Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thick Ice Likely To Delay Mississippi River Shipping Season Again

It looks like the shipping season on the Upper Mississippi River will open late for the second straight year. That's because there's still too much ice, according to officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Each year the Corps measures the ice on Lake Pepin and officials say it's been unusually thick for this time of year - 18-20 inches in recent days.Shannon Bauer, a Corps spokesperson, says they'll keep tabs on the situation with weekly measurements until late March. However, Corps officials say shippers can expect to wait until April to start moving their goods on the Mississippi. Last year's season didn't begin until Apr. 11 - approximately 22 days later than normal.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Chinese Naval Fleet Successfully Rescues Italian Merchant Ship

Destroyer "Haikou" of the Chinese naval fleet on an escort mission in the Gulf of Aden successfully rescued a Liberia-flagged Italian merchant vessel on the morning of February 24, local time. This was the second foreign merchant ship rescued by the Chinese naval fleet. Prior to this, destroyer "Wuhan" successfully rescued a Greek merchant ship from pirate attack on January 29.
Missile Destroyer Haikou 171

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fishing Boat Runs Aground On Akutan Island

Four crew members of a grounded fishing boat used a crab pot to lower themselves off their vessel Wednesday to get to higher ground, where they were hoisted to safety by a rescue helicopter. The Coast Guard identified the crew as Dan Oliver, 46; Clint Packer, 43; Kevin Fisner, 36; and Terry Meyer, 29. No hometowns were available for the crew members. All were taken to nearby Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands for medical evaluations, but there were no reported injuries, Brad Anderson, the operations officer on the Coast Guard cutter Munro, told The Associated Press by satellite phone Wednesday. The storm-force winds twice kept the Coast Guard from lifting crewman directly from the Icy Mist, a 58-foot fishing boat based in Kodiak, after it went hard aground Wednesday on the rocky shore of Akutan Island. "They were able to disembark the fishing vessel by lowering a crab pot off their stern and lowering themselves on the line," Anderson said. He said based on the communications from the scene, it didn't sound like the fishing crew had to do much swimming once off the fishing boat. Rescuers instructed the crewmen to head for shore and then to higher ground on the island to get away from a sheer cliff face that was swirling with wind, Anderson said. Anderson said the helicopter pilots made sure they could hoist the crew members safely by hovering there before asking them to move to higher ground.Winds reported at 45 mph when the vessel went aground increased to 80 mph, with gusts to 120 mph, by midmorning, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios from the command center in Juneau. The Coast Guard took a relayed mayday call at 4:38 a.m. Wednesday reporting that the Icy Mist was taking on water. The Aleutian Islands lack an integrated network of marine radio coverage. The mayday call was received by the vessel Arctic Fox, which relayed the message to the Northern Glacier, whose crew contacted the Coast Guard. The vessel was later reported aground on the island. An HH-65 Dolphin helicopter, which has a range of about 120 miles, launched from Dutch Harbor and reached the vessel at 6:45 a.m. but strong winds made a rescue impossible, Rios said. The helicopter returned to its base. The Coast Guard Cutter Munro, on patrol in the Bering Sea, was ordered to Akutan. It stood by 4 miles off shore and monitored the scene. Two larger helicopters, MH-60 Jayhawks from St. Paul Island about 265 miles northwest of Akutan, reached the vessel at 9:30 a.m. The larger helicopters also were unable to lift the crewmen off the vessel. "This is when the wind kicked up to 80 miles per hour and 120 mile-per-hour gusts," Rios said. Anderson said there were 20- to 30-foot seas during the rescue. The cutter was preparing to resume patrols after the rescue at Akutan Island, 766 miles southwest of Anchorage and 40 miles east of Dutch Harbor, a major Aleutian Islands fishing port.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

High Court to Rule On Cross, Memorial

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to step into a long-running legal fight over an 8-foot cross that stands as a war memorial in the vast Mojave National Preserve in California. The justices said that in court arguments set for this fall, they will consider throwing out an appeals court ruling that ordered the cross be torn down. The American Civil Liberties Union and a former National Park Service employee have been challenging the cross' continued presence on national parkland for nearly eight years.A cross has stood on the site since 1934, when a local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars erected it atop an outcropping known as Sunrise Rock. Congress has transferred ownership of the land on which it sits to a private party. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals twice said the cross must come down. It invalidated the 2004 congressionally approved land transfer, saying that "carving out a tiny parcel of property in the midst of this vast preserve - like a donut hole with the cross atop it - will do nothing to minimize the impermissible governmental endorsement" of the religious symbol.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Canadian Coast Guard Rescues 22 From Flaming Ship

