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Offshore oil terminal may be safer than supertankers: Partly in response to two recent oil tanker accidents in the Whangarei Harbour, marine conservation expert Wade Doak has suggested creating an offshore terminal near the Hen and Chicken Islands. This would avoid bringing supertankers into shallow water. Doak admits this may seem like a radical idea from an environmental viewpoint, but believes the necessary technology is available. Anything that would keep supertankers out of shallow, protected waters is worth investigating. See "Conservationist proposes offshore oil terminal," The New Zealand Herald, 7/31/03.
US ferry operations on alert: Citing the successful bombing of the USS Cole, the FBI's weekly advisory warns that terrorist groups like al-Qaida have long shown interest in maritime targets. The FBI emphasizes that it hasn't received a specific threat against ferry operations, but warns that they make tempting targets. Like all industry sectors, the ferry industry has been working on increased security since the September 11 attacks. Officials at the Passenger Vessel Association, along with other interested parties, have submitted a customized security plan for various types of passenger vessels. This plan is being offered as an alternative to the guidelines mandated in the Maritime Transportation Security Act. This alternative plan, which is awaiting approval by the Coast Guard, would alleviate any undue burden that might be placed on smaller companies. See "FBI: Al-Qaida interested in ferries," MSNBC News, 7/31/03.
MV Manukai on sea trials: The MV Manukai, the first ship to be built by Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard, and the first ship built at the site of the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in three decades, is undergoing sea trials. The sea trials put stress on everything from the ship to the crew. A serious problem could have doomed the revival of the local shipbuilding industry, but preliminary tests went well. One of the American Bureau of Shipping inspectors on board stated "It's a good ship." See "Stress test on the high seas," Henry J. Holcomb, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/31/03.
Aral Sea is disappearing: The Aral Sea lies on the border between the former Soviet republics of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Two images taken from space 18 years apart show that the Sea's waters are contracting. The most recent image was taken this month by the European Space Agency's Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (Meris) on board the satellite Envisat. The images show that the Aral has lost half its area and three-quarters of its volume, due to large scale irrigation. The Meris instrument's primary mission is to observe how plankton spread through the Earth's oceans, providing a valuable insight into the way the seas act as a counterweight to global warming by storing carbon dioxide. See "Satellite shows dramatic Aral loss," Ivan Noble, BBC News, 7/30/03.
"Ghost fleet" ships bound for Britain: The US Maritime Administration has signed a $17.8 million contract to remove 15 obsolete ships from the James River beginning next month. Thirteen ships will be towed to England for scrapping by the British shipyard, Able UK Ltd., at a cost to federal taxpayers of $14.8 million. In addition, Post-Service Remediation Partners, which negotiated the deal for the British yard, will be able to buy two uncompleted Navy oil tankers for $3 million. Those ships, which also are in the James River, could then be sold for profit. Domestic scrapyards are concerned that jobs are being moved overseas, and may try to get an injunction to stop the contract. The Coast Guard must still approve the towing of the ships to England, although an independent towing survey found no problems. Marad will award contracts for scrapping the six remaining highest-priority vessels by the end of the year. See "Bound for Britain," David Lerman, Daily Press, 7/29/03.
Second tanker incident hits Whangarei Harbour: After the Capella Voyager split its hull on April 16, new precautions and checks were introduced to pilots and port operators at New Zealand's Whangarei Harbour. Despite this, the Korean-flagged Eastern Honour oil tanker hit the seabed en route to the Marsden Pt. oil refinery on Sunday. No oil leaked, but the ship took on water. The entry is narrow with a rapid tidal stream, but other ships have not had problems. Northland Regional Council regional harbormaster Ian Niblock, the Maritime Safety Authority, refinery officials and the pilotage provider will meet to review interim measures in place. See "Questions after second tanker incident at Whangarei harbour," The New Zealand Herald, 7/29/03.
