Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chinese Navy Hospital Ship Sets Sail On First Overseas Medical Mission

The Chinese navy hospital ship Peace Ark set sail from Zhoushan Port in eastern China's Zhejiang Province Tuesday to head to the Gulf of Aden on its first overseas medical mission. During the 87-day mission, the ship will provide medical treatment to soldiers and officers serving in the Gulf of Aden, according to Guan Bolin, a senior official with the logistics department of the Chinese Navy.
Hospital Ship Peace Ark
The medical staff aboard the ship will also provide medical treatment to people in five African and Asian countries - Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, the Seychelles and Bangladesh. In addition, the ship's staff plan to conduct various exchange programs with medical workers in the countries the ship calls at, said Guan, also the deputy commander of the mission. Peace Ark is the first hospital ship in the world with a 10,000-tonne capacity. China independently developed and built it. It has 428 soldiers, officers and medical workers aboard.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Stranded Cruise Ship Passengers Evacuated

Passengers stranded nearly 48 hours on a cruise ship in Canada’s arctic are expected to evacuate to Edmonton early Monday, says the vice-president of the tour company. “Reports from the ship have all been that the passengers have been exceptionally positive,” Cedar Bradley-Swan said Sunday. “We’ve had great weather. It’s been about 12 C so there have been lots of folks out on deck.” The Clipper Adventurer operated by Mississauga, Ont.-based Adventure Canada became grounded on an uncharted rock shortly after 7 p.m. local time Friday. The ship ran aground in three metres of water just a day before the Arctic expedition was to come to an end in Edmonton. About 200 guests and crew members were on the trip called “Into the Northwest Passage.” No one on the ship was injured. According to the company, the sea was calm at the time, visibility was good, it was sunny and there was no wind or swell. Jean-Pierre Sharp, a coast guard officer with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, Ont., said the incident happened about 55 nautical miles east of Coppermine, Nunavut, also known as Kugluktuk, near the border with the Northwest Territories. “There’s no immediate danger, no pollutants or anything like that,” Sharp said. “It’s just a question of getting the people off and for the company to arrange some salvage or something to try and tow the vessel off the ground.” Adventure Canada said efforts to dislodge the chartered vessel during high tide Saturday were unsuccessful and that it is sitting with a slight list but is stable. It will now be up to the company that owns the ship to pull it off the rock, said Bradley-Swan. About 70 crew members will remain on the Clipper Adventurer for now, said Bradley-Swan. The Canadian Coast Guard helped evacuate the ship’s remaining passengers Sunday afternoon, ferrying them by barge and Zodiac to a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker called the Amundsen.
Clipper Adventurer
“The barge takes 12 (people) and the Zodiac takes eight, so we’re moving about 20 people at a time,” Bradley-Swan said. “Then we’re using our fleet of about 10 Zodiacs on board (the Clipper Adventurer) to move everybody’s luggage.” All passengers were expected to be evacuated to the Amundsen by about 6 p.m. Sunday. Then that ship will carry them about 60 miles to Kugluktuk, Nunavut, a trip that should take about six hours, Bradley-Swan said. From there, the group will catch a charter airline flight into Edmonton on Monday morning. The tour was originally supposed to end in Edmonton at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday. Roughly half a dozen of the passengers on the tour are from Edmonton, said Bradley-Swan. The rest are mainly Canadian, although a few are from Europe and the United States, she said. Adventure Canada runs between three and seven Arctic expeditions each year. The learning-travel packages include cultural experiences, natural history and wildlife viewing. The “Into the Northwest Passage” trip included about 20 staff — scientists, biologists, authors, historians, painters — that offered lectures during the tour. According to the company’s website, the Clipper Adventurer is 90 metres in length and features a library, gymnasium, sauna and beauty salon. The tour flew out of Toronto and then left Greenland by cruise ship Aug. 14, Bradley-Swan said. “We’ve been making our way up the Greenlandic coast, over to Baffin, Lancaster Sound — essentially following the traditional Northwest Passage route,” she said. “They had travelled 2,655 miles and had 60 miles left to go. They had even done their last expedition stop and were now heading back to the airport, essentially.”

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Authorities Investigate Boat Crash That Injured Three Near Oswego Harbor

Three people were injured Saturday after their recreational boat crashed into the Oswego breakwater so hard it couldn't be pulled to shore, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The three people suffered non-life-threatening injuries after the 7 p.m. crash Saturday near the Oswego Lighthouse. They were taken to Oswego Hospital, one with a broken arm, said Coast Guard Senior Chief Joe Orlando. Authorities believe alcohol may have played a role in the crash, Orlando said. The boaters' names were not released Sunday. Oswego police and county sheriff's deputies are also investigating the crash. Boaters returning to shore reported hearing screaming near the breakwater about 7 p.m., said Coast Guard Senior Chief Joe Orlando.The Coast Guard launched its boat and found the occupants of the damaged 23-foot recreational boat walking along the breakwater, Orlando said. The cuddy cabin-style boat was likely going at a high rate of speed when it hit the wall, he said, citing the heavy damage. The Coast Guard and Oswego fire department attempted to pull the boat to shore Saturday, but it sunk about 20 feet from the pier at Wright's Landing marina, Orlando said. A couple feet of the boat remained above water after it hit bottom. A warning was sent to boaters about the sunken vessel. The boat is expected to be resurfaced Monday, Orlando said.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Somali Man Pleads To Attacking Navy Ship He Thought Was Merchant Vessel In Piracy Case

A Somali man pleaded guilty Friday to piracy-related charges for attacking a U.S. Navy ship in what the defendant said was a case of mistaken identity. Jama Idle Ibrahim told authorities he intended to attack a merchant vessel to hold it for ransom and discovered that he was attacking a Navy ship instead. Ibrahim entered the plea in federal court in Norfolk, Va. "Today marks the first conviction in Norfolk for acts of piracy in more than 150 years," U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said in a statement. "Modern-day pirates must be held accountable." Ibrahim and five other Somalis chased a ship they believed was a merchant vessel and started firing at the ship and the people on board before they were captured, according to court papers in the case. The piracy-related acts to which Ibrahim pleaded guilty were attacking to plunder a vessel, engaging in an act of violence against people on a vessel and using a firearm during a crime of violence, all in connection with an attack against the USS Ashland on April 10.
USS Ashland (LSD-48)
Earlier this month, a judge dismissed piracy charges against the six Somalis. A conviction on the charge of piracy itself carries a mandatory life term. The piracy-related charges carry a range of sentences from 10 years to life in prison. The plea agreement said both parties agreed a sentence of 30 years in prison is appropriate. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 29. Separately, Ibrahim was charged Friday in Washington, D.C., with an alleged act of piracy in the Gulf of Aden against a merchant vessel, the M/V CEC Future. In a document called a criminal information, Ibrahim was accused of conspiracy to commit piracy under the law of nations and conspiracy to use a firearm during a crime of violence. A criminal information can only be filed with the defendant's consent to waive consideration of his case by a grand jury; it typically signals that a person is preparing to enter a plea of guilty in a deal with prosecutors.

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