Sunday, March 31, 2013

Guardian Salvage

The U.S. Navy contracted crane vessel M/V Jascon 25 removes the stern section from the mine countermeasure ship Ex-Guardian (MCM 5), which ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef Jan. 17, and places it onto the barge Seabridge. The removal of the stern section completed the removal of the Guardian from the reef. The U.S. Navy and contracted salvage teams continue damage assessments and the removal of equipment and parts to prepare the grounded ship to be safely dismantled and removed from Tubbataha Reef. The U.S. Navy continues to work in close cooperation with the Philippine authorities to safely dismantle Guardian from the reef while minimizing environmental effects. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelby Sanders/Released)

"Room With A View" The Maine Windjammer Project

"Room With A View"  By Doug Mills
The American Eagle sails past my Grandfathers room with a view.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Coast Guard Sentinels To Continue Hawaiian Watch

U.S. Coast Guard feature story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony Soto

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu are called to action by a urgent request for assistance. A vessel captain reports that his 24-foot charter vessel, the Mellow Yellow, is disabled six miles east of the Big Island of Hawaii with two people aboard. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Kiska launches as they have done so many times before.

Chief Petty Officer Jacob Buckley, a machinery technician stationed aboard the 110-foot Island Class patrol boat, noted that conditions were far from optimal. Fighting through eight to 10-foot seas and 20-knot winds, the crew arrived on scene and managed to lower their small boat into the water to render assistance. Once aboard the Mellow Yellow, they inspected the entire steering system to see if repairs were possible.

“After seeing there was no way to make repairs to the installed steering system, we had two options,” Buckley said. The options were either tow the Mellow Yellow and crew back to shore or try to rig an emergency steering system and drive them back to Hilo. With daylight waning and a tow requiring reduced speeds, the crew decided to improvise.

Buckley and other crewmembers made an emergency steering system by rigging a six-foot board to the left outboard engine. They secured it in place using duct tape, 20-feet of line and a little ingenuity, allowing the vessel to be steered as they escorted it back to shore.

The 23-year-old Kiska, homeported on the Big Island of Hawaii, is one of two 110-foot Island Class patrol boats in the Hawaiian Islands. The second, the Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island, is homeported in Honolulu. Since the 1980’s, the 20-person crews aboard these vessels have conducted search and rescue, law enforcement and environmental protection missions throughout the Hawaiian Islands and the Pacific.

Despite the capabilities of these ships, most of the 110’s in the Coast Guard are past their intended service life, established when a ship is designed. As cutters age, crewmembers endure numerous engineering challenges in keeping them operational. Continued heavy use requires constant maintenance and repair. These needs are increasingly preventing the crews from being able to perform their designated missions.

“The cutter does experience casualties. They range from sewage issues, gray-water issues, exhaust leaks, minor system malfunctions to something larger,” said Chief Petty Officer David Jones, a machinery technician and the Galveston Island engineering officer. “Usually they’re small problems, but they take time to fix, and they add up.”

Due to the age of the Galveston Island and Kiska, some parts are no longer available from the manufacturer or the manufacturer is no longer in business. That being the case, getting underway highly depends on whether or not the part that is needed is essential to the ship’s functioning.

The combined issues cost the crews valuable time and reduce service to the people of the Hawaiian Islands, Jones noted. As maintenance issues become more complex the potential impact on mission execution increases. In the context of a search and rescue case this could lead to loss of life.

The delicate balance between maintenance and operations has not gone unnoticed and efforts are being undertaken at the highest levels of the service to ensure the missions and service of the Coast Guard patrol boat fleet are maintained.

“Parts availability and conditions of the ships have been key considerations in the decision to bring new ships to the fleet,” said Lt. Justin Nadolny, a Fast Response Cutter sponsor representative at the Coast Guard’s Office of Cutter Forces in Washington D.C.

The Acquisitions Directorate, the office in charge of recapitalization projects, has worked with industry partners to develop the Sentinel Class Fast Response Cutter. This new class of ship features an array of new technologies, communications systems and living quarters for the crew. Four of these ships are already in use in Miami and two are set to be stationed in Hawaii within the next decade.

