Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Navy to issue Rs 50,000 crore submarine tender this year


NEW DELHI: The Navy will issue a global tender for procuring six next generation submarines worth over Rs 50,000 crore by the end of this year. 

"The government has cleared Project-75 India which is the next lot of six submarines... At the moment we are going with the Request for Information (RFI) process, I hope within this year we would be able to push off the tender," Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma told reporters on the sidelines of a submarine seminar. 

Project-75 India is a follow on of the Scorpene submarine project, six of which are being built by the Mazgaon Dockyards Limited (MDL) under a Rs 20,000 crore deal with French company DCNS. 

With a depleted submarine strength, the Navy is planning to induct over 12 submarines in the next 10-12 years. The plans have also suffered a setback in view of the delays in the construction of the Scorpenes in Mumbai. 
Talking about the capabilities of future submarines, the Navy chief said, "It will be a different boat in the sense that we are revising its Qualitative Requirements. Along with better sensors it will also have better hiding capability, improved detection range and combat management system." 

He said the Navy would go for the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems for the submarines, which would enhance their capability of remaining submerged in water for a longer time period. 

On the weapon systems to be put on the next line of under water vessels, Verma said Navy was planning to use a mix of indigenous torpedoes along with the missiles which are being deployed on the Scorpene submarines. 

To a question on safety of Indian fishermen being targeted by the Sri Lankan Navy, he said, "The issue was highlighted during the visit of the Sri Lankan President also. The joint working group on fisheries is supposed to address these issues and that is the way to resolve it." 

He denied knowledge of any apprehensions expressed by China on India's forthcoming exercises with the navies of the US and Japan. "You have to bear in mind that it is not the first time these exercises are happening. I am not aware of any such apprehension," he said. 

On the annual exercise TROPEX, the Admiral said that besides elements from army and air force, the navy would also include its amphibious elements for the first time in the exercise. 

"TROPEX in terms of involved expenses and platforms is the largest exercise we have. This time we have huge amphibious elements including the participation from army and the air force," he said. 

Indian Navy inducted its first amphibious warship INS Jalashwa from US in 2007.
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HMS Clyde honours the men of '82


SALUTING their fallen forebears, four sailors from HMS Clyde honour the crew of HMS Coventry after restoring their memorial.
The ship’s company of today’s Falklands guardian have spent the past few weeks tidying up monuments and memorials peppered around the archipelago as their vessel patrolled the islands.
Either Clyde or the RN’s South Atlantic Patrol Ship regularly maintain some of the outlying memorials – most recently HMS Portland’s sailors smartened up the Coventry on Pebble Island monument last summer.
Just a few months later, however, the ferocity of the South Atlantic weather meant a return to Pebble Island was in order, so the men of Clyde duly obliged.
The sailors have also tackled three other memorials during their recent patrols of the Falklands: 2 Para’s monument at Goose Green, 42 Commando’s on Mount Harriet, half a dozen miles outside Stanley – and the scene of bitter fighting in the final days of the 1982 conflict – and the HMS Sheffield cenotaph.

The latter stands on Sealion Island, overlooking the point several miles away where the Type 42 destroyer was fatally hit by an Argentine Exocet missile.
Elsewhere a bit of Brasso and some good old elbow grease sufficed to spruce up memorials, but on the exposed Bull Hill where the Sheffield cross and cairn are located, the elements had taken their toll.
The Clydes found the stone wall surrounding the monument had been damaged by storms the previous work. It was returned to its normal state before a formal salute to Shiny Sheff’s 20 dead.
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Mendi testing LRAD?


The Department of Defence remains mum on the deployment of the Valour-class frigate SAS Mendi to Durban for operational training in reported anticipation of an anti-pirate patrol in the Mozambique Channel. Sources in the city say the ship spent the day at sea yesterday, conducting training and tests. 

Sources elsewhere say the ship has been fitted with a Long Range Acoustic Device. The Armscor Bulletin System shows a device was acquired “for evaluation” from LRAD Corporation of San Diego in the US at a cost of R202 778.63 in September last year. 

The wikipedia explains the LRAD is a crowd control and hailing device developed by LRAD Corporation. According to the manufacturer's specifications, the device has a mass of 20kg and a diameter of 83cm. It can emit sound in a 30° beam at high frequency. The maximum usable design range is aid to be 300 metres, where the warning tone (measured) is less than 90dB. 
The device was originally intended to be used by American warships to warn incoming vessels approaching without permission, and some reports claim that it is now regarded as a "non-lethal weapon". Its output up to 155db, focused at a distance, is sufficient to produce permanent ear damage and temporarily disrupt vision, the wikipedia says. It may also be used simply as a very effective megaphone prior to any use as a weapon. Although mildly disorienting, LRADs are tactically ineffective against deaf individuals. It is not yet clear how the SA Navy plans to employ the LRAD. 

