Archive for 09/08/2011

David Pugliese –

The navy’s last operational submarine is now sidelined until 2016, leaving the service without an underwater capability and potentially throwing into question the future of the submarine fleet.

The submarine program, which has already cost around $900 million, has been plagued with various maintenance issues that have prevented the boats from being available for operations on a regular basis.

A media report in July noted that one of the subs, HMCS Windsor, arrived in Canada in the fall of 2001 but since then it has operated at sea for just 332 days.

HMCS Corner Brook, damaged when it hit the ocean floor during a training accident in June on the West Coast, is now dockside. It will be repaired and overhauled during a planned maintenance period now underway.

But it is not scheduled to return to sea until 2016, the navy confirmed in an email to the Ottawa Citizen.

HMCS Chicoutimi, damaged by a fire in 2004 that killed one officer, still remains sidelined. That leaves HMCS Windsor and HMCS Victoria, which are also not available for duty at sea.

“The navy is focused on HMCS Victoria and HMCS Windsor and returning both to sea in early 2012,” stated navy spokesman Lt.-Cmdr. Brian Owens in an email. “Trials are already underway with Victoria in anticipation to her returning to sea.”

Full story…

Deccan chronicle –

The influx of tourism in Ramanagar — with its many rivers and lakes — has come with associated dangers. At least 70 to 80 people drown in the waters of the Mekedaatu, Sangama, Bommasandra and Chunchi Falls, the Nelligudda tank and Thippagondanahalli reservoir every year, pushing up the demand for expert swimmers from the villages nearby, who, it is alleged, charge up to Rs 25,000 to fish out a body.

The expert swimmers are called in when the police and firemen feel they can do no more to find the bodies and take advantage of the situation, say locals. “They come in teams of eight or 10 and demand Rs 25,000 for each body fished out as it is often involves dangerous work. Families of the victims have no choice but to pay up,” they say.

The police, who sometimes pay the swimmers to help them search for the bodies, however, maintain they don’t overcharge as alleged. Sathanur police sub-inspector Naveen claims the swimmers ask for a reasonable fee considering the risk they take. “No one wants to put their lives in danger, but the swimmers do when searching for the bodies.

They come in only when asked to and are paid by senior officers like myself. We recently gave them Rs 3000 to search for a body and no more,” he says. Sathanur police deals with accidents in Mekedaatu, Sangama, Bommasandra and Chunci Falls which report around 25 cases of drowning every year. Already nearly 12 people have drowned in their waters so far this year.

Mr Naveen is worried that the swimmers may refuse to come to the help of families and the police because of the “unfounded” allegations made against them. “It will be very difficult to carry on without their help. They can always find work in the many fishing camps in the district,” he says.

Hydro International –

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson is on a three-month survey of the seafloor off the coast of New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, as part of a multi-year effort to update nautical charts for Block Island Sound and keep large ships and commerce moving safely. In addition to supporting marine navigation, data acquired by the 208-foot hydrographic survey vessel will also support a seafloor mapping initiative by Connecticut and New York.

Equipped with the latest scientific instrumentation for checking channel seafloors for shoaling and debris, Thomas Jefferson is also an emergency responder providing data needed for reopening ports after hurricanes. The ship was in place and prepared to help speed the resumption of maritime commerce after Hurricane Irene blew through the Port of New York & New Jersey last weekend, and she will be recalled from her normal surveying operations if needed to help with emergency surveys for any future storms.

“With bigger ships, crowded sea lanes, and more uses of ocean areas, shipping today is increasingly a task of precision and accuracy,” explained NOAA Corps Cmdr. Lawrence Krepp, commanding officer of Thomas Jefferson and the ship’s chief scientist. “This area is seeing an increase in the numbers of deep-draft vessels requiring depths of more than 60 feet, and the pilots need precise and up-to-date depth measurements as they navigate. Our task is to measure the ocean depths, search for dangers to navigation, and give mariners the information they need to protect lives and the environment, while also increasing shipping efficiencies.”

The survey project is managed by NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, which produces and maintains the nation’s suite of nautical charts. Coast Survey first charted the New York area in the mid-1800s, after President Thomas Jefferson tasked the agency with creating maps of the coastal waters so that the young nation’s shipping industry could thrive. Today’s data is increasingly valuable for other applications as well.

Full story…

Paul Fraser Collectibles –

The name of Captain Cook will be familiar to most as a highly successful British explorer and cartographer, credited with discovering and mapping regions all around the globe, especially around Australia and New Zealand, and the Pacific.

In a few hours’ time in Auckland today (September 8), a fine piece of memorabilia related to the Captain will go under the hammer:  an eighteenth-century waistcoat – reputed to have been worn by the man himself.

It is being offered as part of a sale of Oceanic and African Arts at Webb’s auction house in Auckland.

