friday in the Gulf of Aden, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center based in Malaysia.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ukrainian Ship Sinks Off Bulgaria

A 5,000-ton Ukrainian cargo ship with 13 crewmembers onboard has sunk off the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria in stormy weather. The Tolstoy, which was sailing under the North Korean flag, sank 20 km (12 miles) off Bulgaria's coast. It disappeared from radar screens at 4 a.m. (0100 GMT) on Saturday and all crew were missing, the country's transport minister Petar Mutafchiev was quoted by AP as saying. The vessel, carrying scrap metal to the Turkish port of Nemrut, did not send out a distress signal, the head of the Bulgarian maritime office Nikolai Apostolov said.Following the incident, Bulgaria dispatched air force choppers to search the area for survivors. Military and commercial ships have also joined the rescue mission. Rescue workers have thus far failed to locate the missing Ukrainian crewmembers or the Russian captain of the Tolstoy. Earlier this week another Ukrainian ship, the Faina, was captured by Somali pirates. The pirates later demanded a USD 35-million ransom to release the vessel, which was carrying tanks and munitions to Kenya.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mystery 'Marie Celeste' Ship Sails Into Harbour Without Crew

A major air and sea search was launched after a mystery 'Marie Celeste' yacht with no-one on board sailed into a harbour. The 20-foot boat had its sails set and was being steered on its course by auto-pilot before it finally ran aground at West Mersea at the mouth of the River Blackwater in Essex. Lifeboat crews who went on board found evidence that the boat had been crewed but there was no sign of life, sparking fears that whoever was on the yacht had fallen over the side. An RAF search and rescue helicopter from RAF Wattisham was deployed and lifeboats were launched from West Mersea, Clacton and Walton to scour the Blackwater estuary.
Marie Celeste
Coastguard shore patrols were also called in but when nothing was found the search was called off at nightfall. Inquiries are continuing to trace the registered owner of the yacht. The Mary Celeste, also known as the Marie Celeste, was a ship discovered in the Atlantic Ocean unmanned and under sail heading towards the Strait of Gibraltar in 1872. The fate of the crew was never known and theories have since sprung up from pirates attacking the ship to mutany among the ship's crew. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published a story in 1884 that drew heavily on the fate of Mary Celeste, but renamed his ghost ship Marie Celeste.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ship Sinks Off Macau, 17 Crew Missing

All 17 crewmen on a South Korean freighter are missing after their ship capsized off the Chinese territory of Macau, South Korea's coastguard said. "A Chinese rescue ship, backed by an airplane, is involved in a search operation but they have had no luck yet," a spokesman told reporters. "The ship lost radio contact after sending a distress call early today."Eight South Koreans, eight Myanmarese and one Indonesian are missing. The coastguard said the Chinese ship found the 4,000-ton Zeus-ho capsized 57 kilometres southwest of Macau on Wednesday afternoon but a typhoon in the area was hampering the search for the crew. The South Korean ship, which carried 6,200 tons of glass materials, left Vietnam on Sunday and was due to arrive at the South Korean port of Masan this coming Sunday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Officials Adapt Sniper Pod for B-1Bs