The device has also been used against pirates. Tthe luxury cruise ship Seabourn Spirit employed an LRAD while repelling pirates off Somalia in November 2005. The wikipedia writers say the effectiveness of this device during the attack is not completely clear, but the pirates did not succeed in boarding the vessel and eventually fled. But in November 2008 pirates did seize a ship, the Liberian MV Biscaglia despite the use of a LRAD. A security detachment aboard the ship used the LRAD to deter armed attackers. “Following a one-sided shootout, the ship was seized and the unarmed security contractors forced to abandon ship or be killed. The incident caused the usefulness of LRADs to be called into question by Lloyd's List.”

LRAD has also been used by the Japanese whaling fleet operating in Antarctic waters to ward off the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The activists have since reportedly acquired their own device. 

The Afrikaans daily Beeld earlier this month reported the deployment of the Mendi into the Mozambique Channel was being held up by the absence of a signed Memorandum of Understanding setting out rules of engagement. Minister of Defence and Military Veterans last year July told a small group of journalists, including defenceWeb, that her deputy, Thabang Makwetla, had that month attended a Southern African Development Community (SADC) conference in the Seychelles. There “we did commit ourselves to protecting the waters around SADC from piracy.” She added: “We are ready to deploy in SADC waters because it is part of our responsibility.”

Business Day also reported this month the SADC meeting was followed by a ministerial antipiracy conference in Mauritius in October last year. South Africa’s delegation was led by the ambassador to Mauritius, Madumane Matabane. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in its annual report last month said pirates murdered eight seafarers and seized a record 1181 hostages as well 53 ships last year, a new lowpoint. According to the IMB, the number of pirate attacks on ships around the world has risen every year for the past four years, with 445 incidents in 2010, which is an increase of 10% over 2009. 1050 crewmembers were taken hostage in 2009 compared with just 188 crew in 2006. 293 incidents were reported in 2008 compared to 263 in 2007. The 2010 attacks included two confirmed cases of piracy in the Mozambique Channel between Africa and Madagascar near the Comoros in late December and two failed attempts some 200 kilometres east of Quelimane, capital of the central Mozambican province of Zambezia. The city is about halfway up the Mozambican coast and some 300km north of Beira. 

Institute of Security Studies military analyst Henri Boshoff told the Pretoria News the response was not only South African but also “part of a larger SADC military response” to piracy. “The government is keeping a tight lid on how it is going to respond to these latest attacks.” Boshoff said while South Africa’s navy had conducted operations in the Mozambican Channel area and off the country’s East Coast, the latest attacks had triggered a strong response from South Africa. 
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International Maritime Organisation warns that ships are disregarding piracy threat


The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) warns that an “unacceptably high proportion of ships transiting the Gulf of Aden and western Indian Ocean” are not taking the threat of piracy seriously by heeding warnings or taking measures to protect their ships.

In a circular letter to IMO members, the United Nations, intergovernmental, non-governmental and other organizations, the IMO said that naval forces off the coast of Somalia have observed many ships in area that are not registered with the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa; are not reporting to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) Dubai; show no piracy deterrents and are not acting on warnings of pirate activity. At least 25% of commercial ships passing through the Gulf of Aden ignore safety precautions, AllBusiness reported in January. 
The IMO noted that as of February 14, 685 crew on board 30 ships are being held for ransom along the Somali coast, which reflects a worsening situation as pirates are expanding their reach into the Indian Ocean, especially through the increasing use of mother ships. The organisation also says that pirate attacks are becoming more violent and that pirates are using captured crew as human shields.

Failure to implement fully the IMO guidance, including the industry-developed best management practices, significantly increases the risk of successful pirate attacks, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said. Some of the best management guidelines include maintaining a high cruising speed (travelling at 18 knots or more makes it almost impossible for pirates to board), erecting physical barriers and using hoses and foam to deter pirates.

“Regrettably, there is disturbing evidence to show that, in too many cases, this advice has either not reached shipping companies or their ships or has not been acted upon,” the circular letter says. The IMO goes on to urge “all those concerned, particularly Administrations, industry representative bodies, seafarer associations, shipowners and companies to take action to ensure that ships’ masters receive updated information unfailingly and that all the recommended preventive, evasive and defensive measures are fully and effectively implemented”.

