Maritime News

Maritime News in General

  • ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Tall Ship Sinks Off Saint Lucia

    Brig Unicorn

    By Mike Schuler - gCaptain

    An iconic two-masted, square-rigged tall ship famously featured in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies has sunk off Saint Lucia.

    According to reports, the Brig Unicorn sank early Saturday morning as it sailed from Saint Lucia to Saint Vincent & the Grenadines for dry docking, a short journey of about 18 miles.

    St. Lucia Times reports that the ship sank within a matter of minutes of first taking on water. So far there is no official determination as to the cause of her sinking.

    All 10 crew members including the captain abandoned ship and were rescued by the St. Vincent & the Grenadines coast guard some time later. No injuries were reported.

    In an interview with the St. Lucia Times, a spokesman for the St. Vincent & the Grenadines coast guard said the ship had already sunk upon their arrival at the scene.

    The 138-foot long Brig Unicorn was built in the late 1940’s in Finland. The ship was featured in at least three of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (although not as the Black Pearl), as well as in the 1970’s TV series Roots.

    The ship has been in St. Lucia since 1980, serving mostly recently as a bar and restaurant in Rodney Bay Marina.

    The vessel will likely not be salvaged.

  • Tests for China's first archaeological exploration ship

    UNderwater archaeology

    From English CNTV

    China's first underwater archaeological exploration vessel has begun testing in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.

    The ship, owned by China's cultural heritage team, is berthed at the private port of Changhang Dongfeng Shipbuilding Corporation. The hull of the ship is white, emblazoned with "Chinese Archeology" both in Chinese and English.

    The 500-tonne, 56-meter vessel has a maximum displacement of 960 tonnes, and can carry a crew of 30, according to an official with the Chongqing culture and heritage commission.

    Underwater archaeology in China has made great strides since the 1980s and a number of professional institutions and teams work in the field. The lack of properly equipped vessels ships has long been a problem.

    This ship, designed by the 701 Research Institute of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, will continue testing in Shanghai before sailing out to the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea to begin archaeology work.

  • World’s most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste

    Diego Garcia

    By Cahal Milmo - Independent

    The American military has poured hundreds of tonnes of human sewage and waste water into a protected coral lagoon on the British-owned base of Diego Garcia over three decades in breach of environmental rules, The Independent can reveal.

    The Indian Ocean base on the Chagos Islands has been one of the world’s most isolated and controversial military installations since Britain forcibly removed hundreds of islanders in the early 1970s, abandoning them to destitution, to make way for US forces including nuclear submarines and bombers.

    The British Government has repeatedly underlined its commitment to maintaining the pristine environment of the islands, which are known as the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) and were four years ago declared the world’s largest marine reserve.

    Despite these undertakings, it has emerged that US Navy vessels have been discharging waste water, including treated sewage, into the clear lagoon ever since a naval support station was established on Diego Garcia in the early 1980s.

    According to scientific advisers, elevated levels of nutrients caused by the waste – which have resulted in nitrogen and phosphate readings up to four times higher than normal – may be damaging the coral.

    Friday night, campaigners fighting for Chagossians to be allowed to return accused the British and US authorities of double standards by using the unspoilt character of the archipelago as a reason to prevent repopulation while themselves creating pollution.

    Philippa Gregory, author and patron of the UK Chagos Support Association, said: “While the people who were born and bred on Chagos are not allowed to return to their island, the military base of Diego Garcia houses about 5,000 US servicemen and women and ancillary workers.

    It makes no sense to suggest that Chagossians cannot return because of pressure on the environment.”

    Full story...

  • Giant Crabster robot to explore shipwrecks and shallow seas

    KIOST's Crabster, about the size and weight of a Smart car, will explore shallow seas despite violent currents

    By Jason Falconer - Gizmag

    The Japanese spider crab is about to lose its title as the world's largest crustacean thanks to a new robot, the Crabster, developed in South Korea.

    For the past 2 years, researchers at the Korean Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) have been working on a giant robot crab that is about the size and weight of a Smart car.

    This summer it will help scientists explore wrecks below the sea, weathering harsh tidal currents rushing over it at 1.5 m/s.

    One of the key problems associated with traditional propeller-driven underwater remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) is they don't perform well in strong currents. Another problem is their propellers tend to kick up a lot of detritus, lowering operator visibility.

    To overcome these problems a team led by Principal Research Scientist Bong-huan Jun of KIOST designed a six-legged robot based on the characteristics of crabs and lobsters (hence the name).

    The robot's six legs contain a total of 30 powerful joints. Like its biological cousins, the robot's two front legs are more articulated than the rest so they can be used as arms.

    Objects can be picked up and stored inside a frontal compartment to be brought to the surface. Even in shallow seas it can get pretty dark down there, so the Crabster is equipped with 10 optical cameras and a long-range scanning sonar which scans up to 200 m (650 ft) away.

    Full article...

  • Salvage of breakaway barges continues near Marseilles Dam

     Illinois River

    From gCaptain

    Salvage crews have removed the first of seven barges stuck near the Marseilles Dam on the Illinois River, but officials warned that an imminent drop in water levels is going to cause extended delays to commercial ship traffic.

    The barge, which is loaded with iron ore fines, was pulled from the dam Tuesday morning by tugs, and work continued Wednesday on the remaining six barges either floating or submerged near the dam.

    The barges have been stuck there since last Thursday when the M/V Dale A. Heller, a 128-foot towing vessel owned by Ingram Barge Company, lost control of its tow due to strong currents from heavy rainfall that has impacted the region.

    Seven of the Dale A. Heller’s 14 barges broke free and came to rest against the Marseilles Dam, causing damage to some of the dam’s gates.

    Four of the seven barges also sank near the dam. So far there have been no reports of pollution.

    “Ingram is working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that all salvage operations are handled in a safe and secure manner,” Scott Noble, senior V.P of ingram Barge Company, said on Tuesday.

    “[Tuesday] we made substantial progress in removing the first barge safely from the area and we began work on salvaging a second barge.”

    Salvage continued Wednesday with the dewatering of one of the submerged barges. The Army Corps of Engineers was on scene with a large crane to offload the barge’s cargo if needed to help with the refloat.

    An inspection by the Army Corps of Engineers on Sunday determined that the dam was structurally sound but the anchorage systems on gates two and three had been broken.

    Full article...


  • Extracting stranded U.S. minesweeper may take 2 months

    Standes minesweeper

    By Jason Hanna - CNN

    Removing a stranded U.S. minesweeper from an environmentally delicate reef off the Philippines may take until April, the state-run Philippines News Agency reported Wednesday, citing the Philippines Coast Guard.

    The U.S. Navy is preparing to extract the USS Guardian from the Tubbataha Reef, a Philippine national park and UNESCO World Heritage site where the 224-foot-long ship ran aground on January 17.

    The Navy plans to cut the 1,312-ton minesweeper into pieces and then, with the help of two contracted crane ships, lift the pieces and carry them away.

    Philippines Coast Guard Rear Adm. Rodolfo Isorena said Wednesday that he hopes the salvaging will begin soon so that further damage to the reef will be limited, the Philippines News Agency said.

    One of the crane ships has arrived in the area, about 80 miles east-southeast of Palawan Island in the Sulu Sea, and the other is on its way, the news agency reported.

    The ship is estimated to have damaged about 4,000 square meters (about 43,000 square feet) of the reef, the news agency said. Various U.S. officials, including Navy Vice Adm. Scott Swift last month, have apologized to the Philippines for the incident, which the U.S. Navy and the Philippines Coast Guard are investigating.

    Philippine officials said last month that the country would seek compensation for reef damage.

    The U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, Harry Thomas Jr., assured the Philippines on Monday that the United States "will provide appropriate compensation for damage to the reef caused by the ship."

    The reef is home to a vast array of sea, air and land creatures, as well as sizable lagoons and two coral islands.

    About 500 species of fish and 350 species of coral can be found there, as can whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles and breeding seabirds, according to UNESCO.

    Full article...

  • Crew of USS Guardian removed as US Navy 7th fleet salvors get to work

    From gCaptain

    The US Navy reports this morning that all 79 crew members have been transferred from the stricken USS Guardian (MCM-5) while 7th Fleet salvors works to try and free the vessel which is solidly aground on Tubbataha Reef in the Philippines.

    The sailors were safely transferred by small boat to the nearby support vessels USNS Bowditch (T-AGS 62) and MSV C-Champion.

    “Seventh Fleet ships remain on scene and essential Guardian Sailors will continue conducting survey operations onboard the ship as needed until she is recovered,” said Vice Adm. Scott Swift, U.S. Seventh Fleet commander.

    “Several support vessels have arrived and all steps are being taken to minimize environmental effects while ensuring the crew’s continued safety.”

    The Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship had just completed a port call in Subic Bay, Olongapo City, and was en route to her next port of call when the grounding occurred.

    The US Navy’s salvage operation continues today in close coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines while an investigation into the cause of the grounding continues.

  • Billion-dollar US nuclear sub comes off worst in Strait of Hormuz

    USS Jacksonville

    From RT

    The USS Jacksonville, a large nuclear submarine, has broken its periscope after colliding with a vessel which escaped unscathed. This is the latest collision to involve a US vessel in the busy and tense oil chokepoint of the Strait of Hormuz.

    The American sub was performing a routine pre-dawn patrol when seamen heard a “thump”, according to a Navy source who spoke to several news agencies.

    The crew tried to ascertain the damage by looking into its periscope, only to realize it was no longer working. The other periscope on the submarine revealed that the first one had been“sheared off”.

    It appears the ‘fishing trawler’ that collided with the 7,000-tonne submarine was not only undamaged, but barely noticed the accident.

    “The vessel continued on a consistent course and speed, offering no indication of distress or acknowledgement of a collision,” says an official statement published on the US Navy website.

    Authorities insist that USS Jacksonville is in no immediate danger.

    “The reactor remains in a safe condition, there was no damage to the propulsion plant systems and there is no concern regarding watertight integrity,” they said.

    The cost of repairing the damaged periscope are as yet unclear, but the discontinued Los Angeles-class submarines, to which USS Jacksonville belongs, would cost over $1 billion to build in today’s money (the sub was launched in 1978).

    Full article...

  • Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson sued by the real Ady Gil

    Ady Gil

    From gCaptain

    Yesterday was a bad day for Cap’n Paul Watson.

    Not only was he forced to resign as the president of Sea Shepherd in wake of legal issues facing him and his organization, but he was also sued by the real Ady Gil in connection to the 2010 sinking of the MY Ady Gil.

    According to the gossip website TMZ (yup, I went there), Paul Watson, founder and now ex-president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, has been sued by the Gil, who says he actually owned the high speed catamaran that famously sunk after a collision with a Japanese whaler while filming the show “Whale Wars.”

    In the lawsuit, which was filed yesterday in a L.A. courtroom, Gil claims that Watson used the 2010 collision as an opportunity to promote the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s anti-whaling efforts by lying about the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the vessel.

    Gil maintains that he had lent Watson and the Sea Shepherd the boat on the basis that they would take care of it.

    Obviously that didn’t happen, and it sunk allegedly following the collision with the whaler even though footage of the boat actually going down was never released.

    Gil says that the collision only resulted in damage to the Ady Gil’s bow and that the damages could have been repaired.

    The suit claims that Watson, being the marketer as he is, saw the collision as an opportunity to garner support for his cause and secretly ordered members of his crew to scuttle the boat “under the cover of darkness”, then blamed the whole thing on the Japanese.

    Full article...

  • Retired sea dogs to protect shipping from Somali pirates

    An armed Somali pirate 
    Photo Mohamed Dahir

    From RT

    The UK's first private navy in almost 200 years has been set up by a group of pioneering businessmen, former marines and retired captains and soldiers to defend shipping off the coast of east Africa from the threat of pirates.

    They are frustrated at the inability of the Royal Navy, NATO, the European Union Naval Task Force and other navies to guarantee security for shipping in an area of ocean the size of North America.

    “They can’t do the job because they haven’t got the budget and deploying a billion-pound warship against six guys [pirates] with $500 of kit is not a very good use of the asset,” Anthony Sharp, chief executive of Typhon, the company behind the venture, told the Times.

    Typhon is chaired by Simon Murray a millionaire business man with a colorful past including a spell in the French Foreign Legion as a teenager and walking unsupported to the South Pole aged 63.

    Other Typhon directors include Admiral Henry Ulrich, former commander of US Naval Force’s Europe, General Sir Jack Deverell, former commander in chief Allied Forces Northern Europe and Lord Dannatt Britain’s former chief of the general staff.

    The navy will include a 10,000 ton mother ship and high speed armored patrol boats and will be led by a former Royal Navy commodore and 240 former marines and other sailors.

    The marines will be armed with close quarter weapons such as the M4 carbine and sniper rifles with a range of 2 km.

    It will escort its first convoy of oil tankers, bulk carriers and the occasional yacht along the east coast of Africa in late March or early April. They will aim to deter pirates rather than engage in firefights.

    Full article...

  • 1,000 ships locked in ice off China

    Ships trapped in ice

    From gCaptain


    Temperatures in China have plunged to their lowest in almost three decades, cold enough to freeze coastal waters and trap 1,000 ships in ice, official media said at the weekend.

    Since late November the country has shivered at an average of minus 3.8 degrees Celsius, 1.3 degrees colder than the previous average, and the chilliest in 28 years, state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday, citing the China Meteorological Administration.

    Bitter cold has even frozen the sea in Laizhou Bay on the coast of Shandong province in the east, stranding nearly 1,000 ships, the China Daily newspaper reported.

    Zheng Dong, chief meteorologist at the Yantai Marine Environment Monitoring Center under the State Oceanic Administration, told the paper that the area under ice in Laizhou Bay was 291 square km this week.

    Transport around the country has been severely disrupted.

    Full article...


  • Russian Navy to hold biggest war games in decades

    Russian Navy

    From RT

    The four major Russian Navy fleets will hold a joint exercise in late January in the Mediterranean and Black seas. It will be the biggest such event in decades.

    Commands for the Northern, Baltic, Black Sea and Pacific fleets have been preparing for the exercises since December of last year, the Russian Defense Ministry has announced.

    Warships detached for the event are currently sailing to those regions.

    “The primary goal of the exercise is to train issues regarding formation of a battle group consisting of troops of different branches outside of the Russian Federation, planning of its deployment and managing a coordinated action of a joint Navy group in accordance with a common plan,” the ministry’s information department explained.

    The exercise will include several scenarios, including the loading of amphibious troops from an unprepared coast in the Northern Caucasus onto transport vessels.

    Full article...

  • Russian noiseless Borei class nuclear submarine immersed

    Russian sub

    From RT

    Super-modern, powerful and almost noiseless Russian nuclear submarine Vladimir Monomakh has been put in water to become the third ship of the Borei project.

    The cruiser is about to begin sea trials and mooring to become fully operational in 2013.

    Vladimir Monomakh was laid down at Russia’s largest shipbuilding complex Sevmash, located on the shores of the White Sea in the town of Severodvinsk in northern Russia on March 19, 2006 – the 100th anniversary of the Russian submarine fleet.

    It belongs to a class of missile strategic submarine cruisers with a new generation of nuclear reactor, which allows the submarine to dive to a depth of 480 meters.

    It can spend up to three months in autonomous navigation and, thanks to the latest achievements in the reduction of noise, it is almost silent compared to previous generations of submarines.

    The submarine is armed with the new missile system, which has from 16 to 20 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles Bulava (SS-NX-30 by NATO classification).

    The rocket is able to overcome any prospective missile defense system.

    On August 27, 2011, the Russian Defense Ministry reported on a successful test of Bulava to investigate its maximum range.

    The missile was launched from the White Sea, flew 9,300km in just 33 minutes, and then fell in the specified area in the Pacific Ocean.

    Full article...

  • Ferocious hurricane Sandy exposes Fire Island shipwreck

    The presumed remains of the Bessie White, a wrecked schooner long buried under Fire Island's dunes, now rests fully exposed on the beach following Hurricane Sandy. 
    Photo Cheryl Hapke

    By Becky Oskin - NBC News

    A wrecked schooner long buried on Fire Island — a barrier island off of Long Island, N.Y. — now lays fully exposed following Hurricane Sandy's attack on the beach.

    The weathered hull of the shipwreck lies about 4 miles (6 kilometers) east of Davis Park, between Skunk Hollow and Whalehouse Point, in the Fire Island National Seashore, as first reported by Newsday.

    The remains are thought to be the Bessie White, more than 90 years old, said Paula Valentine, public affairs specialist for the park. Historic photographs and news accounts don't agree on the year of the ship's grounding, but here is an outline of its story:

    The ship, a four-mast Canadian schooner, went aground in heavy fog about a mile west of Smith's Point, Long Island, in either 1919 or 1922.

    The men escaped in two boats.

    One capsized in the surf, injuring one crew member, but everyone (including the ship's cat) made it to shore safely. But the crew couldn't save the 3-year-old ship or its tons of coal.

    The ship was salvaged in the following weeks.

