Thursday, July 30, 2009

3 Rescued From Burning Ship Off WA Coast

Three people were rescued from a burning ship near the Strait of Juan de Fuca Wednesday evening. The Coast Guard reports the ship, called the Kemosabe, caught fire just north of Protection island.Video shows several fire boats and one private vessel at the scene. A private vessel picked up the three people. One person was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center with burns. The other two people were not hurt.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

US, Afghans Escalate War On Poppies

U.S. Marines and Afghan forces have found and destroyed hundreds of tons of poppy seeds, opium and heroin in southern Afghanistan this month in raids that a top American official said show the new U.S. counternarcotics strategy is working. U.S. and NATO troops are attacking drug warehouses in Afghanistan for the first time this year, a new strategy to counter the country's booming opium poppy and heroin trade. NATO defense ministers approved the targeted drug raids late last year, saying the link between Taliban insurgents and drug barons was clear. United Nations officials say Taliban fighters reap hundreds of millions of dollars from the drug trade each year, profits used to fund the insurgency. The U.S. announced last month it would no longer support the destruction of individual farmers' poppy plants, and instead would increase attacks on drug warehouses controlled by powerful drug lords - a wholesale change in strategy. U.S. Marines, British troops and Afghan forces supported by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration have increasingly targeted drug warehouses in Helmand and Kandahar provinces - the largest opium poppy growing region in the world. Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama's envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said early evidence indicates the new strategy is working. "This administration set out to reverse the counternarcotics program by de-emphasizing crop eradication and emphasizing interdiction," Holbrooke told The Associated Press on Saturday. "The forces in the south are actually making that a reality. It's a historic change if it's successful, and the first indications were very, very promising." Seizures made this summer illustrate the huge quantities of drugs the military can destroy.Marines in Helmand working alongside DEA-mentored Afghan police seized 297 tons of poppy seeds, 77 pounds (35 kilograms) of heroin and 300 pounds (135 kilograms) of opium in raids in mid-July. Some 1,200 pounds (550 kilograms) of hashish and 4,225 gallons (16,000 liters) of chemicals used to convert opium to heroin were also seized. Bomb-making materials, rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s were also seized, underscoring what the U.S. Embassy said was "the connection between drug trafficking and the insurgency." "We consider the link between narcotics trafficking and the insurgency to be a security and force protection threat, and therefore a legitimate target," said U.S. military spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker. "The narcotics industry has a corrosive influence across all aspects of Afghan society and inhibits our work to provide a secure environment." For years the U.S. strategy has centered on training Afghan forces to eradicate farmers' poppy fields by hand. But such efforts never destroyed a significant portion of the crops. Farmers complained that the program targeted small, helpless poppy growers and passed over more powerful landowners. And the forces came under constant attack by militants. Holbrooke said the U.S. efforts cost about $44,000 to eradicate 1 hectare (2.5 acres) of poppies. Overall the U.S. spent about $45 million a year on eradication, he said. Holbrooke has called eradication efforts a waste of money. Mohammad Ibrahimi Azhar, deputy minister of Afghanistan's Counter Narcotics Ministry, said that he was "very happy" with the new U.S. strategy but that his ministry would continue eradication efforts. He said farmers needed to be fearful their crops might be cut down. "Many years we have done this activity. If we stop, all 34 provinces would cultivate" poppies," Azhar said.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vessel With 200 Capsizes, 4 Dead

A boat with as many as 200 Haitian migrants has capsized off the Turks and Caicos islands in the Caribbean, killing at least four people, the US coast guard said early on Tuesday. The coast guard said it was attempting to help Turks and Caicos authorities rescue up to 70 stranded Haitian migrants, and that between 160 to 200 people may have been onboard the overloaded vessel when it overturned late on Monday. It said it airlifted four injured migrants via helicopter to an airport in Providenciales, while officials from the Turks and Caicos used small boats to rescue approximately 40 stranded migrants.As many as 20 additional migrants remained stranded on an ocean reef and were in the process of being rescued by coast guard and Turks and Caicos personnel early Tuesday, the coast guard statement said. US officials said an HH-65 helicopter from Air Station Miami was at the accident scene and searching for survivors and that the coast guard Cutter Valiant was en route to the site. A British-dependent island chain, the Turks and Caicos Islands are located about 160km north of Haiti.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Rare Fin Whale Discovered Wedged In Cruise Ship's Bow