The announcement follows the launch on February 3 of the IMO’s anti-piracy action plan, in support of the 2011 World Maritime Day theme: “Piracy: orchestrating the response”. The action plan was launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said the escalation of piracy off the Somali coast is “completely unacceptable” and requires urgent action. He welcomed the decision of the IMO to pay special attention to this serious threat during the year ahead.

Also present at the launch was Colonel Richard Spencer, who criticised the shipping industry for in many cases failing to take adequate self-protection measures or assist the co-ordinating naval bodies, even when they had advised authorities they were in the high risk zone. “NATO has taken to phoning up ships within 50 miles of a mothership sighting to warn them of the risk because ships are not reading the warnings they put out. They are sailing blind,” he said. “There is a reason why some flags consistently have the highest number of ships taken. I’m speechless as to why some flag states are not doing more.” He said naval forces had “observed non-compliance” on the ships of the top four flag states, Liberia, Panama, Marshall Islands and Bahamas.

As a result of the continuing piracy scourge, the IMO is encourages governments to provide extra naval and aerial surveillance in piracy affected areas and provide security forces with information on ship movements.

The IMO added that an information distribution facility (IDF) has been created to help security forces operating in the Gulf of Aden and the Western Indian Ocean to build a better picture of where ships are, in order to provide warnings of pirate activity and to facilitate more effective repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships through the more effective deployment of the limited available naval and military resources.

Through the anti-piracy action plan, the IMO aims to strengthen its anti-piracy abilities and expand its reach to create a broader, global effort. The plan has six main goals for 2011 and beyond. These are:
to increase political pressure to secure the release of hostages;
to review and improve IMO guidelines and promote compliance with best
management practices and the recommended preventive, evasive and defensive
measures ships should follow;
to improve support from and co-ordination with navies;
to promote anti-piracy co-operation between states and the industry;
to deter, interdict and bring to justice pirates;
and to provide care, during the post-traumatic period, for those attacked or hijacked
by pirates.
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Somali pirate threat diverting grains shipments


Grains shipments are being diverted around Africa as Somali pirate gangs strike deeper at sea increasing journey times and potentially lifting insurance costs at a time of unrest over food prices.

Pirates operating off the Horn of Africa are threatening traffic aiming for the vital Gulf of Aden trade route, either from Asia towards Europe and the Middle East Gulf or from the United States and Europe heading towards Asia.

While wheat shipments from Australia, one of the world's biggest exporters, were expected to accelerate shortly as the new export drive gathers pace, a trade source said sellers could find it harder to find vessels willing to make the journey through the Gulf of Aden to Middle Eastern buyers. A wheat cargo from Australia to Saudi Arabia this month cost an additional $10,000 a day due to the higher risk, Reuters reports.
"You have to find an owner who is willing to put his ship at risk for which there will probably be an insurance premium and higher costs," the source said. "If freight costs spike, it could hurt."

The source said Australian canola shipments to European markets were being diverted around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, which was adding 10-12 days extra journey time.

THREAT RESPONSE

Responding to the growing threat, London's marine insurance market last month expanded the stretch of waterways deemed high risk from seaborne raiders to include the Gulf of Oman and a wider stretch of the Indian Ocean.

Pirates are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms and despite successful efforts to quell attacks in the Gulf of Aden, international naval forces have struggled to contain piracy in the Indian Ocean owing to the vast distances involved.

"Many crews are having to run the gauntlet of small arms attacks that are endangering their lives and the safe passage of world trade," said Peter Hinchliffe, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, which represents about 80 percent of the global industry.

Trade sources said grains shipments from European and US exporters to key buyers in the Middle East were also being re-routed around the Cape rather than run the risk of passing through the Gulf of Aden via the Suez Canal. 

"There is obviously extra voyage time involved but the lower freight costs are cushioning the impact. The dangers of having a ship hijacked are very large," a major European exporter said.

Grains markets are increasingly sensitive to potential disruptions as adverse weather patterns have raised concern over global supplies at a time of growing unrest over food inflation.
Food price protests sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East reached Jordan on Friday, following disorder in Algeria and Tunisia which has had many countries in the region moving to cut food prices and food taxes.

The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index .BADI, which tracks rates to ship dry commodities, has tumbled to its lowest in nearly two years hit by a glut of vessels seeking employment.

The cost of hiring a panamax vessel, especially used to transport grains, on a 4 to 6 month time charter contract was estimated at US$14,500 to US$15,500 a day, around US$4,000 a day lower than a year ago. Nevertheless, some shippers were resigned to having to stump up higher costs due to a lack of any solution at present.

One of Australia's largest grain shippers CBH Group said it was still shipping through the risk area. "Premiums are being factored in. So it's just one of those things that has to be taken account of," a spokeswoman said.

