Thursday, December 31, 2009

Removal Of Oil From Sunken Ship Begins

A Chinese merchant vessel, Asian Forest, which listed off Mangalore coast on July 17, sank on July 18. The process of removing oil from it began on Tuesday, six months after it sank. The ship has approximately 400 tonnes of oil. The 18-member crew abandoned the ship on July 17. Some were rescued by the Coast Guard while some reached the shore on a life boat. When the ship sank six nautical miles (11 km) southwest off the New Mangalore Port, fishermen, the district administration personnel and the Coast Guard were apprehensive about the possible oil leak from it. The ship was carrying iron ore to Hong Kong. Deputy Commissioner V. Ponnuraj and Padam Shekhar Jha, Commander of the Karnataka Coast Guard, held a meeting on Tuesday about removing the oil from the ship. Wan Yet Fong, Assistant Salvage Master, SMIT, Singapore Pvt. Ltd., explained the steps being taken to remove the oil.
The Chinese merchant vessel, Asian Forest, which listed off the Mangalore coast on July 17 and sank on July 18.
He told the meeting that it would require 36 days to remove the oil from Tuesday. The company would adopt hot tap system to remove the oil. When Mr. Ponnuraj asked why they did not remove the oil much earlier, he said that visibility was poor during the monsoon. The Deputy Commissioner instructed a representative of the ship-owners to arrange for removing the wreckage at the earliest, as it posed a danger to other vessels. Chris Farmer, the representative, who initially evaded the question, finally said that it was a separate issue. Mr. Ponnuraj told presspersons that the administration would put pressure on the ship-owners to remove the wreckage at the earliest. He said that 12 of the 18 crew members detained by the administration had been released. The administration would have to rethink releasing the six members, if the owners did not come forward to remove the wreckage, he added. He said that the Directorate-General of Shipping had instructed the owners to remove the oil from it in August or September.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Soldiers Present Tractors, Combines To Iraqi Farmers

Rain, seeds and tractors are important factors in a farmer's life. Without all of those, growing and cultivating crops would be out of the question. The Soldiers of Task Force Marne made a trip Dec. 22, to Sununi to deliver new farm equipment to local farmers which should help them maintain and continue to produce plentiful crops. The Soldiers gave the farmers two large tractors as well as two mid-size combines. Because farming, a very essential contributor to Sununi's economic success, has been hard for the Sununi workers due to lack of farming supplies, the Provincial Reconstruction Team has been making plans since September to provide these farmers with as much support as possible. Lt. Col. Robert Bensburg, PRT, said his team was notified about the lack of functioning farm equipment in Sununi, as well as the rest of Ninewa Province, and decided it would be beneficial to lend the farmers a hand. "Agriculture in the province of Ninewa, including Sununi, is approximately 80 percent of the economic base here. It drives a lot of the economic development within this province," Bensburg said."We thought it would make a very important contribution if we could support that industry by purchasing these tractors for them."According to Capt. Brian Genze, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, helping the Sununi farmers is a big goal for the PRT and its Soldiers. "A lot of these farmers depend mainly on their crops for financial support. Lately due to droughts, a large percentage of them have not been able to produce as much as they are normally accustomed to," said Genze. "The shortage of crops led to less money which forced a lot of the farmers to sell their tractors in order to provide for their family." Genze also added the Sununi people are very independent and striving for financial success in their area. "Since we have been here, the people of Sununi have shown nothing but cooperation with us. On both ends we are doing everything in our power to continue building a great working relationship," Genze said. "We're helping the citizens as much as possible without making any dependencies."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cruise Ship Drops Anchor At Stewart Island

Resources are stretched on Stewart Island today with the arrival of a 61-tonne cruise ship. The Volendam dropped anchor early this morning with close to 15-hundred tourists aboard. About 850 of those passengers are expected to disembark.
MS Volendam
Manager of the South Sea Hotel Holger Lachmann says locals have been preparing for the onslaught and doing their best to prepare meals for all those who come ashore.He says most of the businesses about town seem to be coping and have been excited about the influx of visitors.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ship Carrying Two Members Of Bulgarian Antarctic Expedition Gets Damage In Drake Straits

