Thursday, January 28, 2010

Marksmanship Program Could Go Armywide

An advanced rifle marksmanship concept developed at Fort Benning based on "lessons learned" in Iraq and Afghanistan might be instituted across all Army training centers later this year, officials said. Col. Terry Sellers, operations officer for the Maneuver Center of Excellence, said Combat Familiarization Fire, or ARM 6, has not been formally added to the Army program of instruction, but that could happen around May as part of an overall POI review. New lesson plans are being drafted for the marksmanship field manual to include the CFF version standardized here. "Some leaders have been taking different variations of this initiative and philosophy to operational units elsewhere for the past year-and-a-half," he said. "The goal is to make it one standard for all the training centers ... A lot of people want to help make the strategy better, but we're making sure the formal lesson plans match what's being done." CFF is the culmination of a Soldier's marksmanship training from basic to advanced, said Capt. Ron Reed, the 198th Infantry Brigade's operations officer. For about a year, it's been taught to infantry Soldiers in one-station unit training and basic training with the 198th and 192nd Infantry brigades. "It was implemented in response to lessons learned in theater," Reed said. "It's intended to give a realistic experience for a Soldier deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan ... (Soldiers) learn the fundamentals and apply them. They are thinking about their next firing position, how many rounds they have to fire and time management under the stress factor of a full-combat load. Plus, the training factors in the weapon malfunction." Within the program, Soldiers fire from behind barriers at pop-up targets 50 to 300 meters away, Reed said. They have 30 rounds, and a dummy round is inserted into each of the three magazines to simulate a malfunction. Shooters must hit 16 of 26 targets.In normal rifle qualification, Soldiers fire from a known distance in various predetermined positions. During CFF, they qualify in full combat gear using the barriers to move to and from different points. The Soldiers also choose the position - prone, kneeling, sitting or standing - they want to fire from based on where the target appears. Before CFF's inception, basic trainees and infantry OSUT Soldiers were not exposed to advanced rifle marksmanship, said Staff Sgt. Adolfo Adame, a drill sergeant with D Company, 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment, which recently completed the training. They only had to go through M-4 qualifications. "This style is much better because it's what they'll see in an urban environment like Afghanistan or Iraq," Adame said. "It's going to take more than one round to take down an individual that's coming at them or shooting at them ... Now, you got a thinking Soldier on the ground who understands, 'I need some kind of cover to engage the enemy and not just stand out in the open and get hit.'" Pvt. Brian Jackson of D Company said CFF was beneficial as he learned about the firing tactics used in combat. "The drill sergeants are giving us a lot of knowledge about their experiences overseas. What we're doing here is what it's like ... so I feel I'll be prepared when I leave," he said. "The other firing experiences we had were getting us used to the weapons. Here, you're actually having to take cover and pop up, with targets coming back up after firing." Sellers said CFF emphasizes improvisation while building agile, adaptable, flexible Soldiers. The strategy speeds their development ahead of a combat deployment by mixing complexities with existing standards, he said. "We got feedback from the field in Iraq and Afghanistan that the training centers needed to do a better job training Soldiers so they can integrate immediately upon arrival and have some idea of what they'll see in a combat environment," Sellers said. "We're now getting benefits from the confidence and competence of these kids being able to use their weapons more effectively."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cargo Ship Loses Containers Off Key West

The U.S. Coast Guard is warning vessels of an unseen navigational hazard about 30 miles south of Key West. The area is where a cargo ship lost approximately 30 containers when its load shifted while at sea on Monday.Seaboard's "Intrepid" was brought to the Port of Miami for repairs with the rest of the containers teetering precariously on the ship's deck.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

11 Evacuated From Stricken Russian Ship

Rescuers evacuated 11 people by helicopter yesterday morning from a Russian cargo vessel stranded in icy waters off the coast of eastern Russia, an official said. Russian officials say the evacuees have been flown on a privately owned helicopter to the town of Nogliki on nearby Sakhalin Island, which lies to the north of Japan. The Smolninsky refrigerated ship was battered by heavy winds on Friday, freezing it over and causing the vessel to list dangerously to its port side in the Sea of Okhotsk, which separates Russia's Kamchatka peninsula from the mainland.The Sakhalin rescue center's spokesman, Nikolai Ivanov, said the Smolninsky still has 20 crew members on board and is making slow progress to safer waters closer to the shore, some 55 kilometers away, in the hope of saving the vessel. The Smolninsky collects fresh fish from local boats and delivers the catch to local ports, cleaning, processing and canning en route. Ivanov said he had no information about whether the evacuees were fisheries workers or crew members. An icebreaker is sailing in the vicinity of the Smolninsky to ensure the safety of the crew.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Collision Causes Oil Spill At Texas Port