A cruise ship arrived at the Port of Vancouver with a dead whale lodged in its bow. The 2,670-seater Princess Cruise Lines' Sapphire Princess was docked at the Canada Place terminal Saturday with the rare fin whale stuck to it. It wasn't immediately known when it arrived or when the collision occurred. Some tourists visiting one of the city's most impressive downtown destinations took pictures of the fin whale. Fin whales are second only to the blue whale in size - they are the second largest living animal.Several employees at Canada Place, home to the Vancouver Convention Centre and the Pan Pacific Hotel, also strolled over to stare at the animal. Princess Cruises' statement said: 'We were shocked and saddened by this discovery, and sincerely regret the circumstances which led to the whale’s death. 'We are not aware that any whales were sighted as the ship sailed through the Inside Passage to Vancouver yesterday. 'We take our responsibility to be good stewards of the marine environment very seriously, and have clear guidelines for our ships on how to operate if whales are sighted nearby, which include altering course and reducing speed as required.'

Friday, July 24, 2009

20 Rescued From Sinking Ship

Twenty crew members were rescued on Thursday off a bulk carrier before it sank off South Africa's west coast en route from Brazil to India, a marine rescue authority said. The captain of the Greek owned Ioannis NK reported at 6am that the carrier, with 22,500 metric tons of sugar onboard, was taking on water and listing, said Maritime Rescue and Co-ordination Centre spokesman Sarene Kloren.'Two air force helicopters were dispatched and all 20 crewmembers were safely evacuated to Saldanha Bay' north of Cape Town, Ms Kloren said in a statement. The carrier was drifting 98 nautical miles (181km) off Cape Columbine on the West Coast, near Saldanha Bay, and listing at a 45-degree angle before it sunk.

Sailor Charged In Camp Pendleton Shooting Death Of Seaman

A sailor was charged Thursday with fatally shooting and burning Seaman August Provost during an alleged burst of crime June 30 at Camp Pendleton. In announcing the charges, Navy officials suggested that Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Campos killed his victim indiscriminately. They again said there's no evidence of a hate crime against Provost, who was gay, or of gang-related activity. Campos, 32, of Lancaster, had served with Provost on Assault Craft Unit 5. He faces 16 charges, including murder, arson, unlawful entry, theft of military property and wrongful possession of a firearm, Capt. Matt Brown, a spokesman for Navy Region Southwest, said during a news conference Thursday afternoon at the San Diego Naval Base. The Navy hasn't announced a date for Campos' pretrial hearing, called an Article 32 hearing. “Our family is still in shock over what happened to August. We just want justice to be done, and we hope to one day understand why the killer would target someone as good and responsible as my nephew,” said aunt Rose Roy of Beaumont, Texas.
Seaman August Provost
“I'm not sure the charges will settle our questions about August being harassed or murdered for his sexual orientation,” Roy added. “We are waiting for more information from the Navy.” Brown said that 10 days before Provost was killed, Campos was cited for driving under the influence in Imperial Beach. The incident led to him facing administrative punishment from the Navy. Around the same time, Campos allegedly broken into a home and stole an Xbox video-game system, a pistol and other belongings. He is accused of using that pistol to shoot Provost, Brown said. On the night of June 30, Campos allegedly broke into the Assault Craft Unit 5 property and burned a landing craft. He then allegedly saw Provost, who standing guard at a sentry post, and shot him. Campos also is accused of setting Provost and the post on fire. A day after Provost died, Brown said, Campos allegedly recruited a civilian to kill a Navy master-at-arms and damage his home. The officer served in the same unit as Campos and Provost, Brown said. Provost had completed three yearsof college before joining the Navy in March 2008 to help finance his education.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Secret Program Works to Field SEAL Plane