The ship transporting part of Bulgaria’s Antarctic Expedition had a breakdown. The head of the 18th Bulgarian Antarctic Expedition, Professor Hristo Pimpirev, announced that a serious failure put the engine of the Spanish Las Palmas Ship out of service. There are two Bulgarians on board who return from our base of St. Kliment Ohridski base at Livingston Island. he main danger for the Bulgarian Antarctic expedition in the Drake Strait has gone, head of the Bulgarian Antarctic expedition Prof. Hristo Pimpirev told reporters.In his words the ship was in good condition when it set out, and about five days ago it transported five people of the Bulgarian expedition to the base. According to Pimpiriev Las Palmas ship is an old ship. During today’s trip the main engine of the vessel went out of service in the Drake Strait, where there was a strong storm. The sailing has continued with an auxiliary engine, which however, was unable to direct the vessel against the waves - and this was the main problem which exposed the crew to a serious danger. According to the Head of the Bulgarian expedition, however, the captain of the ship is experienced and has managed to bring it up to the Beagle Strait, where is quiet.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sailors Missing After Ship Fire Off Venezuela

Six Filipino sailors and three Greek officers are missing following a fire on board a Greek cargo ship off the Venezuelan coast. The Greek government says it's not immediately clear how the fire started, but it spread rapidly after breaking out on Friday in the crew's cabins on the bridge of the Aegean Wind, which was carrying iron from Brazil to Houston, Texas.The Greek merchant shipping ministry says the missing sailors and officers were part of a total crew of 24 - nine from Greece and 15 from the Philippines. The Venezuelan authorities have sent two patrol boats and two helicopters to help the vessel, while a Dutch ship is also nearby, the ministry says. The Aegean Wind is owned by Atlantic Bulk Carriers, based in the Greek port of Piraeus, near Athens, and run by the shipping magnate George Koumantarou.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ship's Anchor Cuts Cable Between La Linea And Ceuta

A Turkish ship has severed an undersea cable linking La Linea de la Concepcion, Spain, to Ceuta, one of the country's enclaves in North Africa, Efe reports. Maritime authorities have opened an investigation.According to port sources, Telefonica explained that a Turkish ship cut the cable close to the Spanish coast when it raised anchor. The operator, which is the process of repairing the cable, has requested information from Ceuta's maritime department with the intention of claiming damages.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Navy Accepts Future USS Independence

The Navy officially accepted delivery of the future USS Independence (LCS 2) during a short ceremony in Mobile, Ala. Independence is the second littoral combat ship delivered to the Navy, and the first LCS of the General Dynamics variant. LCS is a new breed of U.S. Navy warship with versatile warfighting capabilities, capable of open-ocean operation, but optimized for littoral, or coastal, missions. "Today marks a critical milestone in the life of the LCS 2," said Rear Adm. James Murdoch, the LCS program manager in the Navy's Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. "The Navy and our industry partners have worked diligently to deliver a much-needed capability." Prior to delivery, the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) conducted Acceptance Trials aboard LCS 2 on Nov. 13-19, and found the ship's propulsion plant, sea-keeping and self-defense performance to be "commendable," and recommended that the chief of naval operations authorize delivery of the ship following the correction or waiver of cited material deficiencies. Between now and sail away in February 2010, the contractor will correct most of the trial cards received during trials. Any remaining cards will be corrected during scheduled post-delivery maintenance availabilities including the post-shakedown availability scheduled for completion in 2011.
Delivery is the last shipbuilding milestone before commissioning, scheduled for Jan. 16 in Mobile, Ala. The LCS class is designed from the keel up to deliver efficient capability, capacity, and flexibility to the warfighter. Independence, a high-speed aluminum trimaran, is designed to defeat asymmetric "anti-access" threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft. The 417-foot Independence will be outfitted with reconfigurable payloads, called mission packages, which can be changed out quickly. These mission packages focus on three mission areas: mine counter measures, surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare. PEO Ships is responsible for the development and acquisition of U.S. Navy surface ships and has delivered eight major surface ships to the fleet since the beginning of 2009. PEO Ships is working in conjunction with its industry partners to achieve steady production for all programs to increase production efficiencies and leverage cost savings. Delivering high-quality war fighting assets ¯ while balancing affordability and capability ¯ is key to supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy and building the Navy's 313-ship force structure. PEO Ships is committed to delivering quality ships at an affordable price.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Woman, 20, On Freight Ship Gives Birth In Berth