Taiwan and Philippines discuss agricultural and fishery cooperation: Taiwan fishing boats traditionally operate in waters off the northern Philippines during prime fishing season. Fishing disputes often break out, since the exclusive economic zones of the two countries overlap. The countries have negotiated for more than three years since the Philippines enacted a marine resources law in 1998, but discussions appear to be nearing an end. The Council of Agriculture recently announced that Taiwan has agreed to exchange agricultural and fishery technological expertise with the Philippines and assist in its manpower training. It is hoped that an MOU on bilateral agricultural and fishery cooperation will be formally signed in the near future. See "Taiwan, Philippines expected to sign agricultural-fishery MOU," Taiwan Headlines at World News Network, 7/29/03.
Calypso threatened by legal fighting: Jacques Cousteau's famous ship Calypso sank in Singapore harbor in 1996. Already badly damaged, the ship was raised and shipped to Marseille, where it lay neglected for two years before being floated in a dry dock to La Rochelle. Cousteau's second wife, Francine, convinced the mayor of La Rochelle to put up money for the restoration, but plans were stymied since the ship is owned by Loel Guinness, and the mayor died a short time later. Cousteau's granddaughter took up the fight last year, setting up a Calypso Foundation with Guinness's agreement, but then he backed out. Francine Cousteau, who owns the "image rights" to the vessel, set up a rival foundation to raise funds, and has now insisted that the ship's name be removed from the hull and superstructure. Legal issues aside, it may already be too late to restore the ship, since it's in such bad shape. See "Cousteau family row may sink his ark," Jon Henley, The Guardian, 7/28/03.
Dredging work threatens Mary Rose: A diagram just released by the UK's Ministry of Defence shows plans to enlarge the Portsmouth Harbour sea lane to accommodate the next generation of destroyers and aircraft carriers. While construction is not planned until 2008, the map indicates that the wreck of the Mary Rose, the flagship of Henry VIII's fleet, is right in the middle of the proposed dredging route. This has archaeologists scrambling to raise and conserve the remaining wreck. See "Navy plans threaten remains of Mary Rose," Maev Kennedy, The Guardian, 7/28/03.
Venice is sinking faster than ever: The year 2002 was the worst on record in Venice since the deluge of 1966, with data showing the tide rising to dangerous levels with increasing frequency. Many Venetians have traded their knee-high rubber galoshes for hip-high boots. To try to alleviate the problem a row of 78 gates will be constructed at the three inlets where the tide rushes into Venice's lagoon. The gates will be filled with water and lie on the bed until tides of more than 3.6 feet are predicted; then, compressed air will be pushed into the barriers, raising them off the surface and into position to block the advancing sea. Environmentalists, however, charge that the project, dubbed "Moses," will further damage Venice's sensitive ecosystem of saltwater marshes and estuaries, and it fails to address equally serious problems such as erosion and pollution. Even Mayor Costa, who supports Moses, fears that while the project will prevent cataclysmic floods, it won't prevent the daily eorsion the city has been experiencing. See "Environmentalists balk over project to protect Venice," Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times at The Seattle Times, 7/25/03.
Bill would exempt Hawaii from Jones Act: Congressman Ed Case, D-Hawaii, has introduced three bills that would exempt Hawaii from the 1920 Jones Act — which states that only US vessels can carry cargo between the nation's ports. The first of Case's three bills extends to Guam, Alaska and the Virgin Islands. The two latter bills address Hawaii specifically. Case believes that opening the market to international competition will help push cargo shipping prices down, and will particularly impact the shipping of agricultural and livestock products in Hawaii. Matson Navigation, one of two domestic cargo lines that monopolize the Hawaii market, has opposed Case's bills. CSX/Horizon Lines, the second shipping line dominating the market, has declined to comment. See "Case's bill would exempt Hawaii from Jones Act," Nina Wu, Pacific Business News, 7/24/03.
Strict American rules keep seamen on ships: Advocates for seamen argue that the right to shore leave has been enshrined in centuries of maritime law, as well as a convention of the International Maritime Organization. While the United States has ratified the convention, it is one of only a few countries requiring visas for shore leave. In the past, waivers were often granted for mariners without visas so they could go on shore. But since 9/11, waivers are no longer granted. Port chaplains who minister to the mariners and other advocates are concerned about the psychological and physical health of the crew members, stuck on ships for months at a time. The International Labor Organization has called for governments to accept new, more secure identity documents from seafarers in place of a visa. The US has agreed to the terms of the convention, but has not yet ratified it, and has no law in place that would allow the ID to replace visas. See "Marooned, Just Feet From Shore," Daniel J. Wakin, The New York Times, 7/24/03.