The B-1B Lancer maintainers here adapted a video targeting pod normally employed on F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons to B-1Bs in response to an urgent request from U.S. Air Forces Central officials. The sniper pod enables aircrews to positively identify and engage enemy targets, significantly shortening the time it would take to kill a target. The B-1B community at Tinker Air Force Base used the B-1B Laptop Controlled Targeting Pod program, adapting the sniper pod to the B-1B by installing an external pylon and using an existing on-board laptop computer to control the pod and provide video image to the crew on board. The new system allows aircrews to look ahead with long-range video and see what is happening on the ground. It is a stabilized image and allows them to use a laser beam to target and engage in real time. It also allows aircrews to give their own bomb damage assessment and report back immediately on whether they hit their target or not. The pod shortens the kill chain from several minutes to almost instantly, said 2nd Lt. Douglas Richardson, a B-1B avionics engineer with the 427th Aircraft Sustainment Group."That's a great capability, especially in Afghanistan where we're having troops in close contact," Lieutenant Richardson said. "They can call the B-1B and the B-1B can see exactly what's going on and target the enemy forces in seconds." Before the integration of the sniper pod, crews had used high resolution radar which is perfect for buildings but doesn't see a lot of "soft" images. With the new pod, aircrews can now see exactly what's going on and can see things more clearly. Since it was a new developmental program for the B-1B, the Laptop Controlled Targeting Pod program was managed by Ed England of the 812th Aeronautical System Group at the Aeronautical System Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Officials of the 812th AESG are responsible for managing all new B-1B development programs. The 427th ACSG members helped when requested to get the pod fielded on time to support the recent deployment of aircraft from one of the B-1B main operating bases to a forward operating location. "In 24 months this machine was fielded and developed for the B-1B and we just had the first combat use recently," Lieutenant Richardson said. "The use of the pod was deemed very successful." Although a targeting pod was mounted on the aircraft and it worked well during testing, the B-1B maintenance personnel and aircrews were training with the pod at their main operating base since the system was new. The field service engineers were provided from Tinker AFB for the support of the deployment effort.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

2 Dead, 1 Missing After Boat Sinks

A 3.2-ton leisure fishing boat with 10 people aboard sank off Niigata Port killing two and leaving one missing. The Japan Coast Guard said it received a report from the skipper of another leisure boat around 10:45 a.m. that it had lost contact with the No. 7 Koyo Maru about 20 kilometers north-northwest off Niigata Port.Coast guard patrols rescued nine of the 10 around 1:45 p.m. They were hanging on to a cooler box and other floating objects. However, skipper Fumio Sogabe, 64, and Keiichi Sato, a 48-year-old employee of a Niigata paper company, were later pronounced dead at a hospital. Sato's father-in-law, Shozo Okura, 69, remains missing.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Somali Pirates Hijack Greek Ship With 19 Crew Members

Armed Somali pirates hijacked another Greek ship with 19 crew members off the coast of Somalia in the latest attacks along the world's most dangerous waters, a regional maritime official said on Sunday. Andrew Mwangura, the coordinator of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP), said the vessel flying Bahamas MV CAPT, STEPHANOS was carrying coal when it was seized off the eastern coast of Somalia, the 15th such seizure by the pirates since July 20. "We received the reports today that the Greek ship flying Bahamas MV CPT, STEPHANOS has been seized by pirates," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone. "The vessel was carrying coal but we don't know whether the Greek ship was sailing from South Africa or not. We also have not established whether the vessel was hijacked today (Sunday) or on Saturday," he said. The incident came barely a week after armed pirates seized a Greek ship with 25 crew members.Using increasingly sophisticated equipment, pirates have stepped up attacks on merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden, increasing insurance costs for ship owners and raising the possibility of military intervention. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reported more than 50 attacks or attempted attacks in or near the Gulf of Aden this year, up from 13 for all of last year. A spate of hijackings by pirates off the coast of Somalia has triggered the deployment of a multi-coalition naval force to patrol the world's most dangerous waters. The Horn of Africa nation's coastline is considered one of the world's most dangerous stretches of water because of piracy. Somalia is at the entrance to the Gulf of Aden, which leads to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, one of the world's most important shipping channels. The country has been plagued by factional fighting between warlords and hasn't had a functioning central administration since the 1991 ouster of former dictator Mohammed Siad Barre.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dead Fisherman And Boat Found

Police have found the body of a 56-year-old fisherman and his 10m boat missing off the north Queensland coast. A police spokeswoman said the boat was found by a Townsville coastguard at Halifax Bay, north of Townsville, about 1.45pm (AEST) today.The boat was reported missing at 7pm (AEST) yesterday. The spokeswoman said the boat was currently being towed to Townsville. She said the man's death was not being treated as suspicious. Investigations are continuing.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mystery Ship Washes Ashore In Alabama After Hurricane Ike