In a move that harkens back to the days of recycled World War II torpedo bombers sheep-dipped as close air support planes, the Navy intends to field a limited number of turbo-prop attack planes outfitted with the most modern surveillance, tracking and weapons systems to help special ops forces keep track of bad guys and, in a pinch, put warheads on foreheads. Call it an A-1 Skyraider on steroids – a “Back to the Future”-resurrection of a kind of plane last seen pounding enemy positions with rockets, guns and bombs over Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the 1960s. Code named “Imminent Fury,” the classified, year-long program has so far produced one fully-outfitted plane and is set to field four more to directly support SEALs and other operators on the battlefield in Afghanistan. According to a source close to the program who declined to be named, the Navy has leased an EMB-314 Super Tucano for the job. Made by the Brazilian aerospace company Embraer, it is now being tested on desert ranges in California and the service’s top test facility at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. The Navy loaded it up with sensors and weapons systems that “would make an F-16 pilot blush,” the source said. With top end electro-optical and infrared sensors, laser and GPS-guided bombs, rockets, twin .50 cal. machine guns, encrypted radios – and even the capability to tie in UAV surveillance feeds – the Super Tucano outfitted for the SEALs is a ground-pounder’s angel from above. contacted the Navy for comment on this story, but despite a detailed public briefing on the program in March by a high-ranking program official, the service declined to elaborate on the program other than to say in a written statement: “Imminent Fury is a classified Navy initiative to address urgent warfighter needs. Initial developmental testing has been promising and the Navy is currently conducting discussions with our Joint partners on various courses of action as this initiative moves forward.”News of the Imminent Fury program comes as commanders in Afghanistan wrestle with the persistent problem of civilian casualties resulting from errant or mistaken bomb strikes – typically from aircraft high above the battlefield. A recent investigation report on a high-profile friendly-fire incident in Farah province showed that high-altitude B-1 bombers had little ability to discriminate enemy from civilians during several bombings in support of Marine spec ops forces under Taliban assault. Many argue that low-altitude aircraft that can fly for long periods over combat zones loaded with various weapons are needed to avoid such incidents. For advocates of the Imminent Fury program, the Super Tucano – with its five-hour endurance – fits the bill for a so-called “counter insurgency aircraft.” “The SEALs said ‘we want a persistent capability at low cost, small footprint and turbo-prop aircraft to do armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions,’ ” the source close to the program said. “Everyone who gets briefed on this program has been blown away. Over the past year, both Navy and Air Force pilots have flown the leased Super Tucano in tests. According to the source, the single-engine, two-pilot plane has successfully dropped both laser and GPS guided bombs, as well as a wide range of guided and unguided rockets. According to statistics from an Embraer brochure, the EMB-314 has a maximum speed of nearly 370 mph and a maximum ceiling of 35,000 feet. The plane can take off and land in just under 3,000 feet and can carry a maximum load of nearly 3,500 pounds. The initial cadre of four SEAL-supporting Super Tucanos will be flown by Navy pilots activated as individual augmentees, and multiple sources close to the program report that aviators are clamoring to get involved with the program. But it is still unclear whether Imminent Fury will get off the ground since funding for the program is in doubt. Sources say there is no money earmarked for the program in the 2010 budget but that the service “is hoping for some reprogramming authority” to move funds from other accounts to buy the four planes requested by the SEALs.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

'Warlords' Prepare for Afghanistan

In an effort to prepare them for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan, Marines from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, participated in a unique field training exercise aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., July 15, 2009. Patrolling one of Camp Lejeune’s urban training facilities, groups of 12-30 Marines of Company F, just as they would in Afghanistan, learned how to combat improvised explosive devices and hostile insurgents, while at the same time interact with Afghan citizens. Second Lt. Brian McGrath, the first platoon commander for Company F, said he believed the training is an important step in preparing the Marines for Afghanistan, so mistakes can be made in a training environment instead of oversees. What added to the realism of the exercise was the presence and participation of men and women of Afghan descent. This is a departure from earlier exercises where Marines had been role players. “This is getting us used to the culture differences between the Iraqi and Afghan people,” said Sgt. Jeremy Beaudette, a Company F squad leader. “They’re setting up the training to mimic what’s going on in Afghanistan.”Marines talked about the usefulness the Afghan natives brought to their training. “It’s better than last year,” said Lance Cpl. Anthony Ortiz, rifleman, Company F. “We have role players that are actual Afghans, not Marines playing Afghans.” During one group’s patrol, a loud blast broke the relative silence as pyrotechnics signified a simulated IED had been detonated. Arriving at the scene of the ‘explosion,’ the Marines found a simulated casualty. Lance Cpl. James Hofelich, a combat engineer attached to Company F lay with a mock head injury and covered in fake blood. As he wrapped Hofelich’s head in bandages, Pfc. Emmanuel Nunez, a 1st Platoon grenadier, spoke words of reassurance to the ‘injured’ Marine. “You’re talking to me, so that’s good,” said Nunez. You’re going to be ok.” The simulated casualty, coupled with the interaction between the Marines and the Afghan role players, enabled the Marines to place another tool in their kitbag in anticipation of their upcoming deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Cleveland Cruise Ship Docked After 1 Injured In Crash