    The bus-size ship's skeleton has poked up through the sand before, such as after a nor'easter in 2006, exposing long boards and metal pegs, Valentine told OurAmazingPlanet.

    The dune that used to bury the wreck eroded back an average of 72 feet, said U.S. Geological Survey coastal geologist Cheryl Hapke, who is studying the changes on Fire Island.

    Archaeologists and park officials are documenting the shipwreck before the sea reburies it with sand, Valentine said.

  • Divers recovery body from sunken gold ship, 8 crew still missing

    Russian ship missing

    From RT

    Search and rescue divers have recovered a body from the cargo ship “Amurskaya” that sank in the Sea of Okhotsk at the end of October.

    The search continues for 8 crewmen who were on board the freighter carrying 700 tonnes of gold ore.

    The ship went down in heavy seas on her way from Kiran to Okhotsk in Russia’s Far East carrying a cargo of gold ore worth an estimated quarter of a million dollars.

    It was more than a week before rescuers spotted an oil slick ten miles off shore marking where the vessel went down. The ship was discovered by dive teams from the Emergencies Ministry lying on her port side in 25 metres of water.

    An air and sea search was launched looking for the nine man crew despite the extreme weather conditions.

    Some experts say the chances of the crew being found alive is now very remote.

    “The vessel, quite possibly, sank immediately, which means all crew members remained on board.

    The speed with which it sank is attributed to the structure – initially it was a drag-boat which was remade into a cargo vessel,” said Deputy Chairman of the Russian Sailors’ Trade Union, Nikolay Sukhanov.

    However others are not giving up hope.

    “The storm ladder, absence of people on the bridge, an open door below deck, absence of life rafts all point to the high possibility of the crew attempting to evacuate the sinking vessel,” say representatives of the Federal Agency for River and Marine Transport (Rosmorrechflot).

    Russian daily “Komsomolskaya Pravda” quoted one of the relatives of the missing crew, the daughter of Aleksander Stukalov, saying she believes her father is alive: “we believe our father, he’s an experienced sailor, a strong man, he’ll survive.”

    A battered life raft was spotted on the coast of an island in the vicinity of the wreck which investigators believe it did come from the freighter.

    Full article...

  • Rescuers search for crew of sunken Russian gold ore cargo

    From RT

    Rescue teams are continuing to sweep the area where a cargo ship carrying around 700 tons of gold ore sank last month. The ship was found by scuba divers in the Okhotsk Sea in Russia’s Far East.

    Scuba divers discovered the wreck of the Amurskaya freighter lying on its port side on the seabed some 25 meters deep.

    The rescuers did not find lifeboats or the bodies of crewmembers, indicating that the ship’s crew may have escaped before

  • Search for Russian ship delayed by weather

    From UPI

    Bad weather Friday hindered the search for a cargo ship that disappeared in the seas off far eastern Russia while carrying hundreds of tons of gold ore.

    The emergency beacon of the vessel Amurskaya was activated shortly after it left the port of Kiran in the Khabarovsk Territory Wednesday, ITAR-Tass reported.

    The ship, destined for the port of Okhotsk, was carrying 772 to 823 tons of gold ore. Its carrying capacity was rated at 673 tons.

    The ship has a crew of nine.

    Aircraft and marine vessels were prevented from continuing the search Friday because of rough seas.

    The Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Maritime Rescue Coordination Sub-center said winds in the search area of the Sea of Okhotsk were 38-44 mph, with 6 1/2-foot seas. Wet snow was falling, creating zero visibility.

    A search plane Thursday flew over the area for 2 1/2 hours.

  • Russian ship carrying 700 tons of gold ore missing

    Gold ore missing ship

    From Huffington Post


    A vessel with a nine-person crew and 700 tons of gold ore onboard has gone missing in stormy seas off Russia's Pacific Coast.

    The ship sent a distress call on Sunday as it was sailing from the coastal town of Neran to Feklistov Island in the Sea of Okhotsk.

    The vessel, hired by mining company Polymetal, was carrying 700 tons of gold ore from one deposit to another where it was to be processed. Gold ore is the material from which gold is extracted and contains only a small percentage of the precious metal.

    Polymetal's spokesman on Monday would not estimate the value of the cargo.

    The company said it has shipped ore via that route before, and there was nothing unusual in shipping it by the sea.


  • Hurricane Sandy – Monday Evening Update

    Hurricane Sandy

    From Bloomberg

    As midnight approaches America’s east coast Hurricane Sandy continues to lash the shoreline with wind, rain and snow.

    The system came ashore near Atlantic City, New Jersey, at 8 p.m. New York time, and by 9 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said it was receiving reports of hurricane-force wind gusts over Long Island and the New York metropolitan areas.

    Sandy is no longer a hurricane because it’s drawing energy from temperature differences and not the ocean, making the transition to a superstorm that may push a wall of water ashore in the Northeast.

    As of 9 p.m. Eastern time, Sandy was 15 miles (24 kilometers) northwest of Atlantic City, moving west-northwest at 21 miles per hour with top sustained winds of 80 mph.

    It’s forecast to turn north by tomorrow and cross through Pennsylvania to reach New York on Oct. 31, the center said.

    Rains are soaking the mid-Atlantic states, 3 feet (0.9 meters) of snow may fall in the Appalachians and a record- breaking storm surge may wash over Manhattan’s Battery Park.

    Full article...

  • Tall Ship Bounty abandoned, sinks in heavy seas off Hatteras

    HMS Bounty

    From gCaptain

    Update 3: The Coast Guard has reported that the body of a woman, identified as Ms. Claudene Christian, has been recovered.

    A crew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., located Christian who was unresponsive, hoisted her into the helicopter and took her to Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City.

    The search for the captain, Robin Walbridge, continues approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., Monday.

    Update 2: As of approximately 0845, the USCG reports the Bounty has sunk.

    Update 1: Rescuers at the United States Coast Guard swung into action this morning after receiving word that the crew of the 180-foot, three-masted tall ship, Bounty, abandoned ship approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina.

    The 16-person crew donned cold water survival suits and lifejackets before launching in two 25-person lifeboats. US Coast Guard watchstanders dispatched a pair of MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., to rescue the crew.

    The first Jayhawk crew arrived on scene at approximately 6:30 a.m. and hoisted five people into the aircraft, and a second helicopter arrived and rescued nine people.

    The 14 people are being flown to Air Station Elizabeth City where they will be met by awaiting emergency medical services personnel.

    The C-130 Hercules aircraft remains on scene and is searching for the two missing crewmembers and a third Jayhawk crew is en route to assist search and rescue efforts.


  • Indian, US Navies to undertake submarine rescue operations deep underwater

    In a unique and complex endeavour, Indian and US Navies have come together to practice the rescue of trapped submariners from deep under the sea

    From Rajat Pandit - Times of India

    If an Indian submarine gets "disabled'' deep underwater, the sailors are sunk since the country has only rudimentary submarine rescue facilities.

    Now, in a unique and complex endeavour, Indian and US Navies have come together to practice the rescue of "trapped'' submariners from deep under the sea.

    The Indo-US submarine rescue exercise 'INDIAEX-2012' will kick off this week with the US Navy's Undersea Rescue Command flying down a submarine rescue system - a deep-submergence rescue vessel (DSRV) or a submarine rescue chamber (SRC).

    The DSRV or SRC will then be shipped to the exercise area off Mumbai, where it will dive deep underwater to "mate'' with "disabled'' submarines to rescue sailors in intricate manoeuvres rarely practiced by Indian sailors.

    A DSRV or "mini submarine'', equipped with pressurised chambers, sonars and cameras, can rescue 24 sailors at a time from a depth up to 610 metres after "mating'' with a stricken vessel's hatch.

    At present, Indian sailors bank upon "submarine escape pressurized suits'', or the help of diving support ships like INS Nireekshak, but they can be used only for relatively shallow depths.

    Navy's endeavour to procure two DSRVs of its own, for about Rs 1,000 crore, has been stuck for well over a decade.

    As an "interim measure'' in 1997, India had inked a contract with US Navy for its "global submarine rescue fly-away kit'' service, paying an initial $734,443 for it.

    But the agreement got derailed due to the post-Pokhran-II sanctions in 1998. It was later revived in 2004 but there has been a huge delay in setting up the requisite infrastructure needed for it.

    This also included fitting of 'Padeyes' - holding devices welded into submarine escape hatches to secure the DSRV - on Indian submarines.

    The US rescue system, as per the agreement, will be transported to India within 72 hours of an emergency.

    Full article...

  • Brazil lost 80 percent of coral reef in 50 years

    Fish are seen swimming around coral formations on January 15, 2012, in Lady Elliot Island, Australia. 
    Photo Mark Kolbe

    By Jill Langlois - Global Post

    A new report from the Federal University of Pernambuco and Brazil's Environment Ministry says the South American country has lost 80 percent of its coral reef in just the past 50 years.

    According to EFE, the report blames abusive extraction and pollution from urban and industrial resources, as well as excessive fishing, for the destruction of the reef.

    "Until the 1980s, there was much extraction to make lime in the country," said Professor Beatrice Padovani, who collected data since 2002 with her research group, EFE reported.

    Padovani also noted that domestic, industrial and farm pollution were factors in creating sediment accumulation that has destroyed the reef systems.

    Full article...

  • Iran navy announces plans to expand to South Pole

    Iranian navy

    From RT

    The country’s Navy Commander has pledged the country has the capability to hoist its flags anywhere from the North to South Poles and intends to extend its presence in the international waters in Antarctica.

    The naval chief, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was adamant his country has every right to be present in the international waters near the South Pole.

    “We have the capability to hoist Iran’s flags in different regions from the North Pole to the South Pole and we are preparing plans for presence near the South Pole,” the country’s Press TV news network quoted him as saying on Friday.

    “However, we will never enter the maritime borders of others and we will not allow anybody to enter even a centimeter into our territorial waters,” added Sayyari. 

    Earlier in September, the country’s navy chief announced plans to establish Iran’s naval presence in the international waters off the US coast.

    The remark was apparently meant as a response to the increase in the number of US vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, off the coast of Iran.

    Admiral Sayyari then mentioned that the Iranian navy was steadily expanding its international presence. 

    “Today the presence of Iran’s Navy extends from the Persian Gulf to the north of the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden and Bab el-Mandeb,” the navy chief then said in his interview on state TV. 

    Last year, two Iranian warships had for the first time entered the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal.

    Full article...

  • S.O.S. sounded for 'perfect storm' rescue ship

    By Anthony R. Wood - Philly


    The ship survived Iwo Jima, drug wars, the Mariel boat-lift, and one of the most-horrific North Atlantic storms of the 20th Century.

    But at age 69, the fabled Zuni/Tamaroa is confronting a more formidable adversary - the sedentary life.

    While moored at a marine yard near Norfolk, Va., in late May a major leak flooded the engines, and a forward bulkhead partially collapsed, according to Harry Jaeger, who is leading the battle to save the ship.

    Jaeger runs the Zuni Maritime Foundation, which dreams of restoring the ship - named the Zuni during its naval career, and the Tamaroa, or Tam, when the Coast Guard took it over - as a museum and educational vessel.

    The foundation is trying to raise $500,000 for the rescue operation, but it might take more than double that amount, said Tim Mullane, owner of American Marine Group, which has provided a temporary haven for the vessel.

    Jaeger said the current owner, listed as Zuni/Tamaroa L.L.C., of Wilmington, plans to sell the steel ship to Mullane, who in turn would sell it for scrap metal.

    Mullane said that he was in no hurry to take ownership and that he wants to give the foundation a chance to raise the rescue money. He added, however, that the operation would be a daunting one.



  • Costa Concordia salvage suffers delays

    Costa Concordia


    The wreck removal of the infamous Costa Concordia is going to take longer than expected, officials in Italy announced this week.

    On Monday the Department of Civil Protection, which is the Italian government office overseeing the removal process, met with the salvage team who presented new detailed engineering design plans for the vessel’s removal, along with a new estimated timetable for job’s execution. 

    The new timeframe includes estimates that the Costa Concordia will be upright and floating by the end of spring 2013, ahead of Giglio’s next tourist season but months behind the original timeframe announced when the work began.

    As gCaptain reported in April, the historic contract to remove the 114,500-ton cruise ship was awarded to a consortium involving U.S.-based Titan Salvage and Italy’s Micoperi after the pair submitted a winning proposal based on a set of strict parameters and guidelines that took into account heavy environmental concerns and Giglio’s tourism-based economy.

    In May, the team revealed its salvage plan during a Rome press event with the estimate that the job will be fully completed within one year.

    Wreck removal work began in June with a timetable that included uprighting the ship and delivery to an Italian port by the end of January 2013.

    Full story and links...

  • Waverley paddle steamer is a national treasure

    Waverley paddle steamer

    By Cat Harvey - Daily Record

    Ever since I was little. I’ve loved going on boats. CalMac are like high-tech fighter jets to me. While planes, trains and automobiles make me travel sick, choppy seas are just a wild adventure to be overcome.

    There’s something hypnotic about staring into the horizon or watching the wake of a ship.

    Through work I was asked to report on not one but two sea adventures in as many days and I’ve returned ship-shape and ready to share.

    My first voyage was on the Waverley, the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world. She is a charity and lovingly cared for by professionals and a team of volunteers in the preservation society.

    This boat is a national treasure. You can sit on deck and watch the Clyde coastline.

    Downstairs you can marvel at the immaculately cared-for pistons pounding away, or if you’re like my pals, you can head to the dancing where you’ll find a band in full swing with a packed floor by 10.30am.

    It truly is the best day out in Scotland.

    My love of the Waverley is not a secret.

    Only a year ago I shared the tale of my new best mates, the Possil Fossils, a group of pensioners with cheeky banter and more zest than a crate of lemons.

    This year, along with some feisty golden oldies, there was a hen do all dressed as pirates and a group of pals from Dunoon, who got on board dressed as the entire cast of the Wizard of Oz.

    Full story...

  • Cable ship erupts in flames off Namibian coast

    Cable ship on fire

    From gCaptain

    A cable laying ship returning from a repair job off the coast of Namibia erupted in flames and smoke earlier this week, forcing all 56 crew members to abandon ship and leave the still burning vessel adrift just offshore in the southern Atlantic Ocean.

    The vessel, the 135 meter long Chamarel belonging to the French telecommunications company France Telecom-Orange, caught fire on August 8th following a repair operation on the Sat3-Safe cable extending from South Africa to Europe.

    Reports indicate that the fire started on the bridge and quickly spreading to other sections of the vessel.

    In a statement, France Telecom says that despite the crew’s efforts to control the blaze, the decision was made to abandon the ship at around 8 p.m. local time and all 56 crew members were safely recovered by a Namibian fishing vessel without injury or incident.

    The crew is currently located at the Namibian port, Walvis Bay and will be repatriated in the coming days, the statement added.

    France Telecom says that the cause of the fire has not yet been established and a full investigation will be launched as soon as the vessel has been recovered.

    The company also added that the incident has no immediate impact on submarine cables in the area, which will continue to function normally.

    Full story...

  • A yacht participating in Sail Morotai sinks in Flores

    By Yemris Fointuna - The Jakarta Post

    A yacht participating in the 2012 Sail Morotai rally, carrying five people, sunk in the waters off Flores in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) early on Thursday.

    As off Thursday noon, the search and rescue team, the NTT Water Police and local fishermen had found one survivor.

    However, Comr. Bayu Herlambang from the NTT Water Police said that the survivor, who is reportedly a foreigner, was not available for questioning. “He is still deeply shocked by the incident,” he said.

    Bayu said that all documents explaining the origin of the yacht and the identities of its passengers were lost.

    The sunken yacht departed from Kupang and headed to Flores on Monday together with dozens of yachts participating in the sailing rally.

    However, the boat allegedly separated with other vessels it decided to dock for a while at Kalabahi, Alor regency in NTT.

    Bayu said that high tidal waves could be the main cause of the incident. “The tidal waves in the waters of Flores can be up to two-meters high,” he said.

    A total of 84 yachts carrying 450 people on board are participating in the Morotai sailing rally.

    They are scheduled to visit 12 spots during their stop at Kupang and various areas in NTT and Maluku.

    The participants come from various countries, including Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.

    The international sailing rally was first launched 12 years ago.

  • Christmas Island shipwreck cleared

    The MV Tycoon at Flying Fish Cove 
    Photo Michael Wilson

    By Angela Pownall - The West Australian

    Christmas Island’s beautiful Flying Fish Cove, which is the scene of one of nature’s most spectacular sights with the red crab migration, has finally been cleared of the rusting, oil-leaking shipwreck that has blocked the port for almost seven months.

    Salvage experts today finished an $8.2 million taxpayer-funded operation to remove the MV Tycoon, which smashed against the cove’s jagged cliffs on January 9.

    The 85m container ship broke up in big swell, leaking oil and phosphate into Flying Fish Cove’s pristine waters, and triggering fears of an environmental disaster on the island.

    More than 1600 tonnes of twisted and rusted scrap metal were removed from the ocean and put onto barges to go to Indonesia to be recycled.