FRUSTRATION GROWING

Security analysts said the move by underwriters to widen the piracy risk zone was set to have a bigger impact on shipping, although any premium rises would depend on what risk mitigation procedures were in place such as crew training and watch rotas.

"The extension should be seen as an official warning for the business community that piracy is spreading very far eastwards," said John Drake, senior risk consultant with AKE Ltd.

"By using 'motherships' the pirates are able to travel much further out to sea because they can transport larger supplies of fuel, food and water." 

Maritime piracy costs the global economy between $7 and $12 billion a year with Somali piracy in particular driving up the cost of shipping through the Indian Ocean, researchers say. Frustration is also mounting among seafarers who have found themselves in the firing line, with more than 600 mariners held hostage by pirate gangs in Somalia. 

"Members are expressing profound fears about their vulnerability and the scale of the risk level now," said Andrew Linington, with seafarers' union Nautilus International.
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ADF JOINT TASK FORCE COMPLETES ITS CYCLONE YASI CLEANUP MISSION


The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has drawn down its forces providing support to the Queensland emergency services-led response and recovery operations in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Yasi.
The members of Joint Task Force 664 are now returning to their home units as the cleanup and reconstruction situation in North Queensland moves into its next phase.
The rapid nationwide response following Cyclone Yasi saw approximately 1500 ADF personnel working to assist affected communities and the state emergency services. Personnel and equipment from the Navy, Army and Air Force provided manpower and specialist capabilities in response to the needs of the people of North Queensland.
The Commander of the Joint Task Force 664 leading the ADF’s Operation YASI ASSIST, Brigadier Stuart Smith, said that Australian Defence Force personnel had successfully completed the tasks requested of them by civilian authorities, including providing specialist support to emergency services personnel.
“Emergency services and public utilities have future restoration tasks well in hand for those areas hardest hit by the cyclone,” Brigadier Smith said.
Troops from Townsville are returning to their base to regroup for rapid response readiness, and some will be preparing for deployment to Afghanistan later this year.
Brigadier Smith said their families would welcome their return.
“Many personnel deployed to assist as the winds abated, and haven’t been home since the cyclone struck – they’ve really earned some time at home with their loved ones,” he said.
Brigadier Smith expressed his admiration for the tenacity of the North Queenslanders affected by the cyclone.
“The people of the region face a challenging time ahead, but as a community they will rebuild their homes, their communities and their lives. The resilience of the local people is outstanding – I greatly admire their spirit.”
The decision to draw down the ADF assistance came after close consultation with Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ), state authorities and local officials in the affected areas. EMQ continues to provide assistance to the communities devastated by the cyclone, and ADF specialist support will remain at local bases to assist emergency services if required.
A supporting factsheet can be found at:
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Petrobas scores again in Santos Basin


Petrobras today announced the discovery of a new accumulation of good quality oil (26º API) in the Santos Basin pre-salt reservoirs.
The discovery resulted from drilling well 4-BRSA-818 (4-RJS-668), named Macunaíma, at a water depth of 2,134 meters, located in the 1-RJS -617D (Parati) assessment area and 244 km off the coast of Rio de Janeiro State.
The discovery was confirmed through oil logging via cable test in the reservoirs located at a depth of about 5,680 meters.
Petrobras is the operator of the consortium for the exploration of block BM-S-10 (65%), which is also composed of BG Group (25%) and Partex Brasil (10%).
The consortium will continue the activities and investments necessary to assess the deposits discovered in this area as per the Evaluation Plan approved by the National Petroleum Regulator (ANP), the completion of which is expected to take place in April of 2012.


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Royal Navy’s ‘HMS Queen Elizabeth’ under construction


Pictured here is construction of the first of the two new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy, HMS Queen Elizabeth, as workers at BAE Systems’ Govan yard moved two giant sections of the hull together for the first time.





The structure is so big that it fills an entire hall at Govan and now extends beyond the doors onto the yard.


It took a team of 20 employees and remote controlled transporters just one hour to move 1,221 tonnes of steel over 100 metres across the shipyard. The hull section was then manoeuvred carefully into position to line up with the rest of the block.
The two sections brought together today form the mid section of the hull up to the hangar deck and is referred to as Lower Block 03. Workers will continue to outfit the block, which on completion will weigh over 9,300 tonnes and stand over 23 metres tall, 63 metres long and 40 metres wide. She is set to embark to Rosyth in the latter part of this year, where HMS Queen Elizabeth will be assembled in the dry dock.