A rough night for a popular Cleveland dining cruise could mean the cancellation of several upcoming events. The Nautica Queen slammed into a pier Monday night, injuring one passenger. The Coast Guard had concerns about the ship Monday morning, but the cruise went on and now there are questions about why.
An oil leak caused heavy smoke that knocked out the engines. While the boat was adrift, it hit the pier. One woman suffered bruised ribs after falling on the upper deck. The Nautica Queen is docked until it's repaired and gets clearance from the Coast Guard. There's a wedding scheduled this week on the Nautica Queen, but those plans are now up in the air, the general manager said.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Three Die In Tragedy As Boat Overturns

Three sailors died yesterday after a fishing boat with four men on board overturned at sea. A major search operation was launched when a member of the public saw the boat overturn off Ardnamurchan at around 5.10pm and raised the alarm. One man was rescued by the Mallaig RNLI lifeboat and taken to hospital where his condition is described as not life threatening. The lifeboat also picked up another man who died while the other two were recovered by helicopter.
Mallaig lifeboat
The boat overturned in the vicinity of Bo Fascadale, around a mile-and-a-half north of Kilmory, Ardnamurchan on the west coast of Scotland. The caller who spotted the incident said the vessel's upturned hull was visible among a sea of white waves towards the west of the island of Eigg. Two sailors were recovered by the Mallaig RNLI lifeboat and taken to hospital where one was pronounced dead on arrival. Another man was recovered by a Royal Navy helicopter while one was picked up by the Stornoway Coastguard helicopter.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Naval Academy Graduated Middie Mom-To-Be

In what may be a first, the U.S. Naval Academy graduated a pregnant midshipman on May 22, a move that ran contrary to policy that middies not marry or begin a family while attending the school. The academy, citing medical privacy, will not identify the woman, who received her commission and is now a Navy officer, according to Joe Carpenter, an academy spokesman. “Initial duty assignments are the responsibility of the Navy,” Carpenter said in an email to “For reasons of privacy, it would be inappropriate for the Naval Academy to discuss the details of this individual’s service assignment.” Carpenter did not say how far along in her pregnancy the woman was at the time of graduation, but said the academy became aware of the midshipman’s pregnancy in early May. According to the academy’s Midshipman Regulations Manual, a midshipman who becomes pregnant and chooses not to resign will be allowed to take a leave of absence for no more than one year. Those who become pregnant but do not resign or request the leave will be separated, the manual states.The same rules also apply to a midshipman who “incurs the obligations of parenthood,” so that a male midshipman would face the same choices. In this case, however, after the academy determined the midshipman would not be eligible to graduate and be commissioned, the woman submitted a waiver asking to be exempted from the policy, according to Carpenter. “That request was evaluated through the chain of command,” he said. “[Defense Department] and Navy leadership approved the midshipman’s request for waiver.” Carpenter said he did not know if there have been other instances of Annapolis graduating pregnant midshipmen. More than a decade ago, in what was then seen as a “softening” of Naval Academy regulations, midshipmen facing parenthood could request returning to the school after a one-year leave of absence if they gave up the child for adoption, according to a November 1995 Washington Post report. Before then, the report stated, female midshipmen had to choose between expulsion or having an abortion. Male midshipmen would have to deny paternity in order to remain at the school.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Northrop Grumman Lays Keel For Navy Ship

