HMS Queen Elizabeth Sets Sail for Sea Trials

The Royal Navy “supercarrier” HMS Queen Elizabeth is setting off for sea trials. Begun eight years ago and built at a cost of £3.6 billion, the carrier is the largest war ship ever constructed by Great Britain. After six weeks of sea trials, the ship will sail to her home port of Plymouth. The carrier’s first planes are expected to arrive next year. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to be operational in 2020. A second ship of the class, HMS Prince of Wales, is currently under construction.

Largest ever Navy ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, sets sail

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Emirates Team New Zealand Wins the America’s Cup, 7-1!

Emirates Team New Zealand has won the America’s Cup, defeating Oracle Team USA 7-1!  

In the races in 2013, Team New Zealand was within one race of winning the cup, only to have Oracle stage a dramatic comeback and win the competition 9-8.  In this year’s 35th running of the races, however, Team New Zealand wholly dominated the competition giving up only one race to the defender Oracle.  

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USS Fitzgerald Ignored Warnings Says Container Ship Captain

The captain of ACX Crystal has said that the USS Fitzgerald “suddenly” steamed on to a course to cross the path of the container ship and then failed to respond to warning signals or take evasive action to avoid the collision, which killed seven of the Fitzgerald‘s crew. The container ship steered hard to starboard to avoid the warship, but hit the Fitzgerald 10 minutes later at 1:30 a.m., according to a copy of Captain Ronald Advincula’s report to Japanese ship owner Dainichi Investment Corporation that was seen by Reuters

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Remembering Jacques Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau; the co-developer of the Aqua-Lung, as well as an explorer, author, conservationist, and filmmaker; died twenty years ago today. He opened the eye of millions both to the wonders of the world beneath the sea but also the environmental damage being wreaked upon the oceans.  

I remember how, as a teenager, his book, The Silent World: A Story of Undersea Discovery and Adventure , fired my imagination. While my friends were inspired by the space program I became fascinated with the world beneath the ocean.  The documentary version of the book, Silent World, would earn Cousteau both the Palme d’or at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award. Cousteau would win his second Oscar for his 1964 documentary, World Without Sun.

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Ben Finney and Hōkūleʻa’ — the End of a Voyage

Less than a month before the voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa‘ completed its epic journey around the globe, Ben Finney completed his own last voyage. Ben Rudolph Finney died at the age of 83. A University of Hawaii Professor Emeritus in Anthropology, he was the first president and the last surviving founder of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. Finney’s research and vision helped to make the voyage of the Hōkūleʻa’ possible and to forever put to rest the claim that that Polynesians had drifted to Hawaii by chance.

In 1973, Finney and waterman Tommy Holmes and artist Herb Kane founded the Polynesian Voyaging Society and set out to build to build Hōkūleʻa, a traditional sailing canoe. In 1976, they would demonstrate that ancient Hawaiians could transit the Pacific, including sailing to windward, by successfully sailing on a voyage of more than 2,000 miles from Hawaii to Tahiti using traditional navigation techniques.  Finney was one of the crew on that first epic voyage.

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Battleship Texas, Barely Hanging on — Closes, Reopens, & Hunkers Down for Tropical Storm Cindy

We have been following the continued slow disintegration of the historically rich, but budget poor, Battleship Texas for several years now. The over 100 year old battleship is the oldest remaining dreadnought battleship and only one of six surviving ships to have served in both World War I and World War II.  She is also continually on the verge of sinking at her berth in the Buffalo Bayou in Harris County, Texas.  

Recently, the Houston Chronicle reported, Battleship Texas closed until further notice, crews working to repair leaks. A week later,  the headline was more cheerful — Battleship Texas Leaks Fixed, Retired Ship Reopens Saturday.  Now, the media is reporting that the grand old ship is hunkering down for Tropical Storm Cindy, which is heading her way.

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Hokulea, First Voyaging Canoe in 600 Years, Completes Three Year Circumnavigation

Hokulea, the first voyaging canoe in 600 years, sailed back to Hawaii last week, completing an epic three year 40,000 mile circumnavigation. Hokulea and her crew were greeted by fellow voyaging canoes, hundreds of other water craft and an estimated 25,000 well wishers.

Tens of thousands gather at Magic Island to welcome Hokulea hom

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Sailing-Time Warp in Bermuda — AC50 Foiling Cats and J Boats

While the big show at the America’s Cup races in Bermuda are the AC50s, the high-tech foiling catamarans literally flying across the courses, one might be excused for a sense of falling into a time warp, as just off the island, a fleet of J boats, grand racing yachts from another era, compete against each other, as if from another time.

