Archive for 01/07/2012

Isabel Mascarenas –

Brooksville, Florida – While helping the Hernando Sheriff’s Office, Pasco Sheriff’s deputies dredging the lake at Sherman Hills Golf Course find the body of 43-year-old David Voiles.

“He’s a member of the National Guard, served his country. He’s a loss to the community,” says Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis.

Hernando deputies say Voiles had been working at Sherman Hills Golf course for two years, diving in lakes and retrieving golf balls.

He knew the lakes well enough that he posted photos on his Facebook page of the alligators that dwelled in them.

According to deputies, Voiles last spoke to his mother around 1 p.m. on Monday and was last seen around 3 p.m., when he was diving into a lake across from the club house.

But the gators are not responsible for his death. Deputies say his drowning appears to be an accident, caused by either a medical condition or equipment failure.

Deputies found Voiles’ body in less than eight feet of water. In November, Voiles received a Citizen’s Appreciation Award from the Hernando Sheriff’s Office for saving a woman’s life.

According to deputies, a motorist drove her car into a canal, and Voiles jumped in, pulled her out, and rescued her from downing.

“[He was a] good soldier, a good NCO,” says Staff Sgt. Timothy Long with the Florida Army National Guard.

A spokesperson says Staff Sergeant Voiles served 20 years in the US Army. He earned a purple heart after surviving an IED attack in Iraq.

He was currently a member of the Florida Army National Guard 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, where he is missed.

Full story…

Scott K. Johnson –

Everyone knows that on a sinking ship, you want to pump water out. But what do you do with a sinking city ?

In this case, the plan might be to pump water in. The city of Venice has long been valued for its unique character. Built in a lagoon along the coast of Italy, the scenic city is crisscrossed with canals. Its waterlogged nature draws a steady stream of visitors, but also makes it vulnerable to costly flooding.

The region sometimes experiences unusually high tides, locally referred to as “acqua alta.”

The phenomenon is caused by winds that drive water to “pile up” on the north end of the long and narrow Adriatic Sea.

When that coincides with a high tide, the City of Water gets even wetter, and the water level can rise by 1-2 meters. Two factors are exacerbating the flooding risk to the city: global sea level rise and subsidence.

In short, sea is rising and the city is sinking. Like other cities built on river deltas, the sediment beneath the city is compacting over time.

In a natural setting, this compaction would be offset by the deposition of fresh sediment at the surface, but the rivers feeding the lagoon were diverted in the 1500s.

As a result, the land surface is sinking, and the salt marshes are suffering for it. The pumping of shallow groundwater in the mid-1900s also contributed to the problem.

Water in the pores between grains of sediment provides pressure that bears some of the load. When pore pressure decreases, or water is removed completely, grains can be packed together more tightly by collapsing the pore spaces.

As sediment is compacted, the land surface drops. While the effect was small (less than 15cm), Venice doesn’t have much wiggle room.

Full story…

The Jakarta Post –

Seven long-finned pilot whales died after being beached in New Zealand, but rescuers were confident Saturday they had saved the other 18 marine mammals that stranded.

Seven of the 25-strong pod died after they stranded late Friday on Farewell Spit at the northwest corner of South Island, conservation officials said.

The surviving whales were floated off the beach at high tide. They were well offshore by late Saturday afternoon and heading toward deeper waters after earlier swimming north toward more shallow waters on the ebbing tide, said John Mason, area manager for the Department of Conservation.

“They were quite lethargic at the start and … we thought they could well strand on the outgoing tide,” he said.

Boats were used to try to point the whales to deeper waters, and people got into the water to encourage the animals to head toward the deep sea, Mason said.

“Then, just in the nick of time, they started moving eastward out of danger, and they’re now well off Farewell Spit tracking southward into deeper water,” he told National Radio.

Mason said the pod’s movements will be tracked during the night because there was still a risk the whales could come back into the shallow waters of the long, sloping headland spit area.

But he said he was “confident” the 18 pilot whales wouldn’t restrand. Project Jonah whale rescue group chief executive Kimberly Muncaster said volunteers would be checking beaches to “help locate further strandings before it is too late to save the animals.”

Full story…

Tom Weaver – 

We are all living in an era of truly remarkable development within the world of offshore sailing.

Banque Populaire V, a 130ft ocean racing trimaran has just shattered the round-the-world nonstop sailing record by more than 2 days with an average speed of 26.51 knots.

The record now stands at 45d 13h 42m 53s.

Skippered by Loïck Peyron of France, the crew of Banque Populaire V raced around the planet under sail power alone at speeds in excess of 43 knots.

