Friday, September 25, 2009

From 3rd Fleet to 6th Fleet, USS Higgins Provides Seamless Performance

Story Number: NNS090925-14Release Date: 9/25/2009 4:36:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) David Holmes, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa/Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- San Diego-based destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) is currently deployed in the 6th Fleet area of operations and is a real-world application of the collaborative approach by fleet commanders for supporting global mission requirements. U.S. Fleet Forces and U.S. Pacific Fleet utilize standardized practices, certifications and Navy resources to most effectively meet combatant commander requirements and address global contingencies wherever they may arise."USS Higgins' current operations are a perfect example of our 'One Fleet' approach to meeting global requirements," said Adm. J. C. Harvey, Jr., commander, U.S. Fleet Forces. "Our common training standards and common operating principles mean that we can fully integrate any ship to support our missions, regardless of homeport. We will see more of this in our future, particularly in Navy ballistic missile defense (BMD) operations." Higgins reported on station in the Mediterranean Sea, Sept. 1, following completion of a normal Western transit, which included consecutive operations in the 3rd, 7th, and 5th Fleets. The ship is currently participating in the multinational exercise Jackal Stone 2009 with nine other partner nations. Jackal Stone promotes cooperation and interoperability between special operations forces."Having recently served on the Naval Surface Forces staff, I know how closely the Atlantic and Pacific type commander organizations in Norfolk and San Diego work to build and maintain one standard of naval capability across the entire fleet," said Higgins' commanding officer Cmdr. Carl Meuser. "That close cooperation has translated for us into a smooth transition from 3rd Fleet to 7th Fleet, to 5th Fleet to 6th Fleet. We train to the same standard and to the same mission areas as a ship from Norfolk."With this uniform approach, a Pacific Fleet ship, for example, has the ability to transit into an area of operation traditionally supported by Atlantic Fleet ships and seamlessly perform across the full range of military operations.With a complement of more than 270 Sailors and multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities, Higgins is a ready force providing regional security. Throughout this deployment, the Aegis destroyer and crew will conduct various engagements to develop enduring international military partnerships while representing Navy BMD for the United States and its allies.

Monday, September 21, 2009

090917-N-8907D-185 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 17, 2009) The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), BNS Liberal (F 43) from Brazil and HNLMS Van Speijk (F 828) from the Netherlands transit in formation during a group sail. Harry S. Truman is underway participating in Joint Task Force Exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David Danals/Released)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

USS Texas (SSN 775)

090916-N-3090M-301 GROTON, Conn. (Sept. 16, 2009) The Virginia-class attack submarine USS Texas (SSN 775) exits the Thames River as she departs Naval Submarine Base New London for the final time. Texas is transiting to her new homeport in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Myers/Released)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

USS Anzio

090915-N-6814F-107 INDIAN OCEAN (Sept. 15, 2009) Sailors launch a Navy gunnery target balloon, or killer tomato, from the guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio (CG 68) during a live-fire exercise. Anzio is the flagship for Combined Task Force 151, a multinational task force established to conduct counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian K. Fromal/Released)

HMS Iron Duke Proves She Is Still Fit To Fight

Since our second Counter-Narcotics success in late August, the Ship has enjoyed visits to Port of Spain, Trinidad, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Between the two we passed a mid-deployment assessment, with RN staff from the UK visiting to test our continued operational capability.
Before the Ship arrived in Port of Spain, we conducted training with the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG). 8 members of the TTCG stayed on board overnight, witnessing flying operations and taking part in gunnery and Replenishment at Sea in preparation for the delivery of their new Offshore Patrol Vessels from the UK. The Ship spent 3 days in Trinidad in early September, with the official evening reception on board for local dignitaries once again considered a great success. The Commanding Officer and Executive Officer represented the Royal Navy at the Trinidad and Tobago Independence Day Parade, attended by the President and many local dignitaries. We also hosted a visit by friends and family of the British High Commission, with 100 guests of all ages taking the opportunity to tour HMS Iron Duke, who left the Ship impressed with the capabilities we have to offer.
The Ship’s sports teams played local rugby and golf teams with mixed results. Whilst the rugby team played gallantly they eventually lost in a highly exciting and close run game; the golf team performed better and enjoyed a good day of golf on a challenging course. Afterwards both teams experienced the local hospitality of their opponents.
After departing from Trinidad and on passage to Puerto Rico, Iron Duke had a very busy period of training and assessment with a range of staff embarked. These teams came on board to ensure that the high standards set before the Ship left UK waters were being maintained and that we still had the edge. Staff from Flag Officer Sea Training came to assure the Commander in Chief Fleet that the Ship can perform our core war fighting skills in preparation for any task that may be required of us. Staff from the Portsmouth Flotilla embarked to ensure correct standards and procedures remain in place in the engineering departments, and also looked at whole Ship routines. The Ship’s Flight also had teams embarked to ensure that both the helicopter crew and the flight deck team are operating to the high standards required for naval aviation. It was a busy, demanding week, but the visitors left confident in Iron Duke’s continued ability fight in all environments.
Our visit to Puerto Rico was nearly delayed by the passage of Tropical Storm Erika, which fortunately dissipated before it reached the Caribbean. After such a demanding time at sea the visit allowed the Ship’s Company the opportunity to relax and see all that San Juan has to offer. The main official event was the reception on the first evening, attended by many local dignitaries, foreign diplomats and US Coast Guard Officers. During our visit Puerto Rico’s Secretary of State also came on board for an informal tour and was suitably impressed by what he saw.
HMS Iron Duke’s primary mission in the Caribbean remains the provision of support and reassurance to the UK Overseas Territories. As the Ship sailed from Puerto Rico hurricane Fred, which started as a tropical depression off the West Coast off Africa, was heading West across the Atlantic and the Ship is keeping a close watch on the forecast. In the meantime, counter-narcotic patrols continue and we are hopeful of more successes soon.

