Archive for 09/09/2011

David Bailey –

Detroit police postponed plans to raise what is believed to be an 18th century cannon from the Detroit River on Wednesday after treacherous currents and poor visibility made the mission impossible.

A Detroit police diver found the cannon in about 30 feet of water off a downtown convention center during a training session in July, said Joel Stone, curator for the Detroit Historical Society. It had been due to be raised on Wednesday.

“The current is running about twice as fast as normal,” Stone said. “The police divers were not able to get the straps on it to get it up.”

Visibility was especially poor in the area where they were diving, using a Coast Guard cutter as a platform for the operation, Detroit police Sergeant Eren Stephens said.

No new date was announced to recover the cannon, which is about five or six feet long and weighs about 1,200 pounds.

Four other similar cannons have been recovered from the same general area of the Detroit River in recent decades: one in 1984, two in 1987 and a fourth in 1994, Stone said.

The cannon found in 1984 predated 1760, Stone said. One brought up in 1987 was made in England and the other had a fleur-de-lis, suggesting it was French, he said. Most cannons of that era were made in England, France or Germany.

The cannons would have been old by the time they reached the frontier and recovering a fifth might help answer the question as to how they ended up in the river, Stone said.

“I’m guessing they probably found their way to the bottom of the river sometime in the 1790s, but that is all speculation,” Stone said. “I’ve heard all kinds of different stories about how they might have gotten there, but none of them have been documented.”

Cannons of that type and weight were rare and the French, British and Americans were protective of them, Stone said. Once in the river, recovery was impossible, he said.

“These were powerful guns,” he said. “To lose five of them would have done somebody badly.”

Stone said the fact that no notes have been found from one commander to another disclosing such a loss has fueled speculation they may not have been lost at the same time.

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Sami Aboudi –

Turkey said Thursday it would escort aid ships to Gaza and would not allow a repetition of last year’s Israeli raid that killed nine Turks, setting the stage for a potential naval confrontation with its former ally.

Raising the stakes in Turkey’s row with Israel over its refusal to apologise for the killings, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Al Jazeera television that Turkey had taken steps to stop Israel from unilaterally exploiting natural resources in the Mediterranean.

“Turkish warships, in the first place, are authorised to protect our ships that carry humanitarian aid to Gaza,” Erdogan said in the interview, broadcast by Al Jazeera with an Arabic translation.

“From now on, we will not let these ships to be attacked by Israel, as what happened with the Freedom Flotilla,” Erdogan said.

Referring to Erdogan’s comments, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said: “This is a statement well-worth not commenting on.”

Relations between Turkey and Israel, two close U.S. allies in the region, have soured since Israeli forces boarded the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara aid ship in May 2010.

Ankara downgraded ties and vowed to boost naval patrols in the eastern Mediterranean in the escalating row. Israel says it acted legally against ships that tried to breach its blockade on the Palestinian enclave which is ruled by the Islamist Hamas group.

Israel has said it will enforce the blockade, which it says is needed to prevent arms smuggling to Hamas.

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