A Canadian Coast Guard ship rescued all 22 people from a burning Spanish fishing trawler in the North Atlantic on Sunday, just as the fisherman were leaping into the water. "It was pretty dramatic when you see a ship sinking and people being launched in a life raft, people jumping off the side," Coast Guard Capt. Derek LeRiche said by telephone.Some didn't have life jackets on, and some jumped into the freezing water wearing regular clothes, he said. The Coast Guard was in the area on a routine fisheries patrol about 250 miles (400 kilometers) southeast of Newfoundland when it received a distress call from the Monte Galineiro trawler. It was not immediately clear what caused the fire. LeRiche said they arrived about 10 minutes later, just as the Spanish fishermen were jumping into the water or sliding into life rafts. "We managed to pick them up quite fast, and most didn't have ill effects of the water temperature," he said.
One crewman had hypothermia and was treated on board. Another suffering from smoke inhalation was evacuated by helicopter to a hospital in St. John's, Newfoundland. It was lucky that the Coast Guard ship had been nearby, LeRiche said. "We were thinking of doing a boarding on her anyway" with some fisheries inspectors, he said. "All the cards were in line that we were so close."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Crew Pulled From Blazing Cargo Ship

A cargo ship carrying sand from Nagoya Port to Kita-Kyushu caught fire Sunday while transiting Osaka Bay, coast guard officials said. Officials at Kobe Coast Guard Office said all four crew members of the 199-ton Tone Maru were unhurt after being rescued from the blazing vessel by a fishing boat nearby. They said the fire broke out around 9:35 a.m. near the engine room of the freighter when it was about 10 kilometers off Sumoto Port on Awajishima island, Hyogo Prefecture.
Osaka Bay

Sunday, February 22, 2009

World War I Ship Found Off Sardinia

The well-preserved wreck of a French battleship sunk by a German submarine during World War I has been discovered on the Mediterranean seabed off Sardinia, officials say. The Danton, a 410-foot-long warship that was one of the largest French naval vessels of its time, was spotted by a company conducting an underwater survey for a gas pipeline between Algeria and Italy. The Galsi pipeline builder said Thursday that the battleship was in "remarkable" condition, with many of its gun turrets still intact. It said the Danton was upright under more than 1,000 yards of water on the Mediterranean seabed, 22 miles southwest of the Italian island of Sardinia.
A computer-enhanced sonar image shows the wreck of the French battleship Danton on the floor of the Mediterranean.
The Rome-based Fugro Oceansismica first discovered the wreck while conducting a geophysical survey for the pipeline in late 2007. Its high-tech equipment allowed officials to construct a digital 3-dimensional model of the ship and the seabed. Galsi said subsequent talks with French naval authorities confirmed the wreck was that of the Danton, which was built in Brest in 1910. The battleship sank with 296 sailors aboard in 1917. Galsi says it will reroute the pipeline to keep it far from the wreck.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

USS George H.W. Bush Completes Trials

The Navy's newest aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) returned to Norfolk Naval Base following the completion of builder's sea trials that began Feb. 13. During builder's trials the ship's crew conducted high-speed maneuvers, systems checks and other tests that are key to the ship's systems. Following builder's sea trials, the Navy will commence acceptance sea trials, conducted by representatives of the U.S. Navy Board of Inspection and Survey, to test and evaluate the ship's systems and performance. Upon completion of acceptance sea trials, the ship will be formally delivered to the Navy.George H.W. Bush is scheduled to begin operational training later in 2009 with her first operational deployment in 2010. George H.W. Bush is the 10th and final ship of the Nimitz class and incorporates major improvements from her predecessors, including a composite mast, new JP-5 fueling system, a bulbous bow, redesigned island, and three wire arresting gear configuration introduced on USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). The carrier is powered by two nuclear reactors operable for more than 20 years before refueling, with an expected in-service life spanning about 50 years. USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) is commanded by Capt. Kevin O'Flaherty.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ship Accident Investigated As Seaman Fights For His Life