Roughly 450,000 gallons of crude oil spilled at the Port of Port Arthur when a 600-foot tanker collided with a towing vessel pushing a loaded barge, the U.S. Coast Guard said. The collision occurred on Saturday, leaving part of the port closed but no reported injuries.
A 15-by-8-foot hole was left in the tanker, the Coast Guard said. A portion of the oil in the damaged tank was moved to another holding tank on the ship to prevent more oil from spilling, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Renee Aiello told reporters. The towing vessel ricocheted and hit another tanker was was tied to a pier.

98-Foot Ship Runs Aground In Manatee County

The Coast Guard rescued seven people early this morning from a 98-foot commercial vessel that ran aground in Longboat Pass. No one was injured in the incident. At 3 a.m., Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg Operations Center received a report from Winston Knauss, the captain and owner of the Sir Winston.According to a release: Kanuss told the Coast Guard that the vessel was taking on water. Because of the dense fog conditions, a tow boat could not be deployed, so the Coast Guard's Station Cortez sent a 25-foot response boat out to the Sir Winston. The rescue boat arrived on scene at 3:38 a.m., and its crew was able to safely transfer the thee women and four men off the grounded vessel and back to Coast Guard Station Cortez. The Coast Guard is currently assessing the condition of the Sir WInston with a marine inspection and investigation team. No pollution has yet been reported as a result of the grounding.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

First Woman Becomes Provost Marshal

Brig. Gen. Colleen L. McGuire assumed responsibility as the first woman provost marshal general of the Army and also took command of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command in a ceremony at Fort Belvoir. McGuire succeeds Brig. Gen. Rodney L. Johnson, who is retiring after 33 years of service. She assumes the Army's top law-enforcement position after serving since March as head of the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. McGuire is the 10th commander of CID since it was first established as a major command Sept. 17, 1971, and the 13th provost marshal general of the Army since 1941. She is the first woman in both positions. Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli hosted the ceremony at Well's Field House on Fort Belvoir and during his remarks noted how the Army's military law-enforcement team contributes to the Army mission, in theater and worldwide. "You [Army law enforcement] should be incredibly proud of all that you have accomplished on behalf of your Army and our Nation," Chiarelli said. "You have a significant and lasting impact. However, much work remains to be done. And, I absolutely believe Brigadier General Colleen McGuire is the right person to lead you in the challenging days ahead. She is a proven, gifted leader - both in garrison and combat." McGuire most recently served for about two years as the director, Senior Leader Development Office, Office of the Chief of Staff, Army, while also leading the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force established 10 months ago. She assumes command of CID as the organization enters its 39th year as the Army's premier investigative agency for felony-level crime. "I am honored to be given this privilege to command and lead," McGuire said. "The greatest honor for any Solider is to command the sons and daughters of America. It is a particular honor for me, a military police officer, to command at this level in a time of war." Following the change-of-command ceremony, McGuire took the oath to assume responsibilities as the Army's provost marshal general. The position was first established in 1776 during the Revolutionary War, but was abolished after the war. During its long history, it was usually established during major combat, but discontinued shortly after the conflict was over. In line with history, the secretary of the Army at the time, Thomas White, approved the re-establishment of the office, effective Sept. 26, 2003, during the Global War on Terrorism. McGuire concluded her comments with a reminder to all that the work of the Army's law-enforcement team is never done.
Brig. Gen. Colleen McGuire accepts the organizational colors from Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, symbolizing her assumption of command of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.
"We are truly an expeditionary force," she said. "Our military police, criminal investigators, corrections experts, civilian police and support team need to maintain their edge under conditions of uncertainty and change regardless of the operational environment. To do that, we need to be, and will remain grounded and pure in our doctrine, our organizations, our training and our operations." McGuire is a 1979 graduate of the University of Montana where she was commissioned in the Military Police Corps. During nearly 30 years of active service, she has been assigned in key command and staff billets from platoon level to the Army staff. Her initial assignment was to Germany where she served as a platoon leader, company executive officer, and battalion logistics officer with the 709th Military Police Battalion. In March 1989 she began her first of multiple tours in the Washington, D.C. area when she was assigned as a staff officer in the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, Pentagon, and later, as the Battalion operations officer, Law Enforcement Battalion, Fort Belvoir. In 1998, McGuire assumed command of the 705th Military Police Battalion, Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Following battalion command and senior service college, she returned in 2002 to Fort Leavenworth and served as brigade commander at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, followed by a tour as the assistant commandant, U.S. Army Military Police School. Following her tour at the Military Police School, McGuire served an 18-month deployment as the provost marshal of Multi-National Corps-Iraq. Her most recent tour in Washington began with service as the chief, Colonels Management Office, Senior Leader Development, Office of the Chief of Staff, Army. McGuire's deployment experience also includes service as the public affairs officer for Joint Task Force-Somalia. McGuire is a graduate of the Military Police Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Command and General Staff College, the Public Affairs Officer Course, and the Army War College. She holds a master's degree in Military Arts and Science from the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and a master's degree in Strategic Studies from the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pa. McGuire's awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit with two oak-leaf clusters, the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with four oak-leaf clusters, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with three oak-leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with three oak-leaf clusters, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Senior Parachutist's Badge and the Army Staff Identification Badge.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Towboat Strikes I-155 Caruthersville Bridge