    Toby Stone, from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, said a team of 20 people used equipment to cut large pieces of metal, electromagnets to pick up smaller pieces up off the sea bed and divers who picked metal out of the cliffs.

    “We have been criticised for delaying the operation. That was our intent because it was unsafe to start it during the cyclone season and we wanted to wait for good weather. It’s been proved it was the right decision,” he said.

    Australian taxpayers footed the bill because the container ship’s owners would not co-operate with AMSA over its removal.

    Mr Stone said AMSA would seek to recover costs from the MV Tycoon’s owners Tycoon Navigation in Singapore and their insurers, Navigators Protection and Indemnity in London.

    Divers have found minimal damage to the marine environment in the cove, but it was not expected to be long-term damage, Mr Stone said.

    Full story...

  • Australian sub sinks U.S. navy ship (but don’t worry, it was for practice)

    The ex-USS Kilauea being blown away

    By Mike Schuler - gCaptain

    The ex-USS Kilauea, a former ammunition ship and a later staple of the Military Sealift Command for almost 30 years, was sunk earlier this week at the hands of a Australian submarine near Hawaii.

    Not to worry, however. The ship, along with the USNS Niagara Falls, were sunk as part of a SINKEX (sink exercise) during the 2012 Rim of The Pacific, or RIMPAC, exercise.

    This years RIMPAC saw representatives from twenty two of the world’s Navies spending their July near the Hawaiian Islands in what is being called the largest international maritime exercise in the world.

    More than 40 ships and submarines, 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are in attendance

    To help crews gain proficiency in live firing, the U.S. offered up the ex-USS Kilauea as a target vessel in one of two SINKEX’s to be conducted during this years exercise.

    And on June 22 at approximately 9:32 a.m., the vessel was fired upon and sunk at the hands of the Australian Navy’s HMAS Farncomb submarine in waters 15,480 feet deep.

    “HMAS Farncomb’s success reminds us yet again of the invaluable role submarines play in modern warfare,” said Australian Commodore Stuart Mayer, Combined Forces Maritime Component commander for RIMPAC.

    While some are praising the exercise for its as-real-as-it-gets experience it gains, others are saying the only thing sunk was millions of taxpayer dollars.

    Let’s hope the Australian Navy hits their next target…

  • Funding cut imperils undersea lab

    In this undated photo released by One World One Ocean, Sylvia Earle looks out of a porthole from Aquarius, the undersea research laboratory in the Florida Keys. 
    Photo Mark Ostrick

    By Jennifer Kay - St Augustine

    Ocean explorer Sylvia Earle sported one Rolex dive watch on each wrist as she slipped beneath the balmy waters of the Florida Keys for a weeklong stay at an undersea research lab where marine biologists have kept constant watch on a coral reef.

    In 1970, Rolex gave Earle a small gold watch when she led the first team of women “aquanauts” to a lab off the U.S. Virgin Islands. Back then, prolonged underwater exploration was still something of a novelty.

    She got a larger black dive watch not long before arriving in Key Largo last week for what could be the last mission for her and other scientists to the Aquarius Reef Base.

    It seems that time has almost run out for the lab in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

    The mission ending Saturday could be the last at the last publically funded lab of its kind, because the Obama administration has cut Aquarius’ $3 million annual funding.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration owns the lab that has rested for two decades some 60 feet below the water’s surface.

    The federal budget cuts threaten to close the lab unless it can secure private funding.

    Full story...

  • Chinese warship runs aground on Philippine reef

    From New America Media

    As China's leadership continues to press its claim on territory that the Philippines also claims for itself, a Chinese warship has run aground on a reef off Palawan while patrolling contested waters in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea, an Australian newspaper reported on Friday.

    The report came as the Philippine government started verifying reports that China had installed a powerful radar on Subi Reef, an islet 22 kilometers from the Philippine-occupied Kalayaan group of islands in the Spratly archipelago.

    Reporter John Gaurnaut of The Sydney Morning Herald, citing unnamed Western diplomatic sources, said the People’s Liberation Army’s naval ship No. 560 became “thoroughly stuck” on a reef at Half Moon Shoal during the previous night.

    The warship is a Jianghu-class frigate “that has in the past been involved in aggressively discouraging Filipino fishing boats from the area,” the Morning Herald said.

    The Philippines refers to Half Moon Shoal as Hasa-Hasa Shoal, which military sources said is only about 111 km (60 nautical miles) from the municipality of Rizal on the main island of Palawan province, well within the country’s 370-km (200-nautical-mile) exclusive economic zone.

    Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon of Kalayaan in Palawan confirmed the incident and said it has been 10 days since it happened according to field reports.

  • Noble drillship nearly wrecks on Alaskan shore

    Noble Discoverer

    From gCaptain

    Murphy’s Law was proven once again this weekend as the Noble Discoverer, a Shell-contracted drill ship destined to start drilling in arctic waters, encountered ground tackle issues of some sort last night and wound up dangerously close to the shore of Hog Island in Unalaska Bay near Dutch Harbor.

    The state of Alaska has a number of different anchorages available in Unalaska Bay depending on the gross tonnage of a given vessel.  

    Wide Bay or Broad Bay (directly to the south of Wide Bay) are two designated anchorages for vessels greater than 20,000 gross tons, however the anchorage between Hog Island and Amaknak Island is the likely place where the Noble Discoverer was anchored.  

    This anchorage is rated for vessels between 10,000 and 19,999 GT which draw 30 feet or less.

    Full story...

  • Aussie’s Titanic vision moves closer

    By Robb M. Stewart - gCaptain


    Australia’s version of the Titanic has taken another step towards becoming reality.

    Finnish ship design and marine engineering firm Deltamarin Ltd. has been commissioned to assist with the construction of modern version of the ill-fated passenger liner for Australian billionaire Clive Palmer.

    Mr. Palmer in an emailed statement Tuesday said his recently established shipping company, Blue Star Line Pty. Ltd., has hired Deltamarin to undertake a full review of the Titanic II project to ensure the vessel will be compliant with all current safety and construction regulations.

    Hopefully that includes icebergs.

    China’s state-owned CSC Jinling Shipyard was hired in late April to build Titanic II, a luxury ship that will be constructed to the same dimensions as the original vessel that sank 100 years ago.

    Mr. Palmer has previously said the only changes would be below the water line, including welding rather than riveting, a bulbous bow for greater fuel efficiency, diesel generation, and enlarged rudder and bow thrusters for increased maneuverability.

    Mr. Palmer reaffirmed plans to launch the ship in 2016, with the intention of sailing from China to England before a maiden voyage retracing the intended original journey.



  • Norwegians prepare to bring famed Arctic ship home

    The Norwegian team will attach balloons to this barge to lift the Maud ship out of the shallow waters near Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, where the ship has sat for decades 
    Photo Jan Wanggard

    From CBC News

    Preparations are underway for a complex operation to salvage the Maud shipwreck near Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, in the summer of 2013.

    Jan Wanggard is the head of the group Maud Returns Home, which was awarded an export permit in March to repatriate the historic shipwreck.

    The ship has been sitting partially submerged in shallow waters off Cambridge Bay since it sank in 1930.

    "It will be a submersible barge so we can actually sink it under the water and lift it again," said Wanggard.

    Wanggard said they will bring a barge from Norway to the site. They plan to attach air balloons to the barge to lift it out.

    Wanggard said that will allow them to put the ship on the barge and then tow it back to Norway.

    They expect the transfer to take a couple of weeks.

    Once they start, the group will only have 90 days to move the ship out of the country or their permit will expire.

    Many people are concerned the Maud will break during the extraction or transport, but Wanggard said things should go smoothly.

    Full story...

  • B.C. fishermen stranded for days on remote island

    Strong waves hit and engulfed MV Pacific Siren

    By Petti Fong - The Star

    Dave Martynuik posted a jaunty message on his Facebook page May 7: “Prawnin ! See you in July.”

    Two days later, disaster struck.

    Despite being a clear day, strong waves hit and engulfed his boat, MV Pacific Siren. Martynuik and his fishing companions — brother Brian and friend Jesse Brillon — got into their life raft just in time to the see their vessel go down in the Hecate Strait off the coast of northern B.C.

    After being lost at sea for several hours, the trio reached land — Banks Island across from Haida Gwaii. But their adventure was only beginning. For the next 10 days they were stranded on the remote island, living off seaweed and clams and foraging debris that had washed ashore.

    “When we finally got to land after all those hours wet and sitting in water in that boat, we looked at each other and one of us said, ‘Well boys, we’re on our own,’ ” Brillon said.

    The fishermen said they knew it would take a long time before they would be rescued.

    The remote island is uninhabited and without any communications devices so their only chance of being rescued was to be spotted by someone sailing past or flying past. A plane flew by just once during their 10 days there.

    Brillon set about looking for materials that could be used to signal for help while Dave Martynuik and Brian Martynuik went in search of water and debris that could be fashioned into shelter. What they found was an isolated island, where tonnes of junk had washed ashore. They fashioned shoes out of Styrofoam for Brian Martynuik, a size 13. His brother, a size 10, was able to find one Croc and one sandal that fit him.

    Brillon found an oil drum with oil still inside and used it as paint to write out SOS.

    “There were thousands of plastic bottles, ping pong balls, flip flops. Tonnes of junk and I looked for the brightest colour junk to hang around the shore and put it on the highest point to make ourselves visible,” said Brillon. 72MFS4UZZK5U

    Full story...

  • Senate poised to give UN control of everything re the oceans by ratifying LOST

    By Larry Greenley - JBS

    The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ... is perhaps one of the most significant but less recognized 20th century accomplishments in the arena of international law....

    Its scope is vast: it covers all ocean space, with all its uses, including navigation and overflight; all uses of all its resources, living and non-living, on the high seas, on the ocean floor and beneath, on the continental shelf and in the territorial seas; the protection of the marine environment; and basic law and order....

    The Convention is widely recognised by the international community as the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and the seas must be carried out.

    ("25th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea," Oct. 17, 2007; emphasis added.)

    If you wonder why some of us have been so vigorously opposing ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) since it was negotiated at a series of UN conferences between 1973 and 1982, read the above quote very slowly and with comprehension.

    This statement from the 25th anniversary celebration of the completion of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also known more simply as the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), says LOST's "scope is vast: it covers all ocean space, with all its uses, including navigation and overflight; all uses of its resources, living and non-living, on the high seas, on the ocean floor and beneath, on the continental shelf and in the territorial seas....

    The Convention is widely recognized by the international community as the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and the seas must be carried out."

    If you read the quote carefully, you'll see that the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea which administers LOST would have authority over everything, everything, over, on, and under the oceans and seas of the world. Ratification of LOST would be a very large step toward world government.

    And, remember under the UN division that administers LOST, our nation wouldn't have veto power like we do in the UN Security Council. We'd have just one vote among 150 or more votes. Just as the League of Nations ultimately fell apart without the United States, let's stay out of the UN's LOST regime, thus denying its legitimacy...

    If you're still not convinced that the implementation and administration of the LOST Convention is part of the United Nations, consider this statement from the Sixty-second United Nations General Assembly Plenary meeting, December 21, 2007:

    The Assembly had before it a 22-part resolution on oceans and the Convention on the Law of the Sea ... by which it would call on States to harmonize, as a matter of priority, national legislation with the provisions of the Convention and, where applicable, relevant agreements and provisions....

    The Assembly then adopted the resolution by a recorded vote of 146 in favour to 2 against....

    Full story...

  • Costa Concordia salvage plan revealed

    The tieback chains prevent the wreck from sliding as forces are applied

    From gCaptain

    Representatives from Costa Crociere and the Italo-American consortium Titan-Micoperi today presented the details of their much anticipated plan to remove the wreck of Costa Concordia from the Island of Giglio using cranes and caissons to float the vessel.

    As we learned weeks ago, Titan Salvage and Micoperi were selected to remove the stricken Costa Concordia from Giglio Island after beating out several leading salvage companies vying for the historic contract.

    Titan Salvage, part of the Crowley Group, is an American-owned specialist marine salvage and wreck removal company and is a world leader in its field. Micoperi is a wellknown Italian marine contractor with a long history as a specialist in underwater construction and engineering.

    The requirements laid out for the job included refloating the hull in one piece while giving top priority to minimize the environmental impact, protecting Giglio’s economy and tourism industry, and maximizing safety.

    To do this, Titan-Micoperi will set up shop on the mainland near Piombino, where equipment and materials will be stored and crews will be housed, therefor avoiding impact on the island’s port activities and as not to clogg up the island’s limited hotel accomodations.

    The consortium says the work will begin in a few days and is expected to last about 12 months.

    Full story and photos...

  • Captain Paul Watson Arrested in Germany

    Paul Watson

    By Mike Schuler - gCaptain

    Notorious Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson was arrested Saturday in Germany and is likely facing extradition to Costa Rica where he could be charged with attempted murder.

    The charges, Sea Shepherd admits, stem from an alleged incident took place in Guatemalan waters in 2002 while filming Sharkwater, a documentary film meant to expose the shark-hunting industry and stars Watson as he confronts shark poachers in Guatemala and Costa Rica.

    According to a release by the marine wildlife conservation society, Sea Shepherd encountered an illegal shark finning operation run by a Costa Rican ship called the Varadero and order them, under authorization by the “order of the Guatemalan authorities”, to cease activities and head back to port to be prosecuted.

    While escorting the vessel back to port, the crew of the Varadero contacted the Guatemalan authorities and said that that the crew of Sea Shepherd actually tried to kill them.

    Staying true to their roots, the Guatemalan authorities quickly switched sides and dispatched a gunboat to intercept the Sea Shepherd crew.

    The Sea Shepherd retreated, fleeing into Costa Rican waters where they continued their assault on illegal shark finning groups.

    But that’s not the end of the story.

    Full story...

  • For diver, Concordia should be sunk, not saved

    Costa Concordia

    By Steve Scherer - London South East

    The Costa Concordia, the wrecked liner which been half-submerged near the Italian island of Giglio since it hit a rock in January, could be a paradise for recreational scuba divers from around the world - if sunk instead of salvaged.

    'Every night I light a candle and say a prayer for it to sink,' Aldo Baffigi, a Giglio native, says of the 290-metre-long ship with its towering smokestack and four swimming pools.

    Most of the Tuscan island's 1,500 residents want the modern-day Titanic to be hauled away as soon as possible, but Baffigi is an underwater guide and owner of Deep Blue Diving College, and he knows the fascination shipwrecks have for scuba divers.

    With the salvage set to begin this month, Baffigi's prayers have not yet had the desired effect

    But he has not lost hope because such a massive ship has never been salvaged in one piece, and a strong storm could still send the cruise liner, precariously perched on an undersea ledge, sliding down into deeper waters.

    The U.S. company Titan Salvage together with Italy's Micoperi plan to tug the 114,000-tonne ship upright onto an underwater platform, attach two air-filled flotation devices to its sides to make it buoyant, and then tow it to a nearby port.

    The $300-million salvage is going to take at least a year, officials have said.

    'Nothing like this has ever been done,' Italian National Research Council physicist Valerio Rossi Albertini told Reuters. One of the risks is weather, he added.

    The salvage effort, which Italy's environment ministry described as 'difficult and complex', are to be detailed by Costa Cruises, Italy's civil protection agency, and the salvage companies in a press conference later this month.

    Because the island's pristine waters are the heart of the island's tourist-driven economy, the more traditional salvage method of cutting the ship into pieces and hauling it away on barges was ruled out.

    Full story...




  • Scuba diver prays Costa Concordia will sink: 'manna from heaven'

    Marcus Hondro - Digital Journal 

    There's an Italian scuba diver from the island of Giglio, where the partially submerged Costa Concordia lies, who is praying the cruise liner will sink.

    Why ? Because Aldo Baffigi believes if it sinks it will attract scuba divers from the world over.

    "Every night I light a candle and say a prayer for it to sink," Baffigi, from Giglio, says of the ship on which 32 people died.

    "It would be the most popular shipwreck in the world. We wouldn't know what to do with all the divers.

    It would be like manna from heaven."Baffigi has a vested interest beyond simply hoping to meet other divers, he owns and operates a company called Deep Blue Diving College and conducts tours of shipwrecks and points of interest in the area.

    A sunken 290 meter ship with four swimming pools and 9 decks off shore will provide business.

    Will it happen ? Despite the fact Titan Salvage of the U.S. is leading operations to remove the ship intact and sail from the area to a port where it will be salvaged - it will take up to a year - Baffigi believes there is a chance it will sink before that can happen.

    Reuters reporter Steve Scherer points out in a story that quotes Baffigi, most of the rest of the 1,500 residents of Giglio do not want the ship, which has been there since Jan. 13th, to sink and stay in the area, they want it gone.

    Full story...

  • Australian billionaire to build Titanic II

    From The Jakarta Globe

    One of Australia's richest men, Clive Palmer, has unveiled plans for a 21st century version of the Titanic to be built in China, with its first voyage from England to New York set for 2016.

    Palmer, a self-made mining billionaire, said he has commissioned state-owned Chinese company CSC Jinling Shipyard to construct Titanic II with exactly the same dimensions as its predecessor.