After a lively competition, in a replay of the 2013 America’s Cup, the AC50 foiling cat, Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ), was chosen again as the challenger to Oracle Team USA. And also like 2013, ETNZ has started off beating the defender in the first four races. It remains to be seen if Oracle can make a dramatic comeback, as they did in 2013 to retain the Cup. Racing between Oracle and  ETNZ begins again this weekend.

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The USS Fitzgerald Is At Fault. This Is Why — Commentary by gCaptain’s John Konrad

gCaptain’s Captain John Konrad has a excellent post today that describes in detail why he believes that the destroyerUSS Fitzgerald was at fault in its recent collision with the container ship ACX Crystal.  He suggests a simple rule for avoiding collisions with Navy warships is missing: “If it’s grey stay away.”

Konrad details the likely communications failures on the Fitzgerald, which are endemic on most Navy ships. He also describes the difference in training and focus of the merchant versus the naval captain, as well as the resources available to and responsibilities of each. And, no, he does not argue that the USS Fitzgerald was solely at fault. As he points out, “Under COLREGS, whenever two ships touch each other, both ships are to blame.”

Rather than quote specific passages of the post, go to gCaptain to read it in full. It is worth reading.

The USS Fitzgerald Is At Fault. This Is Why  

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Conspiracy Theories Spring Up Around the USS Fitzgerald — ACX Crystal Collision

Graphic: NYTimes

The one thing we can say for certain is that we do not have all the facts surrounding the collision between the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald  and the Philippine container ship ACX Crystal . The collision nearly sank the destroyer, killed seven sailors and injured three more, including the ship’s captain.  Of course, facts, whether we have them or we don’t, do nothing to inhibit the conspiracy theorists. Conspiracy theories are already developing about the recent collision.

The “American Thinker” blog expresses their concerns in almost apocalyptic terms:

The USS Fitzgerald, an anti-ballistic missile destroyer that was part of the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group, will no longer be ready to defend the carrier and other ships from missile attacks launched from North Korea, should push come to shove in the current confrontation with the rogue regime on the threshold of the capability to attack New York, Los Angeles, and our power grid with nuclear missiles.  This is an incident that could affect the outcome of a nuclear confrontation of historic moment.

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Destroyer USS Fitzgerald Nearly Sank Following Collision — Seven Sailors Died Below Deck

We now know that the USS Fitzgerald came perilously close to sinking  following its collision with the Philippine-flagged container ship ACX Crystal, early Saturday morning off the Japaneses coast near Tokyo.  
“Heroic efforts prevented the flooding from catastrophically spreading, which could have caused the ship to founder or sink,” said Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet. “It could have been much worse.”   The seven sailors initially reported missing have since been found in their berths where they died in the flooding which followed the collision. 

The Japanese Coast Guard is now reporting that the collision took place around 1:30AM rather than an hour later, a s previously reported. Apparently, the collision was reported for close to an hour. The authorities are investigating the cause for the delay in the reporting. Based on the revised time of the collision, the container ship ACX Crystal  appears to have been maintaining a constant course and speed prior to the collision.  Previously, it was reported that the container ship dramatically changed course prior to the collision. It now appears that the course changes took place after the impact.  

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The Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2017

Despite the rain the mermaids and denizens of the sea still came out to play at the 35th Annual Coney Island Mermaid Day Parade. Photos by For more images, some NSFW, check out Gothamist.

Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2017

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Sail Boston 2017 — Parade of Sail

Delayed for an hour by fog, the Parade of Sail at Sail Boston 2017 was still breathtaking even if the weather did not cooperate.  The Sail Boston 2017 festival continues through Thursday, June 22. Click here for a list of events and activities.

Sights and sounds of Sail Boston 2017

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Destroyer USS Fitzgerald Collides with Container Ship — Seven Missing

Seven crew members are reported to be missing after the US guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine flag container ship, ACX Crystal, early Saturday morning. Three others aboard were injured, including the commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, and were evacuated from the ship by helicopter. The collision took place at around 2:30 AM local time about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.  

USS Fitzgerald, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, was struck on the starboard side near the bridge and was damaged above and below the waterline. Flooding on the ship was stabilized with the assistance from the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey and the Fitzgerald returned to the Yokosuka Naval Base, assisted by tugs, around 6 AM local time on Saturday. 