Malta raises objections over Arctic Sea handover — investigators

© REUTERS/ Handout
MOSCOW, September 17 (RIA Novosti) - The Arctic Sea is unable to call at the Spanish port of Las Palmas after Malta refused to take part in the handover of the ship, Russian investigators said on Thursday.
The Investigative Committee of the Russian Prosecutor General's Office said on Wednesday the transfer of the Arctic Sea, currently anchored 15-17 miles off Spain's Canary Islands, would take place from September 17 through September 18. The investigators did not disclose whom the ship would be handed over to.
"The Maltese decision is making it difficult for the vessel to call at the port of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, which was agreed in advance with Spain," the committee said in a statement.
The decision also makes things difficult both for the crew and for a team of Russian investigators who completed their investigation on Wednesday into the recent incident on board the ship.
The Maltese-flagged and Russian-crewed vessel, officially carrying lumber from Russia to Algeria, was reportedly boarded by a group of eight men on July 24. Officials later said it had disappeared in the Atlantic. It was freed off Cape Verde on August 16 by a Russian warship.
The Committee spokesman, Vladimir Markin, described Malta's refusal as "inconsistent and illogical," and said it ran counter to the international convention on the law of the sea.
Spanish authorities gave permission for the Arctic Sea, the Ladny frigate, which freed the cargo vessel from hijackers, and a Russian tug boat to call at Las Palmas on Tuesday, but cancelled the decision on Wednesday without giving any explanation.
Spain's Foreign Ministry held intensive talks with Russian and Maltese ambassadors on Wednesday and on Thursday morning.
Russian and international media has speculated that the ship could have been involved in a state-sponsored arms trafficking operation, including suggestions that Russia attempted to deliver missiles for S-300 air defense systems to Iran or Syria. The speculation was dismissed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier this month.
A crew member close to the investigation told RIA Novosti on Wednesday that it had been established that the Arctic Sea had over 6,000 metric tons of timber on board.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Coast Guard Cutter Petrel

SAN DIEGO - The Coast Guard Cutter Petrel transports 23 suspected illegal immigrants to Sector San Diego after being apprehended Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009. Customs and Border Protection notified the Coast Guard about the suspected migrants early this morning, the migrants were spotted by a Sector San Diego helicopter eight miles off shore from Carlsbad, Calif., where then apprehended by the Petrel, and transported to Sector San Diego. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Allyson E.T. Conroy, U.S. Coast Guard.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Aviation Survival Training Center in Jacksonville

090604-N-0413R-075 JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (June 4, 2009) The Aviation Survival Training Center in Jacksonville, Fla., simulates a storm during the last training evolution of the quadrennial two-day course. The course is required for all Naval aviators. Thunder sound effects fill the smoky air and lights are dimmed to create a realistic training environment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shannon Renfroe/Released)

USS O'Kane (DDG 77)

090914-N-0641S-022 PEARL HARBOR (Sept. 14, 2009) The guided missile-destroyer USS O'Kane (DDG 77) departs Naval Station Pearl Harbor for a scheduled deployment. O'Kane is deploying under the Middle-Pacific Surface Combatant deployment concept to support operations in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Swink/Released)

Navy conducts survey operations around Coromandel

HMNZS RESOLUTION has returned to her primary tasking as the Navy’s Principal Hydrographic vessel and has commenced survey operations in support of a Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) contracted Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) surveying operation in and around the Coromandel Peninsula and the Mercury Islands.
RESOLUTION has been tasked to support the Littoral Warfare Support Group managed survey operation by conducting commercial hydrographic surveying of areas in and around the Coromandel Peninsula and Mercury Islands from June 2009 until the end of June 2010.
The Commanding Officer of HMNZS RESOLUTION, Lieutenant Commander Shane Arndell, says “Putting it in layman terms, we are helping the Navy’s Maritime Survey Team to re-chart the waters in this area to ensure all recreational fishermen, boaties and divers can safely enjoy their activities, as well as ensuring the area remains safe for navigation of all commercial vessels”. Onboard RESOLUTION at sea, Lieutenant Commander Arndell has a ship’s company of 47 men and women – his core crew is 35 and embarked onboard for this operation are an extra 13 hydrographic surveyors from the Maritime Survey Team. Working from the shore is the Detached Hydrographic Support Unit, who are based out of Whitianga for the duration.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mesa Verde Sailors and Marines Team for Expedition Exercise