Two separate investigations have been launched into an accident on a cruise ship at the Port of Napier yesterday which has left a seaman fighting for his life. The 34-year-old Australian man, of Sri Lankan descent, was in a critical condition in Hawke's Bay Hospital this morning after he was crushed between a fire door and a bulkhead during a safety drill on board the Oceanic Discoverer. Sergeant Wendy Wright, of Napier police, said the man was trapped for five minutes before being freed by crew and resuscitated. He has had surgery for crush injuries to his chest, abdomen and pelvis.
Oceanic Discoverer
The Oceanic Discoverer, which arrived in Napier yesterday, did not leave for the Marlborough Sounds last night as scheduled. It is a small cruise ship with 70 to 80 passengers, said Ken Lowe, a spokesman for agents ISS McKay. Passengers were ashore when the accident happened. "The ship is being held in port while the investigations take place and there is also a manning issue now," Mr Lowe told Hawke's Bay Today newspaper. Maritime New Zealand and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission have both launched investigations. TAIC chief investigator Tim Burfoot said it would be months before a report was completed.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cargo Ship Ran Aground As Watchkeeper Snoozed

A cargo ship ran aground on the Co Antrim coast after the watchkeeper fell asleep in his seat, an accident investigation report revealed today. There was no dedicated lookout on duty either as the vessel loaded with 2,360 tonnes of scrap metal sailed on for over three hours with nobody on board awake before ending up on a gently sloping beach three miles north of Larne. Officials of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch have already called on the organisation responsible for international shipping standards to take action to deal with unacceptable levels of fatigue involving crews working long hours. And following a probe into this incident in the North Channel of the Irish Sea last June, a report warned: "It can only be a matter of time before these 'unguided missiles' cause a catastrophic accident." The Antari was on its way from Corpach, Scotland to Ghent, Belgium when the chief officer fell asleep shortly after taking over the watch at midnight on June 28 as the ship passed the peninsula of Kintyre. He had been working a six hours on, six hours off watchkeeping regime with the master. There was no lookout on the bridge throughout the night and the watch alarm had not been switched on - safety requirements which should have been routinely applied. It was a moonless night and the sea was calm with a slightly westerly swell. The officer fell asleep in his chair on the starboard side of the wheelhouse, in front of one of the radar sets, and was still asleep over three hours later when the ship grounded at 0321 hours on the beach close to the road at St. Drumnagreagh Port between Larne and Glenarm. Coastguards in Belfast were alerted by a passing motorist. It was not until 0612 hours that the 2,466 tonne ship, almost 90 metres in length, managed to be refloated. Over 70% of the bottom of the hull was damaged and repairs involved 25 tonnes of new steelwork.
The Antari
The unnamed master and the sleeping chief officer both held Russian certificates of competency. With five other members of crew on board at the time, both worked as watchkeepers, but according to records on some days during May and June last year they were not achieving the hours of rest necessary to meet the proper requirements. Hours of work and rest records were found to be inaccurate, and the report also disclosed that it was an hour before the master informed the coastguards that the ship was in trouble. By that stage the coastguards had already been alerted. The watch alarm had been switched off to avoid disturbing off-duty watchkeepers. The report said fatigue of bridge watchkeepers and lack of dedicated lookouts had long been identified as critical safety issues, particularly in vessels trading in near-coastal waters. But so far the UK had been unable to garner sufficient international support to introduce more robust standards, even though the Marine Accident Investigation Branch in 2004 called for changes to end the practice of long working weeks involving an incredible 91 hours and which continued for many months without leave or even days off. The Department for Transport and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have now been recommended to press for an urgent review and in the meantime introduce tough new measures to address watchkeeping fatigue in UK waters and ensure dedicated lookouts were always posted at night. A statement said: "From the number of accidents that have occurred from lone officers falling asleep on watch at night, it is possible to extrapolate that there are very many other unreported occasions that have not resulted in accident, of ships travelling in UK waters with only one awake onboard. It can only be a matter of time before these "unguided missiles" cause a catastrophic accident."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cruise Ship Stuck In Ice

A Bahamas-flagged cruise ship stuck in ice in the Antarctic with more than 100 people on board is in "no danger" and is going to try to free itself, the Argentine navy said on Tuesday. The Ocean Nova, a 73-metre long Danish-built and -crewed vessel, was stuck near the McClary Glacier in sight of an Argentine research base. A Spanish oceanographic ship, a transport ship and an Argentine plane have been sent to lend assistance if required, the Argentine and Chilean navies said. "Everything is under control and there is no danger," the Argentine navy said in a statement. "There is no damage to the hull or loss of fuel."
Ocean Nova
The Spanish defence ministry said there were 106 passengers and crew on the Ocean Nova. Argentine authorities put the number at 104. An Argentine naval source told local media it was unclear whether the ship was trapped by ice or was grounded by low tide, but said it might be able to free itself when the tide rises. "The captain of the ship said initially he believed he could free the vessel by its own means at high tide tonight (Tuesday)," the Argentine navy statement said. Cruises to Antarctic glaciers are becoming increasingly popular, with some 46,000 tourists joining such tours last season, about double the figure of five years ago, according to the Association of Antarctic Tour Operators.