A towboat traveling on the Mississippi River struck the I-155 Caruthersville Bridge around 4:45 p.m. between Dyersburg and Caruthersville, Mo. The boat was towing 20 barges filled with grain and the impact caused all of them to become adrift down the river. Petty Officer Sneller of the United States Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi River said there were no reported injuries and all of the barges were retrieved after the incident. The barges' cargo did not pose an environmental hazard since they only contained grain. River traffic was shutdown, but was reopened around 6:30 p.m.After the accident, the Tennessee Department of Transportation closed traffic traveling over the bridge while it was inspected for structural damage. The bridge was reopened just after 8:30 p.m. The Tennessee Highway Patrol, Dyersburg Police Department, Dyer County Sheriff's Department, Dyer County Rescue Squad and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency all responded to the situation. Sneller said there would be an investigation by the USCG to determine the cause of the accident. Also, the boat, barges and cargo would be inspected. The capabilities of the crew will also be examined.

Monday, January 18, 2010

CG Ice Breaking Ops All Wrapped Up

Ninth Coast Guard District cutters concluded a busy week of ice breaking operations on the Great Lakes, with a majority of this week's operations occurring on the Lake St. Clair River system. A combination of five U.S. Coast Guard cutters broke paths for nearly 20 commercial vessels in the Lake St. Clair River system, which includes Lake St. Clair and the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers. All of the cutters opened channels and ensured the delivery of critical supplies of food and heating oil. This week, Jan. 11-15, 2010, the Coast Guard facilitated approximately $80 million in commerce vital to the Great Lakes economy. In particular, Coast Guard cutters on Jan. 12, 2010, assisted freighters carrying 300,000 tons of cargo with an estimated value of $20 million. "The ice choked up the St. Clair River this year much sooner than usual, and we recommended that shippers not transit without a Coast Guard escort," said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Donahue, Chief of Domestic Ice Breaking, Ninth Coast Guard District. "At the end of the day, it's all about getting people their product there safely."
Stern view of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Neah Bay as it breaks a path through the ice.
U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Neah Bay, homeported in Cleveland; Penobscot Bay, homeported in Bayonne, N.J., but temporarily homeported here for the winter; Hollyhock, homeported in Port Huron, Mich.; the Bristol Bay, homeported in Detroit, and the Mackinaw, homeported in Cheboygan, Mich., coordinated operations to create navigable tracks for commercial vessels to transit. The commercial vessels then transited one after another in an order determined by each vessel's horsepower. All five cutters were underway in support of Operation Coal Shovel, which encompasses southern Lake Huron, St. Clair/Detroit River systems and Lakes Erie and Ontario, including the St. Lawrence Seaway. Operation Taconite, the other ice breaking mission on the Great Lakes, encompasses Lake Superior, the St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac, Lake Michigan and northern Lake Huron. The Coast Guard Cutters Katmai Bay and Biscayne Bay, under Operation Taconite, assisted the towing vessel Algocanada, while the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon assisted the Neebish Island Ferry. Operations Coal Shovel and Taconite are based on the statutory authorities of 14 USC 2, 14 USC 88 and 14 USC 141. Both direct ice breaking resources to the highest priority areas and missions based on the most current ice conditions.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Turkish Navy Rescues Indian Ship From Somali Pirates