The keel has been laid for the Navy’s newest large-deck amphibious assault ship, three years after the contract to build it was announced. At a ceremony officials described it as a centerpiece for the Navy. Irwin Edenzon, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Gulf Coast, said the LHA 6 class will replace the aging Tarawa class of ships.
USS America (LHA-6)
He says this ship, the USS America, is scheduled for completion in 2013. He says it will be much like the recently delivered Makin Island, but will have more space for aviation components instead of a well deck for storing smaller vessels.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Abandoned Ship Sinks

The Chinese merchant vessel, Asian Forest — abandoned by its crew off Mangalore coast when it listed on Saturday afternoon — has sunk. It sank about 6 nautical miles (11 km) southwest of the New Mangalore Port. The Coast Guard sources said the officials in its fast patrol vessel, Kasturba Gandhi, who had kept a watch since Saturday night, had reported that it had submerged fully.Braving the rough weather, four Coast Guard officials continued to keep vigil around the area where it sank to see whether there was any leakage of fuel from the ship. Since the ships carried heavy load of fuel, any leak could harm undersea life and ecosystem besides posing health hazard to people along the nearby coast.

Qatar Police Officers’ Children Get Joy Ride On Coast Guard Patrol Boat

The Qatar Police Sports Federation organised a programme of events for children of police officers. They were taken on field trips to various public and private organisations. Over the last week, children aged between six and twelve, visited the headquarters of the Internal Security Force (Lekhoya), the Coasts and Borders Security Department, City Center and Al Jazeera Children’s Channel.The children were met by Lieutenant Khalid Mohamed al-Kubaisi at Lekhoya, where they were shown a documentary about the department’s work and were given a tour of vehicles, equipment and also shown police dogs. Children also joined the coastguard on a sea cruise before they visited City Center to participate in an ice-skating session. At Al Jazeera Children’s Channel, they visited a studio and learnt about creating television programmes. The programme will continue with sessions featuring other sports, cultural, recreational and educational courses such as swimming, judo, taekwondo, and other activities.

Friday, July 17, 2009

18 Crew Rescued In Mangalore

A Chinese ship carrying iron ore to China from New Mangalore Port today reported a distress call following bad weather. The ship was tilting over 30 degrees by evening and it might be matter of time before it capsizes. All the 18 crew members have been rescued including the captain Yang Seng Yang. According to the captain the ship MV Asian Forest was carrying 13,500 tonnes of iron ore to China and had departed New Mangalore Port on 17th morning, but when they reached some 30 nautical miles into the sea the ship had started listing (tilting) they immediately radioed back the port that they were coming back for correction of the listing. But when they were 7 nautical miles from the port the ship had already listed 28 degrees which was beyond correction at that point. The captain then sent an SOS to the port. The Coast Guard was alerted and immediately the coast guard ship went to the spot and evacuated five crew members including the captain while the other crew had managed to lower the life boats and arrive at the new Mangalore port. The ship was precariously poised even when this report was filed.According to the port officials the Hong Kong registered ship had been in the anchorrage for seven days after arriving from China on 7 July and had berthed at the port only on 14 July. After loading cargo, it had set sail on Friday morning. Later speaking to the presspersons the captain of the ship said we knew about the listing of the ship right from the first degree but the turning around at 30 nautical miles was not easy and it took away so much precious time. We investigated into the reason for listing and found out that the iron ore had inadvertently gathered some water due to the excessive rains during the berthing which had caused the tilting of the ship when it reached into the sea.The owners of the ship have already informed the slavers and a representative of the insurance company was already in Mangalore and was assessing the situation. The insurers have also claimed that the cargo and the ship will be salvaged to the extent possible and if possible the ship will also be corrected for its listing. The Coast guard had evacuated the captain and five other crew while 12 others took the life boat of the ship under the order of the captain and arrived at the new Mangalore Port. It can be recalled that Erithrian ship Den Den capsized off the Thannirbavi coast which claimed three lives while 21 sailors were rescued. In the second incident, Cheng Le Men, which was carrying iron ore to China had listed off the port after it left the port in September 2007.

