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U.S. Navy Rescues Iranian Fishing Vessel From Pirates In Arabian Sea

The pirates did not resist the boarding and surrendered quickly Forces assigned to the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, rescued an Iranian fishing vessel from Pirates in the northern Arabian Sea, Jan. 5.At approximately 12:30 p.m, an SH-60S Seahawk from the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) detected a suspected pirate skiff alongside the Iranian-flagged fishing dhow Al Molai. Simultaneously, a distress call was received from the master of the Al Molai claiming he was being held captive by pirates.A Visit, Board, Search and Seizure team from the Kidd boarded the Al Molai and detained 15 suspected pirates who had been holding a 13-member Iranian crew hostage for several weeks. The Al Molai had been pirated and used as a "mother ship" for pirate operations throughout the Persian Gulf, according to members of the Iranian vessel's crew. The pirates did not resist the boarding and surrendered quickly."The Al Molai had been taken over by pirates for roughly the last 40-45 days," said Josh Schminky, a Navy Criminal Investigative Service agent aboard the Kidd. "They were held hostage, with limited rations, and we believe were forced against their will to assist the pirates with other piracy operations."According to members of ...

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Growing US-Iran Tensions Threaten Global Shipping

A long-running dispute could undermine confidence A freight transportation analyst is warning escalating tensions between Iran and the United States over the Strait of Hormuz could undermine global supply chains in the near term and shipping development in the Middle East in the long term.London-based Transport Intelligence noted in a report Wednesday the strait not only is a transit point for large numbers of oil tankers and container ships, but that Dubai, the world's ninth-largest port, sits adjacent to the waters."Of more immediate concern to supply chains will be the impact of the war of words on global oil markets," John Manners-Bell said in a briefing report by the trade and transportation analysts."The possibility of the closure of the strait, which acts as a transit for 17 million barrels of oil a day, has been a factor in the rising oil price over recent weeks, despite the weak economic environment. The last thing at the moment that the world's fragile economy needs is a new confrontation in the Middle East.The United States has deployed an aircraft carrier into the region as part of the U.S. and EU stated goal of blocking Iran's oil exports under sanctions imposed as a result ...

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US eyes first BP criminal charges over Gulf spill

Charges for providing false information in federal document US prosecutors are readying criminal charges against British oil giant BP employees over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident that led to the catastrophic Gulf oil spill, The Wall Street Journal reported online.The charges if brought and prosecuted by the US Justice Department would be the first criminal charges over the disaster.Citing sources close to the matter, the Journal said the prosecutors are focusing on US-based BP engineers and at least one supervisor who they say may have provided false information to regulators on the risks of deep water drilling in the Gulf.Felony charges for providing false information in federal documents may be made public early next year, said the Journal.A conviction on that charge would carry a fine and up to five years in prison, the newspaper said.The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has already issued a second list of violations regarding BP's operation of the Macondo well that blew out in April 2010, causing the worst maritime environmental disaster in history.The US drilling safety agency has said it determined BP had failed to conduct an accurate pressure integrity test in one area of the well.And in four different sections ...

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US Navy Stops Somali Pirate Attack

Pirates attacked on tanker Nordic Apollo A U.S. destroyer broke up an attack by Somali pirates on Monday in the lawless waters of the Gulf of Aden, but the American Sailors let the would-be hijackers go, the Navy announced.The incident highlights the difficulty for the U.S. and international navies that patrol the pirate-infested waters off the Horn of Africa, where warships can help disrupt attacks when they happen or sometimes rescue ships after the fact -- but only treat the symptoms of the piracy problem, not its root causes.According to the Navy, the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Nordic Apollo radioed for help at about 8:40 a.m. local time on Monday -- its crew reported being fired upon by pirates in a small skiff. At 11:00 a.m., another vessel reported "suspicious activity by a skiff," and the destroyer USS Pinckney responded to investigate.The San Diego-based Pinckney radioed a warning to all the ships in the area and launched its helicopter, an MH-60R Seahawk, to try to track the pirates. Meanwhile, the destroyer hurried to where the skiff had been spotted.According to the Navy's announcement, the Pinckney's Seahawk crew sighted the skiff and confirmed it was carrying the telltale equipment of modern pirates:"The ...