When the waves from Hurricane Ike receded, they left behind a mystery: a ragged shipwreck that archeologists say could be a two-masted Civil War schooner that ran aground in 1862 or another ship from 70 years later. The wreck, about 6 miles from Fort Morgan, had been partially uncovered when Hurricane Camille cleared away sand in 1969. Researchers at the time identified it as the Monticello, a battleship that partially burned when it crashed trying to get past the U.S. Navy and into Mobile Bay during the Civil War. After examining photos of the wreck post-Ike, Museum of Mobile marine archaeologist Shea McLean agreed that it is probably the Monticello, which ran aground in 1862 after sailing from Havana, Cuba, according to Navy records. "Based on what we know of ships lost in that area and what I've seen, the Monticello is by far the most likely candidate," McLean said. "You can never be 100 percent certain unless you find the bell with 'Monticello' on it, but this definitely fits." Fort Morgan was used as Union forces attacked in 1864 during the Battle of Mobile Bay. Other clues indicate that it could be an early 20th-century schooner that ran aground on the Alabama coast in 1933.
A ragged boat from 1862 or 1933 washed ashore in Fort Morgan, Alabama, after Hurricane Ike.
The wrecked ship is 136.9 feet long and 25 feet wide, according to Mike Bailey, site curator at Fort Morgan, who examined it this week. The Monticello was listed in shipping records as 136 feet long, McLean told the Press-Register of Mobile. But Bailey said a 2000 report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that the remains were the schooner Rachel, built at Moss Point, Mississippi, in 1919 and wrecked near Fort Morgan in 1933. He said the wreckage appears to have components, such as steel cables, that would point to the Rachel rather than an 1860s schooner. Glenn Forest, another archaeologist who examined the wreck, said a full identification would require an excavation. "It's a valuable artifact," he said. "They need to get this thing inside before it falls apart or another storm comes along and sends it through those houses there like a bowling ball." Meanwhile, curious beach-goers have been drawn to the remains of the wooden hull filled with rusted iron fittings. "It's interesting, I can tell you that," Terri Williams said. "I've lived down here most of my life, and I've never seen anything like this, and it's been right here."

Friday, September 19, 2008

WFP-Chartered Aid Ship Arrives In Somalia Under Escort

A ship ferrying UN food aid arrived in Somalia's Mogadishu port Thursday escorted by a Canadian frigate to deter an attack by pirates. The Golina carried 4,000 tonnes of food to the war-torn country, where at least 3.2 million people are facing shortages, an AFP correspondent aboard the Canadian frigate Ville de Qebec reported. The World Food Programme-chartered ship will spend four days offloading its cargo while the frigate returns to the Kenyan port of Mombasa to escort a second ship to Somalia. African Union troops in Mogadishu are providing security. With rampant piracy and rising insecurity in Somalia, sea transport is the last lifeline for the hunger-stricken Somalis.
HMCS Ville de Quebec
The WFP has called on other countries to take over from Canada, whose escorts end on September 27, to provide protection for its shipments. France was the first country to provide naval escorts that started in November. Somali pirates seized a Greek ship on Thursday, a day after taking a Hong Kong-flagged vessel in the latest in a string of attacks that have prompted calls for international action. According to the International Maritime Board, 55 ships have been attacked off Somalia since January and 11 are still being held for ransom. Somalia's long coastline is infested with pirates, making the Gulf of Aden and neighbouring parts of the Indian Ocean among the most dangerous waterways in the world.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Historic Fishing Boat Gets A New Home