A woman working on a German freight ship has given birth to a baby girl off the coast of Brazil, a Hamburg shipping company said yesterday. The young assistant officer and her daughter had been transferred to a hospital in the coastal town of Rio Grande, where they were both doing well according to the shipping company, Leonhardt and Blumberg.The 20-year-old woman had been working on board the container ship for two months, apparently without realising she was pregnant. On Wednesday evening, the woman contacted the captain of MS Maruba Simmons when she started having labour pains. The 43-year-old did his best to help with the birth, before emergency doctors arrived by helicopter on the ship, 50 km off the Brazilian coast. “Had we known that the woman was pregnant, she would not have been on board,” the shipping company said, adding that it was a lucky coincidence that the vessel was near the coast at the time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

India Flagged Cargo Ship Adrift In North Pacific

The Coast Guard says an India-flagged bulk cargo freighter with a failed engine is adrift in the North Pacific, being tossed about by stormy seas. Coast Guard Lt. Nate Johnson says the 740-foot ship has no cargo on board, making it unstable in the 30-foot seas about 540 miles southwest of Alaska's Adak Island.The Coast Guard is heading to the APJ Suryavir and Johnson says it is expected to reach the vessel early Sunday evening and will drop supplies including food and water. He says there are no reports of injuries among the 28 people on board. The ship ran into engine problems several days ago, but radioed for help only when the weather turned bad. The registered owner of the vessel is Apeejay Shipping LTD.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Coast Guard Towing Disabled Gloucester Boat

The Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba is continuing to tow the Gloucester-based lobster boat that was disabled with five people aboard more than 200 miles southeast of Nantucket, Mass. Ten to 15-foot seas and 38 mph winds are keeping the Escanaba's towing speed at about 4 mph. The crew of the Escanaba is working with the First District command center staff in Boston to determine the safest location to tow the Michael and Kristen to.
The master of the 77-foot lobster boat called for help when the boat's engines wouldn't start. The Rachel Leah, another fishing vessel in the area, answered the calls for help and began towing the Michael and Kristen. The Escanaba met both vessels and stayed with them through the night. The next morning the Rachel Leah's towline parted, so the Escanaba took over and the Rachel Leah departed.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Survivor Found Two Days After Ship Sinks