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Maersk Group, has signed a contract with Keppel worth $1.2b


Maersk Drilling, an entity within the A.P. Moller – Maersk Group, has signed a contract with Keppel FELS Limited in Singapore for the construction of two ultra harsh, high capacity jack-up drilling rigs. The first rig is scheduled for delivery at the end of 2013, with the second rig following seven months later.  The total project cost for the two rigs is close to USD 1.2 billion. This includes turnkey contract with the yard, owner furnished equipment, project management, commissioning, start-up costs and capitalized interest. The contract includes the option for the construction of one additional jack-up rig to be declared by July 2011.
“The decision to invest in additional offshore drilling rigs is based on our strong view on the fundamentals of the offshore drilling industry and our ambition to further strengthen our position in the markets we have chosen to be in,” says A.P. Moller – Maersk Group CEO, Nils S. Andersen.

The rigs will represent a new generation of jack-up rigs. The design is an enhanced version of the proven Gusto MSC CJ-70-150MD design and includes a number of features that will further improve the rigs’ drilling performance.  The rigs are especially suited for operation in the harsh environment of the North Sea at water depths up to 150 metres. The high capacity features include offline pipe handling and simultaneous operations as well as an enlarged  cantilever reach,  which will significantly increase the drilling efficiency compared to conventional units. The enhanced design also includes multi-machine control on the drill floor, which will allow for a degree of automation to ensure a safe operation and consistent performance. A total of 150 people can be accommodated on board in single cabins.
“The order is consistent with our strategy to further solidify our position as a leading operator of ultra harsh, high capacity drilling rigs,” says Claus V. Hemmingsen, CEO of Maersk Drilling. “These rigs are designed to meet the customers’ increasing demand for safe and highly efficient drilling operations and the enhanced features of this design will make the rigs superior to other rigs in the market. “
The new rigs are targeted for the Norwegian market and will comply with the strict regulatory rules in Norway. “We believe in continued strong demand for high capacity jack-up rigs on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, and have a strong track record since 1989 of operating in this challenging environment.  Our commitment to build another two ultra harsh, high capacity rigs has been well received by our customers,” says Claus V. Hemmingsen.
In addition to the two jack-up rigs just ordered, Maersk Drilling’s modern fleet counts 26 drilling rigs including deepwater semi-submersibles, high-end jack-up rigs and cantilevered drilling barges.
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Ukrainian naval pilots held training flights over sea


Pilots of Naval Aviation Brigade (Saki, Ukraine) performed about 20 training flights over the sea on Feb 11 (see photos). 

According to brigade commander Col. Vladimir Khomenko, that was the fifth flights in 2011. Six aerial vehicles took part in the training flights – two aircrafts Be-12, and one An-26; helicopters Mi-14Ka-27PS(search-and rescue) and Ka-27PL (antisubmarine). 

Curiously, it was the first time when pilot in command (PIC) of Mi-14 was a junior officer – 1LT Vitaly Telnykh. In addition, two lieutenants performed flights as PIC assistants of Mi-14
During the flights aircrew of Ka-27PS carried out training tasks on search and rescue of "sufferers" at sea. Also firstly in 2011, Ka-27PS controlled by brigade commander dropped a life-rescue team. Then the "sufferers" were lifted aboard the helicopter by windlass. 

According to Col. Vladimir Khomenko, aircrews of Ka-27PL practiced antisubmarine activities; aircrafts Be-12 performed training flights after lifetime-prolongation overhaul, and An-26 – after scheduled engine replacement. 

All training tasks were carried out excellently, reported brigade commander Col. Vladimir Khomenko.
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Admiral Vinogradov escorts the ninth convoy


Pacific Fleet (PF) large ASW ship Admiral Vinogradov which currently takes part in the anti-piracy campaign off the Horn of Africa started escorting another convoy, reported Prima Mediaciting Roman Martov, press secretary of PF Commander. 

"The ninth convoy of Admiral Vinogradov consists of two vessels", he said. "At present, the convoy moves through the hazardous Bab el Mandeb strait connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden". 

Recall that PF task force consisting of large ASW ship Admiral Vinogradov, sea-going salvage tug, and tanker Pechenga arrived from Vladivostok to the Gulf of Aden on Dec 22, 2010. There are marine units on board Admiral Vinogradov, as well as two deck-based helicopters conducting permanent aerial reconnaissance.


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Underwater test launch of BrahMos missile to be carried out in 2011


Russian-Indian joint venture company BrahMos Aerospace has developed submarine-launched modification of BrahMos cruise missile; test launch is scheduled in the current year, said the company's executive director Sivathanu Pillai. 