It took two attempts — and some extra muscle in the form of a 120-ton crane — but on Tuesday the 72-year-old FV Islander commercial fishing boat was finally hoisted out of the Sheboygan River to a permanent berth on land. Now that it's high and dry, the iconic 43-foot gill-netter will be restored and put on display in the South Pier District in honor of the community's vanishing commercial fishing industry. However, hauling it ashore proved a bigger catch than anyone was prepared for. Workers attempted to lift it out of the river last month using a 35-ton crane, but the wooden boat was too heavy for the crane, which began to tip, and the attempt was aborted. "It's steel clad over oak, and the oak was pretty soaked," said Eldon Burg, a volunteer assisting with the project. This time a 120-ton crane was commissioned for the job, and in a matter of minutes Tuesday, the weathered red and white vessel was lifted skyward, spun around and placed on land as a crowd of approximately 50 people looked on. "There was a little wind blowing it around when it was in the air, but that was the only adversity," said Brian Marx, a crane operator for Oshkosh-based Ideal Crane Rental. Marx said that the Islander weighs about 20 tons. The boat has been moored in the river since the early 1990s, when it was taken out of service. The boat's run began in 1936 when it was built by Sturgeon Bay Boat Works and sold to a Washington Island fisherman named Albert Goodmander. The boat remained in Door County until 1977, when it was purchased by third-generation commercial fishermen Gary and Glenn Seger, who own the Great Lakes Fish Company, 819 Riverfront Drive.
A crane lifts the FV islander onto shore near South Pier Drive in Sheboygan
Boats like the Islander, which is a gill-netter, are considered extremely versatile fishing vessels and saw extensive use on Lake Michigan in the 20th century, mostly because the boats can handle rough waters and can be outfitted to catch just about any type of fish. The boats aren't as common today as the industry has shrunk. The Segers, who are among the three remaining commercial-fishing families left in Sheboygan, say they field thousands of questions every year from tourists, who are surprised to learn there are still fishing businesses like theirs in operation. The Segers were going to scrap the Islander until local citizens and committee members from the Harbor Centre Business Improvement District suggested preserving it. The brothers have since donated the boat to the city, which cleared the South Pier District site where the boat now rests. The Kiwanis Foundation donated $5,000 to remove the boat from the water, while the Carpenters Local 731 will donate more than 100 hours toward the restoration. AmeriCorps volunteers will also assist in the effort. In addition, the boat will be fitted with Plexiglas viewing ports to allow passersby a view of the boat's interior. A video display terminal will also be added to highlight the history of commercial fishing here. While he's glad to see that the boat will stand as a monument celebrating the area's fishing legacy, Glenn Seger said it was hard watching it leave the water. "It's a shock," he said. "But the time has come to let her rest."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Recruiting Looking Good for Marines

Even without offering big cash bonuses, promising opportunities for college or assuring a better life after service, the Marine Corps anticipates meeting its five-year force-growth goal two years early, the commander of Marine recruiting said via teleconference from his headquarters in Quantico, Va. The Marine recruiting message is dynamically different from that of other services, Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Robert E. Milstead Jr. said as he discussed the current state and contemporary challenges in recruiting Marines. "Other services may recruit and offer themselves as a means of something else or something better, saying, 'We'll get you a college education,' 'We'll get you financial stability,' or 'You'll improve your lot in life,'" Milstead said. "But the Marine Corps offers itself as the destination. We don't talk college, we don't talk money, and we don't talk anything else [to recruits]. We only make one promise: that you'll be a United States Marine." The potential for deployments with the nation's current posture in the Middle East hasn't deterred recruiting and retention, and the likelihood of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan hasn't presented itself as a challenge, Milstead said. Regardless of which branch of service, recruits are fully aware of "what they're walking into" when they meet with recruiters, he added."Remember, there is no draft," he continued, "and all these kids join to serve their nation knowing that in the Marine Corps, and most likely the Army, they're going to move toward the sounds of canons." Milstead praised the fidelity and commitment of Marines who have served multiple tours and enlistments during the nation's time of need. The Marine Corps' success in building up its force is credited to retention as well as recruiting, he explained. "The young men and women today are hanging around, and they may have two or three deployments under their belt," the general said. "They enjoy what they're doing; they feel that the Marines is worth their efforts. And so they're re-enlisting too." Since 2007, the Marine Corps has been pushing recruiting and retention goals to grow its active-duty force to 202,000 Marines by 2011, a 27,000-Marine increase in just five years. But with fiscal 2008 coming to a close at the end of the month, the Marine Corps already has about 198,000 active-duty Marines, putting the goal well within reach. In fact, Milstead said, he anticipates the Marine Corps will reach the end state of its growth as early as next year without compromising its high standards for recruits. Milstead noted that 97 percent of Marine recruits this year were high school graduates, well above the Defense Department average. "We've been very pleased with our ability to meet our recruiting numbers within the Marine Corps," he added. "But bottom line, what it took to be a Marine, two, three, five and 10 years ago, is what it takes to be a Marine today."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Google Search Finds Seafaring Solution