    "It will be every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic but of course it will have state-of-the-art 21st century technology and the latest navigation and safety systems," Palmer said in a statement, released on Monday.

    "Titanic II will sail in the northern hemisphere and her maiden voyage from England to North America is scheduled for late 2016.

    "We have invited the Chinese navy to escort Titanic II on its maiden voyage to New York."

    His announcement comes just weeks after the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic, which went down on April 15, 1912 after striking an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

    Palmer said the new ship would be a tribute to the spirit of the men and women who worked on the original.

    "These people produced work that is still marvelled at more than 100 years later and we want that spirit to go on for another 100 years," he said.

    Titanic was commissioned by White Star Line and was the largest liner in the world at the time.

    Palmer said he has established his own shipping company, Blue Star Line, with the new ship having the same dimensions as its predecessor, with 840 rooms and nine decks.

  • eBay boat sinks on first trip

    By John Coles - The Sun

    Two bungling boatmen bought a yacht on eBay - and wrecked it on their maiden voyage.

    The hapless pair were trying to move their new pride and joy just half a mile, from one marine to another, when they came to grief. They set off at midnight but hit a rocky outcrop near the entrance to St. Peter Port in Guernsey and got stuck fast.

    The unnamed duo - described as two Sikhs - sent out an SOS and a lifeboat was launched but couldn’t get near the rocks.

    A dinghy eventually reached them at 2am - but they were forced to abandon their boat ‘Ardel’ to the waves.

    The pale blue yacht, thought to have cost around £3,000, remained stranded on Goubeau Reef today and looked set for a watery grave.

    Richard Poat, 52, a plumbing inspector who lives near the harbour entrance, said: “I woke up and saw the boat on the rocks about 100 metres from the harbour.

    “I heard that the people on board were two Sikh gentlemen who had clearly not been aware of the reef.


  • Philippine archaeological ship leaves troubled West Philippine Sea

    A view of Chinese ships in a standoff with a Philippine coast guard vessel on the Scarborough Shoal after eight Chinese fishing boats were caught poaching in the disputed territory

    By Katherine Evangelista - Inquirer Global Nation


    A Philippine-flagged archaeological ship has left the troubled West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as tension rose between the Philippines and China over an uninhabited shoal, a military official said Thursday.

    M/Y Sarangani, an archaeological ship salvaging an ancient Chinese shipwreck in Panatag Shoal, left the area for Manila on Wednesday night, Northern Luzon Command chief Lieutenant General Anthony Alcantara.

    But Alcantara was quick to dismiss the ship’s departure was related to the continuing standoff between Philippine and Chinese ships in the Scarborough Shoal.

    “I am not aware of any threat against Saranggani… We don’t have such reports,” Alcantara said.
    “Naalagaan naman sila ng coast guard natin doon (They were being taken care of by our coast guard there).”

    The Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said it filed a diplomatic protest, after M/Y Saranggani was “harassed by Chinese ships and aircraft” at Scarborough, which is about 230 kilometers (140 miles) from the Philippines’ main island of Luzon.

    But the spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Manila, Zhang Hua, has insisted China owned Scarborough, and accused the Saranggani of intrusion.

    “We urge the archaeological vessel leave the area immediately,” Chang said in a statement.

    China claims all of the West Philippine Sea as its own on historical grounds, even waters approaching the coasts of the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.

    The nearest Chinese land mass from Scarborough Shoal is Hainan province, 1,200 kilometres, (750 miles) to the northwest, according to Philippine naval maps given to the media.

    Full story...


  • Mariana Trench first-ever look

    From RT

    James Cameron has released the footage of his solo dive to the deepest point in the world's oceans. The world-famous director said he had visited “another planet” – desolate, foreboding and moon-like – and it felt a bit lonely.

    My feeling was one of complete isolation from all of humanity,” he said after returning from the Pacific Ocean’s deepest point, where he traveled alone in a specially designed submarine.

    The acclaimed film producer and director, who has created a number of astonishing worlds for millions of viewers all over the world, was amazed by what he saw in the Mariana Trench, even though the view was not nearly as picturesque as his movie-realities.

    There had to be a moment where I just stopped, and took it in, and said, ‘This is where I am; I’m at the bottom of the ocean, the deepest place on Earth. What does that mean ?’” Cameron said after spending three hours at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, nearly seven miles below the surface.

    I just sat there looking out the window, looking at this barren, desolate lunar plain, appreciating it,” Cameron confessed.

    Perhaps the only disappointment for the film director was that he did not see any strange deepwater creatures. All those he did encounter were small, but voracious shrimp-like critters not bigger than an inch (2.5 centimeters) in length. 

    Cameron says next time he’ll bring “bait” – like chicken. 

    There was also one technical malfunction. Just as Cameron was about to collect his first samples of rocks and critters, a leak in the hydraulic fluid sprayed into the water, rendering it impossible to bring anything back. 

    Full story...

  • Divers find five more bodies in Concordia cruise wreck

    From Calgary Herald

    Five more bodies have been found in the half-submerged wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise liner, bringing the number of confirmed dead to 30, Italy's Civil Protection agency said on Thursday.

    The giant vessel capsized off the Tuscan island of Giglio after hitting rocks on Jan. 13. Two people are still unaccounted for.

    A spokeswoman for the agency said all the bodies were discovered at the rear of the vessel. It would probably be several days before they could be removed as it would be a complicated operation using robots, she said.

    Prosecutors have accused captain Francesco Schettino of causing the accident by bringing the multi-storey Costa Concordia, which was carrying more than 4,200 passengers and crew, too close to the shore.

    The ship's owner, Costa Cruises, said salvagers would complete operations to pump more than 2,300 tonnes of fuel out of the capsized vessel to-day, removing the threat of an oil spill in the surrounding marine reserve.

    "The fuel problem is re-solved," the head of the Civil Protection Agency Franco Ga-brielli told a news conference on the island of Giglio.

  • Are submarines the new yachts for the wealthy ?

    sub for the Mariana trench

    By Christina NG - ABC News

    Some call it the final frontier. While humans have breached the limitations of land, air and space, the underwater world remains largely untouched.

    In addition to researchers and scientists, another group has taken an interest in the underwater unknown--the mega-rich.

    The race to the bottom of the sea is being led by director James Cameron and British entrepreneur Richard Branson.

    This week, Cameron is launching his unprecedented mission to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the South Pacific. The "Titanic" and "Avatar" director is hoping to make the seven-mile dive as a solo venture, which no one has ever done before.

    The only pair to ever make it all the way down made the trip in 1960 and spent only 20 minutes at the site. Cameron hopes to spend six hours shooting footage of the dive for a National Geographic documentary, complete with 3D footage.

    Branson unveiled a single-person submarine in April 2011 that he said would break records by exploring the five deepest sea locations of the next two years.

    "More people have been to the moon than to that depth of the ocean," Bailey S. Barnard, associate editor of luxury magazine Robb Report, told

    The magazine for the "ultra-affluent" has written about private submarines in the past and plans to include the vessels in an upcoming "Toys of Summer" feature.

    Full story...

  • Tsunami ghost ship spotted off British Columbia

    Ghost ship drifting

    By Mike Schuler -  gCaptain


    More than a year after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan, a Japanese fishing boat has been found drifting aimlessly off the coast of British Columbia.

    The beat up 150-foot trawler was spotted on March 20 by an aircraft while on a routine patrol approximately 150 nautical miles from the southern coast of Canada’s Haida Gwaii islands, drifting south.

    Officials have traced the boat to a squid fishing company in Japan, who had confirmed no one was believed to be on the vessel when the tsunami struck.

    NOAA, among other organizations, have been warning that marine debris generated by the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011 would be making its way across the Pacific, posing navigational hazards to vessels and threatening coastlines, but what, when, and where the debris is expected to wash up has been difficult to predict.

    For more information on tracing marine debris from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami check out this video below and read gCaptain’s coverage on Tracking Marine Debris from the Japanese Tsunami.

    Full story...

  • Coastal development destroying reefs off phuket


    By Pongphon Sarnsamak - Nation Multimedia

    Massive land development in Phuket province will be strictly controlled by environmental regulations after findings that large amounts of sediment caused by construction has destroyed a large area of coral reefs and marine ecosystems.

    Over 250 square kilometres of coral reef surrounding Phuket's Tang Khen Beach had been covered by a massive amount of sediment from land development, according to a study by Phuket Marine Biological Centre.

    It said that previously over 250 rai of coral reef at the end of Cape Panwa's Ao Tang Khen was alive. However, coral reefs, particularly staghorn corals, had been totally destroyed. It was now covered by a large amount of sediment - from the seaport and building of three hotels in the area.

    There has been massive land development in coastal areas of Phuket over the past five years. Over 100 areas on the coast and mountains, especially western beach areas such as Patong, Ka Ta, Karon and Kamala, were opened and dredged to build resorts.

    The large number of building and land projects would hit marine resources, particularly coral reefs around Phuket province, which is a top destination for tourists around the world.

    Niphon Pongsuwan, a coral expert who conducted the study, said he was worried the removal of land surfaces in mountainous and coastal areas would accelerate the amount of sediment flowing into the sea, harming reefs and aquatic animals and plants.

    His team is now monitoring the changing of coral reefs and marine ecosystems, especially "at risk" areas such as Patong, the north of Ka Ta, the eastern part of Phuket, and Koh Rad.

    An evaluation will be conducted every six months. Preliminary investigation results have found that staghorn coral can no longer live there due to the changing marine ecosystem.

    Full story...

  • Gypsy Blood, boat involved in fatal dive Sunday

    By Stephanie Loder - Ashbury Park Press


    A man who died Sunday while diving off the Gypsy Blood is the third person to either die or be injured in a dive since 2008 aboard the same ship.

    The name of the man who died Sunday was not released by the Coast Guard because of the ongoing investigation, which involves two previous incidents in 2010 and 2008.

    On July 31, 2010, a woman was pronounced dead at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune after a diving accident in the ocean about 15 miles east of Shark River.

    The woman, whose name wasn’t released, was found under water after she failed to surface from a dive from the Gypsy Blood.

    A crew member aboard the Gypsy Blood contacted the Coast Guard in 2010 to say the woman had been missing for about 35 minutes. A dive master aboard the Gypsy Blood, which is home ported in Brielle, soon located her under water, according to the Coast Guard.

    In the 2010 incident, the woman was administered CPR until a Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City helicopter crew arrived and flew the woman to the hospital. She was transported directly from the Gypsy Blood, according to a statement by Jim Wilson, the boat’s captain in 2010.




  • Avatar director James Cameron heads to bottom of the Marianas Trench


    From gCaptain

    Avatar, Titanic, & The Abyss director James Cameron’s newest plan is to charge down to the bottom of the 35,800-foot-deep Marianas Trench near Guam.

    The only people who have ever been to the bottom of the Marianas Trench are Jacques Piccard and US Navy Captain Don Walsh. 

    They chilled on the bottom for 20 minutes, saw a flounder and a shrimp and not much else as their vessel kicked up a ton of silt from the bottom.

    The first expedition to the bottom of the Marianas Trench took 5 hours of descending to reach the bottom. James plans on reaching the bottom in 90 minutes.

    James has already tested his submarine in a nearby trench and he went 5.1 miles down. He was blown away by the jellyfish, tube worms, and sea anemones he saw. That dive was the deepest solo submarine dive ever.

    Full story...

  • US Navy in military build-up to battle Strait of Hormuz ‘blockade’

    Scout in the Persian Gulf, March 2008

    From RT


    The US Navy has confirmed it is doubling the number of minesweepers in the Persian Gulf in an apparent move to prepare for a possible standoff with Iran over the crucial oil export route.

    An additional four minesweeper and four minesweeping helicopters will join the four ships already patrolling the Persian Gulf.

    The overall number of US minesweepers in the region will total eight, America’s head of naval operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert reported.

    While saying sanctions and political measures are preferable to respond to Iran’s controversial nuclear program, looks like the US is getting ready for plan B.

    The US has been working of an array of military measures to counteract Iran, with President Obama saying “no options are off the table.”

    The Pentagon has recently asked for an additional $100 million dollars to beef up its military presence in the Persian Gulf.

    About one fifth of the world’s oil passes through The Strait of Hormuz.

    Earlier Tehran promised to block the primary route of oil exports from the region in retaliation to new US and EU-backed sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

    In January, General Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed Iran indeed has the ability to block the Strait of Hormuz “for a period of time,” and the US must get ready to reopen it in case of a blockade.

  • Federal judge rejects Mobile man's claim to shipwreck

    David Anderson (far left), with Fathom Exploration and Frank White, executive director of the Alabama Historical Commission

    By  Brendan Kirby - Al

    A federal judge ruled Monday that a local man and his family have no claim to a shipwreck discovered at the mouth of Mobile Bay 7½ years ago.

    In an opinion laced with whimsical references to the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” Chief U.S. District Judge William Steele agreed with the conclusion made by the explorer who found the shipwreck — that it is the British barque Amstel and not the clipper ship Robert H. Dixey.

    Thus, the judge wrote, descendents of the Dixey’s captain — who was named Richard Dixey — have no claim to the ship or its cargo.

    The explorer, David Anderson, could not be reached for comment. Nor could his legal representative. An attorney for the Dixey descendants, David Bagwell, said via email that he could not comment.

    Steele gave lawyers for Anderson’s company, Fathom Exploration, and the state of Alabama until April 9 to recommend a procedure to determine whether the ship was legally abandoned, which would determine whether the state has a claim to the wreck.

    The judge wrote that there is no “‘smoking gun’ evidence’ to definitively determine that the wreck is the Amstel. He wrote, “No direct proof has been found (or is likely ever to be found) carved into a beam, fitting, equipment, dishes, or bell.” 

    And he expressed discomfort with settling the issue, writing that “the proper identity of Shipwreck #1 is a matter better suited for spirited scholarly discourse than black-letter judicial construction.

    Yet the parties have submitted their dispute to a federal judge, not a 19th century maritime historian.”

    Full story...


  • Peruvians feel robbed over decision to give treasure to Spain

    NS de Las Mercedes

    From Fox News Latino

    Peruvians feel robbed over a decision by the U.S. courts to give Spain 17 tons of silver and gold coins that a private company retrieved from a wreck of a colonial-era sailing ship.

    The treasure's origin is not in dispute. The metals were mined and the coins minted in the Andes. The Spanish navy frigate that was carrying them to Spain exploded during an attack by British warships in 1804.

    Peru argued it should get the precious metal recovered from the Nuestra Senora de Las Mercedes. But its legal case was sunk in large part by a historical fact: This country was, at the time, a Spanish dependency. It didn't gain independence until 1821, the last bastion of Spanish rule in South America.

    "It is uncontested that the Mercedes is the property of Spain," a three-judge U.S. appeals court ruled in September.

    Many Peruvians, however, feel they are entitled to the booty because of colonial Spain's violent, exploitative legacy.
    Countless natives of the Andes were forced to abandon home and family and toil in life-choking conditions extracting ore underground.

    "Spain's progenitors were genocidal to our progenitors, the indigenous of Peru, thousands if not millions of whom died in underground mines going after that metal," said Rodolfo Rojas Villanueva, an activist with the eco-cultural movement Patria Verde.

    Other Peruvians would be happy to get a share of the 594,000 coins, whose value has been estimated at $500 million, not so much as reparations but because they are Peru's heritage.

    Spanish officials flatly reject any Peruvian claim.

    Spain's culture minister, Jose Ignacio Wert, received the treasure with considerable fanfare Feb. 27 after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a bid by Peru to halt the shipment. Wert said U.S. courts were clear: "The legacy of the Mercedes belongs to Spain."

    The coins, mostly silver reals but also gold doubloons, came from ore mined in present-day Peru and Bolivia and likely also Colombia and Chile. It's not clear exactly what portion was minted in Lima, Spain's continental capital after its conquistadors subjugated the Incas.

    Odyssey Marine Exploration of Tampa, Florida, recovered the treasure in 2007 about 160 kilometers (100 miles) west of the Strait of Gibraltar and placed it in the custody of U.S. courts, which declared the find exempt from their jurisdiction and ordered it turned over to Spain.

    Peru and Odyssey have appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn those rulings.
    Peru's government says the coins are the country's patrimony.

    "There existed an entity, a country that had not yet become independent but was a territory that later converted itself into an independent country, that is called Peru," said Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde, foreign minister in the 2006-2011 government of President Alan Garcia.

    "The money belonged to that territory."

    Peru's ambassador in Washington, Harold Forsyth, put it less abstractly: "The ship departed from the port of Callao (adjacent to Lima) with a cargo of coins minted in Peru, extracted from Peruvian mines with arms and sweat of Peruvians."

    Peru has fought previously for archaeological artifacts lost to the developed world. Under Garcia, it successfully campaigned to persuade Yale University to agree to return hundreds of items taken from the famed Inca citadel of Machu Picchu a century ago by the U.S. explorer Hiram Bingham.

    In the case of Las Mercedes, it is not just Odyssey and Peru laying claim to the doubloons and reals.