“The FRC’s offer significantly improved sea keeping over the 110,” Nadolny said. “It has a much better ability to launch its small boat and improved crew habitability.” Nadolny also pointed out that the FRC’s are capable of travelling farther than the 110’s, an important factor in Hawaii’s vast area of operations.

Today, two 110-foot patrol boats provide essential missions to the Hawaiian Islands and beyond, but due to the increase of maintenance issues, their time is running out. With the introduction of the Sentinel Class Fast Response Cutter, a new and capable platform will provide the Hawaiian community with readiness they can rely for generations to come.

"At North End Shipyard" The Maine Windjammer Project

"At North End Shipyard"  By Doug Mills
The Artic Explorer Bowdoin at North End Shipyard. [May 25, 2010]

Friday, March 29, 2013

Yosemite Today

Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Valley at 8:13 this morning.

Yosemite Weather Today: Mostly sunny, with a high near 56. East wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west southwest in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 15 mph.
Tonight A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 33. West southwest wind 5 to 10 mph becoming light and variable in the evening.

North End Shipyard Spring

North End Shipyard Spring
By Doug Mills
Maritime Editor
RCN America Network

One of the surest signs of spring is when the North End Shipyard starts hauling out the schooners of the Maine Windjammer Fleet.  On Thursday the American Eagle was hauled out for a new coat of paint and it's yearly inspection.

The 92' schooner American Eagle was built in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1930. For 53 years she was a working member of the famed Gloucester fishing fleet. She is also a National Historic Landmark.

She will spend about a week on the railway at North End Shipyard.  The American Eagle is planning it's first trip of the season on May 17th.

"The Breakwater at Rockland" The Maine Windjammer Project

"The Breakwater at Rockland"  By Doug Mills
The Victory Chimes and the Nathaniel Bowditch meet at the breakwater in Rockland. [July 16, 2010]

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Glass Eye: FIRE!

The Glass Eye: Seeing the world through the lens of a camera.
By Doug Mills

Since the dawn of time fire has warmed a cold night, or given light in the dark.  It has been mans servant to cook his food or to propel him to the moon.  It is,however, not a tame creature.  This same fire that warms a cool fall evening or lights a romantic dinner if turned loose will destroy everything in it's path!  This past weekend I had the opportunity to watch this beast turned loose under the watchful eye of the local fire department.  As a photographer this was the opportunity of a lifetime to watch the beast turned loose on a vacant building.
Every one who has ever tried to shoot at night knows that it presents some interesting challenges,  add to that growing darkness the brightness of an out of control fire and you have a photographers nightmare or the shoot of a lifetime!
Setting the beast loose.

Under the watchful eye of the professionals.
Setting up.

Whenever you are shooting look around sometimes there are some great shots sitting just behind you.

  The Fire Tornado or Fire Devil
When shooting always watch for the unusual.  As I was shooting I noticed the rare Fire tornado, formed by the heat of the fire and the cold air creating a mini tornado of fire.  In forest fire these fire tornadoes can get so strong they can uproot full grown trees!  When I first saw it on the roof I just stood there watching in awe.  I quickly came to my senses and started shooting.  The conditions were so that it spawned at least three of these Fire Tornadoes.

Regional Transit Service gets new wheels thanks to Canada's Gas Tax Fund

Halifax, Nova Scotia, March 27, 2013 – Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) commuters are now benefitting from improved transit service, thanks to a major investment from the Government of Canada through the Gas Tax Fund.

Greg Kerr, Member of Parliament for West Nova, along with His Worship Mike Savage, Mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality, today announced that Metro Transit recently added 22 new environmentally-friendly buses to its existing fleet.

"Investments in Canada's public infrastructure create jobs, economic growth and provide a high quality of life for families in every city and community across the country," said MP Kerr. "With the new Building Canada Plan, our Government is delivering the largest investment in job-creating infrastructure in Canadian history. These new Metro Transit buses will provide a safer, cleaner and more efficient commute for HRM residents."

This $13.6 million investment will increase service and allow older buses to be retired. As a result, it will also help reduce diesel emissions, meaning a cleaner, quieter transit fleet and improved air quality for local residents, now and for years to come.