A 40th survivor has been found from a ship which sank in rough seas off northern Lebanon, even as officials said hope was fading of any more rescues. The latest survivor, a Filipino, was recovered on Saturday near Syria's Mediterranean coast further north, bringing to 40 the number of people rescued, with 11 dead bodies also found, as search efforts continued. "Syrian authorities found a survivor off the coast of Tartus aboard a raft, a Philippines national named Wilson Vincent," port authority chief Ahmad Tamer told reporters in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. "We have checked and his name was on the list. His condition is stable." But Tamer added that hope of finding any others was fading. Rescuer teams have been battling rough conditions in the hunt for survivors from the Danny F II, a freighter carrying 82 people, including an unnamed Australian, which went down in a storm on Thursday, with its British captain among those believed to have drowned. The search "is ongoing, but we've covered our waters, and sadly there don't seem to be any signs of more survivors or bodies", a Lebanese military spokesman told reporters on Saturday. Lebanese vessels with a medical crew and three boats of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) have taken part in the extended search. Syrian boats were also involved, as was a British helicopter from Cyprus. But officials were hesitant to say the 31 people still missing were presumed dead after two days of heavy winds and torrential rain. "It's hard to say what we can expect, as nearly 48 hours have passed," said UNIFIL deputy spokesman Andrea Tenenti. "We will continue for the day and hope that we will be able to find more survivors."The Lebanese Red Cross said the survivors in hospital were mainly suffering from "exhaustion, broken bones and concussion". Most of them were Filipinos, Pakistanis and Uruguayan, the military spokesman said earlier, adding that a Russian, a Ukrainian and a Lebanese were among those saved. The Danny F II capsized during a storm about 11 nautical miles off Tripoli after sending a distress signal. It had left Montevideo on November 29 with a consignment of about 10,000 sheep and almost 18,000 cattle bound for Tartus, north of Tripoli, but was forced to change course because of the bad weather. It was trying to reach Beirut when disaster struck, with the ship capsizing. The ship's operator, Agencia Schandy, told reporters in Montevideo that it had a crew of 76 and six passengers - four Uruguayans, one Brazilian and an Australian. Survivors, soaking and wrapped in blankets, were ferried into Tripoli aboard UN boats on Thursday and Friday, a news correspondent said. Others were helicoptered to dry land, suffering from extreme exhaustion. The storm had caused the vessel to "nosedive like the Titanic", 35-year-old survivor Nicholas Achard told Uruguayan radio El Espectador from his hospital bed in Tripoli. "The ship listed 16 degrees. We passed around life jackets and within half an hour it had sunk," the Uruguayan said. Another Filipino told rescuers that the British captain of the Danny F II, bound from Uruguay for the Syrian port of Tartus, went down with his ship. "He told us that the ship's engine went down and the captain sounded the alarm and told everyone to jump in the water," a rescue official quoted the survivor as saying. "He said that 10 minutes after they jumped, the ship overturned sideways in very high waves and sank with the captain still on board."

Four Dead As Cargo Ship Sinks In Stormy Waters Off Lebanon

Rescue workers combed the stormy waters off Lebanon yesterday after a cargo ship capsized, killing at least four crewmembers and leaving dozens missing. The Panamanian-flagged cargo ship carrying livestock went down Thursday in heavy rain. The Lebanese army said in a statement that about 40 people were still missing. Of the 83 crewmembers on board, 38 were rescued and four bodies were retrieved. The crew members were from Britain, Australia, Russia, Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Uruguay, the state-run National News Agency reported. Nicola Dazies, a political officer at the British Embassy confirmed there were two British citizens on the ship. Their fate is still unknown, she said. Dazies added that a British consular team was working with the Lebanese authorities on this matter.Rescue operations were continuing despite high waves. Red Cross workers helped several dazed survivors, covered in woolen blankets, into ambulances Friday; one man, unable to walk, grimaced as a rescue worker carried him over his shoulder. The rescue effort was being carried out by the Lebanese navy, UN peacekeeping force, two civilian ships and two British helicopters from Cyprus. The ship was believed to have been sailing from Uruguay to Syria, carrying thousands of sheep and other livestock. It went down Thursday afternoon some 17 km from the Lebanese port city of Tripoli. Andrea Tenenti, a spokesman for the UNIFIL peacekeeping force, identified the vessel as the Danny F II. Last week, a freighter heading to an Israeli port sank in stormy weather in international waters near the Lebanese coast. Six of its 12 crew members were rescued. That ship was headed from Greece to the northern Israeli port of Haifa.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Marines Clear Taliban Stronghold