Story Number: NNS090914-03Release Date: 9/14/2009 4:47:00 AM
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Hodges Pone III
NORFOLK (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Mesa Verde and approximately 375 U.S. Marines completed an Amphibious Squadron and Marine Expeditionary Unit exercise Sept. 4.The exercise was used to test the capabilities of both entities during joint forces missions as well as prepare each for upcoming assignments.Sailors and Marines were able to experience working as a single unit to provide support for the various scenarios they may encounter at sea. By doing so, each had to alter some of their routine to accommodate the other as well as learn how tasks were accomplished in their sister branch."We want to have a better understanding of what our Navy counterparts are doing," said Staff Sgt. Jesse Andrews of Combat Logistic Battalion. "This has to be a mutually supportive relationship for each service to complete its mission and thus far, this exercise has been exceptional. The Sailors aboard Mesa Verde have been very helpful."Some of the adjustments included making preparations to bring in a MV-22 Osprey helicopter, which many members of Mesa Verde's flight deck team had never worked with. Other Marine aircraft were brought onboard and flight deck personnel provided support to the members of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162. Mesa Verde's Aviation Fuels Officer, Lt. Robert Poggio, said that the invaluable experience gained while working with the squadron showed team members some of the different equipment they may see aboard the ship."Some of the aircraft used by the Marines are 'skids,' which mean they have no wheels," said Poggio. "To move them, you have to add handling wheels. It was good to have them onboard, because this has expanded the range of opportunities we have had. It's different, but exciting."Sailors weren't the only service members changing the way things are done. Many of the Marines were receiving their first experience of being aboard a ship as well as doing their day-to-day jobs in a different environment."This is my first time on the ship and some of the areas are more confined than what some of us are used to," said Private First Class Antonio Gonzalez of 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, Bravo Company. "The crew was very supportive in getting the vehicles stowed aboard the ship. It has been an overall good experience and I look forward to another opportunity to be on board Mesa Verde."

Coast Guard works with Canada to improve international search and rescue efforts

Date: Sept. 11, 2009

Coast Guard trains with the Canadian Coast Guard during a search and rescue exercise
In this photo released by the U.S. Coast Guard the Coast Guard Cutter Grand Isle is seen participating in search and rescue exercises with the Canadian Coast Guard Friday, Sept. 11, 2009. The Grand Isle is homeported in Gloucester, Mass., the sister city of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. ( Coast Guard photo/ Petty Officer 3rd Class James Rhodes)
Coast Guard conducts helo ops with Canadian Air Force
In this photo released by the U.S. Coast Guard the Coast Guard Cutter Grand Isle is seen participating in helicopter operations with the Canadian Air Force Friday, Sept. 11, 2009. The Grand Isle has been making the trip to Lunenburg, N.S., for over 10 years in support of a relationship between two sister cities, Gloucester, Mass., and Lunenburg, N.S., (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 3rd Class James Rhodes)

Friday, September 11, 2009

One of the World's Largest Maritime Exercises Kicks Off in Panama

Panama City September 11, 2009 - More than 4,500 personnel from 20 countries began a 12-day exercise here Friday to train in a joint, multinational effort to ensure the security of the Panama Canal.
U.S. and Panamanian officials held a formal opening ceremony Friday for Fuerzas Aliadas (Allied Forces) PANAMAX 2009, co-sponsored by U.S. Southern Command and the Government of Panama, in Panama City, Panama.
Representatives of the 20 participating nations joined Jose Raul Mulino, Panama's Minister of Government and Justice, and U.S. Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Gerald W. Ketchum, Director of Stability for U.S. Southern Command, at the ceremony.
FA PANAMAX 2009 is one of the largest multinational training exercises in the world, and is taking place in the waters off the coasts of Panama from Sept. 11-22 with the participation of civil and military forces.
More than 20 vessels and a dozen aircraft are involved in the exercises. Participants are focusing on a variety of responses to any request from the Government of Panama to protect and guarantee safe passage of traffic through the Panama Canal, ensure its neutrality, and respect national sovereignty. Simulated ground forces are also participating at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.
"This year's exercise will continue the tradition of strengthening partnerships and building real operational capability," said Ketchum. "It is important to all participants, that this unique engine of regional and world economic activity remain safe, secure and prosperous.
"In 2009, we will collectively exercise maritime interdiction, security operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief," Ketchum added.
Minister Mulino also emphasized the importance of creating the legal, institutional and operational framework necessary to ensure the safeguarding of the Panama Canal.
The multinational forces protecting the canal approaches will be organized under Multi-National Force-South and commanded by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Keith M. Huber, commander of U.S. Army South.
The FA PANAMAX 2009 exercise scenario includes sea-based training devoted to maritime interdiction operations, including visit, boarding, search and seizure. Virtual land-based training in San Antonio, Texas, will focus on command and control, stability operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief operations.
FA PANAMAX 2009 participating nations include: Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, United States and Uruguay. France and Mexico are scheduled to participate as observers. The Conference of Central American Armies, the Organization of American States and the United Nations will also participate.
Honduras withdrew from the exercise Aug. 10.
PANAMAX began in 2003 with three countries: Panama, Chile and the United States. Exercise participation has greatly expanded every year since. In 2004, nine nations took part; in 2005, 15 nations were involved; in 2006, 18 nations participated; in 2007, 19 nations took part and last year 20 nations were a part of PANAMAX 2008.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

U.S. Sailors, Coast Guard Protect Iraq’s Economy

By Army Spc. Darryl L. Montgomery
Special to American Forces Press Service

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq, Sept. 10, 2009 – Eighty percent of Iraq’s gross domestic product is pumped through pipelines and onto tankers at the Al Basrah Oil Terminal 30 miles off the coast of Iraq in the Persian Gulf.
The terminal is a vital part of Iraq’s economy, and it is the job of the U.S. sailors and Coast Guardsmen stationed there to keep it safe, according to Navy Cmdr. Thomas Shultz, commander of Task Group Iraqi Maritime.

