Archive for 08/09/2011

Paul Crompton – 

The isle of Portland – that long, low wedge that can be seen to the east from all along the West Dorset coast – is an explorers’ paradise, with curiosities of history and folklore just waiting to be discovered. 

Portland is not really an island at all, of course, being joined to the mainland by the south-east tip of Chesil Beach and a road bridge.

It provides a most dramatic coastal landscape, with places of interest that include Portland Bill, Pulpit Rock and the lighthouse overlooking the English Channel.

To add to that there are Portland Museum and Shipwreck Exhibition, Church Ope Cove with the ruins of Rufus Castle and St Andrew’s Church.

There are also gardens, a sculpture park, a butterfly reserve, art galleries and cliff walks offering spectacular views.

Particularly worth a visit is Portland Castle, built in 1539 to protect the harbour against invasion and now the property of English Heritage.

Portland’s name is known throughout the world for its association with the famous limestone, used for centuries as building stone both in Great Britain and overseas.

The quarrying of the Jurassic limestone on the island has had a tremendous impact on the landscape and the inhabitants of Portland, contributing much of the island’s unique history and customs.

No one knows exactly when quarrying started, although the earliest use of Portland stone is thought to be the stone age tools and slingshots found in various archaeological sites on the island.

The stone was used by Inigo Jones in 1620 to build the Banqueting Hall in London, and after the Great Fire of London in 1666 Sir Christopher Wren used it to rebuild St Paul’s Cathedral.

Full story…

David Rider – 

Despite the best efforts of the world’s navies and EU NAVFOR in particular, piracy in the Indian Ocean/Gulf of Aden and Red Sea areas shows no sign of abating. Quite the contrary, according to a report released by the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre in July this year.

Of the incidents reported, over sixty per cent were conducted by pirate gangs operating off the coast of Somalia and Arabian Sea. Indeed, the attacks were becoming more violent and pirates were taking much greater risks, the IMB stated.

The success of Somali pirates has not gone unnoticed by criminals in other parts of the African continent.

Since May this year, there have been increasing reports of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) and off the coast of West Africa. The incidents prompted the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre to issue a specific warning in June, citing eight attacks off Cotonou, Benin.

Since then, the number of attacks has increased significantly, although it’s virtually impossible to accurately gauge the amount of pirate activity due to insufficient reporting from the region. One security analyst told Reuters that, “In Nigeria it is estimated that approximately 60 percent of pirate attacks go unreported”*.

The Gulf of Guinea is regarded as an important, emerging trade hub, spanning a dozen countries from the tip of Northwest Africa to Angola in the South. It is a valuable source of oil, and pirates in the region are currently targeting diesel and oil tankers in particular.

According to a Reuters report, the Gulf of Guinea produces more than 3 million barrels of oil a day, equivalent to 4% of the global total. This oil is ultimately destined for Europe and the USA, while some sources suggest that the USA will be receiving up to 25% of its oil supplies from the region by 2015.

Full story…

Rob Almeida – 

Indian authorities are monitoring an oil spill from a ship that sank 25 nautical miles off the Mumbai coastline, assessing the situation and trying to limit damage to the environment, the environment ministry said Monday.

The vessel, MV RAK, had 60,000 metric tons of coal, 290 tons of furnace oil and 50 tons of fuel oil aboard when it sank Thursday.

On Sunday the ministry said the coast guard estimated that oil was leaking from the ship at 1.5 tons to 2.0 tons per hour, but there was no immediate threat to the city’s coastline.

In August 2010, two ships collided off Mumbai’s coastline in the Arabian Sea resulting in an oil spill and halting the movement of ships at two of India’s biggest ports. Recently, the MV Wisdom ran aground on Mumbai’s Juhu beach and had to be towed away, while on July 31 the un-crewed oil tanker MT Pavit ran aground off the city’s Versova beach, according to media reports.

The ministry Monday confirmed the Juhu beach area contained “some oil traces” after the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board began monitoring the area and sampling sea water Sunday.

However, it said the state government believed “the spill on the Juhu coast is a localized phenomenon due to some other reasons and not due to the RAK spill.”

“The ramifications of the ship Pavit being docked on Juhu beach since the last few days are also being examined,” it said, adding that the oil content is “negligible” at about one to two milligrams per liter.

The government has identified Mumbai’s coast as ecologically sensitive and drafted special conservation programs for the area.

Full story…