Sunday, May 31, 2009
A former Sailor whose quick action aboard the USS Liberty 42 years ago kept it from sinking was awarded a Silver Star in the Visilia, Calif., office of Rep. David Nunes. James "Terry" Halbardier repaired a damaged antenna while under fire by Israeli aircraft, which had already knocked out the ship's communications, according to James Ennes, an officer aboard the Liberty that day. Israel has long claimed the attack was a case of mistaken identity. The United States accepted Israel's apology and a Navy Court of Inquiry concluded the attack was an accident. Testimony by crew members pointed to a deliberate attack and the legal adviser to the court later said the court's conclusions were a sham. A new book, "The Attack on The Liberty," by James Scott, argues that President Lyndon Johnson’s administration allowed the accident story to stand in order to avoid a conflict with American Jewish leaders, many of whom already were opposed to his escalation of the Vietnam War. The Liberty is one of the most decorated ships in the Navy’s history as a result of the June 8, 1967, attack and the crew's successful fight to save it and each other. Its commander, Capt. William McGonagle, was presented the Medal of Honor, while executive officer Lt. Cmdr. Philip McCutcheon was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. Other members of crew were awarded 11 Silver Stars, 23 Bronze Stars, a Presidential Unit Citation, and more than 200 Purple Hearts – and now, Halbardier’s Silver Star. In an interview, Halbardier told Military.com that he initially was interested only in getting the medals that he was certain he qualified for -- including the Purple Heart and the Combat Action Ribbon. These he collected about three or four years ago, he said, after Ennes and others who could testify to his actions and wounds filed the necessary paperwork. But then his shipmates realized that without Halbardier’s actions, they might all be dead. "They figured out that because we got that mayday out ... it saved the ship," he said.
Halbardier, 65, said he thought he might get a Bronze Star for his efforts and was totally surprised when he learned he was being awarded the Silver Star, the third highest award for valor after the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. But it was not only the level of award that surprised him, but the fact the citation actually identified the attacking forces as Israeli. All other decoration citations presented to Liberty crew and officers, including the Medal of Honor awarded to McGonagle, never identified the attackers, he said. "Mine is the only one that ever mentions Israel," he said, and wonders if Navy officials erred and forgot to expunge the reference. Ennes, author of the 1979 book, "Assault on the Liberty," told Military.com in a May 26 email that Halbardier came up to him as he lay with a broken leg on a gurney. Ennes was the electronics material officer and Halbardier's supervisor. The 23-year-old electronics technician 3rd class told Ennes that all the antennas had been destroyed, but that he thought he could get one operating by running some cable from it to the main transmitter room. And that's just what he did. According to the Silver Star citation, Halbardier repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire and suffered wounds as he scrambled across the open deck to repair the antenna for a mayday message. "His courageous actions were critical in alerting distant Navy commanders to the ship's need for assistance and were instrumental in saving the ship and hundreds of lives," the citation reads, staving off further attacks. "I do believe that if Terry had not rigged the antenna, our help message would not have gotten out,” Ennes said. “Israel … would have continued the attack until we sank with all hands."
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Engineers Deem Ford Dam 'Unsafe'
A 92-year-old dam between Minneapolis and St. Paul is now classified as a safety risk. The Army Corp of Engineers says they're worried water could be seeping under the Ford Dam's foundation and potentially cause it to fail. Officials say the concrete is crumbling and rebar has become exposed on the dam--enough of a concern to deem it 'unsafe' or 'potentially unsafe.' The Army Corp has given the Ford Dam a level two safety ranking, on a five-point scale, with one being the highest threat. "It's over 90-years-old. Ninety-year-old structures have problems sometimes, so that's why we've placed it so high," Mark Davidson said.However, Davidson did note the high safety threat ranking for the dam is precautionary. While a breech in the dam would not pose a danger to homes, it would flood local parks like Hidden Falls Park in St. Paul and Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis. Yet officials say the dam does need to be repaired soon, to prevent bigger problems down the road. What's next? The Army Corps says they'll continue testing the site and if they find more issues, they will have to fix the dam or replace it entirely, which will cost millions of dollars and shut down the Mississippi River waterway for years.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Ship Sinks Off Indonesia Killing Five
A ship packed with Afghan migrants sank off Indonesia's western coast early on Thursday, killing at least five people and leaving 17 others missing, the navy said. Al Muhfid, a second lieutenant, said fisherman rescued more than a dozen people from the water. The men, including several who were badly hurt, told authorities they wanted to seek political asylum in Indonesia because of the security situation in their homeland, he said. It was not immediately clear where the boat was headed.Indonesia is increasingly being used as a transit point for illegal migrants from war-ravaged countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. They typically continue on to Australia aboard cramped, barely seaworthy ships. The vast seas surrounding the archipelago are treacherous, particularly during high tides in the tropical rainy season. Muhfid said the five bodies recovered from the Malacca Strait were Afghans. The 17 missing included two Indonesian crewmen, he said.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
'Farewell' To Falklands Ship
HMS Exeter destroyed four Argentine aircraft during the 1982 conflict. The Type-42 destroyer also took part in the first Gulf War in 1991. It was employed as an escort for US battleships and minesweepers off the Kuwait coast.