Worldwide pirate attacks hit record high: The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reports that piracy on the international high seas grew 37% from January to June of this year. There were 234 attacks, 165 boardings, and nine ships hijacked. The number of deaths of seafarers around the world was sharply up, with 16 killed and 52 injured compared to six killed and 21 injured in the same period last year. The number of attacks using guns almost doubled during the first six months of 2003, and incidents of crew members taken hostage almost doubled. Indonesian waters were the most dangerous. See "Pirate attacks at all time high," news24.com, 7/23/03.
Tricolor to be raised: The Norwegian freighter Tricolor sank last December in one of the Channel's busiest shipping lanes. Divers and marine engineers are now working on raising it: a specially hardened steel cable suspended between two offshore platforms will be used to saw the hull into nine pieces, which will then be hoisted to the surface by cranes. The ship has been hit by three other sips since it sank. See "Operation begins to raise wreck," Jon Henley, The Guardian, 7/23/03.
Boiler slows down Norway repair: Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that the SS Norway won't be back in service until October, at the earliest. A new boiler to replace the one that exploded on May 25 will take seven to 12 months to deliver. The ship will lay up at the Lloyd Werft yard in Bremerhaven, Germany, until the cruise line decides which shipyard will perform the repairs. Lloyd Werft and Dubai Drydocks of the United Arab Emirates are among the bidders. See "Norway docked until spring," Dale K. DuPont, The Miami Herald, 7/22/03.
UN to partly accelerate world oil tanker ban: The International Maritime Organization's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), which met last week to debate a European Union proposal to accelerate the global phase-out of single hull oil tankers, agreed, in what appears to be a compromise deal, to bring forward its own timetable by two years for some ships. A stricter phase-out plan for the world's remaining single hull tanker tonnage that advances the IMO's global timetable by five years from 2015 to 2010 was agreed in principle by some nations, but faces further scrutiny in December of this year. The MEPC also finalized a new proposed draft convention on the management of ballast water and agreed ship recycling guidelines. See the "press release" from the IMO, 7/22/03.
LCS design teams chosen: Lockheed Martin Corp. ($10 million), General Dynamics Corp. ($9 million), and Raytheon Corp. ($10 million) have won US Navy contracts to design the new littoral combat ship, or LCS. The Northrop Grumman Corp. bid was rejected. Northrop Grumman is the largest military shipbuilder, and it's been speculated that the Navy was trying to attract new ideas, and didn't need a large shipyard to build what will be a smaller ship. The Navy will select one or two of the companies to build the ship next year. Construction of the first ship could begin as early as 2005, with completion by 2007. At least nine ships are expected. See "3 firms chosen for new stealth ship," Tim Lemke, The Washington Times, 7/21/03.
The US Navy's network-centric world: The US Navy's new way of fighting is built around Internet standards, including web pages, routers, Ethernet, instant messaging, and chat rooms. Casualties appear to be both expensive customized systems and Microsoft software - particularly PowerPoint briefings. The biggest trick is handling the information flow: Information in the network-centric world - especially on a war-footing - needs to be current, accurate, comprehensive, and relevant. Bandwidth is another stumbling block; line-of-site communication with data-rates of at least 8-10 Mbps seems to be the wave of the future. This "transformational" thinking should allow warfighters to view the battlefield more precisely and apply the force necessary to achieve desired "effects." See "US Navy dumps Microsoft, makes network the weapon," Doug Mohney, the Inquirer, 7/21/03.
Seattle, Tacoma win $14 million for security research: The Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma will get a combined $14.2 million in federal funding for analyzing security procedures for ship cargo entering the United States. The new funding follows a first round of the Transportation Security Administration's Operation Safe Commerce program, under which the two ports received a combined $13.3 million. The funding will support four test programs, which are expected to be completed by August 2004. The results will be shared throughout the American maritime industry. See "Puget Sound ports win $14.2 million for security projects," 7/21/03.