Google may take its battle for global domination to the high seas with the launch of its own “computer navy”. The company is considering deploying the supercomputers necessary to operate its internet search engines on barges anchored up to seven miles (11km) offshore. The “water-based data centres” would use wave energy to power and cool their computers, reducing Google’s costs. Their offshore status would also mean the company would no longer have to pay property taxes on its data centres, which are sited across the world, including in Britain. In the patent application seen by The Times, Google writes: “Computing centres are located on a ship or ships, anchored in a water body from which energy from natural motion of the water may be captured, and turned into electricity and/or pumping power for cooling pumps to carry heat away.” The increasing number of data centres necessary to cope with the massive information flows generated on popular websites has prompted companies to look at radical ideas to reduce their running costs. The supercomputers housed in the data centres, which can be the size of football pitches, use massive amounts of electricity to ensure they do not overheat. As a result the internet is not very green.Data centres consumed 1 per cent of the world’s electricity in 2005. By 2020 the carbon footprint of the computers that run the internet will be larger than that of air travel, a recent study by McKinsey, a consultancy firm, and the Uptime Institute, a think tank, predicted. In an attempt to address the problem, Microsoft has investigated building a data centre in the cold climes of Siberia, while in Japan the technology firm Sun Microsystems plans to send its computers down an abandoned coal mine, using water from the ground as a coolant. Sun said it could save $9 million (£5 million) of electricity costs a year and use half the power the data centre would have required if it was at ground level. Technology experts said Google’s “computer navy” was an unexpected but clever solution. Rich Miller, the author of the datacentreknowledge.com blog, said: “It’s really innovative, outside-the-box thinking.” Google refused to say how soon its barges could set sail. The company said: “We file patent applications on a variety of ideas. Some of those ideas later mature into real products, services or infrastructure, some don’t.” Concerns have been raised about whether the barges could withstand an event such as a hurricane. Mr Miller said: “The huge question raised by this proposal is how to keep the barges safe.”

Monday, September 15, 2008

Two Drown In Tourist Boat Horror

A six-year-old child and a man have died after being trapped in a tourist boat that sank in central Paris. The pair, reportedly father and son, had been stuck in the bottom of the boat and spent several minutes underwater before being pulled out by divers. Attempts to resuscitate them failed. Ten other passengers on the small boat jumped into the river before it sank and were all rescued safely. The accident took place on Saturday night at the Pont de l'Archeveche, a bridge on the River Seine in the French capital.
Police lift the sunk boat from the River Seine
The bridge connects the tip of the Ile de la Cite, where the popular tourist landmark Notre Dame cathedral is located, to the Left Bank of the river. The nationalities of the victims were not known. The boat was raised from the riverbed during the night. It will be used in investigations into the cause of the accident, which is also not yet known. Authorities first thought the boat had hit a pillar of the bridge but later said it was possible though not certain it had hit another boat. Tourist boats travel along the busy Seine both day and night and accidents are extremely rare.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Russian Submarines To Test-Fire Missiles In Pacific