Grandmother Finds It’s Never Too Late to Pursue Her Dream

When some people reach a certain stage in life, they may decide to set their dreams aside. But one grandmother of three decided to make her dream come true -- a quarter of a century later. Army Pfc. Alexandria Enmund, an Orlando, Fla. native, enlisted at the age of 41, and served at Fort Carson, Colo., for about six months before deploying. The 43-year-old grandmother now is deployed to Iraq, where she is serving at Patrol Base Hillah as a petroleum and water supply specialist with the 4th Infantry Division’s 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. “I wanted to join after high school in 1984, but I got pregnant with my first son,” she said. “I wanted to serve, but it was more important for me to raise my baby. I didn’t want to leave him.” Enmund stayed busy raising her children and working as a cosmetologist. But the itch to be a soldier stayed with her. Her father had been in the Army and served in Vietnam. Her sister also was in the Army. After seeing her sister’s discipline and what the Army did for her, Enmund was driven to join. At the time, she was fast approaching her 35th birthday, and she learned that the cutoff for an age waiver at that time was 35. She rushed to join. “I decided I should still join. I took the test and did everything else, but had to wait for an age waiver. The waiver didn’t come in time,” she said. She said she was disappointed, but unwilling to let it keep her down. The old dream continued its whisper, leading to an impulse in July 2007 that changed her life. “I was sitting in my yard one day and a recruiter was passing by. I flagged him down, and he stopped his car and asked how he could help me. So I told him to waive the age limit so I could join the Army,” Enmund said. She said she was partly joking, partly curious. The recruiter surprised her by explaining the age limit was raised during Operation Iraqi Freedom. “The problem was I wasn’t in shape at that point,” she said. She worked hard to get fit, and about a month after meeting the recruiter, she enlisted. She received a $20,000 bonus she hadn’t known about prior to signing up.
Pfc. Alexandria Enmund
She was grateful for the bonus, but to receive it meant she had only 10 days to prepare before she had to leave for basic training. She said her younger son, Bhritten, was the most nervous about her joining. “He said to me, ‘Ma, I understand you’ve got a dream, but tell them you can’t do it anymore. Don’t do this. I can’t deal with you gone so long,’” Enmund recalled. But Enmund was determined, though admittedly nervous. She was grateful for the support from her eldest son, Osaybeyon. “I remember he said, ‘You can do this. You’re always taking care of everybody else. This is your dream. Don’t give up on it,’” she said. Enmund finished basic training and advanced individual training and was stationed at Fort Carson in March, where her younger son -- the one who did not want her to join – visited her. He told her he was proud of her, she said. He was curious and asked her about the Army, and said he was impressed by the camaraderie he saw in his mother’s unit. The experience left an impression on him, and he surprised his mother by telling her that he was planning to join the Army as well. “I was so happy he wanted to join, but he told me he wanted to do something more exciting than my job. He wanted to be airborne and military police,” Enmund said.Bhritten has passed his entry test and is waiting for his friend to pass before they join together. He met with the same recruiter who helped his mother. Now Enmund is a little jealous, she admitted with a laugh. “I want to jump out of airplanes,” she said. Enmund is close to the halfway mark in a yearlong deployment. Though there are hardships, she said, she stays positive, makes the most of it and works hard. The physical hardships and lack of amenities don’t really bother her. Missing her family is the hardest part, she said. “They’re all proud of me and support me,” she said of her family. My oldest son always knew I could do it. The others thought I had forgotten how old I was,” she said with a giggle. “It’s very hard being away from family,” she said. “But these people, they’re my family too. … A big family. You’ve got to live it to understand it. A lot of these young soldiers, they’re just like my children away from home.” Throughout the day, some soldiers called her “Ma,” even those who outrank her. Many can hardly believe her age. She said she cuts many of the soldiers’ hair, listens to their problems and encourages them as they work and live together. She said she is proud to serve with them and proud to know them. “Yeah, my family misses me a lot, and I miss them,” she said. “It’s worth it, though.” She said she is glad for the opportunity to serve her country, and deploying to Iraq has taught her a deeper appreciation for the way of life that America offers. “I think everybody should experience this,” Enmund said of the Army and deployment. “To come out here and deal with it, it’s something else. It helps you appreciate things more. It’s spiritual. “I’m here to serve my country and my family,” she continued. “By seeing me do this when so many people thought I couldn’t, they can look to their own goals, no matter how impossible they might seem, and plant seeds for their children. You can’t give up. Take the good with the bad, and do what you need to do.” From mother to grandmother to soldier, Enmund fought to make her dream come true. “I don’t regret my decision at all,” she said. “I’m living my dream”