HMS Exeter (D89)Falkland veterans will attend the decommissioning ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base, Hants, to mark the end of the vessel's 29-year career - which saw it clock up 892,881 miles. The Navy is replacing Type-42s with Type-45 Daring class destroyers.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Marines Target Al-Qaeda Camps In Afghanistan
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Tug Boat Missing Off North End Of Vancouver Island
A search is underway for a missing tug boat last seen eight days ago. The 45-foot tug, Gabriola, was last seen May 17 when it left Port McNeill for a logging camp in Kyuquot Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It did not arrive as expected May 19. The vessel and its sole occupant, a man in his mid-50s, were reported missing Sunday, according to Lt. (Navy) Paul Pendergast of the Victoria Joint Rescue Coordination Centre. Authorities have not released his identity, but Pendergast said the man is not familiar with the area. “We know he hasn’t sailed in the area,” Pendergast said, adding the tug boat is at least 50 years old.The rescue centre has dispatched three aircraft, including a CC-115 Buffalo fixed-wing and a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter. Two Coast Guard vessels are also assisting. “Right now we’re in the search phase and we have not found any evidence of this vessel, so it’s missing, it’s overdue and there are lots of possibilities when a vessel’s overdue,” Pendergast said. Although he is not aware of any major weather events in the past week, Pendergast said the seas in the area can be stormy ones. “Once you come around to the west side of Vancouver Island, it can be a treacherous area because it is exposed to the Pacific Ocean and there’s all the risks that would involve,” Pendergast said. The search will continue throughout the day, he said.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Louisiana Man, 18, Goes Overboard From Cruise Ship
The Coast Guard is searching for a man believed to have gone overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico. The Coast Guard say 18-year-old Bruce Okrepki reportedly went overboard from the Carnival Fantasy at about 9:45 p.m. Sunday, about 150 miles southwest of Tampa. Okrepki is from Louisiana but authorities aren't certain of his hometown. A search plane, helicopter and Coast Guard cutter were sent out to search. The ship had left New Orleans and was en route to Key West.