"The assurance of long-range funding for gas tax transfers along with the indexing of two percent per year will help Halifax make strategic investments to improve and modernize the transit system and continue to narrow the infrastructure funding gap," said Mayor Savage. "As we plan for a growing economy and a growing community, smart multi-level government investments in transit and other infrastructure are critically important."

"I am pleased to see the Halifax Regional Municipality investing in their transit system to improve service to citizens," said John MacDonell, Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. "These partnerships with the federal and municipal levels of government allow us to build strong, healthy communities and make life better for Nova Scotia families."

The Halifax Regional Municipality directed $13.6 million of its federal Gas Tax Fund allocation towards the purchase of the additional buses and provided the remaining project costs of $2.5 million. The total project cost is estimated at $16.1 million.

The Gas Tax Fund provides long-term funding to help every municipality across the country build and revitalize public infrastructure. The Government of Canada has invested over $10 billion to date in municipal infrastructure through this Fund alone, which is now a permanent transfer of $2 billion per year. Between 2010 and 2014, the Halifax Regional Municipality will receive $99.2 million from the Gas Tax Fund to improve local infrastructure.

Canada's Economic Action Plan 2013 is delivering a new Building Canada Plan to build roads, bridges, subways, commuter rail, and other public infrastructure in cooperation with provinces, territories, and municipalities. Thanks to the Government of Canada's leadership and our strong economic and financial fundamentals, the Canadian economy has recovered from the global recession better than most other industrialized countries. Canada has been a leader among G-7 countries throughout the recovery with more than 950,000 net new jobs created since July 2009. The new Building Canada Plan, combined with other federal infrastructure investments, supports Canada's infrastructure advantage, a key enabler of economic growth and job creation.

Harmonized sales tax in Prince Edward Island

Photo By Martin Cathrae

The Government of Canada and the Government of Prince Edward Island have signed an agreement to implement a harmonized sales tax (HST) in Prince Edward Island (P.E.I). The HST will come into effect on April 1, 2013. The combined HST rate in P.E.I. will be 14%, of which 5% is the federal portion and 9% is the provincial portion. The HST will use the same tax base and structure as the goods and services tax (GST), with some exceptions.

What this means for you:

All GST/HST registrants across Canada should update their accounting and point-of-sale systems by April 1, 2013, to accommodate the change in rate for their taxable supplies of property and services that are made in P.E.I.
Some GST/HST registrants across Canada may need to update their point-of-sale systems by April 1, 2013, to accommodate the new point-of-sale rebates in P.E.I.
Current GST registrants located in P.E.I. will automatically become HST registrants and report their HST according to their current GST filing frequency.
As a result of the implementation of the HST in P.E.I., there will be changes to the rebates for housing, and public service bodies such as charities, public institutions and qualifying non-profit organizations.
Where to get more information:

The CRA will keep you informed as more information becomes available. For the most up-to-date information, go to or subscribe to Excise and GST/HST News at and receive quarterly electronic newsletters.

The CRA’s online services for businesses:

Did you know that you can simplify your GST/HST filing obligations by using the CRA’s online filing options? For more information, go to learn more about the online services offered through the CRA’s My Business Account, go to

UPDATE: Luxury Catamaran Mouse Trap In Trouble 500 Miles Southeast Of Bermuda

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard is standing down their response to a vessel with nine people aboard approximately 500 miles southeast of Bermuda, Wednesday.

Coast Guard 5th District watchstanders initially received an emergency position-indicating radio beacon distress signal at 1:15 p.m. registered to the 109-foot catamaran, Mouse Trap.

The Mouse Trap’s crew had made contact with Rescue Coordination Center Gris Nez, France and reported that their vessel was in distress after losing their mast, and that one crew member was deceased.

At approximately 4 p.m., watchstanders received notification from the International Emergency Rescue Coordination Center reporting that the Mouse Trap's crew were no longer in distress, had been able to get their engine started, and were currently en route to the Cayman islands.

An air crew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City aboard an HC-130 Hercules aircraft has returned to base while the two AMVER vessels have resumed their original courses.