Friday, September 30, 2016

Tuskegee Airman Leo Gray Dies At 92

Retired Lt. Col. Leo Gray, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen who were the first African-American fighter pilots in the military, died at his home in Florida. His death Friday follows fellow Tuskegee Airmen Dabney Montgomery, who died at age 93 on Sept. 4, and Capt. Roscoe Brown, who died at the age of 94 in July. Gray recently visited Montgomery this summer and was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, nicknamed the "Red Tails" who flew over Europe during World War II. In June, he joined a dozen other aviation legends at Maxwell Air Force Base for the 35th annual Gathering of Eagles event. He shared his role of signing up to fight with 16,000 other Red Tails. Gray knew that they were fighting for their country, but he didn’t realize his service would eventually eliminate segregation in the military.
“We were just doing what we were supposed to do,” Gray had told the Montgomery Advertiser. “We were trying to become pilots in the United States Air Force with no thought at all of the historical significance that was taking place.” At that time, African-Americans were deemed unfit both physically and mentally to fly something as complex as an aircraft. Gray and others who volunteered to fly in the 1940s, proved the myth wrong. In fact, the Tuskegee Airmen, were recognized for an excellent flying record. “They said we couldn’t fly, but we thought we could,” Gray said. “Everyone else could fly. Everyone’s blood turns red.” Gray was a single-engine pilot for with the 100th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group. After his graduation from the Tuskegee Army Air Field, he was sent to Ramitelli, Italy, as a combat fighter in the P-51 Mustang. He completed 15 combat missions over German-occupied territory escorting B-24 and B-17 bombers. After logging 750 flying hours, he left the service in 1946 and served in the Air Force Reserves until 1984 and served a total of 41 years. Those years in the service were the most memorable of his life, Gray said. He appreciates the camaraderie he still has with fellow veterans who bonded during service. A Boston native, Gray had enlisted after high school and used his story of “overcoming adversity,” to encourage audiences around the nation.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Navy Removes All Historic Job Titles

The Navy announced Thursday that it’s removing all historic job titles and replacing them with occupational specialty codes, as opposed to direct titles, effectively removing the word “man” from job titles in a roundabout way. According to Navy Times, what this decision means in practice is that “Fire Controlman 1st Class Joe Sailor…would be Petty Officer 1st Class Joe Sailor.” “We’re going to immediately do away with rating titles and address each other by just our rank as the other services do,” Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke told Navy Times.
“We recognize that’s going to be a large cultural change, it’s not going to happen overnight, but the direction is to start exercising that now.” The shift gets rid of pesky job title names like “yeoman,” which the Navy bureaucracy had no idea how to make gender-neutral, thereby fulfilling a request from Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to make positions more female-friendly to facilitate integration.In June, the Marine Corps removed the word “man” from 19 job titles, although the service did keep certain iconic job titles like “rifleman” and “mortar man.” The reason the Navy has taken so long to implement changes is because its review of titles was far more in-depth. The Navy also does not have nearly the same kind of cultural opposition to name changes as does the Marine Corps. There is an exception. Sailors at the rank of E-3 and below will continue to be called seamen. A Navy spokesman said there was no “direct line” between the all-out effort for gender-neutrality and the new job title overhaul.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

506 Passengers Stranded In Mid-Sea For 24 Hours Off Vizag Coast

As many as 506 passengers including around 150 women and 50 crew members on board a Port Blair-bound ship MV Harshavardhan were stranded in the deep sea, around 15 to 20 nautical miles off the Vizag coast, for 24 hours with one of its generator developing a snag. "The ship master has decided sail back to Vizag Port. We have made the arrangements at the port and the ship is expected to reach here in the wee hours of Thursday," Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) deputy chairman PL Harinadh told Express at around 9 pm on Wednesday. MV Harshavardhan sailed from Visakhapatnam at around 1.35 pm on Tuesday developed a technical snag in one of its generator after around six hours of journey.
Harinadh said that the VPT had been repeatedly contacting the ship master since the morning if they needed any help, but each time the latter refused, saying that the technical snag had almost been rectified by their crew. "We have contacted the ship master number of times and offered assistance of engineers to check the snag or assistance of Navy and other departments. But, he (ship master) kept saying that the ship would be ready for sail shortly," said Harinadh, adding that the ship master informed that there was no problem with the electricity since other three generators were working and other supplies like food and water were also sufficient. The merchant vessel, belonging to the Shipping Corporation of India, has four generators one of which developed malfunction. According to Harinadh, it's was the decision of the ship master whether to go with three or four generators and the latter was interested to sail with all four generators.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

