Archive for March, 2012

Times Union – 

The ship formerly known as the Exxon Valdez, responsible for one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history, appears destined for the scrap heap in a shipyard along the Indian Gulf of Cambay.

Such an end for the ship that spilled millions of gallons of crude in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989 is fitting, says at least one person directly involved with the disaster’s aftermath.

“My first reaction when I heard the boat is getting scrapped was ‘good riddance,'” Stan Jones said. Jones was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News at the time of the spill.

He now works as a spokesman for the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council, a foundation set up after the spill with the goal of preventing similar disasters.

“It’s a symbol of a really dark day in Alaska’s history.

But then my second thought is that the boat alone is nothing. The problem was man and machine together. …

The good thing is that, today, the spill wouldn’t happen that way, or it would have been much smaller because of changes we’ve made.”

The tanker ran aground at Alaska’s Bligh Reef on March 24, 1989, and spewed 11 million gallons of crude oil into the rich fishing waters of Prince William Sound.

The shoreline was coated with petroleum sludge. Towns like Cordova that relied on fishing the sound were devastated.

An incalculable amount of damage was done to marine species and the surrounding environment.

An Anchorage jury in 1991 called for Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. to pay $5 billion in punitive damages, thought the U.S Supreme Court later reduced that to $507.5 million.

Some litigation related to the spill is still ongoing.

Full story…


Damien Wood – 

Grieving husband Colin Cross is taking legal action in his quest for answers as to how his wife died in Mexico earlier this month.

Calgarian Ronda Cross, 41, died while scuba diving off the coast of Cabo San Lucas on March 3, a death her family believes was caused by carbon monoxide contamination in the compressed air tanks she and two colleagues used.

Her husband said he has been assured by the Canadian consulate an investigation is underway, but in the meantime, he’s retained legal representation out of San Diego. “The scuba tanks and all the gear and everything like that is being held,” Colin said.

“It’s (all) being tested and it is being investigated. “I actually am starting to work now with the consulate on a regular basis … yes, legal action is being taken — I do have a lawyer in San Diego who is working with me on it.”

Colin declined further comment on the proceedings, saying he didn’t want to jeopardize anything currently underway. He said he’s been advised by his lawyer not to say too much.

While Colin continues the long wait for answers, he’s also involved in setting up a charity called RONDA (Representation of Needed Divers’ Assistance) that will help other families.

“We will be redirecting any donations or anything like that to assisting families if they’re having a problem getting a loved one out of the country or if there’s a fatality,” he said.

Full story…


Hydro International –

Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI, USA), University of Hawaii, Whitman College and international colleagues will conduct the first systematic study of life in the deepest marine habitat on Earth: ocean trenches.

On 26 March 2012, filmmaker James Cameron became the first person to make a solo dive to the deepest part of the ocean in his submersible, the Deepsea Challenger.

The team was awarded a USD1.4 million collaborative grant from the National Science Foundation for a three-year program of studies in ocean trenches whose depths range from 19,685 to 36,089 feet (6,000 to 11,000 metres), known as the hadal zone.

Due to the extreme pressures of these deep-sea environments and the technical challenges involved in reaching them, ocean trenches among the least explored environments on the planet.

The programme takes advantage of recent advances in imaging and collecting technology, and the sampling and exploration capabilities of the deep-diving Hybrid Remotely Operated Vehicle Nereus, which explored Earth’s deepest trench, the Mariana,in 2009, to provide new and unprecedented access to the deepest parts of the ocean floor.

The Hadal Ecosystem Studies (HADES) program includes international collaborators at the University of Aberdeen (UA) in Scotland, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in New Zealand, and The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) at the University of Southampton, UK.

Full story…


Angela Pownall –

Ruthless, murderous and cruel yet charismatic and passionate, Black Jack Anderson ruled the islands and waters off WA’s Recherche Archipelago in the early 1800s.

He is Australia’s only known pirate, yet the story of his life and crimes is little known outside of Esperance, the south coast town closest to Anderson’s hunting ground.

WA archaeologists, who went to Middle Island – the biggest island in the archipelago – during a recent expedition to the remote area, surveyed what is believed to have been Anderson’s cave in a bay on the south side of the island.

