Thursday, July 30, 2015

Norwegian outcry over sunken Russian sub tests

The K-159 was to become scrap metal, but sank when towed to the dismantling yard, killing the nine sailors on board. (Photo: Courtesy of Bellona Foundation.)

By Atle Staalesen 

July 30, 2015 (Bellona) - A joint team of Norwegian and Russian researchers in 2014 made unique tests of the “K-159”, the nuclear sub which in 2003 sunk during a towing operation in the Barents Sea.
The expedition was to help determine the level of radiation around the vessel and possible threats to the surrounding environment.
Almost a year later, the Norwegians have not yet got access to their samples and there is increasing concern that the tests might never make it across the border, NRK reports. The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority now requests the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to intervene in the case.
Russian authorities reportedly believe that the samples might include information considered state secrets and consequently demand that they are analyzed by Russian researchers before they are sent to the Norwegians.
The test results are currently locked up in a container controlled by the Murmansk Customs, the Norwegian broadcaster informs.
The Russian research vessel “Ivan Petrov” on 22 August 2014 left Arkhangelsk with 15 scientists onboard with a mission determine situation around the “K-159”.  The submarine contains about 800 kilos of spent nuclear fuel and lies on 246 meters less than 130 kilometers from the border to Norway.
Until now, there have been conflicting conclusion made about the state of the sunken submarine. While Russian scientists are deeply worried about the shape of the sunken submarine, the Norwegians believe that the vessel does not pose any major danger to marine life in the area.
“In a study calculating the effects from various contamination scenarios, we have shown that even with the most dramatic pollution, the levels of Cesium-137 in fish will be under the limits set by Norwegian Food Safety Authority,” says scientist Hilde Elise Heldal from the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research.
The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority is not the only Norwegian organization with troublesome experiences from nuclear pollution project in Russia. Last year, the Akvaplan-Niva company was stopped by the Russian Northern Fleet when it was going to conduct a study on the Andreeva Bay nuclear waste dump. That project was a joint initiative by Akvaplan-Niva, the Murmansk Marine Biological Institute and the Russian Academy of Science.

Public invited to join NOAA on deep sea expedition of Pacific marine protected areas

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer systematically explores the deep oceans of the world. (Credit: NOAA)
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer systematically explores the deep oceans of the world. (Credit: NOAA)
Washington July 30, 2015 - NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer will begin two months of dives using unmanned remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs, to explore marine protected areas in the central Pacific Ocean. Starting on Aug. 1, anyone with an internet connection can virtually explore the deep sea with scientists and researchers from their computer or mobile device.
The ship and its crew will investigate deeper waters in and around Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
“These areas represent some of the last relatively pristine marine ecosystems on the planet,” said Holly Bamford, assistant NOAA administrator for the National Ocean Service performing the duties of the assistant secretary of commerce for conservation and management. “NOAA explores these regions because the data and information we gather helps scientists and resource managers better understand and protect these biological, geological and cultural resources that we are already aware of and those we will discover in the future.”
This map shows the areas NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer will be visiting during its 2015 expedition to marine protected areas in the Pacific. (Credit: NOAA)
This map shows the areas NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer will be visiting during its 2015 expedition to marine protected areas in the Pacific. (Credit: NOAA)
The expedition team will explore the seafloor at depths of 1,300 to 16,250 feet (400 to 5,000 meters) with two ROVs, which are tethered to Okeanos Explorer. The vehicles are outfitted with multiple high-definition cameras to capture imagery which the ship will transmit back to shore. Scientists will participate virtually, guiding the expedition from shore, while the public can tune in and view the exploration in real time at oceanexplorer.noaa.gov.
The work around Johnston Atoll will be the largest scientific effort conducted there since President Obama expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in September 2014.
“These places provide invaluable habitat for corals, birds and many other species — that’s one of the reasons they’ve been protected — but we don’t know much about what’s in the deep-sea areas,” said Samantha Brooke, manager for NOAA’s Marine National Monument Program in the NOAA Fisheries.
Deepwater coral and sponge garden found in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Images courtesy of NOAA-Hawaii Undersea Research Library Archives. (Credit: NOAA)
Deepwater coral and sponge garden found in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Images courtesy of NOAA-Hawaii Undersea Research Library Archives. (Credit: NOAA)