Dubai-Bound Ship Runs Aground Near Karwar

A Dubai-bound commercial ship with 11 crew members, including six Indians, on board today ran aground off the Karwar coast. The ship travelling from Malaysia to Dubai was carrying 10 crew members, including six Indians, three Iranains and a Siberian national, in addition to the captain, Karwar Port Director Mohan Raj Gatta said.The authorities deployed tugs and launched operations to rescue the crew, he said.The ship M B Shaheen, carrying fuel and lubricant oil, is owned by Five Flower Trading Company of Obalali state of Dubai, Gatta said.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Somali Pirates Abandon Indian Ship, Crew Unharmed

Somali pirates have abandoned an Indian ship after using it to attack an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden. A European Union anti-piracy force said pirates who hijacked the Indian dhow earlier this week abandoned the ship Wednesday and left its 14 crew members unharmed. Naval officials said the pirates left the ship about 24 kilometers off the Somali coast. After hijacking the Indian dhow, the pirates used the ship in a failed attack on a Liberian-flagged supertanker on MondayThe EU naval force said one of its helicopters helped stop the attack. Somali pirates have hijacked dozens of ships over the last two years, often receiving ransom payments of more than a million dollars for a ship's release. The United States, China, NATO and other world powers are conducting naval patrols off the Somali coast in an effort to protect commercial shipping. The hijackings have tailed off in recent weeks because of monsoon rains in the Gulf of Aden and eastern Indian Ocean.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

DoD May Say 'Snuff 'Em If You Got 'Em'

A proposed ban on tobacco would end sales on U.S. military bases and prohibit uniformed soldiers from smoking, even in combat, authorities said. The ban was proposed in a study commissioned by the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs, USA Today reported. The study, which recommends phasing out tobacco products during a 5- to 10-year period, said tobacco use impairs military readiness and can cause lung cancer and cardiovascular disease, CNN reported Sunday.While any final decision rests with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, many in uniform would oppose such a ban, said retired Gen. Russel Honore, known for his ever-present cigar when he coordinated military relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. "When you're tired and you've been going days on end with minimum sleep, and you are not getting the proper meals on time, that hit of tobacco can make a difference," Honore said. One in three U.S. service members uses tobacco, compared with one in five adult Americans overall, the VA said, noting combat veterans are 50 percent more likely to use tobacco than soldiers who haven't seen combat.

Body In Boat May Be Missing Gibraltar Angler

A body believed to be that of a missing Gibraltar fisherman was found in the cabin of his capsized boat today on the Detroit River near Lake Erie, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. "(The capsized boat) was found about 10:30-11 p.m. last night about 11 miles off Sterling State Park in Canadian waters," said U.S. Coast Guard Petty officer Ryan Alexander.A dive team discovered a body inside the cabin. The 47-year-old Gibraltar man was reported missing by family members Monday when he didn't return home from a fishing trip the day before, he said. The Coast Guard units at Belle Isle and Toledo began a search with air support from Detroit. The Ontario Provincial Police, which assisted in the search, are investigating. The man has not been identified.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

US Warship In Georgia For Joint Exercises

A US warship arrived in Georgia's Black Sea port of Batumi Tuesday for the first joint exercises between the two countries since the former Soviet republic's war with giant neighbour Russia. Georgian coastguard personnel and locals welcomed the USS Stout crew at the Batumi pier at a ceremony including traditional Georgian folk dances, an news correspondent reported. The joint exercises with the Georgian coastguard were to begin on Wednesday. While the exercises are with the coastguard -- part of the interior ministry and not the Georgian military -- the manoeuvres risk further inflaming resurgent tensions with Russia. US warships made frequent calls to Batumi in the aftermath of the August war with Russia but this the first time since then that the United States and the small pro-Western state have held a joint exercise. Russia has repeatedly questioned the need for such port calls, questioning Washington's motives for sending battleships into the Black Sea.
A Georgian policeman stands by the USS Stout
Georgian officials said that the exercises would involve fire-fighting practice and similar moves but emphasized there would no firing. "US Navy regular visits to the Black Sea demonstrate the US commitment to Black Sea regional stability and maritime security," the US embassy to Georgia said in a statement. USS Stout Commander Marc Oberley told journalists: "This visit and the combined training demonstrate US and Georgian commitment to work together, to cooperate and maintain a maritime security." The exercises "will develop all the participants' ability to operate with each other and ensure a safe maritime environment," he added. Georgia and Russia remain at loggerheads over Moscow's recognition last year of its breakaway regions as independent and tensions have increased over the last weeks as Russia held war games close to Georgia. On Monday, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili slammed a visit by his Russia counterpart Dmitry Medvedev to the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia as "one of the most shameful pages in Russia's history".