Facing open ocean that stretches to Antarctica, “Black Jack’s bay” can only be accessed in good weather, conditions that are not common in the wild Southern Ocean.

The limestone cave, which leads to chambers and tunnels that go deep into the ridge, is the perfect place for a pirate to hide his loot, as local legend has it.

Anderson was an American who came to Australia as his countrymen and Europeans hunted for seals and whales in the bountiful Southern Ocean.

He roamed the waters around Middle Island, robbing passing boats and ships.

Anderson was reported to have killed local Aboriginal people and kidnapped women to live with, and serve, him and his followers.

Full story…


From Daily Record –

The sequined celebs of Strictly Come Dancing may finally have found themselves out of their depth.

For the bosses of the hit BBC show have made them perform underwater.

Actress Chelsee Healey and last year’s winner Harry Judd can be seen taking their partners for a turn in the deep end of a pool.

They slipped on scuba gear and goggles – along with the usual sequins – for a Sport Relief stunt.

And the dance pool was even fitted with a staircase and glitter balls.

Judd teamed up with Aliona Vilani again while Healey was back with Pasha Kovalev.

They performed their moves to Take That’s The Flood and Bobby Darin’s Beyond the Sea.

Healey said: “I wouldn’t say I’m a strong swimmer and I’m not that keen on water. I like to bath in it but that’s as far as it goes.”

And Judd admitted: “When I first heard about Strictly Underwater, I thought ‘How is that going to work ?’.

Full story…


Hydro International – 

Jamming of GPS in parts of Scotland is likely during Europe’s largest military exercise held from 16 to 16 April 2012, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

Jamming during Joint Warrior last October was suspended after complaints from Western Isles fishermen.

Depending on height, the jamming could affect receivers out to ranges of between 10 and 145 NM. It adds that, for IFR operations, only radio navigation equipment required by the rules for IFR operations should be used.

And for VFR, conventional means of navigation – including DR – should always be used. Operators should be prepared for erroneous readings if cross-checking with GPS in the area affected by the jamming.

The jamming will also have some affect on sea- and land-based GPS receivers – but only in comparatively limited areas.

Further jamming will be conducted for up to 3 days in the period 10-21 July 2012 in this case with jamming aircraft orbiting at 10,000 ft along a 50 NM track of 270°T from Kirkwall, starting 10 NM and ending 60 NM to the W of Kirkwall.

The islands council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, also said satellite TV, mobile phones and internet connectivity were disrupted. The MoD said prior warning would be given of any jamming.

The war games and counter terrorism training are held twice a year, in spring and autumn, and involve Nato armies, navies and air forces. Much of the training takes place in Scotland.

The Royal Navy has already alerted fishermen to the possibility they will be challenged by helicopters and ships in radio communications as part of the training.

Timings of any disruption to civilian users of GPS has still to be confirmed.

Full story…

Katie Robertson – 

A diver who swam 8km to shore after he was separated from his boat off Two Rocks yesterday has told how he battled through violent bouts of vomiting and leg cramps to survive.

Fly-in, fly-out worker Darrin Wells, 47, was fishing with a friend in a boat off the coast yesterday afternoon when he decided to don his scuba gear to see if there were more fish in the depths.

When he resurfaced, he could no longer see the boat.

“After about 10 minutes I saw the boat probably 200 metres away, and the wind had really got quite strong,” the father-of-two told PerthNow today as he recovered at the Newman iron-ore mine where he works as a construction manager.

“I tried to swim towards the boat and I was swallowing a lot of salt water and I really wasn’t going anywhere.

“It was 2pm and I knew the right thing to do would be to stay there close to the boat, but trying to swim against the wind and the waves, every wave was going over my head and I was battling to stay afloat. It wasn’t working.”

Mr Wells, a devotee of extreme sports and a keen marathon runner, decided his best chance at survival was to swim the 8km back to shore.

“I thought if I start swimming now, I’ll be able to get to shore before dark.

If I don’t start swimming now and stay where I am, I’m going to use all my energy and the chance of being found is not very great.”

Full story…