Once an urban district and home to thousands, "The Greens," an area within the Now Zad region of Afghanistan quickly became a ghost town, when Taliban fighters procured the area from which to launch combat operations. With the Taliban in control and the civilian population gone, the area's alleyways were quickly laced with improvised explosive devices, its orchard's filled with bunkers and fortified fighting positions, and its adobe homes stocked with weapons caches and enemy fighters. While few coalition units have dared to enter The Greens, the Marines and sailors of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, did exactly that Dec. 8-9 as part of Operation Cobra's Anger. The Marines of Lima Co. moved swiftly to clear compounds, homes, alleyways and orchards, and it quickly became clear the Taliban had become complacent in the safety they believed The Greens provided them and were unprepared to deal with such an assault. "We went in there for our first time and there wasn't anybody occupying the area, but we did find a lot IED making facilities, [homemade explosives], pressure plates and stuff like that," said Lance Cpl. Stewart Heim, 20, a rifleman with Lima Co. "It definitely showed us the Taliban were occupying [the Greens], and using it as a centralized place between towns." Lima Co. also confiscated illegal drugs, Taliban propaganda and uncovered tunnel systems used by enemy fighters. "We found their tunnel systems which pretty much run throughout the whole Greens," said Heim, a native of Staunton, Ill. "So we've definitely seen that they have the capability to survive us dropping bombs on them."Lima Co. came to the area expecting their Taliban rivals to defend the ground they've controlled for many months. With the Marines rapidly chipping away at Taliban caches and exposing fighting positions, an attack by Taliban forces to save what supplies remained, seemed even more imminent. "Walking through The Greens was kind of iffy. You didn't know where you wanted to step, where to step, where not to step. You never knew what to expect around a corner," said Lance Cpl. Michael R. Evans, 19, a combat engineer attached to Lima Co., 3/4. "You'd open up a door and might see a chicken or a dog and it would surprise you since you knew there was nothing out there." Enemy fighters chose not to engage the Marines and instead left the dirty work for the many IED's positioned throughout the area. While the IED's were numerous, the Marines' sharp eyes, training and metal detectors were able to locate all devices encountered before they could inflict casualties. "We found them the way we should find them, instead of having someone stepping on them and having to be [medically evacuated]," said Evans, from McKenzie, Tenn. The Marines continued to push farther into the area, destroying IED's along the way, gathering information and slowly but surely, breaking the Taliban's reign over the area. After two days of defying Taliban threats and venturing farther and farther into the area, the Marines returned to friendly lines to refit and resupply. While many alleyways in the area remain to be negotiated, the Marines set an example for Afghan national security forces and coalition forces to follow, and energized the mission to rid Now Zad of Taliban influence and return it to the Afghan people.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Navy Marks Start On 3rd 9/11 Warship

A ceremony steeped in shipbuilding tradition kicked off major construction on a U.S. Navy assault vessel named in honor of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It is the second of three new Navy ships named for the sites of the Sept. 11 attacks. The USS New York entered service last month and the Arlington, memorializing the strike on the Pentagon, is under construction. At the Northrop Grumman Corp. shipyard near New Orleans, the keel of the Somerset - named for the Pennsylvania county where Flight 93 went down, killing all 40 passengers and crew members - was authenticated by the ship's sponsor, Mary Joe Myers, the wife of retired Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "Out of tragedy, we can now turn our focus to a tribute to those brave men and women of Flight 93," Myers said. The ship will "take the power and courage of the United States to the four corners of the world." Myers initialed a plaque stating the keel - the ship's basic foundation - has been "truly and fairly laid." Afterward, Northrop Grumman welder Lanford Bridges cut the initials into the plaque with a torch.
LPD 25 KEEL AUTHENTICATION - Mary Jo Myers, Somerset (LPD 25) ship's sponsor, inscribes her initials onto a steel plate at the ship's keel authentication ceremony at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding's Avondale facility.
The $1.2 billion vessel is expected to be delivered to the Navy in 2012. The Somerset is 684 feet long, is serviced by a crew of 350 sailors and can carry up to 800 Marines into assault operations. It has a flight deck that can handle helicopters and the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. Flight 93 had left Newark, N.J., for San Francisco when four terrorists commandeered the cockpit. Investigators believe terrorists crashed the plane as passengers rushed the cockpit, making it the only one of the four airliners hijacked that day that did not reach its intended target, believed to be Washington. "We continue to inspired by the selfless courage of those on Flight 93," said Gordon Felt, who lost a brother, Edward, in the crash. Felt is president of Families of Flight 93. The ship is a San Antonio-class amphibious dock vessel. The first five ships in the series - the USS San Antonio, USS New Orleans, USS Mesa Verde, USS Green Bay and USS New York - are in service. Three other ships in the class are under construction: Anchorage at the Avondale yard, and Arlington and San Diego at Northrop Grumman's yard in Pascagoula, Miss.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ship disaster: 5 More Survivors Found