Caribbean coral reefs disappearing: Research performed at University of East Anglia and its associated Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research has revealed that four-fifths of the coral on Caribbean reefs has disappeared in the past 25 years. The research is mainly focused on the extent of the decline, which is worse than anyone expected, but the reasons behind it are primarily human ones. One of the most serious consequences of the decline is that the reefs of the Caribbean may now be unable to withstand the effects of global warming. Evidence that reefs were disappearing had been mostly anecdotal. Now that the extent of the loss has been measured, there is renewed urgency for conservation. See "'Rainforests of the sea' ravaged," Michael McCarthy, The Independent, 7/18/03.
The future naval fleet: The US Navy is working on programs aimed at introducing a range of electric weapons into their fleet. Rear Admiral Jay Cohen, Chief of Naval Research, stated, "These 'speed of light' weapons and 'electric-enabled' weapons offer the promise to fundamentally change the nature of war at and from the sea." The "revolution" includes directed-energy weapons, or DEWs. These include lasers, microwave radiation emitters and particle beam accelerators. Unlike conventional weapons, a DEW beam can travel great distances almost instantaneously, so the challenge of tracking and intercepting targets is greatly reduced, and the ability of a target to evade the weapon's effect is significantly diminished. See "Naval warfare at the speed of light," Scott C. Truver, excerpted from Jane's Navy International (full text available with subscription), 7/17/03.
Billabong II ANS sentenced in oil spill: Norwegian shipping line Billabong II ANS, which pled guilty to violating the Clean Water Act in January 1999, has been sentenced to a criminal fine of $200,000, and an additional payment of $300,000 to go to a wildlife fund. In a separate civil consent order, the company has also agreed to pay $2 million for environmental cleanup efforts. The oil was spilled from the freighter Star Evviva as it made its way from Savannah, Georgia, to Baltimore, Maryland. The captain and chief engineer of the ship, fired after the incident, are fugitives, charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, making false statements, and violating the Clean Water Act. See "Shipping line sentenced in oil spill," Bruce Smith, Associated Press at The State, 7/17/03.
SS Norway still sailing: Norwegian Cruise Line towed the SS Norway out of the Port of Miami-Dade on June 27, but there is still no news on where exactly the ship is going. NCL will repair the damage from the boiler room explosion of May 25. The ship is moving eastward, and is currently about a week away from the English Channel. Several shipyards are hoping to win the contract for repair work, including Dubai Drydocks in the United Arab Emirates and Lloyd Werft shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany. Luis A. Perez, the lawyer who has filed a suit on behalf of survivors of one of the crew members, has contacted NCL regularly. He wants to inspect the ship it its first port of call. See "Mystery shrouds Norway's trip," Dale K. Dupont, The Miami Herald, 7/17/03.
Robert Ballard explores again: Robert Ballard is traveling to the Black Sea to investigate what may be the best-preserved ship from the ancient world ever found. The 1,500-year-old ship is buried in mud off the coast of Turkey. Using Hercules, the first robotic craft designed specifically for deep-water archaeology, scientists will feel what the robot is grasping thousands of feet below through its special pressure-sensitive mandibles. In addition to "Wreck D," Ballard and his team will examine three other Byzantine-era ships found at shallower depths near Turkey. And anyone with an Internet connection will be able to watch. See "Aquabots to Explore Ancient Wreck," Noah Shachtman, Wired News, 7/17/03.
British "ghost fleet" deal in question: A pending deal calls for the British company Able UK Ltd., to scrap 13 ships from the James River Reserve Fleet at its environmentally approved shipyard in Teesside, England. But Representative Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) has disclosed that the agreement also would allow the company to buy - and later sell at a profit - two never-completed Navy ships that could be used as oilers. This has domestic scrappers up in arms. A top Maritime Administration official defended the bidding process, saying the agency issued an open-ended proposal that asked industry to come up with as many creative ideas as possible for disposing of the greatest number of ships. MARAD officials also stressed that they intend to use more domestic scrappers for future work worth at least $10 million this year. See "Fairness questioned in ghost fleet scrap deal," David Lerman, Daily Press, 7/16/03.
