Monday, October 31, 2016

Empty Boat In Keyport Harbor Prompts Coast Guard Search

The U.S. Coast Guard carried out an air and water search after an unoccupied 14-foot boat was found in Keyport Harbor Monday, the Coast Guard said in a statement. A Coast Guard vessel searched the waters for five hours while a helicopter searched from above. No signs of any boaters were found and the Coast Guard did not receive any reports of missing persons.
A search of the boat itself turned up no evidence of who the boat belonged to, a spokesman also said. Anyone with information is being asked to contact Coast Guard Sector New York at 718-354-4353. The Coast Guard also urged boaters to file a "float plan" before taking to the water. A float plan can involve merely informing someone of the area where the boater plans to go and when the boater expects to return.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Abu Sayyaf Attack South Korean Ship, Seize Captain, Crewman

Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants hijacked a South Korean cargo ship and seized the captain and its crew off Bongao, Tawi-Tawi on Thursday. Western Mindanao Command spokesman Maj. Filemon Tan said some 10 gunmen boarded the MV Dong Bang Giant 2 using ropes from a speedboat and snatched the captain Park Jul Hong and Filipino crewman Glenn Alindajao. The cargo ship was on its way to South Korea from Australia when they were intercepted by the gunmen in the Sulu Sea. Initial reports said the captain was able to make a distress call before he was taken by the bandits, suspected to be the faction of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Idang Susukan based in Sulu. The Joint Task Force-Tawi-Tawi (JTFT) under Col. Custodio Parcon has been alerted and dispatched all its units to intercept the bandits and rescue the captives once spotted in Tawi-Tawi. Tan said troops in the nearby province of Sulu have also conducted intercept operations as the area has been used by the Abu Sayyaf in hiding hostages taken near the border with Sabah.
MV Dong Bang Giant 2
“As of press time, validation and intelligence monitoring are currently being conducted by the military in coordination with local chief executives and the locals to track down the perpetrators and safely rescue the victims,” Tan said. Initial reports said the gunmen spared the other crewmembers, one of whom managed to call his family to alert the authorities. Naval patrols off Tawi-Tawi and nearby Sulu, where Abu Sayyaf militants take most of their kidnapping victims, have been strengthened in recent months due to a spate of abductions at sea of crewmembers from Malaysia and Indonesia, Tan said. “We do our best to secure that area but it’s a wide body of water,” Tan said. Similar sea attacks by the Abu Sayyaf in southern Philippines have sparked a regional security alarm. The rise of sea hijackings prompted Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia to agree on coordinated patrols to secure the region’s busy waterways. However, the coordinated patrols are yet to get underway. Abu Sayyaf, known for amassing tens of millions of dollars from kidnappings, has beheaded two Canadian nationals in recent months after ransom deadlines passed.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

US Says Littoral Combat Ship USS Coronado, Now In Singapore, Is Combat Ready

The latest U.S. Littoral Combat Ship to arrive in Southeast Asia is combat ready, according to a senior Navy officer, after a series of mechanical snafus cast doubt on the ability of the vessels to operate effectively in shallow coastal waters. The USS Coronado is "ready to go do its job," said Rear Admiral Don Gabrielson, Commander of Task Force 73 and Singapore area coordinator, adding operation, maintenance, design and training issues have been addressed. "Every ship has maintenance issues. Any time you take a new class of ship and you have a new model for taking care of the ship and training the crew, there are going to be things that you learn." "It's crossed many miles of Pacific Ocean to get here all by itself," he said on Sunday on board the ship in Singapore. The Coronado is the first deployment of an independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship to Southeast Asia and the third overall in the class. It has a larger flight deck than other LCS vessels and greater fuel capacity. It will use Singapore as a maintenance hub and carry out drills with countries in the region. The ships, designed for the kinds of shallow coastal waters that surround many islands and reefs in Southeast Asia, are a spearhead for the U.S. military rebalance to the region, a key part of the Obama administration's bid to balance China's greater military and economic clout. Still, they have been confronted with equipment breakdowns and harried crews, with the Navy now moving to revamp the $29 billion program. Issues with LCS maintenance haven't set back the U.S. presence in Southeast Asia, Gabrielson said. "There's a huge amount of demand for the Littoral Combat Ship by every nation out here in terms of exercise and integration." The ship, built in two versions by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Austal Ltd., has been criticized for its reliability flaws, limited combat power and uncertain ability to survive in combat.
USS Coronado
The service is using its first ships for more extensive testing, reducing the rotation of crew members and de-emphasizing the swapping of missions and equipment that was supposed to be a hallmark of the vessels. Two of the first vessels experienced propulsion-system failures, in December with the Milwaukee and in January with the Fort Worth. The Fort Worth was sidelined in port in Singapore for eight months. Two more vessels experienced failures in July and August. The U.S. is targeting to have four of the vessels in Southeast Asia in coming years, Gabrielson said. The presence of the LCS is not meant to send a specific message to China, he added. "It's not a message to anyone other than what is going on in this part of the world matters to the whole world." China claims the bulk of the disputed South China Sea, where its military buildup and land reclamation have created tensions with some Southeast Asian nations. It has also sparked friction with the U.S. amid a broader tussle for influence between the two powers in the western Pacific. The risk of a clash in the South China Sea lies with non-military ships, Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said earlier this month, as China deploys more heavily armed coast guard vessels in the disputed waters. Singapore has joined other nations in the region and the U.S. in warning the reliance on fishing boats and coast guards to assert territorial claims in the South China Sea raises the prospect of an incident. It's a key shipping lane that carries as much as $5 trillion in trade a year. China has used its so-called white hull fleet to chase and shoo ships including fishing boats from other countries away from the reefs it claims.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Two Missiles Fired Again At US Ship Off Yemen

