Sunday, February 28, 2010

Academy Women To Become 1st Submariners

Female Sailors will begin serving on submarines by the end of next year, with Naval Academy graduates leading the way, Navy leaders told a Senate committee. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Navy is in a good position to move forward with integrating women onto submarines. "We think we learned a lot about integrating women in the services years ago, and those lessons are relevant today," Mabus said. Those lessons, he said, include having a "critical mass" of female candidates, having senior women to serve as mentors, and having submarines that don't require modifications: the SSBN ballistic missile and SSGN guided-missile subs. Finally, Mabus said, "We have the lesson learned to make sure any questions are answered, ... and we're very open and transparent on how we'll do this. We think this is a great idea that will enhance our warfighting capabilities." Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates notified Congress on Feb. 19 of the intended change to Navy policy. Mabus had pushed for the change since taking office in May. Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, endorsed the change, saying in a statement released in September that his experience commanding a mixed-gender surface-combatant ship makes him "very comfortable" integrating women into the submarine force.The Navy changed its policy to allow women to serve on combatant ships in 1993. "We have a great plan, and we're ready to go for the first women to come aboard in late 2011," Roughead told the Senate committee yesterday. In a prepared statement to the committee, he said the change would enable the submarine force "to leverage the tremendous talent and potential of our female officers and enlisted personnel." Besides the incoming officers from the academy, the first women submariners will include female supply corps officers at the department head level, Roughead said. The change will be phased in over time to include enlisted female Sailors on the SSBN and SSGNs, he said. Women will be added to the Navy's SSN fast-attack submarines after necessary modifications can be determined, he said. "This initiative has my personal attention, and I will continue to keep you informed as we integrate these highly motivated and capable officers into our submarine force," Roughead told the committee.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cruise Ship Slams Into Resort Docks, Killing 3

A luxury cruise liner carrying nearly 1,500 passengers slammed into the pier as it docked Friday at an Egyptian Red Sea resort in fierce winds, leaving three crew members dead, officials said. The ship's owner, Costa Crociera, said the vessel sprung a leak on the right side after banging into the dock at about 4:45 a.m. "We sadly have to confirm the deaths of 3 crew members," the company said in a statement. "The ship is now safely docked in port." Other passengers were being put up in hotels and arrangements were being made to return them to their home countries, according to the company. Witnesses said fierce winds had rocked the area overnight and the ship was slammed part way onto the pier. Bad weather was believed to be the cause of the collision, which left a 2 meter hole in the body of the ship, according to an Egyptian security official.The Costa Europa ship had been on an 18-day cruise from Dubai to Savona and had 1,437 guests on board, Italy. Police and rescue officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information, said the three killed include an Indian, a Brazilian and a Honduran, but the company did not confirm nationalities. Mohammed Fayez, head of South Sinai ambulance services, said the bodies were still being removed from the ship. The vessel had arrived in Sharm el-Sheik from another Red Sea port in Safaga, local officials said. The 55-ton ship, which was built in 1986, was restored and entered into service with Costa in 2002, the company said. It's one of 16 cruise ships belonging to the Genoa, Italy-based Costa Crociera line, the Italian subsidiary of Carnival Corp.

Monday, February 22, 2010

60 Passengers Rescued From Sinking Boat

About 60 passengers on a boat, Gitanjali, going from Mumbai to Mora in Raigad had a miraculous escape on Sunday. Deputy commissioner of police (ports) Madhukar Kohe said, "This boat had taken passengers from Mumbai and was headed to Mora. Somewhere near Butcher Island, the vessel hit the wreckage of a ship which had capsized years ago, making a big hole in the boat. Water started gushing in, scaring the passengers. Most of them were picnickers."The boat crew informed the police control and the marine wing of the Mumbai police. "Soon after getting the call at 10.30 am, we diverted five of our patrol vessels to save the sinking boat. Our men instilled confidence in the boat's crew and passengers. Another passenger boat was organised and we shifted the passengers in them," said Kohe. Gitanjali was then taken for repairs. The DCP said that the Mumbai Port Trust should have removed the wreckage long ago, which is now posing danger to other vessels.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pirates Attempt To Take Over Japanese Cargo Ship Foiled