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Saudi Frigate Provides Protection For Turkish Ship

A Saudi Arabian ship provided protection on Monday for a commercial Turkish ship after receiving a distress call from the Turkish ship. According to Saudi Arabian state news agency SPA, the King Ship "Al-Riyadh", located in the Gulf of Aden as a participant in the international force to combat piracy, provided protection today for a commercial Turkish ship after receiving a distress call from the ship early this morning after three small boats tried to hijack it in the international waters near the Gulf of Aden. SPA said the pirates ran away from the area upon the arrival of the ship Al-Riyadh where the Turkish ship was escorted up to the end of the danger zone.
Al-Riyadh (812)

Monday, February 16, 2009

British And French Nuclear Submarines Collide

British and French nuclear submarines which collided deep under the Atlantic could have sunk or released deadly radioactivity, it emerged last night. The Royal Navy’s HMS Vanguard and the French Navy’s Le Triomphant are both nuclear powered and were carrying nuke missiles. Between them they had around 250 sailors on board. A senior Navy source said: “The potential consequences are unthinkable. It’s very unlikely there would have been a nuclear explosion. “But a radioactive leak was a possibility. Worse, we could have lost the crew and warheads. That would have been a national disaster.” The collision is believed to have taken place on February 3 or 4, in mid-Atlantic. Both subs were submerged and on separate missions.
HMS Vanguard (S28)
As inquiries began, naval sources said it was a millions-to-one unlucky chance both subs were in the same patch of sea. Warships have sonar gear which locates submarines by sound waves. But modern anti-sonar technology is so good it is possible neither boat “saw” the other. A senior military source said: “The lines between London and Paris have been hot.”
Le Triomphant (S 616)
The MoD insisted last night there had been no nuclear security breach. But this is the biggest embarrassment to the Navy since Iran captured 15 sailors in 2007. The naval source said: “Crashing a nuclear submarine is as serious as it gets.” Vanguard is one of Britain’s four V-Class subs forming our Trident nuclear deterrent. Each is armed with 16 ballistic missiles. She was last night towed into Faslane in Scotland, with dents and scrapes visible on her hull. Triomphant limped to Brest with extensive damage to her sonar dome. Triomphant has a crew of 101. Vanguard weighs 16,000 tons, is 150 metres long and has a crew of 140. The MoD said it did not comment on submarine operations.

Eight Die As Ship Sinks Off Russia

Eight sailors were killed when their vessel sank during a violent storm near the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok, the regional emergency rescue centre said. The crew of the New Star steamer abandonded ship about 50km offshore in the Sea of Japan after the captain sent a distress signal saying the vessel had begun to roll sharply onto its right side. Half of the 16-member crew on the Sierra Leone-flagged ship, which included Chinese and Indonesian citizens, were saved by a nearby Russian vessel. "During the next attempt to rescue people, six of them were injured and then drowned.Earlier, two members of the crew were washed off their life-raft by a wave," a captain at the Vladivostok Emergency Rescue Centre told reporters. He added that "rescuers are trying to raise the bodies of the lost seamen" but that the rescue efforts were being made difficult by 25km/h winds and waves of over six metres. In another incident in the Sea of Japan on Sunday, three emergency rescue ships battled a raging fire onboard a nearby ocean-liner called the Nancy. All 23 crew members on board the 70,000-tonne ship - registered in Panama - were rescued, officials said, but it was unclear how the ship would be brought back to port.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Man Rushed To Hospital After Boat Fire

A man is recovering Saturday night after he was burned in a boat fire, said firefighters. Investigators said the 43-year-old man was doing routine maintenance on the boat on Northeast 121st Road in North Miami when a fuel leak sparked the blaze.The man then jumped into the water. He was taken to a nearby hospital in stable condition.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ferry Goes Missing Near Abu Dhabi Coast