    Others include descendants of the ship's captain, Diego de Alvear Ponce de Leon, and of merchants who Odyssey says collectively owned three-quarters of the coins.

    Those merchants paid Spain a 1 percent conveyance tax.

  • Le méga-yacht de Stéphane Courbit sombre en mer Egée

    Yogi sinking

    P.-Y.C. - Sud Ouest

    Le Yogi, navire de croisière de luxe de l'homme d'affaires français a fait naufrage à la manière du Costa Concordia au large de la Grèce.

    Décidément, il ne fait pas bon naviguer à bord de bateaux de luxe ces derniers temps.

    Après le paquebot Costa Concordia en Méditerranée au large des côtes toscanes, c'est le Yogi qui a fait naufrage en mer Egée.

    Le Yogi n'est autre que le plus grand yacht immatriculé en France. Un "méga-yacht" comme ont dit.

    Ce fier navire flambant neuf a été lancé en mars 2011 par un chantier naval turc.

    Long de 60 mètres de long, il est la propriété de Stéphane Courbit, l'homme qui a fait fortune dans les années 2000 en revendant sa société de production télé qu'il avait contribué à créer avec l'animateur Arthur, au géant Endémol.

    D'après Paris-match, le Yogi a chaviré et s'est couché sur le flanc, exactement comme le Costa Concordia.

    Avant que le bateau ne coule, les huit hommes d’équipage ont pu être sauvés lors d'un hélitreuillage d'envergure réalisé par la marine grecque.

    Alors que la Grèce doit se serrer la ceinture, cette coûteuse opération fait grincer bien des dents hellènes.

    Toute l'histoire...

  • Costa Concordia victim died after she gave life jacket to elderly man

    Peruvian crew member Erika Soria poses in front of the Costa Concordia cruise ship

    By Josephine McKenna - The Telegraph

    Young Peruvian waitress Erika Fani Soriamolina, whose body was recovered from the shipwrecked Costa Concordia off the Tuscan island of Giglio, has been hailed a heroine.

    Erika Fani Soriamolina's body was found by divers on the sixth deck of the vessel wearing the ship's uniform but no life jacket.

    Witnesses said Soriamolina had helped dozens of terrified passengers into lifeboats on the night of the disaster before giving the life jacket to an elderly man.

    A tourism graduate, Soriamolina was working on only her third cruise on the Costa Concordia .

    The recovery of the young woman's body ended a desperate search by her parents and sister Madeleine who were among the family members of passengers and crew waiting for news of their loved ones on Giglio.

    On Saturday the body of a woman found several days ago was identified as German passenger Inge Shall.

    Seventeen people are now confirmed dead after the cruise ship struck rocks and ran aground on January 13 with 4,200 passengers and crew on board and more than 15 people are still missing.

    The 17-deck Costa Concordia was run aground in the rocky bay about an hour after its captain, Francesco Schettino, misjudged a 'sail-past' of the Italian island of Giglio and rammed it into rocks, ripping a massive tear in its hull.

    Schettino is under house arrest at his home near Sorrento, accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship along with first officer Ciro Ambrosio.

    Meanwhile, there were fresh concerns on Sunday about a potential environmental disaster after experts discovered the ship had moved 1.4 inches over a six-hour period from midnight to 6am.

    Full story...

  • From shipwreck in Italy, a treasure now beckons

    In this undated file photo released by the Italian Fire Brigade, Vigili del Fuoco, firemen scuba divers check one of the propellers of the luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia that run ashore off the Tuscany island of Isola del Giglio, Italy

    By Vanessa Gera - MSNBC


    In the chaotic evacuation of the Costa Concordia, passengers and crew abandoned almost everything on board the cruise ship: jewels, cash, champagne, antiques, 19th century Bohemian crystal glassware, thousands of art objects including 300-year-old woodblock prints by a Japanese master.

    In other words, a veritable treasure now lies beneath the pristine Italian waters where the luxury liner ran aground last month.

    Though some objects are bound to disintegrate, there is still hoard enough to tempt treasure seekers — just as the Titanic and countless shipwrecks before have lured seekers of gold, armaments and other riches for as far back as mankind can remember.

    It may be just a matter of time before treasure hunters set their sights on the sunken spoils of the Costa Concordia, which had more than 4,200 people on board.

    "As long as there are bodies in there, it's considered off base to everybody because it's a grave," said Robert Marx, a veteran diver and the author of numerous books on maritime history and underwater archaeology and treasure hunting. "But when all the bodies are out, there will be a mad dash for the valuables."

    The Mafia, he said, even has underwater teams that specialize in going after sunken booty.

    The Costa Concordia was essentially a floating luxury hotel and many of the passengers embarked on the ill-fated cruise with their finest clothes and jewels so they could parade them in casinos and at gala dinners beneath towering chandeliered ceilings.

    Full story...

  • Wrecked Italian liner will not be moved for months


    By Emilio Parodi - SwissInfo

    The wreck of the cruise ship Costa Concordia could remain where it lies near the Italian island of Giglio until the end of the year or longer before it can be broken up or salvaged, the official in charge of the recovery operation said on Sunday.

    Divers searching for bodies in the hulk, which lies half submerged a few metres from the shore, suspended work on Sunday after heavy seas and strong winds caused the vessel to shift noticeably, authorities said.

    Bad weather had already delayed plans to begin removing the 2,300 tonnes of diesel fuel in the ship's tanks, an operation expected to take from three weeks to a month once it gets under way, probably by the middle of next week.

    Civil Protection agency chief Franco Gabrielli, who is in charge of the operation, said removing the massive wreck from its position outside the port could take up to a year.

    "We already knew that this was a very long, drawn out case but I think it's important that everyone is very aware that it will have a very significant timeframe," he told reporters.

    Salvaging or moving the ship cannot begin until the fuel and lubricating oil is removed and the risk of an environmental disaster is averted. Even after that, other preliminary work must be done before a company is awarded the salvage contract.

    "Just for that, we'll need not less than two months. From that date, we'll move to the operational phase, which will last from 7-10 months," Gabrielli said.

    The delay could have a dramatic effect on tourism on the island, a popular holiday spot in a marine reserve off the mainland coast of Tuscany.
    "I really fear a drastic fall in arrivals next summer, also because of the problems the ferries have getting into port," said local hotel owner Paolo Fanciulli.

    The mayor of Giglio, Sergio Ortelli said the island would seek government help of the delay in moving the ship proved significant and he expressed some annoyance at the forecast.

    "It would have been better to wait before talking about the timeframe until there is a firm project in place," he said.

    Full story...

  • Swanland shipwreck to be examined by robot submarine

    Amateur photographer Richard Burgess took this photo of the Swanland as it set off on its last trip

    From BBC News -

    The Marine Accident Investigation Branch is to use a robot submarine to survey the wreck of a cargo vessel which sank off the north Wales coast.

    Six Russian crewmen died when the Swanland sank carrying 3,000 tonnes of limestone during a storm in November. A surviving sailor said the hull broke after the vessel was struck by a "giant wave" off Lleyn.

    An exclusion zone has been established 15 miles west of the peninsula whilst the survey work is carried out.

    In December a BBC investigation found the ship had been at the centre of repeated safety concerns.

    An analysis of safety inspection records for the Swanland revealed a high number of failings.

    Members of the crew claimed the vessel was vulnerable in rough seas because of a history of unsafe loading. The ship's operator, Torbulk Limited, said it had been regularly inspected and any faults "promptly rectified".

    Prince William co-piloted one of the helicopters involved in the rescue of two Russian crew members as the vessel was caught in a gale force 8 storm.

    According to Vitaliy Karpenko, one of the two survivors from the all-Russian crew, the ship's hull suddenly cracked.

    "It broke in half right across the middle. I saw it with my own eyes," he said. "We saw through the porthole that it was hopeless trying to save her.

    Full story...

  • Another hazardous cargo, another 22 seafarers lost at sea

    22 seafarers lost their lives when the Vinalines Queen sank

    By Clay Maitland - gCaptain


    On Christmas day, the bulk carrier VINALINES QUEEN, carrying a cargo of nickel ore from Morowali, Indonesia to China, went missing. 

    The ship and its crew of 22 must now be considered lost. Although it is certainly too soon to ascribe a known cause of sinking, it is probably fair to say, as an American judge did many years ago: Sometimes circumstantial evidence can be very convincing, just as when you find a trout floating in the milk

    There continues to be a crying need for greater information, understanding and enforcement of regulations as well as testing of cargoes that may liquefy. Nickel ore is one such. 

    Intercargo, the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners, has commendably been a leader in fighting for international action to protect the lives of seafarers, at risk when bulk cargo vessels, like the Supramax VINALINES QUEEN, suddenly disappear.

    Over the years, many such losses involved vessels carrying direct reduced iron (DRI), a cargo prone to heating when wet, sometimes resulting in a disastrous explosion. It took many years for international authorities to recognize the culpability of unscrupulous shippers and consignees one of our industry’s little secrets.

    It will be recalled that in December of 2010, three bulk carriers and their crews were lost, all as a result of cargo liquefaction. The danger hasn’t gone away.

    There is a need for stronger and clearer requirements particularly with respect to accurate information on the carriage of bulk cargoes. The IMO has held meetings, most recently last September, of its Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers (DSC), with many participants, including Intercargo, The International Group of P&I Clubs, The International Union of Marine Insurers, as well as other industry associations, to take further action strengthening the requirements of the existing IMSBC Code.

    A prepared schedule for nickel ore will be further reviewed this coming March, before hopefully its inclusion in the IMSBC Code at the forthcoming Dangerous Goods Sub-Committee in September.

    Full story...

  • Norway and Canada in row over 80-year-old shipwreck

    A photo of the wreck of the Maud near Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, taken in June 1998

    By Justina Wheale - The Epoch Times


    The wreck of Roald Amundsen’s Maud may yet leave its icy resting place in Nunavut, Canada, where it has lain since it sank in 1930.

    A group of Norwegian investors who own the Maud say they are appealing the federal government’s denial of an export permit to move the shipwreck to Norway where it would be the centerpiece of a museum to be built near Oslo.

    The reason for the refusal of the permit—that an archaeological study must first be carried out on the wreck—came as a surprise according to Maud Returns Home, a website documenting the effort to bring the Maud back to Norway.

    “We applied for an export permit based on the fact that Maud was not listed as an archaeological site, as it is not on the official control list,” the website stated.

    “Despite this we do not oppose, in principle, an archaeological study, but we consider a further detailed study of the Maud as it lies today at the seabed in addition to what is already gathered through our Survey and Documentation of 2011 to be of marginal value.”

    Amundsen, a national hero in Norway, was the first explorer to travel the Northwest Passage and reach both the North and South poles.

    He set out in the Maud, named after one of Norway’s former queens, in 1918 in hopes of reaching the North Pole. After several attempts, the voyage proved unsuccessful (he later reached the pole by seaplane in 1925), and amid escalating debts, the ship was seized by his creditors.

    Upon being sold to the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1925, the ship was renamed the Baymaud and used as a floating warehouse and wireless radio station in Cambridge Bay until it sank over 80 years ago.

    Full story...

  • M/V Swanland Sinks in Irish sea

    M/V Swanland

    From gCaptain

    Five crewmembers from the cargo ship M/V Swanland are missing after the vessel sank in heavy seas in the Irish Sea early Sunday morning.

    A mayday call was received at 2am Sunday morning from the vessels captain shorlty before sinking.

    Two crew members were rescued from the water by an Irish Coast Guard helicopter piloted coincidentally by Prince William. So far one body has been recovered and five remain missing. Rescure efforts have been suspended overnight.

    The ‘Swanland’, with a crew of 8 Russians, reportedly sank very quickly after being hit by a large wave that caused catastrophic failure to the hull approximately 80kms southeast of Dublin, off Wales’ Bardsey Island.

    The 1,978 gross tonnes Swanland was carrying limestone from Raynes Jetty near Colwyn Bay to Cowes on the Isle of Wight when it sank.

    The vessel is flagged in the Cook Islands.

    Conditions in the area were described as extremely bad, with poor visibility and strong winds.

    At least five crewmembers were reported to be wearing survival when the wave hit. The video below released by the Royal Air Force shows the rescue of the two survivors who were found in a life raft.

  • Koosha 1 – Iranian DSV sinks with divers inside decompression chamber

    DSV Koosha-1

    From gCaptain 


    Eight divers were decompressing aboard the Iranian flagged dive support vessel Koosha-1 when it sank three days ago in the Persian Gulf.

    The official in charge of the rescue operation told an Iranian news agency that the bodies of eight divers have been recovered. He also said that 60 personnel assigned to the ship have been safely rescued but five divers remain missing.

    The divers — Indian, Iranian, and Ukrainian nationals — were inside the vessel’s pressurized diving chamber when the vessel sank in stormy seas Thursday afternoon.

    The divers were decompressing after installing an underwater oil pipeline located approximately 14 nautical miles off the coast of Iran. The work was being done in the South Pars gas field which is shared by Iran and Qatar.

    The chamber was bolted onto the deck of the vessel which now rests 72 metres below the surface.

  • Divers to examine safety of sunken WWII ships off Treasure Coast

    Treasure coast

    By Eliot Kleinberg - Palm Beach Post

    Frank Leonard Terry and a colleague had just gone to the stern of the W.D. Anderson for coffee on the night of Feb. 22, 1942, when a torpedo slammed into the engine room of the 500-foot, 10,277-ton freighter, filled with oil and headed north, 12 miles north of Jupiter.

    "The ship stood, in a fraction of a second, from forward to astern in flames,' U-boat commander Fritz Poske wrote.

    As Terry went over a rail and into the water, a second torpedo hit. Covered in oil, he bobbed for hours in water so cold he thought sharks had bitten off his legs. He was surprised when rescuers told him they were still there. He was the only survivor.

    "It was my first trip to Florida. I didn't like the experience," Terry said in a 1992 interview for a Palm Beach Post section marking 50 years since World War II came to Florida.

    Between February and May 1942, U-boats sank 24 ships off Florida, 16 of them from Cape Canaveral to Boca Raton.

    In all, from Maine to Texas and from California to Alaska, U-boats sank about 400, killing about 5,000 seamen. Sinking with them: oil, paint, cotton, sugar; airplanes, tanks and trucks. Now, six decades later, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wants to know whether any of that foul cargo still leaches into the water.

    Starting as early as next spring, the Coast Guard will be looking during regular patrols. Salvors will dive to any wrecks believed to be a significant threat; money for that comes from a spill fund financed by the oil industry.

    Full story...

  • Magnetometer is a hit with archaeologists and divers

    From Marine Executive

    A diverse group of people from marine archaeologists to commercial divers are using a new compact, hand-held magnetometer designed to locate iron and steel objects underwater.

    One company having great success with this instrument is Cosmos Agencia Maritima based in Peru. They provide a broad range of services to their clients including ship husbandry, cargo transportation and storage, machinery and equipment rental, supply of fuel and parts, and diving services.

    A common request they receive is for underwater inspections of hulls, propellers, and bow thrusters. While performing repair work, a diver may drop a part or tool, which quickly disappears into the silty bottom. When this happens, an underwater metal locator is required to find the missing item.

    Cosmos recently procured a JW Fishers PT-1 pipe tracking magnetometer for their search and recovery projects. Francisco Paolillo Tapia, manager of special operations, reports the PT-1 is excellent for finding anchors, chains and other objects buried in the seabed.

    “This instrument helps us find the missing part quickly. Our divers used to spend a lot of time probing the muddy bottom searching for a lost tool or anchor. Now they find it fast using the mag, which saves us time and money.”

    North Carolina’s Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) was established in the early 1970s with a varied mission that includes preserving the state’s historical and cultural resources.

    A high profile project being undertaken by NCDCR’s Underwater Archaeology Branch is the recovery of artifacts from the wreck site of Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. One of the instruments the team is employing is the PT-1.

    A key advantage of this magnetometer is its ability to pinpoint artifacts in areas that may be strewn with many iron and steel targets. Other mags can have trouble differentiating between the multiple pieces of ferrous metal on a wreck, making it nearly impossible to pinpoint individual targets.

    This hand-held magnetometer is the ideal tool to locate all of the ferrous objects at the site including anchors and chains, cannons, cannon balls, ship’s stoves, and the iron hardware used in construction of the vessel.

    The first anchor from the Queen Anne’s Revenge was recently raised from the muddy bottom where it had by lying for the last 300 years.



  • Dozens dead, many missing as Bangladesh ferry sinks

    By Nizam Ahmed - Reuters

    A ferry carrying more than 100 people capsized in Bangladesh Thursday after colliding with another vessel, killing at least 28 people, police said.

    The death toll was expected to rise with some passengers believed trapped inside the ferry and dozens missing, rescuers said.

    Hundreds of people die in ferry accidents on low-lying Bangladesh's many rivers every year as operators often ignore rules that authorities fail to enforce.

    "Divers are trying to retrieve more bodies from the sunken ferry," a senior police official, Zahurul Islam Khan, told Reuters from the scene before the rescue operations were suspended for the night.