“The Al Basrah Oil Terminal is the main Iraqi oil terminal for off-loading oil from Iraq. It accounts for approximately 80 percent of their GDP on a daily basis, so it is a key part of their economic structure,” the San Diego resident said. “It is something that has to stay open and continue working day in and day out for the Iraqi economy to keep on moving.”

Four tankers simultaneously dock at the platform, while Iraq’s oil is pumped into the ships. The terminal receives an average of six tankers per week and pumps around 1.5 million barrels of oil a day, Shultz said.

“That’s quite a bit of oil that is going into these tankers on a daily basis,” he said. “They will take the oil back to all different types of countries -- from the far east to the Americas, and Europe. Tankers from all over the world are coming here.”

But soon it will be the Iraqis’ responsibility to safeguard the terminal.

“Our main mission now is to train them to be ready for that day,” said Navy Chief Petty Officer Stephen Leas, operations specialist chief of the destroyer USS Decatur. “We are here to support them while they get on their feet.

“When something happens out here, we make sure [the Iraqi naval forces] know about it. We clear everything through them before we take action to correct the issue,” Leas, a Victorville, Calif., native said.

Shultz added that there was an attempted attack on the terminal in 2004, but the military forces successfully held it off.

On the platform, sailors and Coast Guardsmen patrol every minute of the day to maintain situational awareness and ensure any threats that come up are dealt with immediately. Iraqi sailors and marines also help provide security on the platform.

On the waters surrounding the oil terminal, U.S. Navy ships and Iraqi patrol boats patrol to ensure no unauthorized water craft breech the security perimeter.

About 100 workers from the Basra-based Southern Oil Company operate the valves to ensure the oil makes its way to the tankers, Shultz said.

The commander said he and others enjoy what is an unusual, but rewarding mission on the platform.

“It’s very interesting, different than anything folks normally have a chance to do,” he said. “People that come here are interested. It’s a real mission. You’re protecting something that is helping the Iraqi people and the nation as a whole, so people get a lot out of conducting this mission.”

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


ARCTIC OCEAN – The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent ties up to the Coast Guard Cutter Healy in the Arctic Ocean Sep. 5, 2009. The two ships special capabilities are being used to help scientists locate the outer edge of the North American extended continental shelf. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Third Class Patrick Kelley)


090909-N-0000X-001 WASHINGTON (Sept. 9, 2009) In this composite side-scan sonar image released by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the wreckage of a World War II patrol boat is seen in approximately 300 feet of water off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. YP-389, a converted trawler used by the Navy for Atlantic coastline protection during World War II, sank June 19, 1942 off North Carolina during a battle with German submarine U-701. (U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration photo/Released)

Fire, injuries reported aboard Russian cruiser

Kiev/Moscow - A fire aboard the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet injured seven sailors before the blaze was brought under control, the Interfax news agency reported Wednesday. But officials in Moscow denied service personnel had been harmed in the September 7 incident, saying "there was only a little smoke."

Interfax citing "competent naval sources" reported the fire broke out aboard the missile cruiser Moscow while it was tied up at a military wharf in the Ukrainian port Sevastopol.

Russia leases a section of the Crimean peninsula port from Ukraine as the home base for its Black Sea fleet.

Ambulances later removed injured personnel from the vessel, and smoke was coming out of windows and hull gaps in the warship's central section, witnesses told Interfax.

Seven internal compartments were damaged by smoke or water before the fire was extinguished, according to the Ukrainian news report.

"Those reports do not match the truth," said Andrei Krylov, a Russian navy spokesman. "There was a bit of smoke...but everything aboard the cruisier is fine...and no one was hurt."

The Moscow was built in 1983 as a Soviet warship carrying cruise missiles designed to attack NATO aircraft carriers.

The ship and crew participated in the South Ossetia War in August 2008, landing Russian Marines on Georgia's Black Sea coast, and acting as a command and control vessel during sea battles destroying Georgia's entire navy.

Russia's navy in recent years has been hit with a series of embarassing accidents. The most deadly were a torpedo failure in 2000 aboard a missile submarine killing 118 navy personnel, and a fire in 2008 aboard an attack submarine killing three service personnel and 17 civilians.

1st Annual PBY FLY-IN

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City C-130J

Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City C-130J in flight over North Carolina on April 16, 2007. The Lockheed C-130J is the latest incarnation of this enduring, long range, multi mission platform. Air Station Elizabeth City has the first operational J models. The Coast Guard has been using a version of the C130 since Air Station Elizabeth City took delivery of the first one in December 1959. (Coast Guard photo/Dave Silva)

Reactors stored safely onshore

2009-09-08 Barents Observer

SAIDA BAY: The reactor compartments from the five nuclear powered submarines decommissioned with Norwegian financial assistance are now safely stored onshore in the Saida bay on the Kola Peninsula.