The company has already developed the submarine-launched version, he said. It is planned to conduct the test launch from drowned platform placed on a special pontoon. The launch is supposed to be performed this year, added the executive director. 

As was previously reported, the Russian-Indian company had developed a modification of BrahMoss upersonic cruise missile designed for submarines. 

Russian-Indian joint venture company BrahMos Aerospace was established in India in 1998 for production of supersonic antiship missiles. The company was founded by NPO Mashinostroyenia (Russia) and Defense Research and Development Organisation (India).
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U.S. Navy Destroyer's Mast Breaks Off while the warship was underway off the northern Florida coast

The upper part of the mast on the destroyer Gravely broke off Feb. 13 while the warship was underway off the northern Florida coast, the U.S. Navy has confirmed.
"While underway conducting routine operations Feb. 13, USS Gravely (DDG 107) experienced structural damage to the mast mounted antenna. No personnel were injured during the incident," Cmdr. Elissa Smith, a spokesperson for the Second Fleet in Norfolk, said in a Feb. 15 e-mail to Defense News. "USS Gravely's crews took immediate action and secured the damaged mast-mounted antenna. The cause and extent of the damage is unknown.

"The ship safely returned to Mayport, Fla. at approximately 10 a.m. local yesterday and is undergoing assessment. Commander, U.S. Second Fleet and Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic are taking prudent actions to ensure safe, efficient and effective repairs to the ship. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) is leading the investigation to identify the root cause of the failure."
The Gravely, a DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyer, was built by Northrop Grumman's Ingalls Shipyard in Mississippi and is virtually a new ship, having been commissioned last November.
NAVSEA was unable initially to respond to a question as to whether other ships of the Arleigh Burke class have suffered similar damage. The Gravely is the 57th ship of the class, which remains in production.
"The investigation will determine the root cause of the failure and whether similar conditions exist on other ships of the class," said Alan Baribeau, a NAVSEA spokesman in Washington.
A video production crew from Discovery Channel Canada and Exploration Productions in Toronto was on board the Gravely at the time of the incident, working on an upcoming episode of the Mighty Ships series. A spokesman for the company in Toronto declined to comment on the incident.
Judging from a photo produced online by the Web site coltoncompany.com, the break was clean, coming at a weld joining the uppermost part of the mast to a lower part, just above and behind the URN-25 aircraft navigational beacon. The mast appears to have been kept from falling off completely by the electrical cables running inside.
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Team of experts to plan way forward on AMPHIBIOUS SHIPS FLEET


The Government will appoint an independent team of experts to develop a plan to address problems in the repair and management of the amphibious and support ship fleet.
Mr Paul Rizzo, a Director of a number of major Australian corporations including the National Australia Bank and Malleson Stephen Jacques and the Independent Chair of the Defence Audit and Risk Committee, will lead the team.
He will be supported by Air Vice Marshal Neil Smith (rtd) and Rear Admiral Brian Adams (rtd) who have relevant experience in defence administration, engineering, maintenance, logistics, systems engineering, safety certification and the operation and support of amphibious ships.
The Terms of Reference for their work is released today and attached.
On 1 February, the Government announced that HMAS Manoora was to be decommissioned on the advice of the Chief of Navy. The Manoora was placed on operational pause by the Chief of Navy after the Seaworthiness Board in September last year, and an examination of the 40 year old ship has revealed it requires remediation of significant hull corrosion and the replacement of both gear boxes. As this work would cost over $20 million and take until April 2012 to complete, it is not considered value for money when Manoora was scheduled to be decommissioned at the end of next year.
On receiving that advice the Minister for Defence asked Defence for further advice outlining the reasons for the early decommissioning of HMAS Manoora and the extended unavailability of HMAS Kanimbla.
This advice, released today and attached, identifies systemic and cultural problems in the maintenance of the amphibious ship fleet.
Today we also outline ongoing maintenance activity with respect to HMAS Tobruk.
On 28 January, we were advised that with the decommissioning of HMAS Manoora, and the extended unavailability ofHMAS Kanimbla, Navy was maintaining HMAS Tobruk at 48 hours notice for sea to ensure an amphibious lift capability was available.
On 2 February, we were advised that HMAS Tobruk was to commence maintenance work in order to be fully prepared to provide any assistance in the days following Cyclone Yasi, in the event not required.
On 4 February, we were advised that HMAS Tobruk had left its dock and was being prepared to return to 48 hours notice for sea.
This has however not yet occurred as further maintenance issues and problems have been identified.
This work includes efforts to survey, verify, certify and replace a number of safety critical flexible hoses necessary to ensure the safe operation of HMAS Tobruk.
The advice about the amphibious fleet provided by the Secretary of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Force makes it clear that problems with the amphibious fleet have built up over the past decade or more.
It states that many of the seeds of the problems we now face were sown long ago, and insufficient resources have been allocated to address materiel and personnel shortfalls since the ships were brought into service many years ago.
It also states that the establishment of the Seaworthiness Board in 2009 was a long overdue means of providing Chief of Navy with an independent review of maritime systems and its review of the amphibious ships provided a focus on the situation that was not previously available.
It is essential that the problems outlined in the advice are addressed as a matter of priority ahead of the transition to the new Landing Helicopter Dock Ships.
That is why we have asked Mr Rizzo to develop a plan to address the problems identified by the Secretary and the Chief of the Defence Force, to reform these practices, and oversee early stage implementation of those reforms.
Their work will be additional to the new comprehensive transition plan we have asked Defence to prepare to ensure a smooth transition to the introduction of the LHD ships in the middle of the decade.
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DEDICATION FOR RAN RIVER CLASS FRIGATES


