Archive for 08/10/2011

RT –

The new Russian liquid-fuel Liner missile is world’s most advanced submarine-based strategic weapon with range and payload capabilities surpassing every model deployed by any other country, its developer says.

The submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) Liner can carry up to 12 low-yield MIRV nuclear warheads and has a payload/mass ratio surpassing any solid-fuel strategic missiles designed by the US, UK, France and China, the developer Makeyev State Rocket Center said in a statement. It is very flexible in terms of what its payload can be, varying and mixing warheads of different capabilities.

The design bureau believes that the missile, which was first tested on May 20, will ensure the use of Delta IV class submarines until at least 2030.

There are seven vessels of this class in the Russian Navy, and they are armed with the SLMBs Sineva. The Liner is a highly advanced version of the Sineva missile.

There is little further detail about the Liner’s specifications so far. Sineva is a three-stage ballistic missile. It has a reported operational range of almost 12,000 kilometers, listed throw-weigh of 2.8 tonnes and can be launched from up to 55 meters deep.

Russia is the only nation that uses liquid-fuel submarine-based nuclear missiles. All other nations deploying SLBMs opt for solid propellants, since they allow for the building of more reliable missiles, which are simpler and cheaper to operate.

Russia has a solid-fuel SLBM in development too. The Bulava missile, which is the designated armament for the advanced Borey-class submarines, has seen several delays and setbacks over the years, but now it is slated to enter service after a series of successful test fires in 2010-2011.

Full story…

Mail Online – 

One of history’s greatest explorers, may in fact have been a conman, it was claimed yesterday.

Far from being a trader who spent years in China and the Far East, he probably never went further east than the Black Sea, according to a team of archaeologists.

They suspect the Venetian adventurer picked up stories about the mysterious lands of the Orient from fellow traders around the Black Sea who related tales of China, Japan and the Mongol Empire in the 13th century.

He then put the stories together in a book commonly called The Travels of Marco Polo, aailed as one of the first travel books, iy purports to be his account of his journeys through Persia, Asia and the Far East between 1271 and 1291.

It details his relations with Kublai Khan, the Mongol ruler who became Emperor of China.

But now an Italian team of archaeologists studying in Japan have cast doubts about one of Italy’s great national heroes — although there have been competing claims to him from Croatia, which argues he was born there.

The doubters told Italian history magazine Focus Storia that there were numerous inconsistencies and inaccuracies in Marco Polo’s description of Kublai Khan’s attempted invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281.

‘He confuses the two, mixing up details about the first expedition with those of the second.

‘In his account of the first invasion, he describes the fleet leaving Korea and being hit by a typhoon before it reached the Japanese coast,’ said Professor Daniele Petrella of the University of Naples, the leader of the archaeology team.

‘But that happened in 1281 – is it really possible that a supposed eye witness could confuse events which were seven years apart?’

He said that Polo’s description of the Mongol fleet did not square with the remains of ships that the team had excavated in Japan, as he had written of ships with five masts, while those which had been found had only three.

‘It was during our dig that doubts began to emerge about much of what he wrote,’ said Prof. Petrella.

Full story…

John Crace – 

Why are Richard Branson and James Cameron, among others, so obsessed with the Mariana trench ?

For the average billionaire, the trouble with the world these days is that it’s just too small. After all, what’s the point of having all that money if you have to share your personal space with the millionaires and chancers who have gatecrashed their way to both poles ?

Even outer space will soon be too crowded. Which is presumably why, before he has even realised his much-hyped Virgin Galactic dream of making a sub-orbital flight, Richard Branson now proposes to explore the depths of the Pacific in Virgin Oceanic.

Branson is not the only one with his eyes on the Challenger Deep, a rocky chasm in the Mariana trench, which marks the world’s deepest money-pit. Film director James Cameron and Google executive chairman Eric A Schmidt are also each spending about £15m building their own submarines capable of withstanding many tonnes of pressure to reach the bottom of the ocean bed.

The Challenger Deep isn’t totally unknown territory. Over the past few decades scientists have sent down unmanned submersibles to photograph the terrain. And very interesting it is too – new types of sea cucumber and other deepwater species have been discovered – though not quite interesting enough for any country to think it worthwhile mounting a manned expedition.

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Daily Mail – 

A French sailor was left high and dry when he beached his luxury £200,000 boat on rocks.

The seaman had the Captain Calamity moment as he motored the 42ft cruiser towards the marina at St Peter Port, Guernsey.

After realising the tide was too low to get over the marina wall, he turned the craft around but strayed outside the marker buoys and veered onto the rocky reef 300 yards away.

The jagged rocks pierced through the hull of the Jeanneau Prestige 42 boat, called the Jan-Ky III, leaving it marooned in the air.

As it was a sunny day, the nearby marina was packed with visitors who gathered to observe the maritime mishap and take photos.

The husband and wife, both aged in their 50s, were said to have staged a blazing row on board about who was to blame while they waited four hours for the tide to come back in.

The cruiser was then pulled off the rocks by the St Peter Port harbour master and towed into the marina where it is undergoing repairs to a number of holes in the hull.

In March, the ‘super moon’ was blamed for causing five ships to run aground within hours in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

Vessels hit sandbanks that are not normally exposed in the Solent, between the Isle of Wight and Hampshire coast, as the phenomenon led to lower tides.

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Russell Drumm – 

After exploring deep wrecks, one boat returns with two dead in a week.

Last Thursday, the dive charter boat John Jack returned to Montauk with the body of a diver who perished while exploring a shipwreck in over 200 feet of water. It was the second time in five days that the John Jack had returned with a dead diver.

Timothy Barrow, 64, a veterinarian and experienced diver from Reading, Pa., made it to the surface, according to published reports, but succumbed to an apparent heart attack. Mr. Barrow was diving on the wreck of the Norness, a tanker sunk by a German U-boat in 1942. The ship lies 250 feet down and about 60 miles southeast of Montauk.

On July 24, the ocean liner Andrea Doria claimed her 16th deep-diving victim, Michael LaPrade, 27, of Gardena, Calif., who was also diving from the John Jack. East Hampton Town Police Chief Edward Ecker said the young man became separated from his dive rope. Deep divers say it is not uncommon to become disoriented at such depths.

The Andrea Doria collided with the Swedish liner Stockholm in a thick fog on July 25, 1956. It sank the next day 106 miles east of Montauk in over 200 feet of water. Forty-six people lost their lives.

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