Five more crewmembers of the Salla 2 ship that sank earlier Saturday were rescued, Haifa's Rambam Hospital said. One survivor rescued by NATO was taken to a Beirut hospital earlier.

11 Missing After Ship Sinks Off Lebanon Shore

U.N. and Israeli forces were searching Saturday for 11 crew members missing after an Israel-bound freighter sank in stormy weather in international waters about 50 miles off Lebanon, officials said. The Salla 2 was headed from Greece to the northern Israeli port of Haifa when it sank, the Israeli military said, adding that no foul play was suspected. Israel's military sent rescue helicopters and divers to search for survivors.UNIFIL, a force of U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon, received a distress call from the Togo-flagged vessel, SALA II, late Friday, said UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti. A UNIFIL vessel, Zafer of Turkey, set off to the location but the distressed ship sank before the rescuers arrived. Despite bad weather conditions, one crew member was rescued and is in stable condition, Tenenti said. All 12 crew members are Ukrainian nationals, U.N. officials said. Israel and Lebanon have tense relations that worsened after the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah militia.

USS De Wert Assists Iranian Dhow

USS De Wert (FFG 45) provided assistance to an Iranian fishing dhow experiencing problems in the Indian Ocean. U.S. Sailors aboard De Wert, as part of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151), received a distress call from the fishing dhow requesting a supply of fresh drinking water. De Wert crew members dispatched 10 personnel aboard a rigid-hull inflatable boat to assist the crew of the distressed vessel, and transferred 55 gallons of drinking water into the dhow's holding tanks.CTF 151 is a multinational task force conducting counter piracy operations to detect and deter piracy in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Red Sea. The task force was established to create a lawful maritime order and conduct Maritime Security Operations.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Navy Relieves Top Officers On Ship Over Relationship

The commanding officer of the dock landing ship Fort McHenry has been relieved of duty due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command, the Navy announced Friday. The action came after an investigation found that Cmdr. Christopher M. Stopyra had fraternized with a subordinate on the ship. The nature of the relationship was not described. The ship's executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Brian P. Goldschmidt, was also relieved because he had been made aware of the allegations but failed to take appropriate action, the Navy said. Stopyra received a nonjudicial punishment at captain's mast Thursday and was relieved of his duties. The ship returned from deployment earlier this week. "The relationship between the commanding officer and the subordinate caused an erosion of morale and good order and discipline among the officers and crew," said Rear Adm. Michelle Howard, the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group Two, in a news release.
USS Fort McHenry (LSD43)
Stopyra, who had been in command since May, was reassigned to administrative duties on the staff of Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic. He has been temporarily replaced by Capt. Skip Shaw. Stopyra is the second commanding officer this month to be relieved for circumstances involving fraternization. Last week, the C.O. and command master chief of the Norfolk-based destroyer James E. Williams were removed from duty after nine of their crew members were punished for fraternization that occurred on a recent deployment. Cmdr. Paul Marquis and Command Master Chief Timothy Youell were reassigned to administrative jobs. And at least one crew member is facing criminal charges for an alleged sexual assault reported while the ship was in the Mediterranean Sea. A second sexual assault, reported five days later, is still being investigated.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hey Sailor