    The ferry, M. L. Bipasha, sank after it hit the cargo vessel, which had already capsized a few days earlier, on the Meghna river at Rajapur, 130 km (80 miles) northeast of the capital Dhaka.

    Around 40 people jumped off the ferry and swam to the shore after the accident.

    "I woke up hearing a big bang and jumped immediately into the water, then swam ashore," a survivor told a television network.

    But the ferry, which was sailing from Bhairab -- near the accident spot -- to northeast, sank with the rest of passengers after the collision, local officials said.



  • Caribbean Meeting on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage

    By Kelly Dunst - Vadvert

    The Caribbean Meeting on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage takes place on 10 and 11 June 2011 in Kingston.

    During the Meeting participants will present and discuss the importance and pertinence of the 2001 Convention with the help of legal and archaeological experts.

    The Meeting is essential to promote ratification and create awareness of the existence of this heritage and of the urgent need to create legal frameworks for its protection.

    This Meeting is jointly organized by the UNESCO Offices in Havana and Kingston, the Jamaican National Commission and with the support of the Secretariat of the 2001 Convention.

    In spite of its vast underwater cultural heritage due to its maritime history, the majority of Latin American and Caribbean countries lack experts and national systems for its safeguarding.

    Thanks to the diving industry and technical developments in devices for detection and exploration of the seabed, this heritage, that was for centuries protected by its own environment, is now easily accessible to sport divers, fishermen and treasure hunting companies.


  • Shipwreck society names Whitefish Point site manager

    From Soo Evening News

    The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society, in preparing for another busy season at Whitefish Point this coming summer, has named Terry Begnoche as Site Manager for its campus at Whitefish Point.

    Begnoche will begin in April, preparing for the summer celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Whitefish Point Light, the oldest on Lake Superior. As Site Manager, Begnoche will oversee the Shipwreck Society museum buildings, grounds, store and educational programming.

    Begnoche has a long and deep history with the Shipwreck Society. He was involved with all three of the earlier Shipwreck Society expeditions to the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, in 1989, 1994 and 1995. He is a certified technical diver and still underwater photographer.

    He assisted the Shipwreck Society in the underwater lighting for the productions “Graveyard of the Great Lakes,” “The Osborn Incident” and programs relating to the Edmund Fitzgerald.

    In addition to being a volunteer with the Shipwreck Society for more than 20 years, Begnoche has served as President of its Board of Directors for nine years and was a leading figure in its successful effort to collaborate with other stakeholders at Whitefish Point. The effort resulted in a land use Plan, signed in 2002.

    Begnoche holds a Bachelor of Science Environmental degree from the University of Michigan, Dearborn, a Masters in Business Administration in Quality and Operations Management and has spent most of his career enhancing the environment and developing management systems to safeguard or improve the environment.

    He currently teaches at Oakland University on Environmental topics. His career evolved from responding to environmental emergencies to managing liabilities through controlled compliance and on to proactive prevention and creative re-design.

  • One of last surviving vessels from Normandy landings sinks en route to restoration

    By Andy Bloxham - Telegraph

    The Yarmouth Navigator, a former Navy minesweeper and patrol boat, was being moved to a new mooring after a campaign to save it which lasted several years.

    Rescuers were searching for one missing person after three people were saved from the waters of Plymouth Sound shortly after 6.30pm.

    A major search and rescue operation was launched, with officers from Devon and Cornwall Police, crews from Brixham Coastguard, a search and rescue helicopter and RNLI lifeboats involved.

    The vessel is understood to have been in the process of relocation from its former mooring in Noss Marina, on the Dart, to Plymouth.

    The Yarmouth Navigator was one of around 5,000 ships that participated in the Normandy landings in June 1944 and it is listed by the National Historic Ships Committee on its register of vital ships. Unlike listed buildings, there is no official protection for ships.

  • Researchers propose Maluku deep-sea mission

    By Fidelis E. Satriastanti - Jakarta Globe

    Following a successful collaboration in the deep seas of North Sulawesi, Indonesian and United States marine scientists are considering a similar joint project in Maluku, an official said on Friday.

    Last year, under a bilateral cooperation on marine sciences, the Indonesian Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) and the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conducted a 32-day, deep-sea research mission near the Sangihe and Talaud islands in North Sulawesi .

    The survey, which was designed to explore the wealth of biodiversity in Indonesia’s oceans, involved at least 30 Indonesian scientists.

    The team collected 79 marine species and discovered a deep-sea volcano using NOAA’s Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle [ROV], a robot that has the ability to capture and send real-time images from a depth of 6,000 meters.

    “After Sangihe and Talaud, the scientists recommended Halmahera [in Maluku] because it is considered a good area for research,” said Ridwan Djamaluddin, chairman for development of natural resources technology at BPPT.

    “We are still assessing it,” he added. “We want to make sure the research is relevant.”

    Ridwan said they were still trying to ascertain whether the 79 species found in North Sulawesi were new species, adding that he expected the work to be completed by March.

    BPPT chief Marzan A. Iskanda said Indonesia could not have done the research by itself given the technology needed for deep-sea surveys.


  • Stately Portuguese visitor sails calmly into Jakarta

    The Portuguese Navy’s training ship Sagres - JG Photo/Ismira Lutfia

    By Ismira Lutfia - Jakarta Globe

    The Portuguese training ship Sagres sailed into Jakarta with great fanfare from the Indonesian Navy on Saturday to begin its its five-day stopover here.

    Arriving at the Tanjung Priok port after a week-long voyage from Dili, East Timor, Sagres will be open to the public until Thursday before it continues on its journey to Bangkok as part of its 11-month circumnavigation as “a floating embassy of Portugal,” said the ship’s captain, Comr. Luis Proenca Mendes.

    “We will continue sailing to Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, India and Egypt before reaching Lisbon by December,” said Second Lt. Flavio Eusobio, an officer on the ship.

    This is the ship’s first journey to East Timor and Indonesia, Mendes said. The detour from its normal route from China to Singapore added six weeks to the ship’s itinerary.

    “The ship’s main purpose is to train cadets from the Portuguese naval academy, who undergo three months’ training on board the ship at the end of their second year,” the captain said as he took journalists on a tour around the vessel, whose 23 white sails bear red crosses.

    Sagres left its home port of Lisbon in January.

    The last batch of cadets who trained on the Sagres joined the ship in California, bound for Shanghai, where the ship docked to participate at the Shanghai World Expo.

    The 12 cadets worked daily on the ship’s bridge to familiarize them with the working life on board a ship. They also learn navigation, maneuvering and leadership skills as well as how to deal with unpredictable weather.

    And for the younger generation, used to being constantly connected with the rest of the world through their gadgets, Mendes said the cadets’ time on the bridge gives them the unique experience of being offline and away from the phone.

    “From time to time we also invite foreign cadets to join our training on Sagres,” said Mendes, who was made captain of Sagres in 2007.


  • Archaeologists attack BP’s drilling plans

    By Emily Sharpe - The Art Newspaper

    From Greek and Roman shipwrecks to 20th-century warships; from ancient streets with intact buildings and mosaics to amphorae and ingots, the Mediterranean is a sub-aqueous treasure trove.

    So BP’s plans to drill exploratory oil wells off Libya has raised serious concerns among archaeologists, historians and heritage preservation organizations. 

    The global energy giant says that it will begin the $900m project to drill five exploratory wells in the Gulf of Sirte “before the end of this year” despite the fact that the cause of the blowout of its Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico has yet to be determined.

    The Libyan wells will be 200 meters deeper than the Macondo.

    “An oil spill off the coast of Libya would be a complete disaster,” said Claude Sintes, the director of the subaquatic team of the French archaeological mission to Libya and director of the Museum of Ancient Arles, France.

    According to Sintes, there are two archaeologically rich areas along the Libyan coast—Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. Within Cyrenaica lies Apollonia, an ancient harbor submerged five meters under the water. “It’s a complete town under the sea with streets, walls and houses. Slow tectonic movement caused it to sink,” said Sintes. 

    Tripolitania, which extends from Tripoli to the Tunisian border, includes two important ancient sites on the shore: Leptis Magna, a once powerful Roman city and harbour, and Sabratha which has the remains of a theatre and a Roman bath with spectacular mosaics. Both are Unesco World Heritage sites.

    “These sites are archaeologically significant because they allow us to understand the complete evolution of this part of the world from Greek colonization in the seventh century BC to the Arab invasion in the seventh century AD,” said Sines.

    James Delgado, the president of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, stressed the archaeological importance of the Mediterranean as a highway for ideas, trade and settlement, noting that thousands of wrecks from various historical periods lie within in its depth.

    “There is a complete record of thousands of years of history on the bottom of the Mediterranean,” said Delgado. Both Sines and Delgado said that although the area is still largely yet unexplored, given its significant history they expect significant finds in the future.


  • UNESCO exhibition on global underwater cultural heritage to be held in Bangkok

    From India Education Diary

    The first ever UNESCO exhibition on global underwater cultural heritage to be held in the Asia-Pacific region will be staged in central Bangkok this month.

    The showcase, titled "Saving Our Underwater Cultural Heritage," will be officially opened at 1.30 p.m. on 16 August 2010 at Siam Ocean World Bangkok, on the B1-B2 floors of Siam Paragon shopping centre.

    Visitors will journey through stunning underwater heritage scenes from around the world displayed in large format photographs; view a lifesize-scale replica of a Thai shipwreck; explore a showcase of discoveries recovered from the seabed; and enjoy special demonstrations of underwater archaeologists in action in the aquarium tank.

    Various interactive play zones will give children the opportunity to experience life as a junior archaeologist.

    UNESCO is seeking cooperation from the general public to help fight the trade in underwater cultural heritage and protect our marine environment for generations to come.

    Illegal treasure hunting is the biggest threat to our global marine heritage. Over three million shipwrecks and other underwater sites are at risk from treasure hunters who loot the sites to sell artefacts on the black market.

    Director of UNESCO Bangkok, Dr Gwang-Jo Kim, said "UNESCO calls upon countries to cooperate to protect the underwater cultural heritage in order for us to pass it on to the next generations to come."

    Thai Minister of Culture, HE Nipit Intrasombat, has been invited to co-preside over the launch, along with the Director of UNESCO Bangkok, Dr Gwang Jo-Kim.

    Senior officials from Thai Fine Arts Department, along with representatives of the diplomatic corps, museums and professional dive associations have been invited to the opening ceremony.

    The exhibition is expected to attract over 150,000 local and foreign visitors during its run until 31 October 2010.

    The event is a partnership between UNESCO Bangkok, the Thai Fine Arts Department, and Siam Ocean World Bangkok.

    Siam Ocean World Bangkok Deputy General Manager, Mr Ross Werner, said "Siam Ocean World is very pleased to have the opportunity to be the co-sponsor of the exhibition 'Saving Our Underwater Cultural Heritage'.

    This is a good occasion for children and the public to understand and learn the importance of the marine environmental conservation along with enjoying Siam Ocean World various types of aquatic animals."

    The exhibition is part of a regional programme which established the first training centre in underwater cultural heritage in Asia Pacific in Thailand's Chanthaburi province. The project is supported by the Government of Norway.

    In order to strengthen the protection of underwater cultural heritage, UNESCO in 2001 established an international treaty, the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

    "There are many sunken wrecks scattered in Thai waters. I'm hoping that this exhibit in Thailand will engage many Thai people to help in protecting our precious underwater cultural heritage," said Mr Erbprem Vatcharangkul, Director of the Underwater Archaeology Division of the Fine Arts Department.


  • New legislation will define protected artifacts

    By Jesse Robichaud - Times & Transcript


    Everything turns to dust.

    At least that's the case for artifacts that are salvaged from the estimated 9,500 shipwrecks that sit on the sea floor off New Brunswick if they aren't properly treated for conservation.

    The New Brunswick legislature has already granted royal assent to the Heritage Conservation Act that will regulate shipwreck salvaging and treasure hunting across the province's land and seas.

    Once the act's regulations are ready, it will replace the 1954 Heritage Sites Protection Act, which depends on a ministerial discretion to name protected sites.

    The new law, which was voted on before Nova Scotia's NDP government declared it would overhaul its Treasure Trove Act and render the spoils of treasure hunting property of the Crown, will clearly define what constitutes a protected artifact.

    "Previously, the process was that if someone wanted something protected they would have to make the argument to the minister responsible for heritage," said government archeologist Brent Suttie.

    "There are a few shipwrecks that are protected provincial sites, and those sites are protected because people were either going to salvage them or people were picking stuff off the bottom from fairly old and significant sites."

    Suttie says the act will be of particular use to amateur scouts of treasures and relics who will be able to access the province's resources and expertise to help conserve artifacts that otherwise couldn't stand up against the test of time plainly exposed.

    "The whole intent is addressing issues we have had in the past of people finding pretty amazing stuff and not having the capacity or the ability to preserve it, and that stuff is lost," said Suttie.

    Suttie said artifacts that are found in the water or on the eroding coast can disintegrate in a matter of months if trained professionals can't treat them first.

    "If they hold on to it themselves it is going to be dust in a matter of months," he said.

    The new legislation will make these protected artifacts property of the Crown. So what's in it for these amateur history sleuths ? Suttie says that in the majority of cases if an artifact is deemed strong enough to maintain its physical integrity once it is exposed to oxygen, it will be loaned to the finders on a long-term basis.

    "The new act allows for amateur archeological licenses which still don't allow people to do destructive practices like digging, but what it does allow is people to walk the shoreline and find early historic artifacts."

    The shoreline is the focal point for amateur treasure hunters because digging for artifacts without a proper archeological permit is illegal in New Brunswick, explains Suttie.

    That makes erosion the best friend of amateur relic hunters.


  • Sinking oil threatens historic wrecks

    USS ORISKANY - Jim Meyers/AP


    Not just flora and fauna are getting caked in oil. So is the Gulf of Mexico's barnacled history of pirates, sea battles and World War II shipwrecks.

    The Gulf is lined with wooden shipwrecks, American-Indian shell midden mounds, World War II casualties, pirate colonies, historic hotels and old fishing villages.

    Researchers now fear this treasure seeker's dream is threatened by BP PLC's deepwater well blowout.

    Within 30 km. of the well, there are several significant shipwrecks - ironically, discovered by oil companies' underwater robots working the depths - and oil is most likely beginning to cascade on them. 

    "People think of them as being lost, but with the deepsea diving innovations we have today, these shipwrecks are easily accessible," said Steven Anthony, president of the Maritime Archaeological and Historical Society.

    "If this oil congeals on the bottom, it will be dangerous for scuba divers to go down there and explore," Anthony said. "The spill will stop investigations; it will put a chill, a halt on (underwater) operations."

    The wrecks include two 19th Century wooden ships known as the Mica Wreck and the Mardi Gras Wreck. The German submarine U-166 and ships sunk by other German submarines during World War II are within the spill's footprint.


  • Replicas of Nina, Pinta set to anchor in Peoria

    Photo courtesy of The Columbus Foundation

    By Patrick Oldendorf - Journal Star

    A replica of Christopher Columbus' famous ship will be dropping anchor in Peoria next month.

    The Nina has stopped in Chillicothe and Peoria several times in the last 15 years, but this year the wooden, sea-going vessel is back - this time with its sister ship, the Pinta.

    The replica ships will dock from July 9 to July 12 at the RiverPlex landing adjacent to the Spirit of Peoria.

    "Little children love scrambling around the ships, and school-aged children study Columbus and his ships," said A.J. Sanger, a spokesman for the Columbus Fund. "Older people can appreciate and admire the work that went into building (the ships) ... and think about how small (it was) for men to go to sea in."

    The Nina was built completely by hand and without the use of power tools in Bahia, Brazil, in 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus' entry into the new world. Archaeology magazine dubbed it "The most historically correct Columbus replica ever built."

    The boat is 93 1/2 feet long and about 52 feet tall and was featured in the film "1492."



  • Campaign to save world's oldest clipper ship

    City of Adelaide

    From STV

    The passenger ship City of Adelaide, which travelled between Australia and Britain, is lying in Irvine.

    A firm has been appointed to review options for the future of the 145-year-old City of Adelaide, currently resting on a slipway in North Ayrshire. The Sunderland-built ship, which predates the Cutty Sark, took people and wool between Australia and Britain on 28 round trips.

    Later known as the Carrick, it has been left to the elements at Irvine and could still face deconstruction for display in a museum. Campaigners are competing to re-float the vessel and take it to Australia or back to Sunderland.

    Scottish Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop announced that Historic Scotland had commissioned a firm, DTZ, to review the category A-listed ship's options.

    Ms Hyslop said: "The appointment of DTZ to carry out this review is a very positive step and will help us to determine the best outcome for the SV Carrick.

    "There are several options to consider: whether the Carrick is moved to Sunderland, Adelaide in Australia or retained in a different location in Scotland. The alternative is a managed deconstruction of the vessel.

    "Officials from Historic Scotland and the Scottish Government have held a wide range of discussions with a number of bodies and individuals regarding this category A-listed ship."


  • Niña, Pinta sail to town

     By Chris Segal - News Herald

    Amidst the morning rain, replicas of Christopher Columbus’ Niña and Pinta vessels sailed into the Panama City Marina on Wednesday to set up a temporary floating museum.