Oil washes onto Russian World Heritage site: Oil from the Chinese ship Fu-Shanghai, which sank off the Danish island of Bornholm, is showing up on the Curonian Spit. The entire 62 mile Curonian Spit spans Russia and Lithuania. It is a national park in both countries, and the World Heritage site includes the spit in both countries as well. See "Oil Fouls Russian World Heritage Beaches," Environment News Service, 7/16/03.
San Diego Unified Port District joins security network: Rather than creating a separate security network, San Diego Unified Port District commissioners have voted to join the Regional Network for Homeland Security for the San Diego Area, a public-private partnership designed to blend San Diego's business, government and military resources into a protective network. Sources familiar with homeland security efforts in San Diego said the Port District had no choice but to join. The Port of San Diego is thought to be a likely terrorist target, according to a report from the state Attorney General's office, which labeled the waterway number 10 on a list of 641 possible terrorist targets in California. See "Port agrees to join regional security network," Yahoo! News, 7/15/03.
Maritime organizations, OSHA, advance worker safety and health: The Shipbuilders Council of America, the American Shipbuilding Association, and the National Shipbuilding Research Program have formed an Alliance agreement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to advance a culture of injury and illness prevention in the shipbuilding and repair industry. Shipyard work is traditionally hazardous, with an injury-accident rate more than twice that of construction and general industry. The Alliance calls for increased access to enhanced training and hazard identification and control programs. OSHA and maritime Alliance program partners will work together to provide recommendations on how to improve shipbuilding related training and education courses. See the OSHA trade releases "American Shipbuilding Association Aligns with OSHA," and "OSHA forms Alliance with National Shipbuilding Research Program," both from 7/15/03.
BAE Systems can't build aircraft carriers to budget: BAE Systems, Britain's biggest defense contractor, has told the British defense ministry that it can't build two new aircraft carriers, which were due to be the biggest and most powerful built for the Royal Navy, to budget based on the current designs. If the government can't find an extra £1 billion, which may be the case, it might have to accept a reduction in the size of the aircraft carriers. BAE won the role of lead contractor in the deal in January after a battle with French rival Thales, whose designs were selected for the ships. Both BAE and the defense ministry are downplaying the conflict, saying that they are in the assessment phase of the contract. See "Delay fear on carriers," The Journal at icNewcastle, 7/15/03.
Sea Launch may herald the era of private space travel: Sea Launch can send rockets into space more cheaply per payload pound than anything the government can offer, and those rockets place satellites exactly where they are supposed to go. Since its debut in 1999 the company has launched seven large satellites using two enormous ships. The Sea Launch Commander carries the payload to the Pacific doldrums, and the Odyssey serves as the launch pad. Gregg Easterbrook's article "Long Shot," which appeared in the May 2003 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, describes the history of the company, and the potential future of private space travel.
Taiwanese submarine deal uncertain: Taiwanese navy officials have told the US Navy that funding for diesel-electric submarines might be three years away. This delay could push the US program out to a 2013-14 delivery date. US Navy officials are also requiring funds up front to start the program, and Taiwanese legislators may balk at the amount - up to $350 million - if they don't know what kind of submarine they would receive. There are four US companies that have the capability to bid for the project, but only Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics are expected to offer bids. See "Funding problem puts Taiwanese submarines deal in limbo," Andrew Koch, excerpted from Jane's Defence Weekly (full text available with subscription), 7/14/03.
Philadelphia shipyard launches its first ship: Margaret A. Inouye, wife of Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D., Hawaii), christened the M.V. Manukai with a bottle of champagne on July 12. It is the first ship built at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in 31 years. The Manukai is the product of a $429 million economic-development agreement signed in late 1997 between Pennsylvania and Kvaerner A.S.A., an Anglo-Norwegian conglomerate. The ship is the first of two ordered from Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard Inc. by Matson Navigation Co. The container ship is expected to be in operation by the end of the summer. See "S. Phila. shipyard celebrates 1st vessel," Henry J. Holcomb, Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/13/03.