ACX Crystal suffered bow damage but was able to proceed to Tokyo Bay unassisted.  US and Japanese rescue teams continue the search for the missing sailors.  Continue reading

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Bikini Atoll and the Sunken Fleet of A Nuclear Graveyard

A fascinating and sobering video about diving on the fleet of ships destroyed by 23 nuclear detonations by the United States between 1946 and 1958 in seven test sites on and near the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific.  Over 90 warships and cargo vessels were destroyed in the testing. 

Bikini – The Sunken Nuclear Fleet

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Sailor Believed Lost Overboard from USS Shiloh Found Hiding in the Engine Room

Better a court martial than a funeral.  On June 8th, Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 3rd Class Peter Mims was reported missing on the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Shiloh, and presumed to have fallen overboard.  His disappearance triggered a a massive, 50-hour search-and-rescue effort off the coast of Japan that included Japanese Coast Guard and naval forces.  Presumed dead after not being located in the search, Mims was found to be hiding in one of the cruiser’s engine rooms. 

As reported by the Navy Times

It is unclear how Mims survived a week in the engineering space or where he was hiding. He will be flown off Shiloh for evaluation soon. …  Continue reading

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A Roomba For Lionfish — Underwater Robot Vacuum to Suck Up an Invasive Species

A year ago we posted, Invasive Lionfish for Sale at Whole Foods – If You Can’t Beat ’em, Eat ’em, about a new approach to combating lionfish which have been spreading rapidly along the southeast coast of the U.S., the Caribbean, and in parts of the Gulf of Mexico. Native to the Indo-Pacific, the lionfish lack natural predators and have been laying waste to local fish and shrimp populations. Whole Foods, a high end supermarket, is started to sell lionfish in their stores to consumers as one way to help slow their spread.

Unfortunately, there are more lionfish than there are divers to spear them. Now a foundation, Robots in Service of the Environment (RSE ) has developed an underwater robot to suck up the lionfish, a sort of underwater invasive species Roomba.  If you are not familiar with the Roomba, it is a consumer robot vacuum cleaner. RSE was founded last year by Colin Angle, the CEO for iRobot, the maker of the Roomba. He was visiting friends and marine biologists on Bermuda and they explained how lionfish quickly became king of the Atlantic’s coral reefs. Angle, John Rizzi, and friends decided to take action and the Guardian LF1 robot was born.

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Wreck of USRC/USCGC McCulloch Found — Sank 100 Years Ago Today

Researchers are holding a news conference today to announce the discovery of the wreck of the USRC/USCGC McCulloch, a cutter of the United States Revenue Cutter Service and later the US Coast Guard.  Delivered in 1897,  just before the start of the Spanish-American War, she was initially transferred to the US Navy and served under Commander Dewey’s Asiatic Squadron in the Battle of Manila Bay.    

The McCulloch later patrolled the West Coast and later helped to enforce fur seal regulations in the Pribilof Islands off the coast of Alaska, where it also served as a floating courtroom in remote areas. In 1915, she was transfered to the US Coast Guard, the Revenue Cutter Service and the United States Life-Saving Service were merged to form the Coast Guard.  In 1917 with the US’s entry into World War I, the McCulloch  was transferred back to the US Navy. 

The McCulloch sank on June 13, 1917, 3 miles northwest of Point Conception, California, after colliding with a civilian steamship.

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Update: Flying Clipper, World’s Largest Square Rigged Sailing Ship, Launched

We have been following the progress of Star Clipper‘s new ship, the Flying Clipper, since her announcement in May 2015, through her keel laying at the Brodosplit Shipyard in Split, Croatia, in December of that year. On Saturday the Flying Clipper was launched at the Brodosplit shipyard.  

When the Flying Clipper makes her first voyage, expected in early 2018, she will be the largest square-rigged sailing ship in the world. A five masted barque, she is 532 feet (162 meters) long, with a 60 foot (18.5 meter) beam and will have a sail area of 68,300 square feet (6,347 square meters). By comparison, the tea clipper Cutty Sark set less than half as much sail at around 3,000 square meters. 

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OSTAR & TwoSTAR Races Battered by Storm — Dismasting, Sinking and Mid-Atlantic Rescues

Graphic: RWYC & YachtingWorld

Sailors competing in the Royal Western Yacht Club’s Original Singlehanded Transatlantic Race (OSTAR) and the Twohanded Transatlantic Race (TwoSTAR) were battered by a North Atlantic storm with 60 knot winds and 45′ seas, 900 miles miles east of Newfoundland. One boat sank, two were abandoned and several competitors retired from the races. Fifteen single-handed sailors set off from Plymouth in the UK bound for New port, RI on May 29th. Twelve sailors also set off in six boats in the doublehanded race.

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