Expedition leaders anticipate finding large deep-sea coral communities known as coral gardens — some with coral colonies thought to be thousands of years old — as well as sponge communities. Both coral gardens and sponge communities provide habitat for a number of other species.
“Given the unexplored nature of these areas, their remoteness and their known status as biodiversity hotspots, I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see many animals and phenomena that are new to science,” said expedition science team lead Christopher Kelley, associate professor of biology and program biologist at the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Okeanos Explorer just completed two weeks of mapping more than 10,300 square miles (26,700 square kilometers) of seafloor around Johnston Atoll, which is part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.
“Papahānaumokuākea and the sanctuary are home to numerous protected species, undiscovered shipwrecks and sacred maritime landscapes," said Allen Tom, Pacific Islands regional director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “With live streaming video, we will be providing an exciting way for people to ‘visit’ these special places.”
The Pacific Remote Islands and Papahānaumokuākea marine national monuments were established by Presidential proclamations to protect abundant populations of coral, fish, marine mammals and seabirds. Papahānaumokuākea was also established to protect Native Hawaiian heritage and cultural resources. The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary was created by Congress to protect humpback whales and their habitat in Hawaii.
This is the first expedition of a major three-year effort to systematically collect information to support science and management needs within and around the U.S. marine national monuments and NOAA’s national marine sanctuaries in the Pacific.

Surface to Surface Missile Test For LCS Successful

Three missiles from a ripple fire response strike their moving targets during an engineering development tests of modified Longbow Hellfire missiles.
Three missiles from a ripple fire response strike their moving targets during an engineering development tests June 17th of modified Longbow Hellfire missiles off Port Hueneme. The missile system, designated the Surface-to-Surface Missile Module (SSMM), is expected to be fully integrated on Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) in late 2017, increasing the lethality of the Navy's LCS fleet. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Washington July 30, 2015 - Engineering development tests of modified Longbow Hellfire missiles for use on littoral combat ships (LCS) were successfully conducted in June the Navy reported July 30. 
Integration of the Longbow Hellfire missile system, designated the Surface-to-Surface Missile Module (SSMM), will increase the lethality of the Navy's fleet of littoral combat ships. The SSMM is expected to be fully integrated and ready to deploy on LCS missions in late 2017.
"This test was very successful and overall represents a big step forward in SSMM development for LCS," said Capt. Casey Moton, LCS Mission Modules program manager.
Termed Guided Test Vehicle-1, the event was designed to specifically test the Longbow Hellfire launcher, the missile, and its seeker versus high speed maneuvering surface targets (HSMSTs). The HSMSTs served as surrogates for fast inshore attack craft that are a potential threat to Navy ships worldwide.
During the mid-June tests off the coast of Virginia, the modified Longbow Hellfire missiles successfully destroyed a series of maneuvering small boat targets. The system "hit" seven of eight targets engaged, with the lone miss attributed to a target issue not related to the missile's capability. The shots were launched from the Navy's research vessel Relentless.
The test scenarios included hitting targets at both maximum and minimum missile ranges. After a stationary target was engaged, subsequent targets, conducting serpentine maneuvers were engaged. The tests culminated in a three-target "raid" scenario. During this scenario all missiles from a three-shot "ripple fire" response struck their individual targets.
Integration of the "fire-and-forget" Longbow Hellfire missile on LCS represents the next evolution in capability being developed for inclusion in the Increment 3 version of the surface warfare mission package for LCS. When fully integrated and tested, each 24-shot missile module will bring added firepower to complement the LCS's existing 57mm gun, SEARAM missiles and armed MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter. 
LCS is a modular, reconfigurable ship, with three types of mission packages including surface warfare, mine countermeasures, and anti-submarine warfare. The Program Executive Office Littoral Combat Ships (PEO LCS) is responsible for delivering and sustaining littoral mission capabilities to the fleet. Delivering high-quality warfighting assets while balancing affordability and capability is key to supporting the nation's maritime strategy.