A plaque, which, for the first time officially recognises the service to the nation of all 12 of the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) River-class frigates, and the crews who served in them in war and peace, will be unveiled tomorrow, 12 February in Sydney.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Science and Personnel Warren Snowdon said the plaque dedication ensured the RAN River-class frigates and their crews were recognised and honoured in our naval history.
“The River-class frigates are all named after Australian rivers, were built in Australia and were in service with the RAN from 1942-1979,” Mr Snowdon said.
“All but one of the River-class frigates were sold and scrapped after they were decommissioned, with HMAS Diamantina preserved as a museum ship at the Queensland Maritime Museum.”
Mr Snowdon said the Australian Government was pleased to be able to provide funding for the plaque through the Saluting Their Service commemorations grants program.
The Saluting Their Service commemorations grants program supports projects and activities which directly commemorate Australia’s servicemen and women who served in wars, conflicts and peace operations.
Lieutenant Vince Fazio (retired), President of the HMAS Condamine Association, served onboard HMAS Condamine, which saw action during the Korean War. He commissioned the plaque after receiving the Department of Veterans’ Affairs grant.
“I’m expecting about 70 guests at the ceremony. Veterans from the majority of the 12 River-class frigates including a couple of veterans from HMAS Hawkesbury, which saw action during World War II,” Lieutenant Fazio (retired) said.
“The President of Gascoyne together with the President of Culgoa will be invited to unveil the plaque, representing the first and last of class ships.
“It will be great to catch up with some old mates,” he said.
Commander Shane Moore CSM, Director of the RAN’s Naval Heritage Collection, said that an important part of Australia’s naval history had been preserved with the plaque dedication.
“Outside the Navy community, little is known about these frigates and the men who served on them. You could argue that historians have overlooked their fine service to the nation but, it is fitting that it has now been recognised through this plaque.”
The plaque unveiling and dedication service will be held at 11am, 12 February at the RAN Heritage Centre, Garden Island and will be followed by afternoon tea.
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WARM WELCOME FOR NAVY SHIPS DURING TASMANIA NAVY WEEK


The Navy opened their ships and Tasmania opened their arms to welcome three major fleet units as part of Navy Week 2011 in Tasmania at the weekend.
The week commenced with the transmission of a local FM breakfast show from the hangar of HMAS Parramatta as they steamed in company with HMAS Ballarat along the Derwent and into Hobart.
Navy Week also coincided with the Tasmanian Wooden Boat Festival, the Royal Hobart Regatta, the Hobart Cup and Festival in Devonport with some magnificent weather over one of the busiest long weekends of the year in Tasmania.
With nearly every bit of spare accommodation in Hobart fully booked, there were plenty of Tasmanians on hand to visit HMA Ships Ballarat and Parramatta for their open days on 12 February when more than 3500 people took the opportunity for a guided tour of both ships.

Navy week concluded with HMAS Ballarat performing as the flagship for the Royal Hobart Regatta, an open day in Devonport aboard HMAS Diamantina, a range of activities with STS Young Endeavour, and a wet winch demonstrations by HMAS Parramatta’s Seahawk helicopter.
BallaratParramatta and Diamantina departed Tasmania for the final days of Navy exercising as part of Triton Storm 1-11, a newly developed exercise conducted annually on the Eastern seaboard of Australia.
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MCPON Message to the Fleet: No Second Chances for Drug Abuse


WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West, released the following message on drug abuse, which focuses on "Spice," herbal products and other designer drugs, to the fleet, Feb. 11:

"Shipmates, 

There has been an alarming rise in the number of Sailors who are choosing to use 'Spice,' herbal products and other so-called designer drugs; and this must come to an immediate stop. 
More than 150 Sailors are currently being processed for 'Spice' use, possession or distribution, and this is UNSAT. 