8 Rescued From Burning Boat Near Sandy Hook, N.J.

A good Samaritan was credited with rescuing eight people from a burning boat near Sandy Hook, New Jersey late Sunday afternoon. Around 5 p.m., watchstanders at Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook got a distress call over VHF Channel 16 from a 40-foot recreational boat, saying the boat was on fire, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. A Coast Guard rescue crew went out on a 47-Motor Lifeboat and found the burning boat along with the FDNY.
The good Samaritan had already transferred the eight people off the boat, the Coast Guard said. The Coast Guard assisted the FDNY in putting out the fire on the boat. The fire was extinguished, but the boat was destroyed by the fire and sank in about 85 feet of water about six miles offshore, the Coast Guard said. All eight people who had been on the boat were taken to shore by the FDNY and were treated for minor medical concerns, the Coast Guard said. There was no report of any pollution in the water.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Hanjin Ship Can't Dock Because It Has No Plan to Leave

Failed South Korean cargo line Hanjin Shipping found the money to unload a full container ship waiting outside a New York-area port. But before the vessel was allowed to dock, it faced another problem: a plan to get back out to sea. The predicament of the Hanjin Miami, one of 10 U.S.-bound ships stranded by the Hanjin bankruptcy, illustrates one way that disputes over ships, ocean containers and even truck trailers to haul the shipping boxes have stranded at sea some $14 billion of goods around the world. Since filing for court receivership on August 31, the world’s seventh-largest container carrier has caused chaos for many retailers at a time when they are getting goods for the holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation on Tuesday urged U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to find a way to clear up the confusion. “The impact on small and medium-sized companies could be particularly devastating if this situation is not resolved in a timely manner,” the group said in a letter. Hanjin has the money to dock its Hanjin Miami, Federal Maritime Commissioner William Doyle, whose agency regulates international shipping, told an industry event on Friday. But the Miami has not been allowed in port because of a dispute about empty Hanjin shipping containers, which the Miami normally would load up as ballast to exit port. Without those empties, the ship “will not be able to depart the harbor because it would not have the air clearance to navigate under the Bayonne Bridge — even at a dead low tide,” said Doyle. Without a way to leave, the ship could tie up a berth.
“There are so many disputes right now attached to empty containers that the terminal is not going to load the empties back onto the ship,” Doyle said. By Tuesday evening, two sources familiar with negotiations said that the Miami had been scheduled to dock and that it would pick up empty containers to leave port. Shipping tracking site said it was due to arrive on Thursday and depart the next day. An attorney for Maher Terminal, which operates the marine terminal in Newark where the HanjinMiami is expected to dock, declined to comment. The Hanjin Miami is currently off the U.S. East Coast, about 300 miles (480 km) from New York, according to Reuters Eikon data. The Bayonne Bridge, which held the title of world’s longest arch bridge for 45 years after it opened in 1931, presents a unique challenge to Hanjin. But other ports also are struggling with questions of who pays for terminal charges and what to do with empty containers. The complexity increased on Monday after a South Korean judge toldHanjin to cancel its ship charter agreements and return empty vessels to their owners. In the wake of the decision A spokeswoman for Reederei and a U.S. lawyer for Hanjin did not respond to requests for comment. Port terminals, meanwhile, have stopped accepting returns of empty shipping containers because they doubt Hanjin will pay to store them. “The Hanjin boxes are radioactive. Nobody wants to take responsibility for them,” said Mark Hirzel, chairman of the Los Angeles Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association Inc.
As containers on chassis pile up in far-flung storage lots, it has created a shortage of the trailers used to transport containers on land. Darren Azman, an attorney for Bermuda-based Textainer Group Holdings Ltd said cargo owners and other Hanjin parties are working out an agreement that they hope will normalize the movement of shipping containers. But U.S. retailers and manufacturers who own the cargo are caught in the confusion. Alex Rasheed, president of Pacific Textile and Sourcing Inc, a Los Angeles-headquartered importer and wholesaler of apparel, is anxious to receive $300,000 worth of seasonal fall clothing in two containers on the Hanjin Jungil, which is waiting off the coast of Southern California. “We’re going to start feeling the pressure unless there is some kind of resolution,” Rasheed said. Hanjin‘s bankruptcy also has U.S. exporters that were relying on the company scrambling to find alternatives, including flying goods to foreign markets at a loss, said Hirzel. “I’ve even heard about air transport of agriculture exports,” Hirzel said. “Economically, it’s a guaranteed loser … The only reason you would do that is to meet an order to get a contract in the future.”

Italian Navy Ship Docks In Iran

Iranian media says an Italian navy ship has docked in the first official visit by a Western naval boat in years. The semi-official ISNA news agency on Saturday says the frigate Euro will visit other Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf.