Work to prepare for aircraft carriers well underway in Portsmouth


Work underneath the jetty (Helen Pickering, Crown Copyright MOD 2015)

London July 30, 2015 - Work by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) to ready Portsmouth Naval Base for the arrival of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers is well underway.
As part of the project Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) is rebuilding Middle Slip Jetty so it can accommodate HMS Queen Elizabeth when she arrives in Portsmouth in early 2017.
The 276 metre jetty was built in the 1920s and last upgraded in the 1970s. Earlier this year DIO appointed VolkerStevin (CORR) as the principal contractor to upgrade the structure as part of a package of work to prepare for the ships.
The total spend on infrastructure to support the carriers is £100 million, with VolkerStevin also providing a high voltage electrical supply, upgrade to the existing drinking water system and navigational aids.

Middle slip jetty at HMNB Portsmouth (All Rights Reserved)

Dredging work to ensure the harbour is deep and wide enough for the carriers will be carried out by Boskalis Westminster, with work expected to start at the end of the year.
Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans Mark Lancaster said, "The Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers are the largest ships ever commissioned for the Royal Navy. But it is not just the ships themselves that are a testament to the best of British engineering and technology.
"The vital infrastructure investment in the naval base, including the refurbishment and strengthening of the jetty, will ensure that Portsmouth continues in its proud maritime traditions and is the home of the carriers for decades to come."
Philip Wise, DIO Project Manager, added, "We are delighted to be delivering this important infrastructure for the navy to prepare for the arrival of the carriers into Portsmouth. The work on the jetty is a key part of this and we are pleased it is now well underway."
Captain Iain Greenlees, Head of Infrastructure at the naval base, said, "This is a huge project and a very exciting one.
"This program confirms the future of Portsmouth Naval Base for the next 50 to 80 years. It will be the only port which can fully support HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales and meet all their needs."

RFID Reduces Inventory Time Aboard Littoral Combat Ship

Wikipedia

Pensacola July 30, 2015 - Sailors aboard the littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) successfully demonstrated a passive radio frequency identification (RFID) system's utility during mine countermeasures mission package (MCM MP) container testing conducted off the coast of Florida, in early July.
The RFID project showed the technology's ability to dramatically reduce the time Sailors spend conducting parts and equipment inventory in support of ship replenishment.
"RFID reduced the time the Sailors are in the containers in the ship, and that's a goal - to reduce the warfighter's workload," said Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) project engineer Bill Israelson. "With the system's proven accuracy, we can quickly tell what needs to be resupplied so the ship can get what it needs and head back to sea."
During the container testing Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Mine Countermeasure Detachment Sailors scanned and inventoried 1,300 pieces of MCM MP equipment in only 21 minutes during a rapid replenishment evolution between at-sea periods. Previously, this task would have required three Sailors 72 hours to accomplish. 
The inventory occurred once the Sailors returned to port from after conducting at-sea technical evaluations of the littoral combat ship (LCS 2) MCM MP. Once in port, engineers from NSWC PCD, NSWC Port Hueneme Division and contractor support scanned parts and equipment inside the mission package and sent the information to a computer to determine what needed replenishment.
The RFID project is nearing the final test and evaluation stage, necessary to validate the proof of concept. The RFID prototype was initially developed by the Office of Naval Research.

US Federal Contractor Registration: Navy Releases Security Alarm System Install and Monitoring Solicitation on FedBizOpps (FBO) in Louisiana