Overall, the Navy has separated 1,374 Sailors in FY09; 1,308 Sailors in FY10; and 302 Sailors during the first quarter of FY11, for drug abuse. These unexpected losses negatively affect our commands' manning levels, which in turn affects the commands' operational and warfighter readiness. The Navy's policy on drug abuse is simple and clear – zero tolerance, and there are no second chances.

NAVADMIN 108/10 states the following on drug abuse:

'Drug abuse includes the wrongful use, possession, manufacture, or distribution of a controlled substance. Drug abuse also includes the unlawful use of controlled substance analogues (designer drugs), natural substances (e.g., fungi, excretions), chemicals (e.g., chemicals wrongfully used as inhalants), propellants and/or prescribed or over-the-counter drugs or pharmaceutical compounds with the intent to induce intoxication, excitement, or stupefaction of the central nervous system, and will subject the violator to punitive action under the UCMJ and/or adverse administrative action.'

Some examples of substances mentioned above where the wrongful use constitutes drug abuse includes, but is not limited to the following:

- Products that contain synthetic cannabinoid compounds, such as "Spice," genie, blaze, dream, ex-ses, spark, fusion, dark knight, yukatan fire, and K2.

- Natural substances such as salvia divinorum and mushrooms.

- Common items abused by inhaling or huffing, such as Dust Off, glue, paint thinner and gasoline.

- Over-the-counter products such as Robitussin and Coricidin HBP.

- Prescription medications such as Oxycodone, Vicodin, Adderall, and Valium.

If you didn't know, 'Spice' is a mixture of natural herbs and synthetic cannabinoids, that when smoked, produce a marijuana-like 'high' that decreases motor skills, impairs coordination and concentration, and effects short-term memory and senses. The effects of these substance is unpredictable when combined with alcohol, and since the chemical blends are continuously manipulated and the strength of the synthetic chemical used is unknown, there is no way to know what you are getting in the drugs nor what the long-term health risks are if used. 

Some of the side effects from these drugs included uncontrolled vomiting, excessive sweating, flushed skin, increased heart rate and high blood pressure, and loss of consciousness. If this sounds like a good time to you, then go ahead and hand over your rank and paycheck, and possibly your life. 

Bottom line: The use and even just the possession of 'Spice,' herbal products, designer drugs, chemicals used for huffing, salvia divinorum, or products containing synthetic cannabinoid compounds are prohibited. Leadership, along with Naval Criminal Investigative Service, is aggressively working to catch personnel who are possessing, using, or distributing drugs; and when you get caught, your career will be over. 

Drug abuse goes against our Navy's core values and ethos, and it is a threat to lives, unit and mission readiness and morale. It is every Sailor's responsibility to deter drug abuse. If you do the crime, you will do the time … remember zero tolerance and no second chances.

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First frigate built for India to start trials in Feb-March


First of three frigates built for Indian Navy by Yantar shipyard (Kaliningrad) will be ready for trials in Feb-March 2011, said today Sivathanu Pillai, the executive director of Russian-Indian joint venture company BrahMos Aerospace

One ship has been fully equipped; the second one will be also completed in Feb-March, he said. 

According to Mr. Pillai, the shipyard conducts final works to prepare the frigate for trials. He also said that the new ships could launch BrahMos missiles both in the Baltic Sea and in the Indian Ocean when the first frigate arrives there from Russia. This issue is at the Russian Navy's option, said the executive director. 
The shipbuilding contract for three frigates for Indian Navy was signed on July 14, 2007 in Delhi. Overall cost of the contract makes about $1.6 bln. This is the second export contract for Russian frigates tied with India. The first one cost about $1 bln and was signed in Nov 1997. Three ships were built and handed over to Indian Navy – INS Tabar (Axe), INS Trishul (Trident), and INS Talvar (Sword). 

Dimensions and navigability of the frigates currently built at Yantar will have no cardinal differences with those exported to India earlier. The changes are related to armament and onboard equipment. In particular, the new frigates are armed with Russian-Indian cruise missiles BrahMos

As was reported, the first ship of new series – INS Teg (Saber) – was launched in Nov 2009, the second one – INS Tarkash (Quiver) – in June 2010. 

Project 11356 guided missile frigates are designed for antisubmarine, antisurface, and antiaircraft defenses. The ship's length is 125 meters; beam is 15 meters; displacement is 4,000 tons; crew is up to 200; fuel range is 4,500 miles.
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