Japan to build aircraft carriers: For the first time in more than 60 years, the Japanese navy will build two small aircraft carriers. The two ships will be capable of carrying STOVL (short takeoff, vertical landing) aircraft, and will sail at speeds above 30 knots. In its recently-released 2003 White Paper on defense, the Self-Defense Agency asserted that the nation must build up its fundamental defense capabilities to ensure its independence. The first ship is to be commissioned in 2008, and the second in 2009. Two more may be built later. See "Warships suggest discarded pacifism," Richard Halloran, The Washington Times, 7/13/03.
USS Ronald Reagan commissioned: The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) entered naval service at a commissioning ceremony at Norfolk Naval Station on July 12. The first US carrier named for a living president, the Reagan will be based in San Diego, California. The ship was built at Northrop Grumman Newport News, in Newport News, Virginia. The keynote speaker for the ceremony was Vice President Dick Cheney. Former first lady Nancy Reagan also attended the ceremony and served as the ship’s sponsor. See "Navy commissions newest aircraft carrier," CNN, 7/12/03. Northrop Grumman Newport News has published photos from the ceremony.
Strait of Malacca getting safer: The Strait of Malacca, one of the world's busiest waterways, was infamous as a hunting ground for sea brigands, who sometimes killed as well as stole. But there are fewer incidents making headlines now, thanks to increased patrols by Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, the three nations sharing the 500-mile long waterway. Enhanced navigational radar, put in place by Malaysia four years ago, has also significantly reduced the risk of collisions, which were commonplace in the 1990s. See "Strait of Malacca No Longer a Pirate Haunt," Barani Krishnan, Reuters, 7/12/03.
Hacker breaks into US Navy web sites: A 17-year-old French high school student is suspected of breaking into and defacing 2,000 web sites. The unidentified teenager is accused of attacking sites in France, Britain, Australia and the United States, often adding messages in favor of the Palestinians or against US military policy. Attacks on American sites occurred mostly during the US-led invasion of Iraq, and were concentrated on government office and military sites, including Navy sites. The suspect faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine $50,850. See "Teenage hacker suspected of violating 2,000 sites, including US Navy," Frederic Lepinay, Associated Press at The Daily Camera, 7/11/03.
Russian sub may start sea trials in April 2004: Officials expect to launch the Saint Petersburg, the first Project 677 Lada-class diesel-electric submarine for the Russian Federation Navy, in November of this year. Construction began in 1996 at the Admiralty Shipyard in St. Petersburg; the boat is now 85% complete, but its equipment acceptance program has slipped. If further delays are encountered the launch may be delayed until after the Russian winter. The boat is characterized as a 'fourth-generation' diesel-electric submarine, with key improvements over the earlier Project 636 Kilo-class design. See "Russian submarine sea trials set for 2004," Richard Scott, excerpted from Jane's Naval Forces (subscription required for complete access), 7/11/03.
Bangladesh ferry disaster: The ferry MV Nasreen, which had a capacity of 350 people, sank in Chandpur on July 8. The ship was loaded with cargo including rice, iron rods and vegetables, and may have had even more than the 750 passengers estimated by officials to have been on board. One of the survivors - there were about 220 - said the ferry was carrying more than 1,000 people. At least 500 people are feared dead. Frequent maritime accidents - often blamed on overloading, faulty construction and disregard for safety measures - claim hundreds of lives every year in Bangladesh. Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has ordered an investigation. See "Ferry disaster toll 'over 500'," Parveen Ahmed, news24.com, 7/11/03.
Jambo's cargo to be removed: The Cypriot-registered MV Jambo was carrying 3,500 tons of zinc ore when it sank off the west coast of Scotland - and near fish farms - on 29 June. The ship's diesel fuel has been removed already, and floating booms are still in place to protect the farms from any remaining oil. A study suggests that the fish have not been tainted by any pollution from the vessel, but the ship's cargo has yet to be removed. Efforts to bring the cargo ashore will start soon. See "Shipwreck cargo to be removed," BBC News, 7/11/03.