Monday, July 13, 2009

Navy Accepts Delivery of USS Meyer

The Navy officially accepted delivery of the future guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) July 10 from General Dynamics-Bath Iron Works (BIW) during a ceremony in Bath, Maine. Wayne E. Meyer is the 56th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and carries the 100th Aegis Combat System. The ship completed a combined builder's and acceptance super trial June 12 after spending four days at sea off the coast of Maine. "The ship performed well for the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey," said Capt. Pete Lyle, DDG 51 class program manager in the Navy's Program Executive Office, Ships (PEO Ships). "Our industry partners continue to deliver the highest quality assets to our warfighters. These ships are a perfect example of the cost and schedule efficiencies realized from steady-state production in shipbuilding." The ship will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. Wayne E. Meyer will be capable of fighting air, surface and sub-surface battles simultaneously and possesses multiple offensive and defensive weapons systems designed to support maritime warfare.Designated DDG 108, the new destroyer honors retired Navy Rear Adm. Wayne E. Meyer, who led the development of the Aegis combat system for the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers. In 1963, then-Secretary of the Navy Fred Korth chose Meyer to lead a special task force for surface guided missiles. Meyer turned down a destroyer command to continue his work with missile, radar and fire control systems. His experience laid the groundwork for the success of a prototype Aegis radar weapons control system in 1974. Meyer served as the Aegis program manager 1975-1983. The future Wayne E. Meyer is scheduled to be commissioned this fall in Philadelphia, Pa. PEO Ships is responsible for the development and acquisition of U.S. Navy surface ships and is currently managing the design and construction of a wide range of ship classes and 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. PEO Ships has delivered 32 major warships and hundreds of small boats and craft from more than 30 shipyards and boat builders across the United States.

Keel to be Laid for Third LCS

The keel for the future littoral combat ship, USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), will be laid July 11 during a ceremony at Marinette Marine Shipyard in Marinette, Wisc. Keel-laying has traditionally been the first step in ship construction, when shipbuilders laid down the lengthwise timber that would become the ship's backbone. During the scheduled event, a shipyard welder will attach the future ship's plaque to the keel, and U.S. Rep. Kay Granger will confirm that the keel was laid "straight and true." "Starting construction on the third ship is an exciting milestone to reach," said Capt. Jim Murdoch, LCS program manager within the Navy's Program Executive Office, Ships. "Reaching the Navy's goal of a 55-ship class depends on getting LCS into serial production, which will lead to high quality ships being delivered to the fleet on cost and on schedule." LCS is a new breed of U.S. Navy warship, capable of open-ocean operation but optimized for littoral or coastal missions. Operational experience and analyses indicate that potential adversaries will employ asymmetric means to deny U.S. and allied forces access into critical coastal regions, such as strategic chokepoints and vital economic sea lanes. LCS is specifically designed to defeat such "anti-access" threats, which include fast surface craft, quiet diesel submarines and various types of mines.Fort Worth is expected to be delivered to the Navy in 2012, when she will join sister ships USS Freedom (LCS 1) and USS Independence (LCS 2). Freedom was commissioned by the Navy in November 2008. Independence is currently undergoing builder's sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico and is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy later this year. A contract was awarded to General Dynamics-Bath Iron Works in May for the construction of LCS 4, the future USS Coronado. The future USS Fort Worth, named in honor of the Texas city, will be 378 feet in length, have a waterline beam of 57 feet, displace approximately 3,000 tons and will make speed in excess of 40 knots. PEO Ships is responsible for the development and acquisition of U.S. Navy surface ships and is currently managing the design and construction of a wide range of ship classes and 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. PEO Ships has delivered 31 major warships and hundreds of small boats and craft from more than 30 shipyards and boat builders across the United States.

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