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U.S. Navy may station ships in Singapore, Philippines

It is likely to pressure n the South China Sea dispute The U.S. Navy said it would station several new coastal combat ships in Singapore and perhaps in the Philippines in coming years, moves likely to fuel China's fears of being encircled and pressured in the South China Sea dispute.Regional defense analysts said the ships were small, but agreed the symbolism of the moves, which come after Washington announced it was increasing its engagement in Asia, would upset Beijing.Last month the United States and Australia announced plans to deepen the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, with 2,500 U.S. Marines operating out of a de facto base in Darwin in northern Australia.In coming years, the U.S. Navy will increasingly focus on the strategic "maritime crossroads" of the Asia-Pacific region, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert wrote in the December issue of Proceedings, published by the U.S. Naval Institute.He said the navy planned to "station several of our newest littoral combat ships at Singapore's naval facility," in addition to the plans announced by President Barack Obama for marines to be based in Darwin from next year."This will help the navy sustain its global forward posture with what may be ...

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Occupied ports, unoccupied seas

US ports were affected this week by protesters Ports have joined the targets of the "occupy" movement in its diffuse protests against what it sees as corporate greed or, as the slogan says, "Wall Street on the Waterfront".Some US ports were affected this week by the protesters' bid to throw "a wrench into the gears of the 1%", in a reference to the widely-used statistic on the division of wealth. Some of the 99%, however, who depend on the ports for their livelihoods are unsympathetic as such disruption can affect their income. The ports themselves also point up the benefits they bring in employment to local communities.American ports are publicly owned, but they host private terminals that the protesters criticise as exploiters of both local and international labour and as polluters of the environment. The main American dockers' union, whose members on the West Coast in particular, are among the highest-paid blue-collar workers in the US, after earlier expressing solidarity with the campaign against corporate greed, has distanced itself from the protesters' targeting of ports as well as banks.The "occupy the ports" actions came as some commentators were drawing attention to a series of disruptions to the global logistic supply ...

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Strategy for Reversing Deterioration of Gulf Ecosystem

USDA $50 million financial assistance for restoration projects The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force today released its final strategy for long term ecosystem restoration for the Gulf Coast, following extensive feedback from citizens throughout the region. EPA Administrator and Task Force Chair Lisa P. Jackson, partnering with Task Force Co-Chair Garret Graves, made the announcement today during keynote remarks at the 2011 State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit in Houston. Administrator Jackson was joined by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman and several other Task Force members.The Task Force delivered the final strategy on Friday, Dec. 2 to President Barack Obama, who established the Task Force by executive order, to continue the Administration's ongoing commitment to the Gulf region. The group is made up of representatives from the five Gulf States and 11 federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, White House Council on Environmental Quality, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of the Interior, Department of Justice, Department of Transportation, Office of Management and Budget, Office of Science and Technology Policy and White House ...

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Seasonal speed restrictions for vessels on the East Coast of the US Ships

New voluntary right whale speed restriction zone The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service has announced a voluntary vessel speed restriction zone dynamic management area (DMA) in the vicinity of Jeffreys Ledge to protect an aggregation of 15 right whales.The whales were sighted in this area on 16 November and this DMA is in effect immediately through to 1 December. Mariners are requested to route around this area or transit through it at 10 knots or less.Jeffreys Ledge DMA - active until 1 December 43 25N42 37N070 44W069 39WJordan Basin DMA - active through to 24 November 43 52N43 04N068 51W067 50WCashes Ledge DMA - active through to 23 November 43 34N42 40N069 46W068 33WActive Seasonal Management Areas (SMAs)Mandatory speed restrictions of 10 knots or less (50 CFR 224.105) are in effect in the following areas:Mid-Atlantic SMAs - active through to 30 April 2012Southeast SMA - active through to 15 April 2012For details and graphics of all ship strike management zones currently in effect, visit www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/shipstrikeApproaching a right whale closer than 500 yards (457m) is a violation of Federal and State law. Please report all right whale sightings to +1 978-585-8473. For more information on right whale aerial ...

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US backs armed guards on ships

USA has passed legislation enabling ships to carry armed guards The USA has passed legislation enabling ships transporting cargo for US agencies - including aid - to carry armed guards through high-risk waters to prevent piracy.The move comes as part of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act, passed by the House of Representatives. The law also includes provision to improve training for seafarers on the acceptable use of force against pirates, as well as defence tactics and procedures if taken hostage. It also authorises a general accounting office to report on ways to track ransom payments to pirates and options to improve their prosecution.The legislation comes as a major trial of an alleged Somali pirate leader is due to open in the USA. The charges relate to the hijacking of the US yacht Quest off Somalia in February 2011 in which four Americans died - six pirates have already been given life sentences for this crime and a further eight are awaiting sentence or trial.The defendant Mohammad Saaili Shibin, captured in Somalia in April, is alleged to have been the hostage negotiator, and reported to be the highest profile pirate to have been captured and put on trial. 

Meanwhile, ...

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