Maritime security panel formed: Pursuant to the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, the Secretary of Homeland Security is establishing the National Maritime Security Advisory Committee (NMSAC). Qualified individuals interested in serving on this committee are requested to apply for membership, by August 8, 2003. The NMSAC will advise, consult with, report to, and make recommendations to the Secretary on matters relating to national maritime security. NMSAC will be composed of seven members, each of whom must have at least 5 years practical experience in maritime security operations. It is expected that the committee will meet at least once a year, but probably more often. For more information, see the notice published in the July 9 Federal Register.
Senate scales back Navy's bulk submarine purchase: The US Navy has proposed a multiyear purchasing plan to buy seven submarines over the next five years. Navy officials say the multi-year plan would offer a substantial cost savings. But Senator Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said his panel could not commit to such a large purchase because of the program's soaring costs. As a result, the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee drafted a spending bill that would allow for the purchase of only five submarines between 2004 and 2008. The Senate panel's action is likely to be endorsed by the full Appropriations Committee. The General Accounting Office has already questioned the Navy's estimates on funds that might be saved through a multiyear program. And the House Appropriations Committee has already refused to approve any multiyear financing plan. The House and Senate Armed Services committees, however, have endorsed the Navy's multiyear plan. See "Belt tightens on Navy submarine program," David Lerman, Daily Press, 7/9/03.
Highest-risk Ghost Fleet ships may move: William Schubert, head of the Maritime Administration, has announced he has funding to remove between 18 and 21 ships from the James River Reserve Fleet by the end of the year. The reserve ships contain contaminants such as asbestos, mercury and a total of 7.7 million gallons of oil and fuel. ESCO Marine of Texas will remove three ships, domestic bidders are vying for another contract to remove two additional ships, and the British company Able UK has put in a bid to remove 15 high-risk ships. MARAD has 131 obsolete ships in its three reserve fleets; 97 of those are in Virginia. The reserve fleets grew in the 1990s as MARAD's ship disposal budget ran dry. The Clinton administration set a moratorium on foreign ship scrapping because of environmental concerns, but the current Bush administration is more willing to do business with foreign scrap yards. Many would like to see the scrap work performed in domestic yards, but full-service American shipyards have not submitted competitive prices for many of the scrap jobs. There are serious questions as to whether MARAD will be able to meet its 2006 deadline to dispose of the reserve fleet - particularly when 47 additional obsolete ships are expected to be added in the next five years. See "High-risk ships from ghost fleet to be removed," Dave Schleck, Daily Press, 7/8/03.
Plastic toys highlight problem of lost containers: Container vessels are stacked with as many as 4,000 containers, and the new post-Panamax ships can carry more than 8,000 at a time. Last year, about 73 million of these containers or their equivalent were shipped on the world seas, and anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 of them are lost overboard each year. No one knows if the number of lost containers is increasing, in part because insurers don't usually share information and no government agency keeps track. Some containers float, some sink, and some break open, creating potential hazards for ships and the environment. Curtis Ebbesmeyer and Jim Ingraham are now using floating debris to study ocean currents. They call an area of the Pacific between Oregon and Hawaii "The Garbage Patch" because it accumulates so much trash and spilled cargo. This week, they're predicting that toy ducks, frogs or turtles will wash up on the beaches of New England. The toys come from a 1992 spill, when a container filled with 29,000 bathtub critters toppled from its cargo ship's deck into the north Pacific. See "Shipments leave cargo littering the ocean," Beth Daley, The Boston Globe, 7/7/03.
Coast Guard security rules also impact offshore platforms: The US Coast Guard's recently-announced interim maritime security rules for ports and waterways will also impact offshore platform operators. The regulations will effect an estimated 10,000 vessels, 5,000 facilities, and 40 Outer Continental Shelf facilities. Initial compliance costs for OCS facilities are expected to total $37 million, with compliance estimated at $5 million/year. Final rules are expected by October 25. Facilities directly impacted by the new regulations include oil rigs that produce more than 100,000 b/d, gas platforms that produce more than 200 MMcfd, and any platform that is consistently manned by more than 150 people. See "US Coast Guard issues interim security rules for offshore platforms, vessels," Oil & Gas Journal, 7/3/03.