A Turkish frigate Saturday staved off an armed attack on an Indian commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden and captured six pirates, the Turkish army said here. The M/V Jal Layak came under machine gun fire as it was sailing 105 miles (195 kilometres) off shore through the warship-patrolled transit corridor that vessels are encouraged to use for safe passage, the army statement said.
TCG Gokova (F496)
Turkish frigate Gokova, a member of the NATO anti-piracy mission, foiled the attempt to hijack the ship in an operation also involving a helicopter and amphibian commandos. The six assailants were "rendered ineffective" and a search of their skiff resulted in the seizure of equipment used in piracy attacks, including a machine gun and knives. An international flotilla of warships has been patrolling the piracy-plagued Gulf of Aden, one of the globe's busiest maritime trade routes, since 2008.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cargo Ship Runs Aground In Leyte

A cargo ship ran aground in Tolosa, Leyte Friday night, a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) report said. The PCG said the Leyte bound MV Tomi Elegance, which sailed from Surigao, hit the shores of Barangay Telefagro around 8:30 p.m.The ship was carrying copra which was supposed to be delivered to Crude Coconut Oil Processing plant in Barangay Opong. Crew members refused to explain why their ship ran aground. Nobody was killed or injured in the incident.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Airman Follows Famous Uncle

When Airman Christopher Platte decided to join the Air Force last year, he didn't know he would be following in famous footsteps. Graduation from Basic Military Training here Dec. 11 capped a two-day whirlwind for Platte that included rare time spent with his great uncle, retired Air Force Capt. Claude Platte, an original Tuskegee Airman. BMT graduation was the first time since he was an infant that Platte had been with his famous uncle, who helped break down racial and educational barriers by becoming one of the first African American officers trained and commissioned in the newly reopened Air Force pilot training program at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, in the 1940s. The younger Platte found out about his uncle after telling his family he wanted to join the Air Force. He first spoke with his great uncle in November 2008, he said. "I talked to my mother about [joining the Air Force] and she said, 'Oh, by the way, you have a great uncle who is a Tuskegee Airman,'" Platte recalled. "I had no idea," he added. "I think that it's going to be a great motivation for me to take it a step higher now that I know where I come from. Even if I decide not to be a pilot, it's motivation to be the best I can be in the Air Force." The elder Platte served 18 years in the Air Force and trained more than 400 African American airmen to fly solo and pilot specialized military aircraft. Captain Platte's brother -- Christopher Platte's grandfather -- was also a Tuskegee Airman. Captain Platte has received many honors including an honorary doctorate in public service from Tuskegee University in 2006, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.
Retired U.S. Air Force Capt. Claude Platte signs a wall at the 323rd Training Squadron dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen as his great nephew, Airman Christopher Platte, looks on.
Retired from Bell Helicopter Textron Co. and living in North Texas, Platte and other Tuskegee Airmen travel the country telling their stories. A modest man who stays involved in community service, the elder Platte said he wasn't out to break down barriers; he only wanted to fly. "It was something I wanted to do," he said. "It was just like getting a toy. I didn't think about the segregation part of it. I wasn't interfered with, so I really enjoyed it." Captain Platte's return to Lackland AFB for his great nephew's graduation was the first time he had been back since his own BMT nearly 50 years ago. And, as Airman Platte begins his military career, he's entering as a survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist. He, too, started down a different trail. After all, how many airmen begin their career with an Eagle Scout Court of Honor the day before BMT graduation? "It was an interesting experience. It was not a traditional court of honor," he said about the Dec. 10 ceremony. Col. William Mott V, the 37th Training Wing commander, presided over the event and presented Platte with his Eagle Scout award. The two days of activities were enough to make a mother proud. "I don't think there are words to describe how proud I am," said Platte's mother, Marilyn Wright. "He really didn't have any idea the legacy he was stepping into. Since he was six, he's been saying, 'I want to fly planes; I want to be in the air!'" "Honestly, I tried to discourage him, but it's in his heart to be an airman," she said. "Now he's fulfilling a dream."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dubai To Open New Cruise Ship Terminal In Feb.