A search and recovery operation was continuing last night for eight people feared dead after a ferry went missing off the coast of Abu Dhabi. One survivor had been found in the seas off Jebel Dhanna, according to the government news agency, WAM. Brig Muhair al Khatiri, director general of the Critical National Infrastructure Authority, said the Jebel Dhanna port lost communication with the ferry during a severe sandstorm on Wednesday. Authorities began a search with six military rescue boats and two helicopters. “We hope to locate the ship and rescue the passengers tomorrow when the weather gets better,” he said. According to WAM, the ferry was carrying nine crew members and a cargo of cars and lorries and was travelling between Jebel Dhanna in the Western Region and the island of Jurnain. It was operated by the Dalma Co-operative, which runs regular ferry services between the outlying islands and the mainland. Residents on Dalma Island said they knew of the ship’s disappearance but did not believe anyone on board was Emirati. So far no trace has been found of the ferry or the missing crew.The survivor, whose name and nationality have not been released, is said to be in poor condition. Desert Islands Resort and Spa, on nearby Sir Bani Yas Island, suspended its own ferry service for four hours on Wednesday because of the bad weather, it said. The storm produced high seas along the coast and poor visibility. On the same day that the ferry disappeared, an oil tanker and a container ship collided near Jebel Ali port, with severe damage to the tanker, which caught fire. There were no casualties. Dalma Island has a population of around 4,800 and lies about 30 kilometres off the coast. The Dalma Island Co-operative, which operates the ferry service, also imports fresh foods and manages the local fishing industry. The island is part of a major investment plan by the Tourism Development and Investment Company that will see new hotels and restaurants, a golf course and redevelopment of the marina.

Friday, February 13, 2009

US Navy Saves Indian Ship From Pirate Attack

Suspected pirates on Thursday attempted to hijack an Indian ship in the Gulf of Aden, but were apprehended by a United States missile cruiser, which 'quickly' responded to the merchant vessel's distress call. The Indian-flagged Motor Vessel Premdivya sent a distress call reporting that she had been fired by a small skiff and suspected pirates were attempting to board it. The guided missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf intercepted the call and a navy copter signaled for the skiff to stop immediately by firing two warning shots, the US Fifth Fleet said in a statement. Soon, teams from Vella Gulf and the guided missile destroyer USS Mahan apprehended the pirates after they brought the skiff to a complete stop.
USS Mahan (DDG-72)
A search was carried out by the teams and weapons seized, it said. This is the second apprehension of pirates by the Vella Gulf in less than 24 hours, after another group of seven were arrested from the same region, for a hijack bid on a Marshall Islands-flagged ship. The suspected pirates, whose nationality was not given, are being held on board the Vella Gulf until they are transferred to a temporary holding facility inboard the US naval supply ship Lewis and Clark. Pirates attacked over 130 merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden last year, according to the International Maritime Bureau, which tracks piracy and shipping security issues.
USS Vella Gulf (CG-72)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Huge Blaze After Tanker Collides With Ship Off Dubai Coast

This was the extraordinary scene when a tanker burst into flames today after colliding with another ship off the coast of Dubai. Black smoke billowed hundreds of feet into the air after the Maltese tanker struck a "feeder vessel" - a ship that shuttles cargo containers from big ports to smaller ones - about five miles from the Jebel Ali Port. The fire, and the damage caused to the tanker, Kashmir, was captured on camera by a sightseeing plane which happened to be passing the scene. The tanker was carrying about 30,000 tonnes of oil condensate, a liquid used to make plastic, according to the Lloyd’s Marine Intelligence Unit. It was heading from Iran to the United Arab Emirates. WAM, the Emirates state news agency, identified the container ship as the Sima Saba but its destination was not immediately known.As well as showing the extent of the blaze, the images showed substantial damage on the port, or left, side of the ship. Cameron Leslie, a pilot and director of flight operations at the Seawings air charter service in Dubai, said: "To me, it looked horrific. ... It must’ve been a pretty intense fire. I wouldn’t have wanted to have been on deck." Police helicopters and boats along with the Emirates Coast Guard and the port’s emergency response division assisted in the rescue efforts, officials said. Authorities said that two of the tank's crew were rescued from the water after jumping overboard, but that no-one was believed to have died. No immediate information was available on if an oil slick had been formed as a result of the fire, or how and why the accident took place. Jebel Ali Port, near where the incident took place, is located on the southwestern end of Dubai and is the biggest of two major ports in the city.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Buffalo Soldier Display Rededicated