Russian submarines armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles will test-fire their rockets in the Pacific Ocean between September 15 and 20, a military official was quoted as saying today. "Some missile launches will be carried out in the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea" and will hit targets on the Kamchatka peninsula in eastern Russia, said the unidentified official, RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Delfin Class Submarine
A press officer for the governor of Kamchatka, a mountainous region often used for missile tests, told RIA Novosti that local authorities had been forewarned and would inform the local population in due course. Russia's Pacific Fleet, which will carry out the tests, has Delfin nuclear submarines equipped with RSM-54 intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach targets as far as 8300 km away.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Coast Guard, Air Force To Attempt Rescue Of Ship's Crew In Ike's Path

Aircraft have been dispatched to the Gulf of Mexico to try to rescue 22 crewmen on a stalled freighter in the dangerous path of Hurricane Ike. Petty Officer Tom Atkeson says rescue swimmers were on board five Coast Guard and Air Force aircraft, including two helicopters, a Falcon jet and two Ospreys, expected to reach the ship by this afternoon. Twenty-two men were aboard the 584-foot freighter Antalina (an-tuh-LEE'-nuh), adrift about 90 miles southeast of Galveston.
The Coast Guard early today received a radio call for help. Atkeson says the aircraft, including some with hoist operations, are based at Hurlburt Air Force Base near Pensacola, Florida, and Coast Guard units out of Mobile, Alabama. Atkeson says the rescued crewmen will be transported to either Houston or Corpus Christi, depending on fuel and weather. The freighter is registered out of Cyprus and owned by Perovo (puh-ROH'-voh) Shipping. The freighter's operator is TEO Shipping.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Majestic Sailing Ship Succumbs To The Seas

The majestic sailing ship Asgard II, bought by the Irish Government to provide adventure sail-train for civilians, sank off the French coast. The captain called for help at 2am when the crew discovered flooding in the hull.French Navy helicopers and boats were used to rescue 20 crew members, who were aged between 16 and their mid-sixties. The Asgard II sank seven hours later. The two-masted vessel was built 27 years ago in the style of a classic pirate ship. It was nearing the end of week-long voyage from Falmouth to La Rochelle when it sank.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Somali Pirates Seize South Korean Cargo Ship

A South Korean cargo ship with Korean and foreign sailors aboard has been seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia, diplomatic sources said. Eight Korean sailors and an unspecified number of foreigners were on the ship when it was seized at 4:00 pm Korean time (0700 GMT), the sources said. The foreign ministry said it could not immediately confirm the report. Somali waters are the most dangerous in the world for piracy. The International Maritime Bureau reported more than 24 attacks in the area between April and June. Maritime experts say many other attacks go unreported along Somalia's 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles) of largely unpatrolled coast. Pirates operate high-powered speedboats and carry heavy machine guns and rocket launchers. A South Korean tuna ship with 25 crew members was hijacked by Somali pirates in April 2006.The ship and its crew were released after four months when a ransom was paid. Last year, Somali pirates seized two South Korean vessels and 24 crew including four South Koreans. The crew was released in November after six months in captivity. Local media reports said the pirates had demanded a ransom of five million dollars before reducing the sum to an undisclosed figure. The reports said the kidnappers had badly beaten the South Koreans, with one suffering a broken tooth and ear damage. In April this year, a South Korean bulk carrier came under attack in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia. Pirates believed to be from Somalia attacked the ship for about 40 minutes with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. captain took evasive measures to prevent the 10 pirates in two speedboats from boarding.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Every Monday Now Blues Day for Airmen

Beginning Sept. 8, Airmen now will be required to wear a combination of the blues uniform on Mondays. At a recent four-star conference, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz discussed the issue with other senior leaders."We all agreed that part of our image, culture and professionalism is instilled in our blues," General Schwartz said. The policy is mandatory for most career fields, with installation commanders retaining the authority to adjust for mission requirements. Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, blues were the primary duty uniform for most Airmen.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Front-End Loader Catches Fire In Ship's Hold At Docks