    With the help of a dinghy, the two vessels floated into the marina and will stay until Monday.

    The ships are touring as a sailing museum. They offer guided tours and displays for school groups and the public. Each ship has a crew of four people who will be on hand to answer questions and talk about the vessels.

    The two Columbus replicas were most recently docked in Alabama and, after a weekend in Panama City, they will make their way south to St. Petersburg and then up the East Coast.

    This Niña was launched in 1992 and has been called by Archaeology magazine the “most historically correct Columbus replica ever built.”

    Of the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria, the smaller, faster Niña was Columbus’ favorite ship, and he made most of his journeys on it.

    The replica Niña has sailed a half-million miles, docked in 600 ports and traveled through the Panama Canal about a dozen times. This is the fourth time the Niña has docked in Panama City.

    “Panama City has always been great,” said Niña Captain Morgan Sanger. “They really support the ship.”

  • Ship sails to tell of ancient trade

     By Nadim Kawach - Emirates Business

    More than 15 Omani sailors will set sail from the port of Muscat next month, heading for Singapore aboard a wooden vessel modelled on the famous Tang Treasure ship that sank in the Indian Ocean while laden with gold and other precious items belonging to the old Chinese Tang dynasty.

    The 18-metre long Jewel of Muscat, a reconstructed ninth century sewn-plank ship, has started sailing in the Sea of Oman on the first sea trial ahead of its formal voyage to Singapore towards the end of February.

    The wind-powered vessel is scheduled to start its journey across the Indian Ocean with transit stops along the western coast of India and other south Asian countries.

    It will keep to ancient trade routes and stop in India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia before arriving in Singapore five months later, where it will be given as a gift from Oman to the people of Singapore.

    "Singapore is one of Oman's oldest trading partners. Jewel of Muscat will be displayed in Singapore to highlight the awareness of the old trade routes between the two countries," Badr bin Hamoud Al Busaeedi, Director-General of the Omani Foreign Ministry, said at a launch ceremony this week.


  • Toxic shipwreck turns out to be red herring

    By Guy Dinmore and Eleonora de Sabata - Financial Times

    Italian prosecutors searching for the wreck of a ship allegedly scuttled by the mafia with toxic waste on board in 1992 say the vessel they surveyed this week in deep waters off the coast of Calabria turned out instead to be a passenger steamship sunk by a German submarine in 1917.

    Fears of coastal pollution had led to protests by local fishermen, residents and mayors who accused the central government of not doing enough to resolve the issue.

    Prosecutors told a news conference in Rome on Thursday evening that after finding the World War One wreck of the Catania they had decided to call off the search for a ship which Francesco Fonti, a mafia turncoat, claims to have sent to the bottom with dynamite in 1992.

    Mr Fonti’s allegations, first made to prosecutors in 2003, followed years of inconclusive investigations into at least 20 suspicious sinkings of ships in the Mediterranean in the 1980s and 1990s.

    Prosecutors suspected that the mafia was dumping toxic waste at sea, possibly working on behalf of industrialists and government agencies.

  • Chinese junk's voyage of discovery ends in shipwreck

    From Reuters - India

    A group of adventurers are aiming to build another Chinese junk after their first replica of the ancient vessel was shipwrecked off Taiwan just before completing a rare round-trip journey to the United States.

    The crew from Taiwan and five countries were trying to show that Chinese seafarers may have reached America before Europeans.

    But their junk collided with a freighter on Sunday during the last leg of its return journey across the Pacific from the United States. All 11 crew members were rescued after the accident which occurred 74 km (46 miles) east of their final port in Taiwan.

    Had the journey been finished, it would have been the first Asia-North America round-trip on record by an ancient Chinese-style ship, said Angela Chao, a publicist for the crew.

    The project, initiated by Taiwan hobbyist and junk captain Liu Ning-sheng five years ago, was intended to show that Chinese people might have sailed to the Americas hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus reached the New World.

    "That boat made it to the United States, so I think it's possible the ancient Chinese made it," Chao told Reuters on Tuesday.

    More to read...

  • Spain sets sails for Pensacola

    By Troy Moon - PNJ

    The Spanish tall ship Juan Sebastian de Elcano will visit Pensacola in June as part of the city's ongoing 450th anniversary celebration.

    The four-masted Elcano, an 82-year-old schooner used by the Spanish Navy to train midshipmen, will dock in Pensacola June 3-9. It will be open to the public at certain times during the weeklong visit.

    While in Pensacola, many of the Elcano's 300 crew members will see some of the city's historical sites, including the location of the Emanuel Point shipwreck in Pensacola Bay, the resting place of a Spanish ship that was part of Don Tristan de Luna's expedition in 1559.

    University of West Florida Interim President Judy Bense is the host for the yacht trip to the Emanuel Point shipwreck, which will include a wreath-laying ceremony.

  • World soon to watch ocean conference in Manado

    By Fardah - Antara News

    Manado, a pleasant city with a population of over 417,000, will be in the international spotlight during the upcoming World Ocean Conference (WOC) and Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Summit to be held May 11-15, 2009. 

    About 2,900 participants from 121 countries are expected to take part in the WOC, the CTI Summit, and associated events. They will stay among other things in 18 star-rated hotels and 24 non-star hotels. 

    "The central government has met all its commitments to securing infrastructure, roads, bridges, electricity, clean water, land and sea transport and increase flight frequencies," North Sulawesi Governor Sarundajang said last Wednesday (April 22), after meeting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to report preparations for the WOC and CTI Summit to be held in the North Sulawesi capital of Manado.

    The WOC on May 11-14 which aims to build a commitment for sustainable management of marine resources will be themed "Climate Change Impacts on Oceans and The Role of Oceans in Climate Change".

    An Indonesian professor of oceanography from Diponegoro University in Semarang, Central Java, told The Jakarta Post daily that Indonesia 75 percent of whose national territory consists of water hoped the conference would produce something tangible to assist its 17,480 islands in countering the impact of global warming.

    During the WOC, ministers, senior officials, and oceanographers from all over the world will discuss the complex relationship between the oceans and climate change.

    One the one hand, the oceans play a major role in determining the world`s climate system and are believed to function as a carbon sink. On the other hand, the increasing rate of global climate change in recent times is threatening marine life and the livelihood of the people. particularly those living in coastal areas.


  • Chilean "treasure boat" to be rescued

    By Chris Noyce

    The recovery of a Chilean fishing boat that sank in the Straits of Magellan in January with an alleged cargo of US$22 million (9.5 tons) in gold and silver begins this month following accusations that the boat’s demise may be part of a fraudulent insurance claim.

    The rescue will be carried out by four rescue teams from Dutch heavy lifting and transport experts Mammoet, the same company that rescued the remains of the Russian nuclear submarine “Kursk” from the bottom of frozen Barents Sea in 2001. The rescue teams will dive 75 meters under the sea to examine the boat and verify its contents. The operation will most likely be taken next week.

    On Jan. 16 the Polar Mist, a Chilean fishing boat, sunk while traversing the Straits of Magellan, a sea route located south of mainland Chile and just north of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego in southern Argentina and Chile. The Straits are renowned for their inhospitable climate and tricky navigability.  

    The eight-member crew radioed for help before putting on life jackets and jumping into the icy water, abandoning the still floating boat. In a risky operation, an Argentine rescue helicopter brought the crew to safety. Two days later a Chilean tugboat tried to bring the abandoned boat to dry land, but the Polar Mist unexpectedly sank some 40 kilometers from the Argentine coast.

    The Polar Mist’s destination was Punta Arenas (Region XII), from which the cargo, some 8,370 kilos of unrefined gold and 930 kilos of silver, would be transported by plane to Switzerland for refining.


  • Mystery as £14m treasure ship disappears

    By Oliver Balch

    Authorities have begun an investigation into the mysterious disappearance of a treasure-laden ship after it ran into difficulties in the Magellan straits off the southern coast of Argentina

    The ship, registered in Chile, was carrying more than nine tonnes of gold and silver worth at least £14m when it hit a fierce storm in the channel. Waves of up to 10 metres forced the crew to evacuate.

    The seven-man crew of the Polar Mist left the engines running to avoid fuel pollution after they abandoned ship. A few hours later, a coastguard helicopter spotted a second boat approaching the distressed vessel.

    The Beagle, which is also registered in Chile, began to tug the 23 metre Polar Mist in the direction of the Argentine port of Río Gallegos. Coastguard authorities presumed its intentions were to rescue the ship.

    About 25 miles off shore, during the night, the troubled Mist Polar reportedly began listing from side to side. According to the tug's captain, it then sank beneath the waves, and the bullion is now lying on the seabed, 80 metres below the surface.

    The cargo was on a scheduled journey from two mines in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz to the Chilean port of Punta Arenas. The gold and silver was destined for a refinery in Switzerland.

    The captains of the two clippers are said to be helping officials with their investigation. In the meantime, all other ships have been banned from entering the area where the Polar Mist allegedly went under. Efforts are due to get under way shortly to salvage the cargo.

    "The case remains open," said Gerardo Caamaño, the judge overseeing the investigation.

  • World's fastest superliner awaits rebirth - or the scrap yard

    By Dan Koeppel

    Out of service for 40 years, the SS United States still holds speed records. But what fate awaits this storied piece of naval history ?

    When I remember the great ocean liner, we're steaming into the wind, east across the Atlantic. I'm at the bow. I let go of a balloon and run aft, trying to keep pace with the floating object.

    But it rises too high long before I reach the ship's end. As it vanishes into the clouds, my attention is drawn downward to the perfectly symmetrical wake trailing behind us.

    Though I didn't know it then, at age 4, that wake, sharp and narrow, was a clue to what made the SS United States one of the greatest—if not the greatest—ocean liners of the 20th century.

    To cut such a trail in the water a ship has to be fast, and there was no ocean liner faster than the one known to enthusiasts as the "Big U." Although four city blocks long and 17 stories high, the United States could slice through water at 44 knots, or more than 50 mph—14 knots faster than today's largest cruise ship, the Queen Mary 2.

    During her maiden voyage in 1952, the ship set records on both the east and westbound crossings; the latter, three days, 12 hours and 12 minutes at an average speed of 34.5 knots, has never been broken.

    More to read...

  • Navy missile cruiser runs aground near Honolulu

    Navy missile ship

    From Fox News

    Navy officials say an attempt to pull free a 9,600-ton warship that ran aground off the coast of Honolulu has been unsuccessful.

    The U.S. Pacific Fleet says Navy tugboats and salvage ship USS Salvor tried to tow the USS Port Royal early Saturday but the guided missile cruiser remained stuck.

    The Navy says it plans to try again after extracting fuel and water from the $1 billion vessel.

    The 9,600-ton ship, while carrying guests that included a rear admiral, ran aground Thursday night on a sandy, rocky bottom. The cause of the grounding, as well the extent of the damage to the ship, remains under investigation.


  • Busy year for receiver of wreck

    From Dive Magazine

    The Receiver of Wreck said more than 1,500 items of wreck were reported in the UK during the last 12 months, ranging from water melons to 3m-long bronze cannons.  

    The Receiver of Wreck said more than 1,500 items of wreck were reported in the UK during the last 12 months, ranging from water melons to 3m-long bronze cannons. However, tonnes of recovered timber from the Ice Prince, a cargo ship that sank off the Devon coast in January 2008, had not been recorded separately according to the head of the government body.

    In her annual report, Receiver of Wreck Alison Kentuck said a total of 299 reports of wreck were received in 2008, a small increase on the previous years figures - 290 in 2007. Incoming droit (wreck) figures, however, have declined since a peak between 2000 and 2002.

    As long as all of the material reported has come from the same site, there is no limit to the quantity of recovered wreck material that can be reported.

    '2008 has been a very busy year for the Receiver of Wreck with large scale incidents such as the timber cargo from the Ice Prince vessel in January in addition to many other interesting smaller scale recoveries,' Kentuck said. 'The wide range of items reported to the Receiver illustrates the huge variety of goods transported by sea both today and throughout history.'

    Under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, all recovered wreck material, regardless of age, size or value, must be reported to the Receiver of Wreck. T

    his includes all wreck recovered from within UK territorial waters and any wreck material brought within UK territorial waters.

  • Shipwreck victims spend 25 days drifting in an icebox

    Ice box drifters

    From SMH


    Two Burmese men who say they spent 25 days adrift at sea in a large esky after their vessel sank off Indonesia must have survived strong winds and possibly thunderstorms, the pilot who rescued them says.

    Helicopter pilot Terry Gadenne said Cyclone Charlotte was active in the Gulf of Carpentaria during the time the men were to the north in a large fishing esky.

    "The week before (the rescue) was really rough, strong winds feeding into the cyclone in the gulf, and a lot of heavy rain," Mr Gadenne told Fairfax Radio.

    "In the days just prior to the rescue it was fairly hot and some isolated thunderstorms.

    "It was a really hot time, and if they were in the sun they would have been in dire straits."



  • Somali pirates drown with ransom after freeing Saudi supertanker

    MV Sirius Star

    From The Telegraph


    Residents and pirates in the Somali port of Haradhere told the Associated Press that the boat, which was carrying eight men, overturned in a storm after dozens of pirates left the Sirius Star following a two-month standoff in the Gulf of Aden.

    Three of the eight pirates managed to swim to shore but five were believed to have drowned.

    Haradhere, which has been used by pirates to launch their attacks on international vessels off east Africa, is a Somali coastal town close to where the Saudi supertanker ship was anchored.

    Local sources said that the ransom payment held by the eight pirates on their get away boat had been lost at sea.

    Dozens of pirates were involved in the Nov 15 hijacking of the Sirius Star, which had a £60 million cargo of crude oil. The estimated £2 million paid to release it on behalf of the ship's owners was split between many members of the gang.

    The ransom was delivered on Friday by airdrop, parachuted close to the ship in a waterproof case for the pirates to collect. They were then allowed to make their escape.

  • Ship carrying 250 sinks in rough seas off West Sulawesi

    From Andi Hajramurni and Nurni Sulaiman


    A ship carrying 250 passengers and 17 crew members sank in rough seas in waters off Baturoro in Majene regency, West Sulawesi, on Sunday. Rustam Pakaya, head of the Health Ministry’s crisis center, said six people had been confirmed dead in the accident, Reuters reported.

    A joint search-and-rescue team pulled 150 passengers from the water, and 18 others were rescued by fishermen. The ship had departed from Pare-pare in South Sulawesi at 5:45 p.m. local time (4:45 p.m. Jakarta time) on Saturday on a voyage through the Makassar Strait to Samarinda, capital of East Kalimantan.

    The ship sank at about 4 a.m. after being hit by a cyclone in rough seas.

    “There’s currently a tropical cyclone that is causing tides of 5 to 6 meters,” Jusman Syafi’i Djamal told Reuters.

    Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said the missing persons had not been acounted for.

    "We still don't know whether they had lifejackets on when the ship was hit, and it happened at dawn so most people were probably asleep," he said.

    The 747-ton ship, skippered by captain Sabir, sent its last transmission at 2 a.m. to the Pare-pare port, the port administrator Nurwahidah said.



  • Nazi E-boat saved by military enthusiast

    Nazi E-boat




    The last Nazi E-boat, which took part in an infamous raid during the Second World War, has been saved by a British military enthusiast.

    Schnellboot-130, once the fastest vessel in the world, helped attack an Allied convoy off Slapton Sands, in Devon, in a battle in which nearly 1,000 Allied soldiers were killed.

    On the night of April 27, 1944, the boat was one of nine German vessels patrolling the English Channel when they stumbled upon Operation Tiger, which was the rehearsal for the D-Day landings.

    The convoy launched a raid and killed 946 Allied soldiers. Allied chiefs initially covered up the loss, keen to avoid the enemy becoming aware of what it had achieved or getting wind of any planned invasion of Europe.

    After the war the Schnellboot was seized by the British and used to land spies behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War but was then left in a dockyard and eventually began to disintegrate.

    Enthusiast Kevin Wheatcroft has now come to the rescue of the vessel.



  • Not so buried treasure


    By Gilly Pickup


    Somewhere beneath the tranquil surface of this remote archipelago nestling in the Indian Ocean lies a fortune in gold and precious stones.

    The story goes that French pirate Olivier le Vasseur buried a hoard of treasure here in the 1700s.

    Rather disappointingly for would-be fortune hunters though, he went to the gallows with an extraordinary show of bravado and his lips firmly sealed as to its exact whereabouts...

    ...but besides fearsome skull-and-crossbone pirates and bloody battles for the islands’ bountiful treasures, there is no denying the Seychelles, 115 of the oldest oceanic islands on earth, does ‘different’ rather well.

    For starters, think Jellyfish trees, the planet’s heaviest tortoise and the Coco-de-Mer palm which produces the largest seed in the world.


  • Climate change could ruin Florida's $5.5 billion reef economy

    Coral reefs

    From Los Angeles News


    A new analysis of economic activity generated by Florida's coral reefs finds that some 70,000 jobs and more than $5.5 billion in business in the state could disappear if climate change destroys the reefs.