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Good Problem For Deployed Marines

At E.C. Glass High School, the student council association started a drive for items to send to a platoon of Marines in Afghanistan. Student council coordinator and Spanish teacher Laurie Croft had thought the student government group might be able to collect enough items to fill three boxes. Instead the group was flooded with about 1,000 items, enough to fill 18 large flat-rate boxes. Now the organizers need to come up with roughly $360 in postage for shipping. "I can't say why they went above and beyond, but they really, really did," Croft said, explaining that the drive had to compete with a half-dozen other holiday fund drives and charity events going on at Glass, including the school's angel tree. She told the story of a boy in one of her classes, who had donated a $25 gift card he had received for his birthday to the Marines gift effort. The plan is to ship the packages on Thursday, so the gifts can make it to Afghanistan in time for Christmas, but that shipping date may be set back if the money cannot be raised in time. "If it arrives after Christmas, it's a great New Years present," said French teacher Emily Lukanich.Lukanich's brother is a Marine lieutenant, recently deployed with his company to Afghanistan. Lukanich explained that during a past deployment her brother noticed that while some of his soldiers got lots of packages from their families, other soldiers did not. He asked Lukanich and other members of his family if they would pitch in this time around and each adopt one of his company's platoons. Lukanich agreed to take on the 30-person heavy artillery weapons platoon. She brought up the idea with Croft, who in turn asked the members of the student council if they would sponsor the project. Lukanich said she comes from a military family and that her sister has also served in Iraq. She said that the items being sent over -- everything from baby wipes and hand sanitizer to hard candy and DVDs -- will be gratefully received in Afghanistan. "Just getting anything from the United States is a real morale booster," Lukanich said. "It's just knowing someone's looking out for them."

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Maryland Boaters Hurt By Flying Motor After Boat Crash

Two boaters were hospitalized after their boat hit an underwater object, causing an outboard motor to break free and hit one man. Maryland Natural Resources Police say 52-year-old Walter Ross of Havre de Grace was driving the 21-foot bass boat on the Susquehanna and was struck by the motor. Police say 44-year-old Willie Barrett was ejected.After the accident, Ross was able to call for help using his cell phone. Police say Barrett suffered serious injuries and was taken to Shock Trauma in Baltimore while Ross was taken to Bay View Hospital.

Monday, December 07, 2009

A Date Which Will Live In Infamy

Saturday, December 05, 2009

New Submarine USS Missouri To Be Christened Saturday

The Navy will christen its newest attack submarine USS Missouri (SSN-780) during a ceremony at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Conn. U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Becky Gates, wife of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, will serve as ship's sponsor. This is the fifth Navy ship to be named in honor of the people of the "Show Me State" and its leaders for their continuous support of the military. The last USS Missouri, a legendary battleship, saw action in World War II, the Korean War, the Persian Gulf War, and was also the site where Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and many other U.S. and Allied officers accepted the unconditional surrender of the Japanese at the end of World War II on Sept. 2, 1945.The seventh Virginia-class submarine, Missouri is built to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. Adept at operating in both the world's shallow littoral regions and deep waters, Missouri will directly enable five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence. Cmdr. Timothy Rexrode of Spencer, W.Va., is the ship's commanding officer and will lead a crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted personnel. The 7,800-ton Missouri is being built under a teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Newport News. She is 377-feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths of greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. Missouri is designed with a nuclear reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship - reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Air Force Changing Tattoo Policy