The Turkish naval force operating within the international force to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden has foiled pirates attempt to take over a Japanese cargo ship off the Somali coast. The leadership of the Turkish army said in a statement today that the Turkish frigate (Gemlik) yesterday intercepted a boat with seven armed men who were about to attack a Japanese cargo ship while sailing in the waters of the Gulf after transiting the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb.
TCG Gemlik F-492
The statement added that the frigate sent a special task force to the aid of the Japanese ship after it fired a distress call near the Somali coast, adding that the frogs unit had spotted the gunmen's boat and immediately intercepted it and arrested those who were on board. The statement said that the detainees will be handed over to the international naval force command deployed in the territorial waters of Somalia after investigation. According to the statement, the Turkish naval force last week foiled a similar attempt to take over a cargo ship flying the flag of Panama in the Gulf of Aden and forced the pirates to flee under a hail of fire.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Canadian Tall Ship Sinks In The South Atlantic

A floating classroom with 64 people on-board has sunk off the coast of Brazil, but officials say everyone was rescued. The SV Concordia tall ship, which has educated 20 Bermudians in it's Class Afloat programme since 2000, was 300 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro when it hit bad weather. A press release on the boat's owners, the West Island College, of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, says they were contacted at 8 a.m. on Thursday by Brazilian authorities about a distress signal. And yesterday around 6.30 a.m. all 64 people, including 48 high school and college students were rescued from the rafts by merchant vessels in the area. The first Bermudian to sail on the SV Concordia, Ruth O'Kelly-Lynch, said she was shocked by the sinking and defended the boat's safety record. She said: "I was truly devastated when I heard early this morning that the Concordia had sunk. Since then I have been in touch with alumni in Canada the US and Europe. "I spent a year sailing the world on her and was the first Bermudian to go to class afloat, since then approximately 20 others have sailed her.
S.V. Concordia
The year I spent aboard was the most important year of my life and shaped who I am now. "While we do not yet know what happened aboard I think it is important for people realise the fact that 64 people survived a capsized ship and 18 hours in a life raft is a testament to the programme's safety precautions. While aboard I sailed around cape horn the worst sailing route in the world. "We went through so many drills that I still remember my jobs and where I was expected to go nine years latter. The fact that everyone is unharmed today illustrates that the Concordia still holds safety first as paramount." The 190-foot SV Concordia had been en route between Recife, Brazil and Montevideo, Uruguay as part of a 10-month voyage. It was expected to reach Uruguay on Thursday. Reports from the Brazilian navy said they were told by the Concordia crew that their ship capsized in rough and high seas. The school, however, said it didn't know the status of its vessel, which was on it's 25th Anniversary sail and was scheduled to stop in Bermuda in June.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Cargo Ship Loses Container Overboard

the A container that may have held several tonnes of hazardous material slipped off the deck of a Finnish-owned ship and into the Baltic Sea on Saturday morning. The incident occurred near the southern coast of the Swedish island Gotland. The ship’s owner Langh Ship Oy said three containers fell overboard after one container on deck collapsed under the weight of three others. According to the ship's cargo declaration, one of the containers held several tonnes of material used in the chemical and plastic industries. However Sigurjon Markusson, the managing director of sea carrier Containership which had leased the ship, said the cargo that fell into sea was not hazardous to the environment. The Swedish Coastguard is planning to search the area for the container.
Cargo ship Linda in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Gotland.
Niklas Guseff of the Maritime rescue co-ordination centre (MRCC) in Turku said the ship's crew contacted the centre following the incident. He added that such accidents are rare. Guseff said it’s difficult to say what happened to the container. However it could cause damage to the environment if it begins to leak. Guseff added that the Finnish Maritime Administration is working together with Swedish officials on the matter. The captain of the ship Jouko Blomqvist said the load had been secured according to regulations. ”This has never happened to before. We were quite shocked that this was even possible,” he said. The vessel was en route from Rotterdam to St. Petersburg when the accident occurred.