    "A business-as-usual approach to climate change could mean a lot less business for Florida," said Jerry Karnas, Florida project director at Environmental Defense Fund, which commissioned the report, "Corals and Climate Change: Florida's Natural Treasures at Risk."

    Florida encompasses the only shallow water coral reefs in the continental United States. Like coral reefs worldwide, Florida's reefs are besieged by environmental problems.

    For instance, a federal government study released in November confirms significant ocean acidification across much of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. As oceans absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, they become more acidic, reducing the ability of corals to produce their calcium carbonate skeletons.

    This affects individual corals and the ability of the reef to maintain a positive balance between reef building and reef erosion.



  • Plan to raise Asgard II from watery grave

    By John Mooney


    A plan to raise Asgard II, which is lying at the bottom of the sea off the French coast, will be presented to the cabinet before Christmas.

    Willie O’Dea, the defence minister, hopes to commission a salvage company to raise the government’s training vessel so that it can be restored.

    Officials are in negotiations with a specialist firm which submitted a “favourable” tender to raise the ship, which was designed in the 1980s by Jack Tyrrell from Wicklow.

    If a deal is agreed, the company could raise the vessel from the seabed as early as next spring, weather and tidal conditions permitting. The operation could be paid for using money from the ship’s insurance policy.

    Asgard II was covered by Allianz, an international firm, for €3.8m. The Department of Defence is confident a full insurance payout would cover the entire cost of the salvage operation and a refit of the vessel if it is successfully refloated.

    A survey of the sunken ship by a Remotely Operated Vehicle in September showed that Asgard II is largely intact and could be saved, although it lies under 80 metres of water 31 km off the French coast in the Bay of Biscay.



  • A Pacific adventure for north scientists

    By Tony Henderson

    An island-hopping Pacific voyage will give North East scientists the chance to plot the route of one of the most dramatic human migrations in history.

    The Durham University bio-archaeologists will be a key part of the 6,000km trip which set sail from the Philippines this week.

    Doctors Keith Dobney and Greger Larson will be among crew members on two traditional Polynesian double canoes. The main aim of the voyage is to find out where the ancestors of Polynesian culture originated.

    Dr Dobney said that the migrants left the South East Asia mainland in their canoes around 4,500 years ago and crossed vast distances to settle in most of the Pacific islands. “It was one of the most remarkable human migrations in history, not least in terms of the distance travelled,” said Dr Dobney.

    “It is hard to imagine how far these people travelled. It is phenomenal.”

    The key to plotting the migration route is through the plants and animals which the travellers took with them.

    The Durham scientists will take thousands of genetic samples on hundreds of islands from pigs, dogs, chickens and Pacific rats which are the descendants of those animals which accompanied the original migrants.


  • Salem embraces its past - both the good and the bad

    From Ottawa Citizen

    Time stands still in Salem, Mass. Dusk falls rapidly, and a creeping fog drifts in from the sea across Derby Wharf.

    The tall ship, Friendship, a replica of a 1797 merchant vessel, is anchored nearby, silhouetted by the fading light.

    As footsteps of people hurrying home echo off the stately brick and wooden buildings, you can easily imagine yourself in the busy streets of a colonial town hundreds of years ago.

    Like the sturdy immigrants who settled here four centuries ago, Salem is a survivor.

    Still known best for the 1692 witch trial hysteria, the town embraces its tarnished past.

    In October, the streets are bustling with visitors. Haunted Happenings, a monthlong celebration of costume balls, parades, story telling events, and ghost tours, attracts large crowds eager to soak up the one-of-a-kind history and atmosphere.

    If you prefer a quieter visit, come a little later in autumn or even winter, when many historic sites and museums remain open for tours.


  • Controversial pipeline project turns up marine archaeology treasures

    From Yle News

    A project for a natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany along the bed of the Baltic Sea is providing new, unique pictures of what lies hidden under the waters of the Gulf of Finland.

    Underwater studies of the possible route of the controversial pipeline have already led to the discovery of five historically significant shipwrecks, and experts expect that many more will be found.

    The company driving the project, NordStream, will still have to survey an area ten times as large as the 200 meter-wide strip along the proposed route that has already been examined.

    In addition to the five wrecks that are considered valuable finds, it is almost certain that many more treasures will be discovered for marine archaeologists to study.

    Photos of the sea bed are also a reminder of how exceptionally indifferent to the environment Baltic seafarers have been.

    "So much junk has never been found anywhere else, from refrigerators to old cars," says Marine Archaeologist Stefan Wessman of Finland's National Board of Antiquities.

    The well preserved shipwrecks are to be spared, even if the gas pipeline is built. So far, it has not yet been decided if any will be raised. However, to keep them safe, their locations are not being divulged.

  • The dead seas: why the waters around us are being destroyed

    By Sarah Freeman

    Anyone looking for an antidote to the onslaught of bad news is unlikely to find it in the latest report from the Marine Conservation Society.

    While recent weeks have seen the world preoccupied by the global banking disaster and desperately unpredictable share prices, British seas are facing an equally precarious time as we pay the price for years of over-fishing and unregulated pollution.

    After 25 years of quiet campaigning and gentle persuasion, the MCS last night launched its Silent Seas report in the hope the shocking statistics will finally jolt the powers-that-be into action and force the inclusion of a Marine Bill in the next Queen's Speech.

    "Put simply, too many fish are taken from the sea, too much rubbish is thrown into the sea and too little is done to protect previous marine life and habits," says Dr Simon Brockington, the organisation's head of conservation.

    "In the next few years, we're going to start seeing the effects of climate change; the first effects are already there, such as migration of fish and plankton types. Unless we build a healthy ecosystem, the impacts of climate change will be far worse. Inaction is not an option."


  • Former treasure-hunting ship now rests at Green Cove dock

    By My Clay Sun

    She's a lady with a past, a glorious, glittering, golden past, languishing inconspicuously on the St. Johns River, tethered to a pier at Green Cove Springs' Clay County Port in the Reynolds Industrial Park.

    Originally, she was christened the Arctic Ranger and was nearing the end of her worthy and perilous workhorse career as a Canadian fishing vessel in 1987 when her future took a dramatic change.

    She was purchased by a group of marine treasure hunters led by the charismatic adventurer Tommy Thompson and became part of American history stretching back over 130 years to the mid-1800s and the thrilling, rip-snorting days of the California gold rush.

    It seems that in September 1857, the S.S. Central America, a sidewheel steamer, hauling California passengers and cargo on the nine-day trip from Panama to New York, met up with a hurricane off the coast of the Carolinas.


  • Marine debris will likely worsen in the 21st century

    By Jennifer Walsh

    Current measures to prevent and reduce marine debris are inadequate, and the problem will likely worsen, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council.

    The United States and the international maritime community should adopt a goal of "zero discharge" of waste into the marine environment, and a system to assess the effectiveness of existing and future marine debris prevention and reduction actions should be implemented.

    In addition, better leadership, coordination, and integration of mandates and resources are needed, as responsibilities for preventing and mitigating marine debris are scattered across federal organizations and management regimes. 

    "The committee found that despite all the regulations and limitations over the last 20 years, there are still large quantities of waste and litter in the oceans," said Keith Criddle, chair of the committee that wrote the report and the Ted Stevens distinguished Professor of Marine Policy at the Juneau Center for Fisheries and Ocean Science, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

    "We concluded that the United States must take the lead and coordinate with other coastal countries, as well as with local and state governments, to better manage marine debris and try to achieve zero discharge."

    A National Research Council committee was convened at the request of Congress to assess the effectiveness of international and national measures to prevent and reduce marine debris and its impact. Marine debris, man-made materials that intentionally or accidentally enter and pollute the ocean, can cause significant harm.

    For instance, birds, fish, and marine mammals ingest debris, especially plastics, which can lead to digestive problems and uptake of toxic compounds. Animals can also suffer injuries or die after becoming entangled in fishing-related debris such as plastic net fragments, rope, and packing straps.

    Marine debris also poses a health and safety hazard to beachgoers and divers, and could impact coastal recreation and tourism revenue.

    While marine debris comes from sources both on land and at sea, the committee focused on debris discharged at sea for the purposes of this report.


  • Lord Nelson's legendary flagship HMS Victory branded 'a tragedy'

    From The Daily Mail

    The government today sparked uproar by revealing Lord Nelson's legendary flagship HMS Victory could be given away to a private owner as a cost cutting measure.

    The Ministry of Defence revealed the historic 18th century warship may be too expensive to maintain and her funding is currently under review.

    This could see her passed to a private firm or given to a charity to save cash, which critics say would be 'a tragedy'.

    The MoD argues that increasing budgetary pressures mean it must review Victory's future like any other ship.

    But a former Commanding Officer of Victory and ex-First Sea Lord said handing over the oldest commissioned warship in the world to a private company would make a mockery of Britain's naval heritage.


  • Sunken ship Redux: wreckage may do morehrm than good

    Wreck pollution

    From Discover

    Yesterday we wondered whether the U.S. Navy’s plan to intentionally sink some of its old warships, so that they’d become new homes for fish and attractions for recreational divers, would be such a great idea in the long run.

    Today, a new study looking at a different shipwreck suggests that not only might intentionally sinking old ships be a bad idea, but officials might have to remove shipwrecks from sensitive ecosystems before they cause too much harm.

    Back in 1991, a 100-foot-long ship sank in Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge near Hawaii. Now, 17 years later, scientists studying the area say the coral reef is under attack by an organism called Rhodactis howesii.

    It is a corallimorph, a relative to anemones and corals that clears out competitors with it stinging tentacles. Rhodactis is an invasive species to the Palmyra Atoll, and it doubled its presence between 2006 and 2007, pushing out the diverse mix of corals that is native there.


  • Warship ablaze, but none injured

    From The Jakarta Post

    A Navy anti-submarine warship caught fire during a routine patrol in the waters off Lampung with all personnel on board surviving the accident. 

    Navy spokesperson First Adm. Iskandar Sitompul said Tuesday the warship KRI Memet Sastrawiria, commanded by Maj. Gema Eka Putra, was heading to Labuhan Siging port when fire gutted the port side of its stern. 

    "We are still investigating the cause of the fire. More importantly, everybody is safe," Iskandar said. 

    The warship is a Parchim class corvette once operated by East Germany. Indonesia bought the corvette as part of the 1985 purchase of 39 East German warships. 

    Measuring 75.2 meters in length and 9.8 in width, the corvette is armed with an anti-submarine rocket launcher, torpedoes and sea mines. It can cruise at a maximum of 24.7 knots.

    Full story...


  • 'Ghost ship' deaths were freak accident

    By Laura Clout

    The disappearance of three Australians whose yacht was found adrift on the Great Barrier reef was not murder, but a freak accident, a coroner has ruled.

    The catamaran Kaz II was found drifting off the Great Barrier reef in April last year, with no sign of the crew Derek Batten, 56, and brothers Peter, 69, and Jim Tunstead 63. 

    A table was laid for a meal, computers and navigation systems were switched on and life jackets were on board but a search by helicopter and boat of the open sea and nearby Whitsunday Islands proved fruitless. 

    The crew's fate prompted intense speculation, with theories ranging from pirate attack and insurance fraud to freak weather or a drug deal gone wrong. 

    Police said the men were probably swept overboard in rough weather, but relatives insisted they were experienced sailors and it was inconceivable all three could have been knocked into the water.



  • Around Africa in a Phoenician boat

    One sail wooden boat

    By Lina Sinjab

    On Arwad Island off the coast of Syria, a group of 20 sailors-to-be are preparing for a voyage their captain believes has not been undertaken for two and a half millennia. 

    They plan to set off on Sunday on a journey that attempts to replicate what the Greek historian Herodotus mentions as the first circumnavigation of Africa in about 600BC. 

    Their vessel, the small, pine-wood Phoenicia, is modelled on the type of ship the Phoenician sailors he credited with the landmark voyage would have used. 

    The Phoenicians lived in areas of modern-day Lebanon, Syria and other parts of the Mediterranean from about 1200BC and are widely credited with being both strong seafarers and the first civilisation to make extensive use of an alphabet.


  • 1956 shipwreck claims life of Houston diver

    By Neil Stratton

    To get a true picture of what Houston diver Terry DeWolf was trying to do when he lost his life exploring the wreck of the Andrea Doria this week, think of touring a museum at least 230 feet from the nearest breathable oxygen and at least 50 miles by water from the nearest hospital.

    The site, deep in the Atlantic Ocean south of Nantucket, Mass., is the grave of 51 people who lost their lives when the luxury liner collided with another ship and went down more than 50 years ago.

     It is also considered the Mount Everest of diving, a perilous plunge of more than 200 feet to the seabed that now, with DeWolf's death, has claimed the lives of 15 divers.

    "It's a pretty dangerous dive," said Capt. Ed Ecker of the East Hampton Town Police Department. "I don't want to speculate, but what generally happens is that they either get the bends or something goes wrong with the equipment."

    On Monday, the dive boat John Jack sailed out of Sportsman's Dock in Montauk, N.Y., ferrying DeWolf and nine other divers to the site of the wreck as part of the 2008 Andrea Doria Expedition, a charter led by Richard Kohler, a famous diver and television personality who gained fame on The History Channel's Deep Sea Detectives program.

  • Sailing a Viking ship:Young hands tell their tales

    Sea Stallion project

    From Sail-World

    The Sea Stallion Project comprises a unique reproduction of a actual Viking Ship - a long boat - combined with a reproduction of the actual voyages of the original Viking Ship called the Sea Stallion.

    She is manned by some 120 volunteers together with staff of the owning museum, the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo. She left Dublin on 29th June, and is expected to arrive Roskilde on the 9th August 

    Here Lars Normann speaks to two young hands who are currently sailing on the Sea Stallion as she makes her historic way from Dublin to Roskilde, and find that they agree at least about one thing: that spending six weeks on board the Sea Stallion is meaningful: 

    Their backgrounds for sailing with the Sea Stallion are very different. Sidsel Romme Nygaard is 21 years old and starts studying political science after the voyage.

    She has sailed in Viking ships all her life because her parents have been involved in the guild for one of the Viking Ship Museum's reconstructions, Roar Ege.


  • Funding boost helps protect HMVS Cerberus


    From Powerboat World

    Heritage Minister Peter Garrett said the National Trust of Victoria would use $500,000 in Federal funding as a first step towards stabilising the HMVS Cerberus shipwreck. 

    The Minister announced the funding during a visit to the wreck, which sits as a breakwater a few hundred metres off the beach at Melbourne’s Half Moon Bay, Black Rock. 

    “Purpose-built in 1868 for the Victorian Colonial Navy, the HMVS Cerberus is a unique part of our naval heritage. It was included in the National Heritage List in December 2005,” Mr Garrett said. 

    “Named after the three-headed mythological guard dog, the Cerberus was Victoria’s and then Australia’s most powerful warship. Her heavy iron structure was the prototype for 19th century steam-powered battleships. 

    “After protecting Victoria from potential attacks for over 50 years, in 1924 she was declared surplus by the Navy and sold to a salvage company. The hulk was purchased for 150 pounds by the Sandringham Council, and scuttled at Half Moon Bay.


  • Shipwrecks and World War Two bombs threaten £6bn pipeline

    By Roger Boyes

    When Sweden scuttled 20 huge wooden warships more than 250 years ago, it was seen as a desperate measure to block the enemy Danish fleet.

    Now those same wrecks could scuttle the key component of a European energy plan - the construction of a 1,200km (746-mile) gas pipeline along the cluttered floor of the Baltic Sea.

    Russia and Germany are building the pipeline to avoid the political problems of transporting gas overland - Ukraine and Belarus, in the midst of price rows with the energy supplier Gazprom, have threatened to interrupt supplies to Western Europe.

    The seabed route, known as Nord Stream, is turning into an obstacle course of a different kind.

    Not only do 100,000 tonnes of unexploded Nord Stream ammunitions lie scattered along the route, but the German Navy is concerned that one of its live shells might hit the pipeline and set off an explosion during Baltic exercises.




  • 150 feet undersea and snug as a bug

    By Elliott Hester

    Imagine you are diving beneath the surface of the Caribbean Sea.

    A school of horse-eyed jacks suddenly changes direction, flashing what appears to be a silvery sheet. A shipwreck emerges in the deep blue distance. You head in that direction, cruising alongside a picturesque coral reef. 

    In this underwater adventure, you're neither a snorkeler nor a diver. You're a passenger in an submarine. 

    Since 1986, when Atlantis Submarines International Inc. launched the world's first public-passenger submarine off the coast of Grand Cayman Island in the British West Indies, more than 11 million customers have taken the plunge.

    The voyages are now offered in 28-, 48- and 64-passenger subs at 12 island destinations in the Caribbean, Hawaii and Guam. 

    I went under in Atlantis III, a 48-passenger sub operating off the coast of Barbados.

    The journey began at the dock in Bridgetown, the capital. I boarded the Ocean Quest transfer boat for the 10-minute trip to the dive site at Freshwater Bay Reef, a mile off Paradise Beach on the west coast of the island.

    Full story...