Keel Laid for Future USS Spruance
General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) laid the keel for the future USS Spruance (DDG 111) during a brief ceremony May 14 at the BIW shipyard in Bath, Maine. The 900-ton keel unit represents the first "ultra" module to be fabricated in BIW's Ultra Hall facility that opened last year. Ultra Hall stretches 1.5 acres and allows workers to complete construction, pre-outfitting and testing more efficiently and in a controlled climate. Ultra Hall has enabled BIW workers to complete installation of thousands of feet of cable, compartment air tests, water-tight door testing and pipe segment testing which are all normally completed in later stages of construction. The keel module is the most pre-outfitted and tested at this stage in construction to date. These advancements will be used in future Arleigh Burke- (DDG 51) and Zumwalt- (DDG 1000) class ship construction, which will ultimately lower production costs. USS Spruance will be the 61st Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer and the 30th built by BIW. The ship will be able to conduct a variety of operations from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection.USS Spruance will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare. The ship can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups or amphibious ready groups. The ship's combat system centers around the Aegis combat system and the SPY-lD(V), multi-function phased array radar. Bath Iron Works expects to deliver USS Spruance to the United States Navy in the fall of 2010. The Navy's Program Executive Office (PEO), Ships manages the development and acquisition of U.S. Navy surface ships and is currently acquiring 11 major ship classes and a variety of small boats and craft. These platforms range from major warships such as frontline surface combatants and amphibious assault ships to air-cushioned landing craft, oceanographic research ships and special warfare craft. Since its creation in November 2002, PEO Ships has delivered 31 major warships and hundreds of small boats and craft from more than 20 shipyards and boat builders across the United States.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
7 Rescued From Sinking Boat
A Rochester-area couple in the right place at the right time Saturday morning rescued seven people moments after their fishing boat sank about a mile off the Lake Ontario shoreline at Newfane. The 31-foot boat, which left the Newfane marina about 6 a. m., began taking on water about an hour later. There were five men and two women aboard the 1995 Baha cruiser, which was in water about 90 feet deep. Harry “Skip” Mogray and his wife, Linda, of Harry O Charters, were taking two couples fishing when they spotted the sinking boat about a mile off shore. “As we got a little closer, I said, ‘That boat is really low in the water. I don’t think they know they’re sinking,’ ” Linda Mogray said Saturday evening when The Buffalo News contacted her at her Webster home. As they got next to the cruiser, her husband offered help and told the passengers to get life jackets on. He threw a rope over to get them onto the Mogray’s charter boat.But the back end of the boat quickly filled up. “It just started to fill up so fast, there was no time,” Linda Mogray said. “They just swam out the back end, because it was filling up with water. Linda Mogray radioed for help. There was one man still inside the cabin, and everyone involved started yelling, “Get out! ” she said. The water was up to his shoulders, when he finally managed to slide open a window next to the steering wheel and swam out, she added. “The back end went down and the bow came up and the whole thing was like slow motion,” Linda Mogray said. Crews from the Olcott Fire Company and Niagara County Sheriff’s Office responded. Those who were rescued were treated for hypothermia once they returned to the harbor. No one was seriously injured, authorities said. The boat is owned and operated by Anthony LaRock of Newfane. He was not able to be reached Saturday night. The loss of the boat and its contents is valued at about $50,000.
Friday, May 22, 2009
New Zealand 'Ghost Ship' Floats Into Queensland Waters
New Zealand's "ghost ship" - an 8m yacht called Air Apparent that just kept on sailing - has arrived in Queensland 14 months after it was abandoned. It was abandoned on March 25, 2008 off the north coast of New Zealand when the crew reportedly "mutinied" and set off a distress beacon. It has finally been recovered by fishermen from Bowen, Queensland, 1400km away. The crew set off an emergency position indicating radio beacon - reportedly against the wishes of skipper and owner Bill Heritage - after the boat's battery died in 3m seas and 55km/h winds.The skipper and his three crew were all taken off the boat by a Northland rescue helicopter. On May 27 last year the Air Apparent was found drifting with its mast intact and its sail dragging in the water about 400km off New Zealand's North Cape. In October it was seen near Norfolk Island by a French naval ship, whose captain said it was like a "ghost ship". Mr Heritage said the boat was "rather the worse for wear".