In fact, upon leaving France at the end of November, they were dodging icebergs in the Southern Ocean by Christmas, and have completed the circumnavigation via the 3 great capes, a route made famous by the great grain clippers of the early 19th century.

To put this into perspective, the round-the-world record was lowered to under 80 days for the very first time in 1993, it now stands at just over 45 days.

Helmsman Brian Thompson, who is also the only native English-speaker on board, was a teammate of mine back in the early 2000’s when we competed on Cheyenne (formerly Playstation), a 125ft catamaran attempting numerous 24hr, transatlantic, and round-the-world records.

Brian has now become the first Englishman to complete 4 non stop circumnavigations (he has attempted many more) and is soft spoken and enthusiastic and probably one of the more laid back people I have ever been to sea with.

Throughout this adventure Brian has kept me enthralled with his adventure via Twitter and Facebook, and the bar he and the rest of team on Banque Populaire V have now set will certainly prove a formidable barrier to overcome in the future.

Full story…


gCaptain – 

Russia has for the first time authorized a Liquefied Natural Gas tanker to sail through its Arctic waters from Europe to high-demand Asian markets, a route that requires about half the usual sailing time, potentially reduces costs and avoids the threat from Somali pirates.

Russia authorized the tanker Ribera del Duera Knutsen to sail along the Northern sea route from the Atlantic ocean to the Pacific ocean, Norwegian shipping company Knutsen OAS Shipping said.

In September, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that he sees the future of the Northeast Passage “as that of an international transport artery” able to compete with other maritime routes on both fees, safety and quality.

From Europe, the route is a much shorter way to the Far East than sailing across the Mediterranean Sea and through the Suez Canal, which requires ships to sail through the ‘pirate alley’ in the Gulf of Aden north of Somalia.

It would save a lot of time and money, Knutsen’s Chartering Manager John Einar Dalsvag said, as current LNG rates are at a very high level of about $150,000 a day, so “days are expensive.”

Using the shorter Northern route means sailing in icy Arctic waters from the Barents Sea along Siberia to the Bering Strait, then on to Japan or other countries in the Far East.

Japan’s demand for LNG has climbed sharply after an earthquake and a tsunami knocked out several nuclear power plants in 2011.

In December, only seven out of Japan’s 54 nuclear power plants were in operation because of safety concerns.

Electricity production has largely been replaced by thermal power plants.

Full story…

RT – 

With tensions around the Strait of Hormuz sky-high, Iranian plans to conduct the country’s “greatest naval war games” could coincide with joint US-Israeli exercises in the Persian Gulf.

With both sides taking positions, could a real battle be looming? Hopefully the massive exercises will remain just that.

But with three armies on the playing board, one spark could be enough to ignite an all-out war.

Iran, which recently held a 10-day naval exercise near the Strait of Hormuz to demonstrate its military prowess, is now planning new, ‘massive’ naval drills codenamed The Great Prophet.

The drills will be carried out by the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard, which has its own air, naval and ground forces separate from those of the regular military.

On Thursday, the semiofficial Fars news agency quoted the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s naval commander, Admiral Ali Fadavi, as saying the next round of war games would be “different” from previous ones, AP reports.

However, on the same day, an Israeli military spokesman speaking under condition of anonymity said his country was gearing up for the largest joint missile defense exercise ever held with the United States.

The drill, called “Austere Challenge 12,” is scheduled to take place in the upcoming weeks.

Its primary purpose is to test multiple Israeli and US air defense systems, especially the “Arrow” system, which the country specifically developed with help from the US to intercept Iranian missiles.

Full story…


gCaptain –

At about 2100hrs on 04 Jan 2012 (Singapore time), the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) received a report that a Singapore-registered containership, Kota Tenaga and a Malta-registered VLCC, M/T SEEB had collided at about 2.7km south of Pulau Sebarok.

The master of Kota Tenaga reported that about 5 metric tons of marine fuel oil had spilled into the sea. An inter-agency effort, coordinated by MPA, was immediately activated to contain and clean up the oil spill.

The spillage of oil from Kota Tenaga was contained and Kota Tenaga was moved to Raffles Reserved Anchorage.

An oil boom was laid around the vessel as a precaution.

There is no report of injury to crew members. A total of 12 craft was activated to monitor and clean up the oil spill.

Non-toxic and biodegradable oil spill dispersants were used to break up patches of oil sighted in the vicinity of Pulau Pawai, Pulau Senang, and Raffles Reserved Anchorage.

MPA continues to monitor the situation closely and will respond to any sighting of oil patches.

Traffic in the port and the Strait of Singapore remains unaffected.

MPA is investigating the cause of the collision.