Last week, a Norwegian delegation led by State Secretary in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Elisabeth Walaas, visited the Saida bay. The Norwegian representatives could see the five reactor compartments lined up on the storage pad, each marked with the submarine’s serial number.

All in all, 33 reactor compartments are currently stored at the German-financed newly constructed storage pad. This first stage of the facility was commissioned in 2006 at a cost of more than 150 million Euros.

Many more than today’s 33 compartments are waiting to be taken onshore. In the water just outside the new onshore storage site, several tens of reactor compartments from scrapped submarines are floating. Other countries are also providing financial grants for scrapping older submarines from the Russian Northern fleet. In addition to Norway, they are South Korea, Italy, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan, France and others.

Also read: Last strontium battery removed

In total, reactor compartments from 120 retired submarines are to be stored in the Saida bay. While still floating at the different naval bases and naval yards, the submarines represented a danger of accidents or radiation leakages, and by that constituted a threat to the marine environment.

Norway was the first foreign country to initiate financial assistance for decommissioning multi-purpose submarines from the Russian navy. From before, some 30 strategic nuclear powered submarines were scrapped with technical and financial assistance from the USA as a part of the arms reduction agreements. The work to scrap the first two Norwegian financed submarines started in the autumn 2003. The cutting of the submarines themselves took place at the naval yards in Severodvinsk near Arkhangelsk and Nerpa near Murmansk.

Another submarine that Norway gave financial assistance to the decommissioning followed in 2005 and yet another followed in 2006. All the four submarines were of the Victor-class.

The last Norwegian financed scrapping of a retired submarine was done with a co-share of the expenses’ together with the United Kingdom. This last submarine, a first generation of the November class, was originally laid-up at the closed down naval base Gremikha, east on the Kola Peninsula. From Gremikha the submarine was taken to Naval yard No. 10 in Polyarny where the spent nuclear fuel was lifted out. Then the submarine was cut up at the Nerpa yard, before the reactor compartment was taken to the Saida bay earlier this year.

Also read:Rusty submarine remains on the seabed

The huge compartments now stored onshore in the Saida bay consists of the submarine’s reactor room, each holding two reactors where the metal in the tanks and tubes are still radioactive, even if all the spent uranium fuel is removed.

In addition to the concrete pad where the compartments themselves are placed, the facility in Saida will, when ready, consist of a pier for a floating dock, a repair hall where the enormous reactor compartments can be taken in-door for needed work, several auxiliary buildings, roads and external infrastructure. Already, the radiation protection system is in place.

It is not only compartments from submarine reactors that can be placed in Saida. Also, the radioactive parts of nuclear service vessels to be decommissioned in the future can end its days at the storage site in Saida.

As a continuation of the constructions in Saida bay it is also planned a Regional Centre for management and storage of radioactive waste. Such centre will receive, decontaminate and pack solid radioactive waste. The centre could also play a crucial role for in the entire radioactive clean-up and safety work now going on at several location on the Kola Peninsula, like the old and not satisfactory storage sites in Andreeva bay and Gremikha.

According to German estimates such radioactive management centre will cost another 300 million Euros.

Russia denies rumors of S-300 shipment on Arctic Sea

Moscow September 8, 2009 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed on Tuesday media speculation that the Arctic Sea cargo ship, recently hijacked in the Atlantic, was carrying missiles for S-300 air defense systems.
Global media has been rife with rumors that the Russian-operated ship could have been involved in an arms-smuggling or trafficking operation on a state level.
"The presence of S-300 on board the Arctic Sea cargo ship is a complete lie," Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow.
He added that Russia would conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the ship's disappearance as the vessel was sailing under a Maltese flag.
"It [the investigation] will be completely transparent, and I hope everyone will be convinced that these rumors are absolutely ungrounded," Lavrov said.
The Maltese-flagged vessel, officially carrying lumber from Russia to Algeria, was reportedly boarded by a group of eight men on July 24 and mysteriously disappeared in the Atlantic.
It was discovered off Cape Verde on August 16 by Russia's Ladny warship and is currently being towed to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk. The ship is due to arrive at the port in late September.
Four crew members remain on board, while the other 11 were flown to Moscow last month to be questioned by the Russian authorities amid speculation that they may have been in cahoots with the alleged hijackers. They have reportedly now returned home to the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk.
Eight men, including citizens of Russia, Latvia and Estonia, have been arrested and charged with piracy and kidnapping.
Malta, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Latvia have set up an investigation team to look into the incident. They have agreed that any other suspects in the case will be tried in their home countries.
Representatives of Russian, Finnish, Swedish and Estonian investigation authorities, each carrying out their own investigation into the incident, met last Thursday in Moscow.
S-300s are considered one of the world's most effective all-altitude regional air defense systems, comparable in performance to the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot system.
Russia has until recently delayed the implementation of a 2007 deal with Iran on the supply of S-300s. The contract is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Israel and the United States have been making proactive diplomatic efforts to influence Russia to drop the plans. They suspect the Islamic Republic of secretly seeking to build nuclear weapons, and have refused to rule out a military strike on its nuclear facilities.