Italian Frigate Euro F575

The visit comes two weeks after an Italian navy delegation visited the capital, Tehran. The Italian navy posted a picture on its Twitter account Saturday showing an Iranian girl handing flowers to an Italian officer in the southern port of Bandar Abbas. It says this is the first Italian military ship to visit Iran in 15 years. Iranian forces have had a series of tense encounters with U.S. naval vessels over the past year. Iran briefly detained 10 U.S. sailors in January after their boats drifted into Iranian waters.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

U.S.-Philippine Combat Drills Announced Under Critical Duterte

Philippine military officials on Thursday announced the first large-scale combat exercises between U.S. and Filipino forces under President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been critical of American security policies. Military officials said the annual maneuvers by about 1,400 U.S. military personnel and 500 Philippine marines will involve amphibious landing and live-fire exercises at a northern gunnery range from Oct 4 to 12. Describing himself as a socialist, Duterte has had an uneasy relationship with the U.S.
He has said he is charting a foreign policy not dependent on the U.S., a treaty ally, and has taken steps to revive ties with China, which had been strained under his predecessor over longstanding territorial conflicts. He repeated in a speech Thursday that he would not allow Filipino forces to conduct joint patrols with the U.S. military in the disputed South China Sea because that could spark an armed conflict in Philippine territory. He has also said he wants U.S. forces out of the country's south, where he said minority Muslims resent the presence of American troops. Still, Duterte has said he will not abrogate the mutual defense treaty with the U.S. and will maintain the long alliance with America.

Monday, September 19, 2016

At Least 13 Reported To Be Killed In Thailand Boat Accident

At least 13 people were killed Sunday when a double-decker passenger boat carrying more than 100 people capsized in a river north of Bangkok, Thai media reported. More than 30 people were hospitalized with injuries, but an unknown number were still missing after the accident, which occurred when the boat was involved in a collision Sunday afternoon while transporting passengers along the Chao Phraya river in Ayutthaya province, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Bangkok.
Thai rescue teams search for victims after a boat capsized at Chao Phraya River in Ayuthaya Province, Thailand, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016.
It was not immediately clear what the boat had collided with. TV Channel 7 and other media cited rescue workers as saying that 13 people were killed. Police Col. Surapong Thampitak told television broadcaster ThaiPBS that the passengers were Thai Muslims traveling to a religious ceremony. ThaiPBS quoted Harbor Department official Surasak Sansombat as saying that the boat's listed capacity was 50 passengers, and that it probably capsized from overloading and because there was a strong current in the river at the time. No foreigners were reported to be among the victims of the accident. Rescue efforts were continuing Sunday evening, but were being hampered by rain and darkness.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Two Dozen Crew Stranded On Hanjin Container Ship Off Victoria

Two dozen crewmen have been stuck for more than two weeks on the Hanjin Vienna, a huge container ship anchored on Constance Bank, south of Victoria, as service agencies in Victoria and Vancouver try to help them out. At the same time, another 24 crewmen are on board a sister ship, Hanjin Scarlet, detained off Prince Rupert since Wednesday. The Vienna was at Deltaport Terminal at Roberts Bank when it was detained on Sept. 1 as creditors seeking at least $3.6 million went to federal court against its owner, Hanjin Shipping, which is in receivership in South Korea. Hanjin Shipping sought court protection from its creditors in South Korea after the creditors rejected a restructuring plan and financiers wouldn’t provide additional credit. Before the Vienna left Roberts Bank, the chaplain for the Mission to Seafarers in Vancouver visited the ship to ensure that everyone was paid, which they had been, said Kathryn Murray, manager of the organization’s Vancouver office, on Friday. “He took them a bunch of bread, fresh vegetables and fruit. They were able to get fresh provisions brought in,” Murray said. From there, the 279-metre-long Vienna went to Constance Bank, where it has been parked ever since, moored outside of shipping lanes. “The captain says that their spirits are good. They have all been able to call home, so their families at least know what is going on,” Murray said. Crewmen were given a card that allows them to exchange a few messages with their families via the Internet, she said.
 The crew is international but Murray could not say what their nationalities are. Now that 16 days have passed, “They are probably starting to run out of fresh supplies,” she said. The Victoria Lighthouse Ministry to Seafarers, which works with the Mission, is watching over the Vienna’s crew, Murray said. Cecil Klue, of the Lighthouse Ministry, was reluctant to provide more information about its role, but in a text message said that two weeks at sea is “very little for a salted sailor.” In Prince Rupert, crewmen came ashore for a time and received phone cards from the Lighthouse Ministry, Murray said. The Salvation Army gave them a “large chunk of money so they were able to buy provisions,” she said. “It’s really a community of helpers. These guys, they are very vulnerable right now.” The Hanjin Scarlet off-loaded cargo at the Port of Prince Rupert’s Fairview Terminal Sept. 7 after terminal operator DP World and CN Rail struck a deal to move stranded cargo due to come off at the port.

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