The Army rededicated a Buffalo Soldier display in the Pentagon and kicked off its observance of African American History Month. The ceremony was more than just a rededication of the 10th Cavalry statuette, said Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who hosted the event. He said it was a ceremony to honor the invaluable legacy of commitment, pride and sacrifice African Americans have made in the U.S. Army. "This is a time for all of us to celebrate the past, the present and the future contributions of all African Americans to this nation," Casey said. The ceremony began with a Soldier whose grandfather rode with the 9th Cavalry as a Buffalo Soldier in the early 1900s. Sgt. 1st Class Craig Browne spoke of his family's strong lineage, pride of military service, and dedication to country. "The story of the Buffalo Soldier is often not told and they are often not given the credit they deserve," said Browne, who currently serves with the U.S. Army Reserve Command at Fort Gillem, Ga. Browne's pride for his family legacy was equaled by his pride for country and service in the Army. "Sometimes it's rough, sometimes it's easy, but it's all been beautiful and if I had a chance to do it all again, I would join the same Army, I would worship the same God, and I would serve the same country," Browne said. As a way of honoring the Soldiers of yesterday as well as the Soldiers of today, Sgt. Maj. Jeffery J. Wells of G3/5/7 brought some special guests to the ceremony from the National Association of Buffalo Soldier and Troopers Motorcycle Club.It is their mission is to teach the history and uphold the patrimony of the Buffalo Soldier. "We believe that in order to brighten the future, you must first illuminate the past," said Thomas Costley, national president of the association and a retired Air Force chief master sergeant. The original Buffalo Soldier monument stands at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and was dedicated on July 25, 1992, with involvement of Gen. Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The 10th Cavalry was formed and activated at Fort Leavenworth in 1867, and some contingent of the Buffalo Soldiers remained there until World War II. Buffalo Soldiers were the first African Americans to serve in the military during peacetime. In 1866, Congress approved the formation of six Black regiments: the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 38th, 39th 40th and 41st Infantry. In 1869 the military down- sized and the four infantry units were combine into two, the 24th and 25th. In about 1867 the Indians gave them the name Buffalo Soldiers, reportedly as a result of the buffalo skin coats they were issued and their prowess on the battlefield. Remembering that heritage and history, Casey took the opportunity to remind the audience how far the country and Army have come in the 17 years since the dedication of the original Buffalo Soldier monument. "Our diversity is the strength of our Army and our Army is the strength of our nation," said Casey.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Navy Captain Relieved Of Command

The Captain of the USS Port Royal was relieved of his command today after running the $1 billion warship aground a half mile south of the Honolulu Airport’s reef runway. Rear Adm. Dixon R. Smith, commander of Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, relieved Capt. John Carroll of his duties as commanding officer pending the results of an investigation into what went wrong. Capt. John T. Lauer III, who is currently assigned to the staff of Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, has been temporarily assigned as the guided missile cruiser’s commanding officer. Carroll took command of USS Port Royal in October. The Port Royal is back at a Pearl Harbor after being freed early today from a rocky and sandy shoal where it was stuck for more than three days. It was the fourth attempt to free the ship.The 567-foot cruiser — one of the most expensive and lethal warships in the Pacific Fleet — was towed to Pearl Harbor’s “Mike” piers after being freed around 2:40 a.m.
Capt. John Carroll
It ran aground at 8:30 Thursday night while offloading personnel to a smaller boat about a half-mile south of Honolulu Airport’s reef runway. It took a high tide, the salvage ship USNS Salvor, the Motor Vessel Dove and seven Navy and commercial tugboats to pull the warship free. The Navy said today that the Aegis cruiser will be moved to the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard sometime next week after a damage assessment is completed. “Every shipyard worker is ready to do what it takes to repair Port Royal and get her back to sea as soon as possible,” Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard commander Capt. Greg Thomas said in a news release. The 15-year-old warship ran aground in about 22 feet of water and Navy officials are concerned that there might be extensive damage to a sonar dome that protrudes beneath the bow of the ship. The Port Royal had just completed an $18 million repair and maintenance job in the shipyard last week and was undergoing sea trials in anticipation for an impending western Pacific deployment. Most of the crew were taken off the grounded cruiser to lighten it. More than 800 tons of seawater, diesel marine fuel, anchors, anchor chains and other equipment were removed to lighten the 9,600-ton warship.
USS Port Royal (CG 73)
With all that equipment and water removed from the warship, it now sits high in the water and some of its newly painted blue hull is exposed. The Coast Guard did an aerial survey this morning of the site where the Port Royal had been stuck and found a sheen approximately one mile by 100-yards wide of marine diesel, a thin fuel that burns off quickly in sunlight, according to a news release. The Coast Guard said the sheen was comprised of about seven to eight gallons that could have come from any of the ships involved in today’s effort. Officials said there was no threat to marine life. “The Navy will lead the effort to inspect and remediate the site of the grounding if necessary. Our priorities have been and remain the safety of the crew, the safety of the ship, and the safety of the environment,” said Rear Adm. Joe Walsh, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Navy To Return To Dislodge Ship