The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has announced that its new cruise terminal located in the Port Rashid complex will be inaugurated in February, Gulf News reported. The facade of the New Cruise Terminal building is based upon Dubai's contemporary Arabic design.It is anticipated to give a big boost to the cruise tourism segment in the region's best cruise tourism destination The terminal has been designed to handle four ships simultaneously and cater to the increased number of cruise ship calls. The terminal has a tourist support infrastructure that includes facilities like currency exchange, ATMs, post office, duty free shop, souvenir shops, gift shops, a business centre with internet access, Wi-Fi for lap-top users and a VIP majlis.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Boaters Upset Over St. Croix Buoy Plan

There is a red-hot controversy brewing out on the frozen St. Croix River. The U.S. Coast Guard is considering pulling 15 navigational buoys from 25 miles of the river this spring. Boaters are unhappy about the proposal. They say the move would be akin to removing stop signs or stop lights from city streets. Joe Riley of Windmill Marina called the proposal totally ridiculous. He said, "It is ridiculous to be removing those buoys. They have been there for 50-60 years they are needed for safe navigational pleasure craft commercial vessels and charter boats."The Coast Guard said the St. Croix is a recreational waterway, not a commercial route where such buoys are normally found. The Coast Guard said its boats and crews are not equipped to reach and maintain the buoys each year without putting personnel at risk. Mike O'Berry with the Coast Guard said it costs nearly $1,000 to maintain the buoys. He said, "It is better for us to allocate those resources to commercially trafficked rivers." The Coast Guard is planning a public hearing on the proposal for sometime in February.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Diver Dies While Retrieving Bodies From Sunken Ship In Manila Bay

A Philippine coastguard diver died yesterday retrieving bodies from a ship that sank in deep water in Manila Bay last month, the coastguard service said. The death, the cause of which was not immediately clear, was a grim footnote in a catalogue of shipping disasters to have hit the Philippines in recent years.
Petty Officer Armand Bonifacio lost consciousness while diving to the wreck of the Catalyn B, a small wooden ferry that sank on December 24 after hitting a steel-hulled fishing boat, local coastguard chief Commodore Luis Tuason said. Although he regained consciousness after being pulled from the water and placed in a decompression chamber, Bonifacio died a few minutes later as he was being rushed to hospital.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Air Force Activates Newest Expeditionary Unit

The Air Force's newest expeditionary unit, the 586th Expeditionary Support Squadron, was activated in a special ceremony Jan. 2 at an air base in Southwest Asia. Col. John Williams, 586th Air Expeditionary Group commander, passed command of the newly formed support unit to Maj. Gregory Marty, previously the Air Force ROTC Office of the Registrar Force Management chief at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. "There is no one more suited to lead this unit of outstanding folks than Maj. Gregory Marty," said Colonel Williams. "In the few days I have spent with Major Marty, it's clear to me that he has an absolute and complete grasp of (leadership). There is no doubt in my mind that he will successfully practice what he taught all those young cadets. So it's with great confidence that I hand the guidon of our newest squadron in the 586th Air Expeditionary Group to Major Marty. I know it will be not just in good hands, but in great hands." After accepting the guidon from Colonel Williams, Major Marty addressed his new unit. "The opportunity to command is a goal for every officer," he said. "In fact, I have known quite a few officers who have told me that being a commander was the best job they ever had. To be selected to command a new squadron, a newly activated unit, is even more of an honor and certainly a unique challenge. It's a challenge that (586th ESPTS superintendent) Master Sgt. Charles Branson and I look forward to and a responsibility we accept with great excitement and great determination."We start out small in size and in reputation, and over the next six months we will work hard to create a strong foundation for the future success of this squadron. Our challenge is to establish an identity for the squadron and build strong relationships with the other units here and our sister-service units at other operating locations. I look forward to meeting and working with all of you." The 586th ESPTS team, which will comprise more than 50 Airmen in all when the unit is fully up and running by midsummer, is responsible for providing combat support and combat services for joint warfighters entering and exiting the area of operations. They will conduct chapel ministry, host nation services and personnel management functions at four geographically separated locations. "These specialists will play a critical role in our future plans in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom," said Colonel Williams. "They will assist in moving our forces where and when they are needed and they will serve a crucial role in assisting the family members of our brothers and sisters in arms should they be called to make their ultimate sacrifice. "I have met all these young professionals who will form our newest unit as they have recently arrived in theater and there is no question in my mind that they're absolutely and definitely up to the challenge." The 586th AEG, of which the 586th ESPTS is a part, includes more than 650 ground-combat Airmen filling U.S. Army combat support and combat service support requirements in Southwest Asia. The group's Airmen conduct combat logistics convoys, base defense, area security operations, detainee visitation, explosive detection and chapel ministry.