Two missiles were fired today at the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Mason while it was in international waters off of Yemen, the third such incident this week, U.S. officials said. The ship was unharmed by the attack after one fell into the sea and the other was brought down by a defensive missile deployed by the destroyer. The latest attack comes just days after the United States military launched a retaliatory missile attack that destroyed three Houthi radar sites used in the previous attacks. Two U.S. officials confirm that the USS Mason was targeted by another missile attack on Saturday and that the ship was not hit. One official said initial reports are two missiles were fired at the destroyer, which used defensive countermeasures in response. According to a U.S. official one of the missiles was engaged and destroyed by a defensive missile that had been launched by the USS Mason.
The other missile fell into the sea short of the destroyer. It is the third time this week that the destroyer was targeted by missiles originating in Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen. In the earlier attacks, three missiles fired at the USS Mason all fell into the sea. It remained unclear whether two of them fell on their own into the sea or because of the defensive countermeasures used by the destroyer's crew. Those strikes led to U.S. retaliatory missile strikes on Thursday targeting radars were located in Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen. In a statement, the Pentagon warned that any new missile attacks risked another U.S. military response. Friday, a senior Administration official said there was "no doubt" that Houthi militants were behind the missile attacks on the Mason. The official said it was unclear what may have motivated the attacks and speculated that there may be factions within the group who have different agendas. The Houthis are an Iranian-backed rebel group that in January 2015 overthrew the Yemeni government. Since March 2015, they have been fighting a Saudi-led coalition that intervened militarily in Yemen to restore that government to power.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Cruise Ship Scrapes Cape Cod Bridge

At 7:08 p.m. Wednesday, an aluminum light pole on the Viking Star, a cruise ship traveling south, scraped the bottom of the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge near Buzzards Bay, said Tim Dugan, spokesman for the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cruise Ship Biosecurity Trials To Begin

The Ministry for Primary Industries and the cruise ship industry are set to trial a new accreditation scheme to reduce the biosecurity risk posed by arriving cruise passengers. The scheme involves collecting background information about vessel stores to determine biosecurity risk, says MPI’s Border Clearance Services Director Steve Gilbert. “Cruise ship passengers are usually very compliant when it comes to biosecurity. The risk material they bring ashore is mostly snack food from vessel stores. “If we know where the stores have come from and what checks they have undergone, we can have peace of mind that any food that leaves the vessel is free of pests and diseases.” The trial scheme also involves getting assurances from cruise lines that vessels have strict systems for pest control and they actively promote biosecurity messages, such as restrictions on carrying fruit fly-host materials like bananas and apples. Mr Gilbert says the scheme will have positive benefits for cruise ship passengers. “It means we can reduce some of the biosecurity inspections we currently undertake on the gangway.
That will result in speedier disembarkation for passengers, which creates a better experience for international visitors. “It also frees up biosecurity staff to focus on higher risk areas, such as new flights coming in with passengers that are unfamiliar with New Zealand’s biosecurity rules.” He says MPI will start regularly checking accredited cruise lines in November to ensure the agreed practices are being undertaken. In some cases this will involve quarantine officers travelling aboard vessels. He says unaccredited cruise ships will continue to face MPI’s full range of biosecurity compliance controls on arrival, including bag inspections, x-ray scanning and scrutiny by detector dogs. “The joint scheme offers potential for improved biosecurity outcomes for New Zealand. It’s another layer of protection for the primary industries and New Zealand’s natural environment.” In the 2015/2016 season, 32 international cruise ships made 466 port visits in New Zealand, unloading a total of 197,541 passengers.