A front-end loader has caught fire in the hold of a cargo ship docked in Melbourne. Waterside workers were unloading a load of soda ash from the Pacific Fighter, docked at Victoria Harbour at Docklands when the loader caught fire shortly after 11pm yesterday, Commander Terry Kimpton of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade said.
Pacific Fighter
Fire crews from West Melbourne and South Melbourne put on breathing apparatus and entered the hold to check the fire. The loader was hoisted ashore by a crane and the fire extinguished. A dock worker who complained of nausea was treated by paramedics. WorkSafe will investigate the incident.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Venezuela To Host Russia Navy Exercise In Caribbean

Several Russian ships and 1,000 soldiers will take part in joint naval maneuvers with Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea later this year, exercises likely to increase diplomatic tensions with Washington, a pro-government newspaper reported. Quoting Venezuela's naval intelligence director, Salbarore Cammarata, the newspaper Vea said four Russian boats would visit Venezuelan waters from November 10 to 14. Plans for the naval operations come at a time of heightened diplomatic tension and Cold War-style rhetoric between Moscow and the United States over the recent war in Georgia and plans for a U.S. missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland. Cammarata said it would be the first time Russia's navy carried out such exercises in Latin America. He said the Venezuelan air force would also take part.Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, an outspoken critic of Washington, has said in recent weeks that Russian ships and planes are welcome to visit the South American country. "If the Russian long-distance planes that fly around the world need to land at some Venezuelan landing strip, they are welcome, we have no problems," he said on his weekly television show last week. Chavez, who buys billions of dollars of weapons from Russia, has criticized this year's reactivation of the U.S. Navy's Fourth Fleet, which will patrol Latin America for the first time in over 50 years. The socialist Chavez says he fears the United States will invade oil-rich Venezuela and he supports Russia's growing geopolitical presence as a counterbalance to U.S. power. Chavez has bought fighter jets and submarines from Russia to retool Venezuela's aging weapons and says he is also interested in a missile defense system.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Congress Pressured On Cruise Ship Crimes

Laurie Dishman, a 37-year-old food-services manager from Sacramento, Calif., said it was time to face her fears head-on, so she took a therapeutic trip to the Port of Miami last weekend. It was the first time she'd gone near big ships since 2006, when she was raped on a cruise by one of the ship's janitors. Back then, she was appalled when the crew responded by telling her that she needed to control her drinking. So last Sunday, at one of the busiest ports in the nation, she handed out more than 300 pamphlets to people as they began their vacations, warning them of danger. "There are no laws out there," Ms. Dishman said in an interview. "All kinds of things can happen on this floating city in the middle of the ocean, and there's no security. There's no protection. You think you have American rights when you board a ship, but you don't."The industry is fighting back, saying that Americans are safer on cruise ships than they are on land. Ms. Dishman, however, is confident that her message will lead to a new federal law. When Congress returns from its summer recess tomorrow, she and other crime victims will be lobbying for a plan that would force cruise industry officials to change the way they do business. The legislation would force cruise ships to maintain logs that record all deaths, missing individuals, alleged crimes and passenger complaints of theft, sexual harassment and assault. That information would be made available to the FBI and the Coast Guard, and the public would have access to it on the Internet.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Cargo Ship Hijacked By Pirates Off Somalia

An Egyptian cargo ship with 25 crew members has been hijacked by pirates off Somalia’s coast, the 10th vessel to be seized in less than two months, a global maritime watchdog said Friday. Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, said the Egyptian ship was seized late Wednesday in the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden.The attack occurred on the same day that a French sailboat was seized in the area, he said. No other information was immediately available. The French ministry said it believed there were only two French nationals aboard the sailboat.

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