Danish Special Forces Storm Ship, Free Crew

Danish special forces stormed a ship captured by armed Somali pirates Friday and freed the 25 crew on board, an EU naval spokesman said, marking the first time a warship has intervened during a hijacking. After the vessel Ariella sent out a distress signal early Friday, the Danish warship Absalon sent a helicopter to confirm the presence of pirates, and communicated with the crew to ensure they were in a safe location, said Cmdr. John Harbour, spokesman for the European Union Naval Force. Then Danish special forces aboard the Absalon approached the Ariella in inflatable dinghies. The forces scaled the side of the ship and freed the 25 crew, who had locked themselves in a secure room, Harbour said. The forces continued to search the vessel for the pirates. Harbour praised the NATO forces for their fast reaction and coordination with other forces in the area. "There's been many instances where there's been excellent cooperation and three, four or even five nations have helped deter a pirate attack," he said. But, he added: "This is the first where a warship has been able to send forces to stop a hijacking while it was in progress."
HDMS Absalon (L16)
Warships typically do not intervene in hijackings because of the danger that crews may be hit by crossfire. Forces were able to intervene in this case because the ship had registered with naval authorities, was traveling along a recommended transit corridor and was part of a group transit, ensuring the ships had a helicopter within 30 minutes' reaction time, Harbour said. Denmark rarely releases information on operations carried out by its elite forces, but the storming of the ship may have been carried out by the country's elite Frogman Corps, which were part of a NATO deployment. "There is an operation going on down there and we're involved. It is still going on right now," Pernielle Kroer, spokeswoman for the Danish Navy told reporters.
Vessel Ariella
The Antigua and Barbuda-flagged Ariella sent out a distress signal early Friday that was picked up by the Indian warship Tbar in the Gulf of Aden. The Indians relayed the signal to a French plane overhead, which spotted a group of armed pirates on the deck. Then the Danish troops were notified. Other EU and American forces have intervened in pirate hostage situations, but not during the hijacking itself. French commandos stormed a yacht last April with five hostages on board but one, skipper Florent Lemacon, was killed during the operation. American snipers also shot dead three pirates in April 2009 holding an American captain hostage on board a lifeboat after the crew of the Maersk Alabama had persuaded the pirates to leave the main ship. Details on the nationalities of the crew on board the Arielle and its cargo were not immediately released. Somali pirates have seized three ships this year and hold a total of nine vessels and more than 180 crew. Piracy is one of the few ways to make money in Somalia, an arid, impoverished land torn apart by civil war. The government does not hold its own capital and can't send forces to counter the flourishing pirate bases that dot its 1,900-mile (3,100-kilometer)-long coastline.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Bob Barker Rams Japanese Ship

Hostilities broke out between Japanese whalers and terrorist group Sea Shepherd in the Antarctic yesterday, where the two sides collided in their first meeting since the sinking of the Ady Gil. The Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker collided with the stern of the whale chaser Yushin Maru No. 3, leaving a metre-long gash in the side of the terrorists' vessel, the group's leader, Paul Watson, said last night. He said the Bob Barker had been in close pursuit of the whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru but was being circled by four other vessels of the fleet. Despite the damage, the 1200- tonne Bob Barker was keeping up its pursuit of the Nisshin Maru, which was headed towards the coast of the Australian Antarctic Territory, about 200 kilometres east of Australia's Mawson station. Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research said the Bob Barker kept approaching dangerously close to the stern of the Nisshin Maru, and its fleet was ''making efforts to shake off the Bob Barker''. Sea Shepherd terrorists repeatedly fired a high-powered laser device against Nisshin Maru crew, the institute said in a statement. Sea Shepherd said the whalers were using water cannon and acoustic devices against them. A spokesman for Environment Minister Peter Garrett repeated calls for restraint by all parties.
''The Southern Ocean is a dangerous and inhospitable part of the world,'' he said. The collision happened hours after the Bob Barker's crew sighted the Nisshin Maru, which Sea Shepherd had tried to locate after the sinking of the Ady Gil, south of Tasmania, a month ago. The 16-tonne fast trimaran sank after a collision with the fleet's security ship, Shonan Maru No. 2, endangering the lives of six crew. The activists found the fleet again off Cape Darnley, about 5000 kilometres south-west of Perth. Rich in marine life, the waters around this cape are inside an Australian whale sanctuary not recognised by Japan. The Institute of Cetacean Research said the Nisshin Maru had been drifting overnight in preparation for the next morning's ''research'' when it was attacked by the Bob Barker. The Australian Customs and Fisheries patrol ship Oceanic Viking is believed to be in the region. Captain Watson, who is on the way to the scene aboard the Steve Irwin, said he was confident the Bob Barker was capable of holding its own against the chaser ships. ''I don't see how we can lose them now,'' he said. ''And if we can stay on their tail, we will stop them whaling for a month or more.''

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Construction Begins On Fire Training Ship

Construction began Wednesday on a $3.71 million simulator at Florida State College at Jacksonville that will help train firefighters to combat ship blazes. The building of the “burn ship” follows the completion of the more than $1 million remodeling of Fire Academy of the South’s 13,600-square-foot classroom and administrative building in December. The school at the college’s south campus provides basic training and continuing education for the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, other public entities and the private sector.The 90-foot, four-level ship will be used to train firefighters how to combat three different types of fires, including a boiler room fire, said Sheldon Reed, Fire Academy of the South executive director. Preparing for ship blazes makes sense since the Port of Jacksonville is growing and Carnival Lines’ Fascination is back in service, he said. Reed said there might be further training opportunities when the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier comes to Naval Station. The school, which has trained BP and Hess Corp. refinery workers, trains about 90 percent of Jacksonville’s firefighters annually.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Blind Soldier Assumes Command Of Warrior Transition Unit