Missiles Fired From YemenLand Near Warship USS Mason In Red Sea

Two missiles fired from Yemen landed near a US warship in the Red Sea, the US Navy has said. They were fired towards the USS Mason - a guided-missile destroyer - on Sunday from territory in Yemen under the control of Iran-aligned Houthi rebels. Ian McConnaughey, spokesman for US Navy Forces Central Command, said it was unclear if the vessel was specifically targeted, though the two missiles were fired in its direction over a period of an hour. No American sailors were injured and there was no damage to the USS Mason. The destroyer was positioned north of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which serves as a gateway for oil tankers travelling to Europe through the Suez Canal.
USS Mason DDG-87
Last week, an Emirati-leased boat was seriously damaged when it came under rocket fire near the same area. The United Arab Emirates described the vessel as carrying humanitarian aid and having a crew of civilians, while the Houthis called the boat a warship. Sunday's attack came as a ballistic missile fired from Yemen apparently targeted a Saudi air base near Mecca, the deepest strike yet into the kingdom by the Houthi rebels. It also followed a strike on Saturday on a funeral in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, that killed more than 140 people and injured 525. Hundreds had gathered at the community hall to mourn the death of the father of rebel interior minister Jalal al Rowaishan. The Houthi rebels blamed the Saudi-led coalition, but it denied responsibility for the "regrettable and painful" attack and launched an investigation. The US, which has become increasingly vocal about civilian casualties in the civil war, said it was "deeply disturbed" and would review support for the coalition. US-Saudi ties are already strained over the kingdom's military intervention in Yemen. The United Nations and human rights groups estimate the conflict has killed at least 9,000 people and displaced nearly three million. Since March last year, the country has been the target of an air campaign launched by an Arab coalition, led by Saudi Arabia. It was requested by Yemen President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi's government, which is waging a war against the Houthi movement - which is aligned to Iran. The Houthis recognise former president Ali Abdullah Saleh as Yemen's legitimate leader.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Hero Perth Sailor Honoured For Preventing Potential Bomb Disaster

Leading Royal Navy diver Scott McAllister, based at Faslane, is part of Northern Diving Group (NDG), the unit responsible for bomb disposal across a huge swath of Scotland and Northern England. Scott was named NDG’s “sailor of the year” in recognition of his part in dealing with a large amount of unstable explosives found near to a primary school. On the night of November 6 last year, Scott arrived by helicopter at Scoraig, south of Ullapool, in the Scottish Highlands. A local resident had stumbled upon a supply of explosives and detonators stored in an outhouse – just metres from the village’s primary school. The previous owner of the shed had been involved in the quarrying industry and was licensed to hold a supply of plastic explosives. However, he died and they lay forgotten in the locked outhouse for around 30 years. The explosives had deteriorated to the point where they were potentially unstable, making Scott’s mission a particularly dangerous one.
After inspecting the scene, Scott used his explosive ordnance disposal expertise to tackle the situation, safely moving the plastic explosives and detonators to a nearby beach where a controlled explosion was carried out. Scott said: “When we landed on a grassy field it was in complete darkness. “All we could hear was the helicopter blades turning and it was a couple of minutes until we could see the flashlights of the local police who were standing guard on the shed. It was pretty exciting to be flown to a job by helicopter.” Scott was joined at the award ceremony by his girlfriend Xophie Hooper on board historic warship HMS Victory at Portsmouth. He said: “I was surprised and honoured to achieve this award. It goes to show that hard work, determination and motivation goes a long way to a successful and fulfilling career.” Joining the Royal Navy in 2007 aged 19, Scott immediately began training as a Clearance Diver. He passed his dive course in 2008, achieving the title of “best phase 2 trainee”. Soon after, he joined the Faslane-based First Mine Counter Measures Squadron (MCM1) where he became part of the crew on board a Sandown Class mine hunter. For the next five months he was deployed to the Gulf with HMS Pembroke, helping to protect the vital waterways in the region. His first service with Northern Diving Group came in 2010, and in 2012 he gained promotion to Leading Diver. The Perth sailor is also one of the only Rescue Chamber Operators for the NATO Submarine Rescue System in the UK and is an air diving supervisor.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Owner Of Ship That Ran Aground Could Face Huge Financial Claims