Hr. Ms. Mercuur last night made a strong commitment to a fire on board the coastguard tug Waker under control. The torpedo working vessel of the Royal Navy led the rescue operation. The major fire raged in the engine room of the Walter, who currently 5 kilometer northwest of Vlieland was anchored. Upon arrival at this place took the Mercuur in consultation with the Coast Guard center in Den Helder coordinating the rescue operation itself. The nurse of the naval ship provided medical assistance to the crew. The Coast Guard ships could be rushed initially just outside the wet and cool, because all external doors were closed. Five soldiers of the Mercuur were then heat-resistant clothing for the fire board to coordinate work. It locks on the fuel off the ship. The Navy team was later relieved by the now regular firefighters arrived and salvage specialists. Hr. Ms. Mercuur wore the overall coordination of the action after about 5 hours to the coast guard vessel Barend Biesheuvel. The naval crew of the ship took 6 Waker back to Den Helder.

Superferry 9 Disaster

090906-N-0120R-113 ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (Sept. 6, 2009) An 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boat operated by members of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) pulls alongside a Philippine Navy patrol boat during the search for survivors Sept. 6, 2009 following the sinking of a super ferry off the coast of Zamboanga del Norte. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Ramsey/Released)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Royal Navy and RAF 'outnumbered by MoD civil servants'

From The Sunday Times
September 7, 2009

The Ministry of Defence is overstuffed with civil servants who outnumber the combined manpower of the Royal Navy and the RAF, the Shadow Defence Secretary said today.
Sixteen per cent of the Civil Service now reside in the MoD, Liam Fox said. Pledging that a Conservative government would tackle the imbalance between uniform and non-uniform personnel, Dr Fox said: “How can it be that while we have a Navy of only 34,000 we have almost 24,000 people working in procurement alone?”
Radical reform is needed at the MoD, Dr Fox said, speaking at the launch of the Jane’s 2009 Defence Systems and Equipment International exhibition in London.
Labour and the Conservatives have announced that they would hold a strategic defence review of Britain’s military commitments and capabilities whoever wins the general election next year. Dr Fox outlined how a Conservative government would approach the review and indicated that one of the first steps would be to downsize the MoD.
“Currently there is one civilian for every two Armed Forces personnel in the MoD, it is time for the MoD to get its house in order,” he said.
The current trend was that the military was shrinking at the same time as the Civil Service kept growing, he said.
However, the military would also be scrutinised. “There are questions for all Services as to whether they have an overabundance of senior posts,” he said.
One of the key areas in the review, Dr Fox said, would be the MoD’s equipment-buying system. Bernard Gray, a former adviser at the MoD, has written a report, yet to be published, which reveals that the defence equipment programme is underfunded by £35 billion and is running an of average five years behind schedule.
“Expected cost overruns in the next ten years alone amount to £16 billion [which] equates to unfunded liability of £4.4 million per day,” Dr Fox said.
“With headline equipment programmes utterly unmatched by funding, future defence procurement becomes little more than a child’s wish list to Santa Claus.
“The defence and security of the United Kingdom is increasingly being run on a wing and a prayer and, as the money has failed to materialise for the unfunded projects, so they are delayed and delayed with the taxpayer left to foot the bill and the military left to ponder their absent capabilities.”
The party in office after the election would find itself with a military that is “overstretched, undermanned and in possession of worn-out equipment, and the worst peacetime public finances in our history”.
In one policy pledge, Dr Fox said that a Conservative government would reinstate the MoD’s defence export sales organisation which was scrapped in 2007.
He added: “For too long defence has been at the bottom of this Government’s priorities, we have had four defence secretaries in four years, one of whom was part-time." The Tories say that when Des Browne was appointed Defence Secretary and Scottish Secretary, he was unable to devote all his energies to defence.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

'Mossad staged Russian ship hijacking'

The hijackers of the 'Arctic Sea' being arrested.Photo: AP

A Russian cargo ship that disappeared in the Channel was carrying arms to Iran and was being tracked by Mossad, The Sunday Times reported, quoting unnamed sources in both Russia and Israel.
The ship, called The Arctic Sea and flying a Maltese flag of convenience, was officially carrying a cargo of timber worth £1.3m and vanished along the route from Finland to Algeria on July 24. It was recovered west of Africa on August 17 when eight alleged pirates were arrested on suspicion of hijacking the vessel.
Moscow vehemently denied that the ship was carrying any cargo apart from the timber. It said the ship was taken by criminals who demanded a £1m ransom.
But Israeli and Russian sources quoted by the Times claim the ship had been loaded with S-300 missiles, Russia's most advanced anti-aircraft weapon, while it was docking for repairs in the Russian port of Kaliningrad.
According to the paper, Mossad tipped off the Russian government that the shipment had been sold by former military officers who have crossed over to crime.
The Kremlin then reportedly ordered a rescue mission which involved destroyers and submarines, to avoid the embarrassment of the advanced system being sold by criminals, so military officials believe a "cover story" was concocted.
A Russian military official is quoted as saying "The official version is ridiculous and was given to allow the Kremlin to save face, I've spoken to people close to the investigation and they've pretty much confirmed Mossad's involvement. It's laughable to believe all this fuss was over a load of timber. I'm not alone in believing that it was carrying weapons to Iran."
Sources in Moscow further suggested that Mossad may have used proxies to hijack the ship by establishing a criminal gang which, most likely, was not aware of the true reasoning behind its mission. "The best way for the Israelis to block the cargo from reaching Iran would have been to create a lot of noise around the ship," a former army officer told the paper.
"Once the news of the hijack broke, the game was up for the arms dealers. The Russians had to act. That's why I don't rule out Mossad being behind the hijacking. It stopped the shipment and gave the Kremlin a way out so that it can now claim it mounted a brilliant rescue mission."
Israeli military sources told the paper that a decision to inform Russia of the weapons shipment followed intelligence that the ship was being loaded with the system in Kaliningrad, a port notorious for gun runners.
Israel views the S-300, considered the world's most advanced anti-aircraft missile system, as a weapon tilting the power equilibrium in the region, and has been exerting continuous pressure on Russia not to sell the system to Iran.
But in Kaliningrad, former high-ranking Russian military officers impoverished since the fall of the Soviet empire have been said to trade in Russian weaponry clandestinely, without Moscow's approval or knowledge.
The visit of President Shimon Peres to Russia began a day after the ship was rescued. Peres discussed at length the issue of Russian arms sales to Israel's enemies, and a statement issued by his office after the meeting said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev promised that Russia would not supply arms to Iran or Syria.
A Russian official said the timing of the president's visit to Russia was not coincidental.
"Clearly the Israelis played a role in the whole Arctic Sea saga," a military source is quoted by the Times as saying. "Peres used the incident as a bargaining chip over the issue of arms sales to Arab states, while Israel allowed the Kremlin a way out with its claims to have successfully foiled a piracy incident."