One week after the Air Force adopted a strict prohibition of tattoos on the "saluting arm," the new policy has been scrapped. A spokeswoman for the Air Force Recruiting Service in San Antonio, Christa D'Andrea, said the regulation that took effect Nov. 25 has been dropped and the entire tattoo policy will be reviewed. "It's an effort to standardize the policy for all members of the Air Force," D'Andrea said. As many as 17,000 recruits who joined under the delayed entry program were potentially affected by the ban on right-arm body art. The Air Force said it did not want tattoos to be seen when an airman salutes. The updated policy also prohibited tattoos on either hand.This week some recruits were told they had been disqualified under the new rule even though their tattoos had been approved under previous, more lenient guidelines. The tattoo ban was first reported Monday and generated national attention and controversy. D'Andrea acknowledged media coverage played a role in the decision to reconsider the tattoo crackdown. "It was unfortunate there were recruits caught in the middle," she said. Enlistees who were not able to begin basic training this week at Lackland Air Force base because of the new tattoo policy would be rescheduled for future dates, D'Andrea said.

Russian Tall Ship Kruzenshtern To Visit Vancouver During Olympics

The Russian tall ship Kruzenshtern will visit Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics. And if all goes according to plan, it will offer half-day cruises to the public for the duration of the Games. On Tuesday the four-masted barque, the second-largest of its kind in the world, weighed anchor from its home port of Kaliningrad and headed for Vancouver carrying the flag of the Sochi 2014 Winter Games organizing committee. The ship, with 120 cadets aboard, is scheduled to arrive at North Vancouver's Burrard Drydock on Feb. 10, according to Rocky Rocksborough-Smith of Triton Marine, the ship's B.C. agent. The ship will be open to public tours two or three days a week, said Roxborough, who is also hoping to obtain a temporary coastal trading license "to allow it to take the public for short cruises" into Howe Sound for a small fee. The use of the ship as a backdrop for the 2014 Olympics is part of an ambitious campaign by Sochi’s organizers to promote the next Winter Olympics after Vancouver. The Russians recently leased Science World at the head of False Creek as their hospitality centre, and they have made several high-profile visits to Vancouver in recent months.
The four-masted sailing ship Kruzenshtern (centre) sailing with other vessels.
"There's no reason for a Russian tall ship to be here in February except for the Olympics, and I can guarantee you it's 100 per cent here for the Sochi delegation," Rocksborough-Smith said. The ship will also act as a hospitality centre for Russian business and sports delegations, he said. "I've been told (Russian premier Vladimir) Putin will be here." The barque, built in Germany in 1926 and given to the Soviet Union in 1946 as part of war reparations, now belongs to the Baltic State Academy. Its visit to Vancouver is part of a six-month training expedition. In an interview with Russian newswire RIA Novosti, Tatyana Babushkina, a ship’s representative in Russia said the vessel will visit Belgium, Spain, Peru, Venezuela, Panama and other countries. At 51.3 metres tall, the Kruzenshtern is one of the the tallest sailing ships in the world and its height will force sailors to bring it into Vancouver's inner harbour at low tide. It will clear its masts under the Lions Gate Bridge by less than 10 metres. "There's no excess amount of room here," Rocksborough-Smith said. "If they pick the wrong tide, the pilot will be picking up the pieces."

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Winter Storm Hits Remote Coast Guard Station

The crew of Coast Guard’s Long-Range Navigation (LORAN) Station in Attu, is digging out after storm pounded the island with wind gusts of 178 mph and more than a one and a half feet of snow. The storm which brought sustained winds of 125 m.p.h. or category three hurricane winds and gusts that equal some of the strongest winds of a category five hurricane slammed into the island causing damage to the LORAN station with a communications antenna breaking from three of its securing mounts. The crew of the station has been busy making repairs and has spent more than 100 hours on snow removal.The winter wind storm arrived Saturday afternoon with the winds gradually growing to such a state that all personnel were restricted to the main building. "This high of a wind is fairly abnormal for us," said Chief Petty Officer Brad Schlenpitz the executive petty officer of the station, and a Jacksonville, Fla. native. "I arrived here last January, and this is the first time I have experienced anything like this." The LORAN station stayed operational throughout the storm. LORAN Station Attu is located at the western-most edge of the Alaskan Aleutian Islands. With twenty active duty personnel stationed there as a one year assignment.

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