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Boat Washes Up On Rocks In Sydney Harbour
Two people have been taken to hospital with minor injuries after their boat washed up on rocks in Sydney Harbour this morning. The nine-metre boat hit the rocks just before 6am at Dobroyd Head, near Balgowlah Heights, a police spokesman said.A police helicopter winched the two on board to safety and they were taken by ambulance to Manly Hospital, an ambulance spokesman said. No other details were available about the injured pair, or the circumstances that led to the boat washing up.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Minn. Appeals Court Looks At Ship Ballast Rules
The Minnesota Court of Appeals has begun weighing whether to uphold the state's ship ballast water regulations that are designed to keep invasive species out of Lake Superior. The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy has challenged the regulations because advocates think they are too lax and are taking too much time to implement. The regulations approved last fall by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency require by 2016 that all ships treat their ballast water before dumping it into the Minnesota waters of Lake Superior. New ships must comply starting in 2012. The rules also limit the number of organisms that new treatment systems can discharge as ships prepare to take on loads of taconite and other commodities at the Duluth port. Minnesota is one of several Great Lakes states that have decided to start regulating ballast water discharge, which is widely believed to be the main culprit in introducing hundreds of nonnative fish and other aquatic life to the lakes. Invasive species such as zebra mussels and sea lampreys disrupt the Great Lakes ecosystem and spread disease. Studies have shown they cost the regional economy billions of dollars. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has also started regulating the ballast water of oceangoing ships for the first time under the Clean Water Act, though many of the states' standards are more stringent. In oral arguments before a three-judge appeals panel, attorney Matt Norton of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy said Minnesota's rules should be rejected. The fact that new organisms could still legally be dumped into Minnesota waters means there's no guarantee that Lake Superior's current water quality will be preserved, he said.Unlike other pollutants whose effects are diluted when entering the lakes, Norton told the judges that invasive species can multiply and spread. That means any one species could wreak havoc on the lake with or without the new regulations, he said. The rules fail “to ensure and preserve existing water quality,” Norton said. In defending the MPCA's rules, Assistant Attorney General Robert Roche told the panel there's no question the new ballast regulations will improve Lake Superior, because there's currently no Minnesota rules on ships that discharge water into the lake. He described the rules as the most stringent “technologically achievable” regulations possible and said reducing the number of allowed organisms to zero wouldn't have the desired effect. “The technology, even to meet the (MPCA) standard, is still being developed,” Roche said. “There's no point in setting a lower number simply because it's lower.” As for the timeline, Roche said officials considered both the technology the available dry dock space for installing new treatment technology when deciding to give ships time to meet the standards. Roche urged the Court of Appeals to uphold the rules, saying an opposite ruling would only cause more delay. The panel has 90 days to rule on the ballast regulations.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Arrest Made In Deadly Migrant Boat Capsizing
Federal prosecutors have charged one of the survivors they plucked from the water last week with operating the smuggling boat that sank about 15 miles off Palm Beach County. He is 33-year-old Jimmy Metellus, a lawful, permanent U.S. resident of Haitian descent. Metellus is now charged with alien smuggling resulting in the death of another person - in this case, nine people. Prosecutors say one of the sixteen survivors identified Metellus as the operator of the boat that went down. According to the criminal complaint, it was, it appears, an ill-fated crossing from the start. The survivor told U.S. officials that their boat first ran out of gas - leaving them drifting for two or three days.A small plane spotted them, and a short time later a boat delivered fuel. They went back to the Bahamas, all spending the night at the home of a man identified only as "Shine", and then left the Bahamas again the next morning. Metellus, they say, agreed to run the boat instead of paying "Shine" about $4,000 to make the illegal trip as the others aboard had. Prosecutors say Metellus told them he had lost his proof of U.S. residency in a hurricane in Haiti, and felt this was his only way to get back to Florida. Metellus was in federal court to face these charges, but the judge wanted a Creole interpreter on-hand to eliminate any potential language barrier. He's being held without bond, and is scheduled to be back in court Wednesday.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Spy Ship Rescues Russian fishermen
A Swedish surveillance ship operating in the Baltic sea has saved two Russian fisherman from drowning, according to a report in Svenska Dagbladet. The incident occurred over the weekend off the coast of the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. The Swedish naval vessel Orion was conducting a surveillance operation on behalf of the National Defence Radio Establishment (Försvarets radioanstalt - FRA) when a look-out spotted something in Russian territorial waters.
HMS Orion (A201)It turned out to be a fishing boat containing two Russian fisherman in distress with their boat partially submerged in the water. The two stranded fisherman were then brought to safety by the Swedish vessel together with the Russian coastguard.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Russian Ship Impounded In UK Port
A Russian ship and its 12 crew have been marooned in a Bristol port for two months, the ship's agent has said. The OMG Kolpino was impounded at Avonmouth Docks because its St Petersburg-based owner, Oslo Marine Group, has outstanding debts. A second OMG vessel was also being held at La Pallice in France, it emerged. OMG Kolpino's agent, Michael Tree, said: "The crew are waiting to be paid. They have food and water. One or two of them have ventured out into Bristol."
OMG KolpinoHe added: "What's likely to happen is the courts will make an order which will allow the ship to be sold so the creditors can be paid. "When the crew are paid, they will be able to get tickets home and will be repatriated." He said the debts related to unpaid fuel costs from a previous voyage.