Friday, September 4, 2009

USS Theodore Roosevelt

090929-N-4320W-003 NORFOLK (Aug. 29, 2009) The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) departs Naval Station Norfolk and begins a towing operation to Northrop Grumman Newport News Ship Building for a Refueling Complex Overhaul (RCOH). A multi-year overhaul, RCOH involves alterations, repair, maintenance and refueling of the aircraft carrier. The RCOH will enable the ship to meet future missions and continued service-life requirements for approximately the next 25 years. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dominique Watts/Released)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New Mexico's commissioning pushed back because of problems

The submarine New Mexico is under construction at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. (Northrop Grumman, Daily Press / January 22, 2009)

By Peter Frost


2:51 p.m. EDT, September 3, 2009

NEWPORT NEWS — Construction problems on the submarine New Mexico will delay the boat's commissioning until early 2010, the Navy said Thursday.

New Mexico, a Virginia-class submarine under construction at Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Newport News shipyard, was on track to be completed this month and commissioned on Nov. 21.

But in August, the Navy said weapons-handling systems on at least four submarines — including the New Mexico — were installed incorrectly by workers at the Newport News yard. Those errors restricted the ability of sailors to move torpedoes into launch tubes.

Matt Mulherin, the Newport News yard's general manager, told the Daily Press on Aug. 21 that the New Mexico probably would be delayed as a result of the additional re-work and inspections required on the sub.

"It's going to take some time to come through" the problems on the New Mexico, he said at the time.

The Navy on Thursday said the repairs will push the submarine's delivery "at least into November 2009." Navy Secretary Ray Mabus will set a new date for the sub's commissioning in the coming weeks, the Navy said.

The problems were found on the North Carolina, New Mexico, Missouri and California. Of the four boats, none was under way. Only the North Carolina is commissioned, but it is in a maintenance period. The other subs are in various stages of construction in Newport News and in Groton, Conn.

On each of the subs, Northrop improperly installed bolts and fasteners that hold together tracks on which weapons are moved in the torpedo room. Improper installation of these pieces could result in a misalignment of the equipment, preventing the movement of weapon cradles within the torpedo room.

A misalignment could restrict sailors' ability to position weapons in torpedo tubes, essentially disabling the sub's ability to launch attacks or defend itself.

Despite the issue, the Navy noted that the New Mexico still is on track to be delivered several months early to its contract delivery date of April 2010.
Copyright © 2009, Newport News, Va., Daily Press

Outspoken Piracy Expert Mikhail Voitenko Flees Russia

By Anna Malpas

The St. Petersburg Times

MOSCOW — The mysterious saga surrounding the disappearance of the Arctic Sea cargo ship took a new twist Wednesday when an outspoken piracy expert who saw political overtones in the case fled Russia.

Mikhail Voitenko, the editor of the respected Sovfrakht Marine Bulletin web site, told The St. Petersburg Times by telephone from Istanbul that he had been pressured into leaving.

“Some serious guys hinted to me yesterday or the day before yesterday,” Voitenko said. “They advised me to return in three or four months.”

Asked who the people were, Voitenko said simply, “Guess.”

Asked if it was because of his role in the Arctic Sea case, Voitenko said, “Yes, it was because of the Arctic Sea.”

Russian authorities say the Maltese-flagged Arctic Sea and its 15 Russian crew members were seized by eight hijackers near Sweden on July 24 and freed by the Navy off the west African coast on Aug. 17. But authorities have failed to offer a coherent and plausible version of what happened, including why hijackers would seize a ship reportedly carrying only $1.8 million in timber and why the ship’s Arkhangelsk-based crew was barred from contacting relatives for more than a week after they arrived in Moscow.

The ship was listed as carrying the timber from Finland to Algeria, but several commentators, including Voitenko, who was the only source of information about the case in the first days of the drama, have speculated that it might have been involved in illegal arms smuggling.