The Navy plans to try a fourth attempt to remove the USS Port Royal (CG 73), the Navy warship that ran aground Thursday. When high tide hits early tomorrow morning, tugboats will return to try to dislodge the guided missile cruiser that is stuck in 17 to 22 feet of water about a half mile off Honolulu International Aiport's reef runway. The Navy plans to remove the ship's anchor and the chains, which will lighten the ship by about 40 tons and remove the 800-tons of sea water that is inside the hull to stabilize the ship, said Rear Adm. Joe Walsh, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. If none of these actions work to dislodge the ship, the Navy will consider dredging a channel behind the boat to help unloosen it. When the Navy tried to dislodge the ship earlier this morning, it used a salvage ship, the USNS Salvor (T-ARS-52), a motor vessel the Dove and four Navy and three commercial tugboats tried to remove the ship during high tide. "Although we had more horsepower, we were unable to pull the ship free," Walsh said. "We were only able to pivot the ship about 20 degrees. "Our priorities have been and remain the safety of the crew, the safety of the ship and the safety of the environment. There have been no injuries associated with the grounding or our recovery efforts."
With the port of Honolulu in the foreground, the USS Port Royal (CG 73) , a Navy guided missile cruiser, sits grounded atop a reef about a half-mile south of the Honolulu airport's reef runway.
The larger tugboats and tow vessels used this morning provided more pulling power to nudge the 9,600 ton, 567-foot-long ship off the sandy and rocky bottom, but that wasn't enough. This morning the Navy began their redoubled effort at 1:30 a.m., but the ship remained aground after four hours of towing. The Navy's assessing its options on how to proceed. The Navy is investigating the cause of the grounding and would not discuss any details of their investigation. The cost of removing the ship has not been determined yet, Walsh said. Previous attempts on Friday and Saturday morning to refloat the ship were unsuccessful. Prior to yesterday's attempt. The Navy planned to remove fuel from the ship, but heaving seas prevented that from happening as the barge and ship were roiling into each other. The ship is home ported at Pearl Harbor and was commissioned on July 9, 1994. The ship's hull is structurally sound and there has not been any fuel leaks or spills. "We are working closely with both the U.S. Coast Guard and the state of Hawai'i to ensure all precautions are being taken should a release of fuel occur," Walsh said. "If we're unsuccessful tomorrow morning, we'll further lighten the ship."

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Dutch Vessel Rams Japanese Ship For Second Time

Dutch Vessel Rams Japanese Ship For Second Time. The Dutch vessel, Steve Irwin, has today rammed another of the Japanese vessels in the Antarctic today, this time the Yushin Maru No.3. The latest incident occurred when the Yushin Maru No. 3 was transferring the last remaining minke whales caught today to the Nisshin Maru. The Steve Irwin approached the Japanese vessel and rammed the stern with its bow. The stern of the Yushin Maru No. 3 was damaged in the attack although there have been no reported injuries. “So-called “Captain” Watson is thumbing his nose at all international laws that are aimed at ensuring safety at sea”, said the Director-General of the Institute of Cetacean Research, Mr Minoru Morimoto. “The Steve Irwin "captain" is completely ignoring the safety of crews aboard both the Dutch vessel and the Japanese research vessels and engaging in extremely dangerous behavior.”“Due to Sea Shepherd's increasingly violent actions the risk of a more grave and serious accident happening is increasing by the hour,” he added. The Australian Government, which has harboured and allowed the Steve Irwin to refuel and reprovision, and the Government of the Netherlands, which has registered and flagged the vessel, should also be held accountable for allowing this vessel to commit serious criminal acts at sea. This is the second time today that the Steve Irwin has rammed a Japanese vessel. Earlier in the day, the Dutch vessel rammed the Yushin Maru No.2 at the stern when the Sea Shepherd crew attempted to stop the transfer of a minke whale to the Nisshin Maru.

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