This is an outstanding and substantial sale of art and artifacts from Africa and the Oceanic region. Maori and Pacific material has been consigned from collections across the globe, including a significant collection from Hawaii (where Cook died in a fight).

The twilled silk waistcoat front is embroidered with an overall floral sprig design with concentrations of more complex flowers along the front edges, pocket flaps and across the front hem. The fine floss silk is embroidered in a range of natural colours in symmetrical floral patterns.

Two shaped embroidered pocket flaps have, at some time, been relocated as a collar at the neck. The waistcoat fastens at the front with nine brown leather-shanked buttons (not typical of this style) and hand worked buttonholes.

The back is made from cream linen and has also been altered to fit a woman. That woman was Ruby Rich, a colonial emancipationist and musical genius to whom the waistcoat is believed to have been given as a gift, and then passed down through her family.

The provenance of the item is imperfect, but widely accepted, and there are expectations that the waistcoat could sell for a six-figure sum, or even $1m.

Full story…

Ori Lewis –

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Israel’s navy as one of the Jewish state’s strategic “long arms” on Wednesday, a day after Turkey cut military trade ties and said it would send its warships to patrol in the eastern Mediterranean.

“The navy is one of the two long arms of the Israel Defence Forces and it is a long and very powerful arm. Through your actions you maintain calm and our security at sea,” Netanyahu said at a passing out ceremony for naval officers.

The second long arm Netanyahu was referring to in his speech at a naval base in the northern port city of Haifa was Israel’s air force.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to send warships into Mediterranean waters where Israel’s navy operates, raising the prospect of a first confrontation at sea between these two major U.S. allies.

Erdogan’s remarks on Tuesday were the latest development in the escalation of tensions since Ankara’s downgrade of diplomatic ties in a dispute over Israel’s killings of nine Turkish citizens in a raid to stop a flotilla from sailing to the Hamas Islamist-ruled Gaza Strip last year.

Netanyahu added: “In the past few days we have witnessed a deepening of tensions with Turkey and it was not our choice and it is not our choice today. We respect the Turkish people and its heritage and we certainly want to improve ties.”

Amy Maxmen –

A 580-million-year-old fossil is casting doubt on the established tree of animal life. The invertebrate, named Eoandromeda octobrachiata  because its body plan resembles the spiral galaxy Andromeda, suggests that the earliest branches in the tree need to be reordered, say the authors of study in Evolution and Development1.

The researchers, led by paleontologist Feng Tang of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences in Beijing, believe that Eoandromeda  is the ancient ancestor of modern ocean dwellers known as comb jellies — gelatinous creatures similar to jellyfish, but rounder and with eight rows of iridescent paddles along their sides. If they are right, it would be the oldest known fossil of a comb jelly. And that would support a rewrite of the animal tree.

Comb jellies sit alongside two other major groups near the base of the tree, but their relative positions remain contentious. Normally, sponges are identified as the first to evolve, followed by the cnidaria — jellyfish, sea anemones and their kin — and then by the comb jellies.

” Eoandromeda  puts a little piece of weight in favour of a more basal position for comb jellies,” says Stefan Bengtson, a palaeontologist at the Swedish Museum of Natural History and a co-author on the paper.

That evidence comes from the fossil’s shape: it has octoradial symmetry, meaning its body can be sliced into eight identical pieces. This is in stark contrast to modern comb jellies, which, like humans, flies and sea anemones, have biradial or bilateral symmetry — their body plan can be sliced into only two identical pieces.

Full story…

Hydro International –

A shipboard expedition off Norway, to determine how methane escapes from beneath the Arctic seabed, has discovered widespread pockets of the gas and numerous channels that allow it to reach the seafloor.

Methane is a powerful “greenhouse” gas and the research, carried out over the past week aboard the Royal Research Ship James Clark Ross, will improve understanding of its origins in this area, its routes to the sea floor and how the amount of gas escaping might increase as the ocean warms. This could have important implications for global climate change and ocean acidification.

At the high pressures and low temperatures which are found at the bottom of the deep ocean, methane gas and water combine to form a solid, crystalline substance: methane hydrate.  It is very widespread in the parts of the deep ocean nearest to the continents. If the ocean warms, the hydrate can become unstable and methane gas is unlocked and can make its way into the ocean, forming plumes of bubbles.

A research cruise to the same area in 2008, also aboard RRS James Clark Ross, discovered numerous such plumes, as well as evidence for the presence of gas and the movement of fluids beneath the seabed.  What was unclear though was how the gas was escaping into the ocean.

The current expedition is led by the University of Southampton’s Professor Tim Minshull, who is based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK.

The shipboard team including scientists from the National Oceanography Centre Southampton, its French counterpart, the French Research Institute for Exploration of the Sea (Ifremer) and the University of Tromsoe in Norway – used a range of new technologies to probe the seabed beneath areas where methane gas was found to be escaping, due partly to recent warming of the ocean.

Full story…