Headlines: DOD – Maersk Alabama repels piratical attack; NTSB – draft strategic plan; Hearing on advanced spectroscopic portal monitors; DHS OIG – USCG expenditures under ARRA; Virginia Beach – previously grounded barge now afloat; Great Lakes – binational report on water quality; and Canada – report on fireboat capsizing.
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DOD – Maersk Alabama repels piratical attack
The US Department of Defense (DOD) issued a news release stating that an embarked security team on the M/V Maersk Alabama repelled an attack by pirates in the Indian Ocean 560 nautical miles off the northeastern coast of Somalia. Four pirates in a skiff approached to within 300 yards, using small-arms weapons in an attempt to board the ship. The ship engaged in evasive maneuvers and the embarked security team utilized long-range acoustic devices (LRADs) and small-arms fire in response. The pirates broke off the attack. No damage to the ship or injuries to the crew have been reported. It is unknown whether the pirates suffered any injuries. The ship is proceeding to its destination of Mombasa. (11/18/09).
NTSB – draft strategic plan
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a notice stating that it is seeking comments on its draft 2010-2015 Strategic Plan. Comments should be submitted by December 3. 74 Fed. Reg. 59994 (November 19, 2009).
Hearing on advanced spectroscopic portal monitors
The Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the House Committee on Science and Technology conducted a hearing regarding ongoing problems with next generation technologies to detect nuclear and radioactive substances at US borders, particularly shipping containers arriving at US seaports. Subcommittee Chair Brad Miller (D-NC) stated that, despite a $230 million investment in development, the advanced spectroscopic portal (ASP) monitors have not performed as expected. Mr. Gene Aloise, Government Accountability Office (GAO), testified that the ASP monitors have an unacceptably high number of false positive alarms and testing has identified a critical equipment failure. Mr. Todd Owen, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), testified that the agency continues to work with the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) to improve the performance of the ASP monitors. Dr. William Hagan, DNDO, testified that testing has enhanced the development of the ASP monitors and progress continues to be made. After the conclusion of the hearing, the Committee issued a press release. (11/17/09).
DHS OIG – USCG expenditures under ARRA
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued the report of its review of the US Coast Guard’s expenditure plans for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The Coast Guard was allocated $240 million for alteration or removal of obstructive bridges and for acquisition, construction, and improvements for its shore facilities and vessels. The OIG found the expenditure plans to be designed to meet most of the ARRA goals, except for the “quick-start” goal of using 50% of the stimulus funds for activities that could be initiated by June 17, 2009. OIG-10-06 (11/18/09).
Virginia Beach – previously grounded barge now afloat
The US Coast Guard issued a news release stating that the barge that grounded at Virginia Beach during a recent storm has been refloated with the assistance of two tugs. There were no reports of pollution. (11/18/09).
Great Lakes – binational report on water quality
The 2008-2009 Binational Report on Protection of Great Lakes Water Quality has been released by the US Coast Guard, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Transport Canada, and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The report addresses, among other things, discharges of oil and hazardous polluting substances from vessels; discharges of vessel wastes; aquatic invasive species organisms in ballast water; and the Joint Contingency Plan. (11/18/09).
Canada – report on fireboat capsizing
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada issued the report of its investigation of the capsizing of a small fireboat in Halifax Harbor on 17 September 2008. The report concludes that assessing the stability of small vessels against the ISO construction standards for small vessels alone may be insufficient. It also concludes that the ISO standards are based on an average mass of 75 kilograms per person, which no longer reflects the average body mass of Canadian citizens. M08M0062 (11/18/09). Note: The US Coast Guard recently raised its standard for passenger weight after realizing that the average American had super-sized.
If you have questions regarding the above items, please contact the editor:
Dennis L. Bryant
Bryant’s Maritime Consulting
4845 SW 91st Way
Gainesville, FL 32608-8135
© Dennis L. Bryant – November 2009