Washington July 30, 2015 - The United States Federal Government as of Wednesday has 204 open Solicitations in Louisiana where they are currently seeking out properly registered government contractors. According to the new USA Spending website, the federal government has so far spent over $264.2 billion in government contracts over the course of 1,514,718 government transactions in 2015. Currently, the United States Federal Government has spent over $1 billion on government contracts in Louisiana alone. Please see the below available contract released by US Federal Contractor Registration, additional Louisiana contracts can be found at https://www.uscontractorregistration.com.
US Federal Contractor Registration is reporting the release of the Security Alarm System Install and Monitoring Solicitation in Louisiana posted to FedBizOpps (FBO) on July 29, 2015. The official response date for the Security Alarm System Install and Monitoring Solicitation is August 5, 2015. Every business interested in bidding on the Security Alarm System Install and Monitoring Solicitation must be properly registered in the SAM Registration, as well as have the North American Industry Classification System codes 561 - Administrative and Support Services, and 561621 - Security Systems Services (except Locksmiths) filed in their SAM account/vendor profile.
Below is a copy of the Security Alarm System Install and Monitoring Solicitation as originally posted to FedBizOpps (FBO) on July 29, 2015:
This is a combined synopsis / solicitation for a security alarm system prepared in accordance with the format in subpart 12.6 as supplemented with additional information included in this notice. This announcement constitutes the only solicitation; proposals are being requested and a written solicitation will not be issued. The solicitation number is HSCG29-15-Q-XJN461. This combined synopsis constitutes a solicitation and incorporates provisions and clauses in effect through federal acquisition circular 2007. This acquisition is set aside small business. The NAICS code is 561621. The small business size standard is $20.5. The contract type will be a firm fixed price purchase order. The award will be based on Lowest Cost Technically Acceptable.
Installation and monitoring of alarm system for 6 locations in Belle Chasse, LA. Prep and install needed hardware and electrical needed to alarm units with backup power source. Install keypad controller at main entrance points. Include 24/7 monitoring of system.
Vendors Doing Business with the Coast Guard MUST be registered or willing to register with the System for Award Management. The Government will award a contract resulting from this Request for Quote (RFQ) to the responsible offeror whose offer conforming to the RFQ is the Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) quote. The lowest price quote will be evaluated on technical acceptability. If it is found to be acceptable, an award will be made. If it is found to be unacceptable, the next lowest price will be evaluated. This process will continue until a technically acceptable offer is identified; not all offers will be evaluated.
Businesses that would like to learn how to bid on available opportunities or register in SAM can call Acquisition Specialist Justin Jones at 1(877) 252-2700 Ext. 757. Vendors have been enrolling in the Simplified Acquisition Program to win available government contracts, network with procurement officers across the nation, and qualify their business for government contracting. Businesses that would like to learn more about the Simplified Acquisition Program can visit http://www.simplifiedacquisitionprogram.org/.

Cal Guard Launches Remotely Piloted Aircraft to Search El Dorado National Forest for Missing Person

 
USAF

Sacramento July 29, 2015 - At the request of the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office and California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, the California National Guard launched a Remotely Piloted Aircraft at 10:20 a.m. today to help search for 45-year-old Edward Kavanaugh who was last seen July 17 when he went motorcycle riding in the El Dorado National Forest. This is the first time such a vehicle has been used by the National Guard to aid a search-and-rescue effort.
"In 2013, the Cal Guard's remotely piloted aircraft aided firefighters during the Rim Fire, and now — for the first time ever — it is helping an active search-and-rescue mission," said Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, California's Adjutant General. "This technology allows us to provide persistant coverage of the search area in support of our partner agencies."
The remotely piloted aircraft, an Air National Guard MQ-9 Reaper, departed the March Air Reserve Base near Riverside, California this morning. Equipped with infrared sensors, image-intensified cameras and laser illuminators, it is bolstering the active search-and-rescue efforts in the national forest by providing detailed aerial pictures that are instantly relayed to National Guard ground crews and their civilian partners.
The El Dorado County Sheriff's request for use of the remotely piloted aircraft came to the Cal Guard's leadership last night through the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, which provides the Cal Guard oversight in its state emergency-response missions. On average, the Cal Guard responds to a state incident, including wildfires and search-and-rescue missions, once every three days.
"Having access to mutual aid resources like this is an amazing asset for our state and our local counterparts in times of crisis," said California Governor's Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci. "We hope that this aircraft is able to provide El Dorado County with valuable information to the on-the-ground personnel involved in this search-and-rescue mission."
The Cal Guard has previously used its remotely piloted aircraft for state emergency-response missions when it supported firefighting efforts at Yosemite National Park during the 2013 Rim Fire. During that mission, the MQ-1 Predator provided aerial imagery in support of interagency firefighters on the ground as they battled the third-largest fire in California's history.
The Cal Guard and California Governor's Office of Emergency Services remind the public that privately owned "unmanned aircraft " should not be flown near search-and-rescue or firefighting activities because this can interfere with public safety operations and put lives at risk.