The claims for compensation faced by the owner of a container ship that ran aground off Taiwan's northern coast earlier this year could set a record high, the Fisheries Agency said Friday. Shortly after the ship, the "T.S. Taipei" (德翔台北) of T.S. Lines Co. (德翔海運) ran aground off Shimen, New Taipei on March 10, it cracked and eventually broke into two, leaking heavy oil and fuel into the sea.
The agency commissioned two National Taiwan Ocean University professors -- Cheng Sha-yen (鄭學淵) and Ou Ching-hsiewn (歐慶賢) -- to assess the scope of the damage the leak caused to marine life and fishermen. Cheng said their study found that over 40 percent of fish larvae in the surrounding waters were gone and that the losses and cost of rehabilitating the waters could be in the tens of millions of Taiwan dollars. The agency will now convene a meeting to confirm the contents of the scholars' reports, and estimated that the compensation requested could end up at over NT$100 million.
The fishermen's losses will be divided into direct and indirect losses, the agency said, noting that it has received reports of roughly NT$6 million in damage to fishing equipment or fishing boats from 42 fishing vessels. The agency said that Taiwan has asked for compensation from ships on several occasions, including from the Amorgos, a Greek freighter that ran aground in waters near the Lungken Eco-protection Area preservation area in Kenting National Park. The Environmental Protection Administration filed for compensation from the owners of the ship in that case, and the two sides reached a US$1.05 million settlement.
Fisheries Agency section chief Shih Chun-yi (施俊毅) said oil typically leaks from ships quickly and in large volumes, but in this case, the oil from the T.S. Taipei seeped out slowly, forcing authorities to expend substantial resources and manpower on the clean-up, resulting in the decimation of the fish larvae. "If there are no fish larvae, how can we have adult fish?" he lamented, adding that the "ecological losses are hard to calculate."

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Tug Collides With LCS Montgomery, Cracks The Hull

The littoral combat ship Montgomery can’t seem to catch a break. Less than three weeks since a pair of engineering casualties sent the trimaran into port for repairs, Montgomery took a hard knock from a tug as it sortied from Mayport, Florida ahead of the Hurricane Matthew. The Tuesday collision opened up a foot-long crack amidships along a weld seam, about three feet above the waterline, according to a report obtained by Navy Times. The crack was letting in about a gallon of water every three minutes until sailors plugged the quarter-inch crack with wedges, the report said. Sailors installed dewatering systems to the space; the ship does not need to come back into port. The accident happened in choppy waters with winds gusting up to 30 nautical miles-per-hour in Mayport harbor. "As the ship was departing the [Mayport] basin, pilot requested tugs come along the starboard side to push Montgomery further from the quay wall and the aft landed hard on the starboard side" the report reads.
Sailors also reported five of the horizontal beams in the hull – called stringers – were bent. Naval Surface Force Pacific confirmed to report in a statement, adding that an investigation was underway to determine the cause of the fender-bender. "USS Montgomery (LCS 8) sustained a crack to its hull while getting underway from Naval Station Mayport under orders to sortie Oct. 4,” the statement read. “This crack resulted in minor seawater intrusion, but was contained by the crew. An investigation into possible causes is underway, and the ship will receive more permanent repairs upon her return to port.” Montgomery, alongside the cruiser Anzio and amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima, were sortied from Mayport ahead of the storm, which is expected to slam into Florida’s east coast as a massive Category 4 hurricane. The Air Force Hurricane Hunters measured the storms’ winds overnight at 125 mph, and the storm is expected to strengthen as it approaches Florida tonight. Montgomery suffered a pair of engineering failures within 24 hours, the Navy announced Sept. 16. The ship pulled into Mayport on its own power for repairs, which were under warranty from the manufacturer.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Egypt Condemns Houthi Militia For Targeting UAE Aid Ship

Egypt, on Sunday, condemned the Houthi militia for targeting the leased civilian ship "Swift", owned by UAE Marine Dredging Company, in Bab al Mandab, which was on a routine voyage to deliver medical and relief aid to Aden. ''Such attacks on humanitarian aid convoys violate international laws and norms, and represent a flagrant breach of International Humanitarian Law,'' said Ahmed Abu Zaid, spokesperson for Egypt's Foreign Ministry, in a statement issued today.
In a statement late on Saturday, the Command of Coalition Forces Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen said the vessel was on its usual route, to and from Aden to transfer relief and medical aid and evacuate wounded civilians to complete their treatment outside Yemen. The coalition rescued its civilian passengers, and no crew members were injured.

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