Soldier, Infantryman, Airborne Ranger, combat diver, mountain climber, skier, triathlete, surfer, husband and father are just a few words to describe Capt. Scotty Smiley. Now, add company commander to his resume as he became the first blind officer to assume command of a Warrior Transition Unit. He became only the second wounded warrior to assume command of a WTU. During Smiley's last deployment to Iraq in 2005, he was wounded, permanently losing his vision. After receiving medical attention, Smiley was transferred to the Fort Lewis, Wash., WTU. There he began his recovery and his journey to get back to active-duty status. The 2003 West Point graduate wanted to get back to doing what he loved and that was serving his country in uniform. Smiley attributes his strength and drive during his recovery to his family, faith and friends. "It was my wife, my family and friends who were in my hospital room singing songs and reading the Bible that gave me the strength during my recovery," he said. "It was all of this which allowed me to put one foot in front of the other and has allowed me to accomplish everything that I have done to get to where I am today." "The decisions that Lieutenant Dan made after his injuries never came into my mind. I wanted to take care of myself--physically, mentally and spiritually," he said. "I just did not want to give up because of something that negatively happened to me." He dreamed to return back to active duty, but he knew it was going to be a long and strenuous path. However, it was not anything Smiley was willing to give up on. "There were some very long dark days, physically and mentally, but I just had to keep pushing on," Smiley said. He transitioned back to active duty, working at the U.S. Army Accessions Command at Fort Monroe, Va. After being there for some time, Smiley's commander told him he had been selected to go to grad school. "I thought he was kidding me. I was absolutely shocked," he explained. "Then they are going to let me go teach--that was awesome," Smiley said with a smile stretching from ear to ear. He attended Duke University where he received his master's of business administration. While Smiley was in school, he also cultivated a friendship that had begun during the summer of 2007 with legendary Duke University basketball coach and fellow West Point graduate, Mike Krzyzewski, Class of 1969, before the men's basketball world championships and Olympics. "When my brigade commander, who was (then a) colonel and is now Brigadier General Brown, asked if I would be interested in speaking to the team, I was taken aback. 'Are you sure you know who you are talking to? Why would the national basketball team want me to talk to them?'" Smiley said.
Capt. Scotty Smiley
"The first time I met him, he spoke to the Olympic team in Las Vegas. We were trying to teach the team about selfless service," Krzyzewski said. "They not only heard what Scott had to say, but they truly felt what he had to say." "When I think of Scotty, I think of ultimate service, especially selfless service," he added. When Smiley realized why Coach K wanted him to come speak to the team, it made sense to him. "Coach Krzyzewski went and coached here, he understands what sacrifice is all about," Smiley said. After completing his master's degree, Smiley returned to where it started during the summer of 1999, although in a very different capacity. Over the past six months, Smiley has been an instructor in the Behavioral Sciences and Leadership Department, teaching a leadership course to third-year cadets. "His endurable spirit and character are traits that the cadets can just relate to," said Lt. Col. Eric Kail, a BS&L instructor. "He has overcome so much through his attitude and desire to excel in life. Scott is a great teacher." Even though Smiley will not be physically teaching in the classroom for the duration of his tour as WTU commander, he will be leading by example as he begins this new chapter of his life. Smiley's former commander while at USAAC and present U.S. Army Chief of Engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp, shared his thoughts on this occasion. "Scott brings a whole new dimension to Soldiering and leadership. When you are around him, you can't help but want to do your best--without complaining--because he gives his best everyday," said Van Antwerp, class of 1972. About Smiley being the second wounded warrior to hold a command position, Van Antwerp said, "Scotty will be a great commander. He will lead from the front like he has always done. I am proud of him and proud of our Army for giving him this opportunity." Others like Krzyzewski seconded that notion. "He may not have the eyes to see, but he sees more things than most leaders could ever see," Krzyzewski said. "His ability to translate that to his unit and the people he has (under his command), he will have the ability to touch many and they will be impacted tremendously." Smiley now takes command of a company that he himself understands. "I know what they are going through. I understand the dynamics of the company, how it works and areas of concern that need to be improved," Smiley said. With only 50 percent of his command on West Point grounds, Smiley will travel from the rocky shorelines of Maine to the rolling hills of Pennsylvania to ensure his troops are being taken care of and doing what they need to do to get better. "It is now my responsibility to inspire them and to continue to help them get the job done," Smiley said. With his goals set and with a firm personal understanding of his present and future troops, the new company commander begins his tour, leading from the front like he always has. The Army Times 2007 Soldier of the Year looked at what had happened to him and made the decision that he was not going down the same path as the character Gary Sinise played in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump.

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