Vessel Traffic Service on Bosporus Strait begun: The first phase of a Vessel Traffic Service has been commissioned this week. The VTS system will eventually cover the total length of the 164-mile Turkish Straits and their approaches in the Black Sea and and Mediterranean. Turkey has been anxious to improve the traffic situation in the straits for several years, particularly with the recent growth in tanker traffic from central Asia into the Mediterranean. Some 45,000 ships transit the straits each year, making their passage through not only the natural hazards of often poor visibility and the currents, but the 2,500 daily ferry journeys which carry some 2 million people and 15,000 vehicles each day. This first phase, constructed by Lockheed Martin, provides eight radar stations to oversee the 17-mile long Straits of Istanbul, commonly referred to as the Bosporus. Visual lookout is impossible in this area, due to its tight bend and high sides. See "Bosporus radar system is launched to aid safety," Lloyds List at Hoover's Online, 7/3/03.
ABS "outraged" by Spain's proposed EC complaint: Spain is asking the European Commission to withdraw its recognition of ABS as an approved classification society. The Spanish Government announced its intention to seek EC action against ABS immediately after the filing of the ABS response and counterclaims to the legal action instigated by the Kingdom of Spain against the classification society in New York. ABS believes there is no factual basis for the Spanish petition under the relevant European Council Directive. See the ABS press release, 7/2/03.
Sunken ship pollution worry: A major salvage operation has been launched after the cargo ship Jambo hit rocks and sank near Ullapool. All crew members were rescued. The salvage priority is the removal of the vessel's marine diesel which poses the most immediate risk to the area's breeding birds and fish farming interests. But the salvage team will also assess the environmental risk posed by the ship's cargo of solid zinc. See "Sunken ship salvage to start," BBC News, 7/2/03.
Tough security measures proposed for ports: The federal Department of Homeland Security is proposing tighter security regulations for ships and the nation's 5,000 coastal facilities and 361 ports. New regulations could include subjecting passengers boarding large ships and ferries to the types of body and baggage screening employed at airports. It is estimated that the cost to the maritime industry, which will bear most of the expense, will exceed $7.3 billion over 10 years. The new rules, which will become final late this year after one more public review, apply security protocols typically associated with international seafaring to many domestic vessels, public ports and other piers, terminals, and loading docks. See "Security rules set for ports," Laurence Arnold, Associated Press at The Boston Globe, 7/2/03.
Many fear that these new rules will bring unreasonable costs and mean delays for family-owned ferries, sightseeing cruise lines and riverboat casinos. Some even fear that the rules will drive smaller companies out of business. As a result, the US Coast Guard is hoping to develop "flexible measures" that will keep smaller companies solvent, and rush hour on passenger ferries viable. For example, cars and passengers on ferries will be screened only during times when the nation's terror alert has been raised to orange, or high, and only on certain ships deemed most vulnerable. And the Homeland Security Department will let local vessel operators develop their own anti-terrorist measures, although they will still need to develop a plan to respond to a worst-case scenario. See "Feds back off on ferry screening," Alex Fryer, The Seattle Times, 7/2/03.
Lockheed Martin joins DD(X) team: Lockheed Martin has joined the DD(X) National Team with the signing of a $175 million subcontract with Raytheon, the lead systems integrator. Lockheed Martin will leverage its naval systems experience and domain expertise in total ship systems engineering, command and control, Integrated Undersea Warfare, weapons control, and phased array radar for the design of Engineering Development Models. The DD(X) is the Navy's next-generation transformational surface combatant. The National Team is led by Northrop Grumman. See "Lockheed Martin Joins DD(X) National Team, Receives $175 Million Contract," PRNewswire at Hoover's Online, 7/2/03.
House rejects Navy's bulk submarine purchase: The House Appropriations Committee has refused to approve a multi-year financing plan for the US Navy's next seven submarines. Navy officials say the multi-year plan would offer a cost savings of $115 million per submarine because of economies of scale. But some members of Congress are balking at committing to a funding plan when sub costs continue to soar. Despite the House committee's action, some sort of multi-year plan is likely to win approval eventually. The Senate Appropriations Committee appears more supportive of the initiative, and the House and Senate Armed Services committees have already endorsed the measure. See "U.S. House Panel Rejects Financing Plan for Navy Submarines," Daily Press at Hoover's Online, 7/1/03.
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