Monday, January 04, 2010

15 Missing In Boat Accident

Fifteen people are missing after a boat carrying a group of picnickers capsized in the Rupnarayan River at Kolaghat in Purba Medinipur district on Sunday. They include many children. “Search operations are still going on,” Choten Lama, district Magistrate, told reporters over telephone. A group from Kolkata had come to a park on a picnic and some decided to board a local boat. At about 4:30 p.m. the boat overturned.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Fishing Boat Taking On Water Safely Reaches Sebastian Inlet

A fishing boat that was taking on water four miles offshore mid-afternoon Friday safety made it back to its home here with all six people aboard, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The 34-foot boat was assisted by a 47-foot Coast Guard ship, out of Fort Pierce, a spokesman said.The Coast Guard said the escort was done as a precaution after the fishing boat said it was taking on some water in the rough seas. Indian River County Fire Rescue also assisted. The name of the fishing boat owner wasn't released. The Coast Guard is continuing to look into the incident.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

22 North Koreans Abandon Troubled Ship In Philippines

Twenty-two North Korean crewmen abandoned their cargo ship after it listed dangerously and then ran aground in the northern Philippines, officials said Friday. One of the Koreans was slightly injured as he abandoned the listing M/V Nam Yang 8 late Thursday off Claveria township in Cagayan province. They transferred to a life raft and reached Claveria, where villagers helped them obtain police assistance, regional police Chief Superintendent Roberto Damian said. The Nam Yang 8, loaded with a low-grade iron ore called magnetite, left the northern Philippine province of Aparri late Thursday and was en route to China when it encountered large waves and began to list off Claveria, coast guard chief Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said.When the 3,461-ton ship's engine lost power, its skipper ordered his crew to abandon ship, Tamayo said. The ship drifted and later ran aground in nearby Ilocos Norte province, he said. Damian said immigration authorities were checking if the North Koreans have required work permits. The sea accident was the latest off the Philippines in recent days. Dozens of people remain missing after the ferry MV Baleno-9 sank off Batangas, south of Manila, on Dec. 26. Separately, 24 people remain missing and are feared dead after their wooden-hulled ferry collided with a fishing boat and rapidly sank near Manila on Christmas Eve, the coast guard said. Sea accidents are common in the archipelago because of frequent tropical storms, badly maintained boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations.

Friday, January 01, 2010

South Africans May Save Oldest Passenger Ship

Representatives of a South African company are expected in Singapore next week to assess whether the world’s oldest operating passenger ship could have a life beyond its decommissioning today. Floyd Bascones, a media relations officer on the MV Doulos, said yesterday that the company’s representatives would decide whether the ship, built in 1914, could be converted into a maritime training facility and museum. If the company takes over the ship, it would be able to make a final voyage to SA by the end of March, he said. “But failing which, we would still negotiate with at least two other companies on keeping the 95-year- old Doulos afloat,” Bascones said. The ship was built two years after the Titanic. If talks failed the Doulos would be scrapped at an Indian shipyard from March 31, he said.The ship is owned by Christian charity Gute Bücher für Alle, or Good Books for All, which is based in Mosbach, Germany. The ship has been operating as an international floating bookshop since 1978. It took affordable books to ports where cheap books were not available, and has sailed to 104 states. Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest active ocean-going passenger ship, the Doulos was declassified during its last dry-docking in Singapore under a new maritime law that prohibits vessels with combustible material from sailing from next year. Much of the vessel is wood. Bascones said an estimated 14m - 17m would be needed to extend its life. In previous incarnations it has been the cargo carrier Medina, the passenger ferry Roma and cruise liner Franca C. Sapa

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