Voitenko said Wednesday afternoon that he had just flown to Istanbul. “I won’t stay here long. I will go to some other place,” he said.

Voitenko’s web site posted regular updates on the Arctic Sea case, citing unidentified sources, including people in the Defense Ministry.

Last month, after the ship was found, Voitenko gave a news conference at the Argumenty i Fakty newspaper’s offices where he said the sailors “got involved in a saga with government interests.”

He was quoted in a Time magazine article published Monday with the headline, “Was Russia’s ‘Hijacked’ Ship Carrying Missiles to the Mideast?”

Before becoming editor of the web site, Voitenko spent 15 years as a sailor. He told Radio Rossiya in an interview last year that he is “fanatical about the merchant navy.”

Voitenko had contact with the crew members’ relatives in the first days of the incident, and his web site was the first to publish an open letter from the crew members’ wives, asking the Russian government to open an investigation.

Right after the appearance of the letter, President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the Defense Ministry to find the Arctic Sea and liberate it if it had been captured.

Voitenko said Wednesday that he was not communicating with the relatives. “The relatives are silent. I mustn’t let the relatives down. It will be the worse for them,” he said, without elaborating. “If they consider that I did something good, they can write me a thank you.”

He also said he would continue to work on his web site, Sovfrakht Marine Bulletin. The site crashed for several hours on Wednesday, showing an error message, before resuming normal service.

It first crashed on Friday afternoon for reasons Voitenko could not explain but worked again Monday and Tuesday. The web site includes a forum where the Arctic Sea case was discussed by experts and sailors.

Voitenko continued to work Wednesday, offering comments to Ukrainian and Russian journalists on the case of Ariana, a ship with a Ukrainian crew captured by Somali pirates.

His bulletin is published by Sovfrakht-Sovmortrans Shipping Group.

Andrei Soldatov, an analyst who tracks the secret services at the Agentura think tank, said the intimidation described by Voitenko was not typical of the secret services toward Russian citizens, although foreign journalists might be expelled under similar circumstances.

He called the pressure to leave the country “very, very strange,” saying that secret services would be more likely simply to speak to Voitenko or close his web site.

“The question is: Who talked to him? It does not look like the secret services but arms traders, illegal arms traders or someone like that,” Soldatov said.

This is not the first case of an independent-minded Internet journalist fleeing Russia under pressure.

Roza Malsagova, the editor of, an Ingush opposition web site, fled with her three children in August last year and applied for political asylum in France. Magomed Yevloyev, the site’s publisher, was shot dead in police custody weeks later.

The eight suspected hijackers of the Arctic Sea have been charged with piracy and kidnapping and are awaiting trial in the Lefortovo prison.

Eleven of the ship’s sailors returned home to Arkhangelsk on Sunday. They have refused to speak to reporters, saying sarcastically that they disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle where they were fed ice cream by pirates.

Voitenko has suggested that the sailors have been persuaded to keep silent.

The authorities say the other four sailors are taking the ship to Novorossiisk. It is expected to arrive in mid-September.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


090621-N-0000X-001 WASHINGTON (June 21, 2009) The Robotic Hull Bio-inspired Underwater Grooming tool, or HULL BUG, is being tested by the Office of Naval Research as a hull-cleaning device. The HULL BUG is similar in concept to an autonomous robotic home vacuum cleaner and uses a biofilm detector to differentiate between the clean and unclean surfaces on the hull of a ship. (U.S. Navy Photo/Released)

NATO stops in Halifax

Published Wednesday September 2nd, 2009
Ships belonging to the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1), depart Halifax harbour for a joint excercise on the eastern seaboard, yesterday. Ships and countries taking part in the group are, from left, Denmark's HMDS Thetis, Norway's HNOMS Rauma, Estonia's ENS Sakala, Britain's HMS Quorn, Netherland's HNLMS URK, Belgium's BNS Lobelia and HMCS Goose Bay from Canada.

© 2008 CanadaEast Interactive, Brunswick News Inc

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

South Korean Task Force Handover

By Lt Cdr Stephen Smith RN, CMF Deputy PAO

MANAMA, Bahrain (Aug. 30, 2009) - The Republic of Korea Ship (ROKS) Dae Jo Yeong arrived in Bahrain earlier this month and visited the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) headquarters in order to begin coordination with CMF personnel. After receiving anti-piracy briefings and making final preparations to join the CMF anti-piracy mission led by Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, the South Korean flagship departed the Arabian Gulf to commence operations in the waters off Somalia.

Arriving in Djibouti on August 19th, the ROKS Dae Jo Yeong relieved her predecessor, the ROKS Munmu the Great, and immediately began escort duties for two Korean ships transiting through the Gulf of Aden.

Having been relieved of her responsibilities ROKS Munmu the Great departed for home on August 21st, concluding a highly successful deployment in support of Coalition anti-piracy efforts. When the ship first arrived on station in April 2009, Deputy Commander of the Combined Maritime Forces, Royal Navy Commodore Tim Lowe, said "They will play a vital role and join a growing number of international navies deployed to the region to deter, disrupt and thwart piracy off the Somali coast". With their mission complete, ROKS Munmu the Great's contributions justified the Commodore's confidence by ensuring the safe passage of over 300 vessels, including 48 Korean ships, and rescuing a total of seven ships from Somali pirates.