Reward Offered for Hoax Caller- Military.Com- Nov. 29, 2005
SEATTLE - The Coast Guard is trying to identify an individual responsible for four hoax calls originating in Brookings Harbor, Ore., which have expended several thousand dollars during more than 20 hours of searching by Coast Guard and local responders. The first hoax call was received by the Coast Guard in early October from an individual claiming to be on a disabled recreational vessel. Sector Humboldt Bay, Calif., issued a mayday to all vessels in the area. Two 47-foot motor lifeboats and a mobile shore unit from Coast Guard Station Chetco River, Ore., and an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station North Bend, Ore., were launched to assist. After three hours of searching, the individual then radioed, “It was a prank, it was all a prank." The search
was suspended after nine hours. The call was traced toward Brookings Harbor. In mid October, the Coast Guard received a radio transmission from an unidentified vessel saying “Coast Guard, Coast Guard”. Sector Humboldt Bay issued a call for help
on behalf of the vessel. Once again the radio transmission was traced to an area in the boat basin in Brookings Harbor.
The third distress call was received at the end of October from a person on a fishing vessel claiming to be disabled with a burned crewmember. A 47-foot motor lifeboat and a mobile land unit were launched. The individual radioed for help again but changed the original name of the vessel. The search was suspended after five hours. The Curry County Sheriff was notified and asked to assist with the search for the individual. Station Chetco River later received a call from an individual claiming to be aboard a vessel in distress. A 47-foot motor lifeboat, 25-foot response boat and two mobile land units were launched to assist. The transmission was once again traced to Brookings Harbor and determined to be a hoax. An urgent Marine information broadcast was
issued by Sector North Bend, Ore., asking for anyone to identify the source of the call. The case was closed after six hours.
The Curry County Sheriff and Brookings Police have been assisting the Coast Guard with the investigation.
Media interested in conducting interviews about these hoax cases should contact Master Chief Dunn at (541) 469-2242.
The Coast Guard would like to remind individuals that false distress calls place unnecessary risk on would-be rescuers and interfere with legitimate search and rescue cases. False calls also cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. It costs approximately $1,200 per hour to operate a Coast Guard 47-foot motor lifeboat, while a helicopter or larger cutter may cost from $9,000 to $12,000 an hour.
The Coast Guard would like anyone with information on these hoax calls to contact Station Chetco River at (541) 756-9268, Lt. Dinsmore of the Curry County Sheriff at (541) 247-3242 or Lt. Bishop of the Brookings Police at (541) 469-3118 or Crime
Stoppers. Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 to be paid for information leading to an arrest. All calls can be anonymous. Crime Stoppers can be contacted at1-888-974-0000 or 541-412-0989.
State Patrol, Coast Guard Train Friday- Bremerton Sun- Nov. 30, 2005
The Washington State Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard will conduct training exercises together in Bainbridge Island's Eagle Harbor starting at 3 p.m. Friday. The training will last well into the evening with personnel using a state ferry and train between Edmonds and Vashon Island.
The firing of simulated rounds, which will result in what troopers called "a muffled pop," may be heard by those closest on the shore.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005 ? Last updated 4:29 p.m. PT
Report: Cocaine a growing risk for U.S.
By HOPE YEN
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
WASHINGTON -- More cocaine is likely to come into the United States from South America as the U.S. diverts resources from its drug-control strategy to hurricane relief and the war on terror, congressional investigators say.
The report prepared by the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, found that U.S. cocaine seizures from 2000 to 2004 increased by 68 percent to a record 196 metric tons in the "transit zone," the area between the U.S. and South America.
But the Pentagon's attention to armed conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Homeland Security Department's focus on Hurricane Katrina threaten to undermine recent achievements, the GAO said in its report.
The report, an advance copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, offers a sobering look at the future of government efforts to stymie America's $65 billion illegal drug habit. It notes that while drug seizures have increased, U.S. cocaine supplies and the number of users (2 million) have not fallen, apparently due to a rise in shipments.
"We need to be more effective and better prepared because these are routes that not only move illicit drugs today, but can easily move other more dangerous commodities such as terrorists in the future," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who requested the study. In the report, the GAO pointed in particular to reduced use of the Navy's P-3 maritime patrol aircraft "due to structural problems," a slowing Coast Guard response because of aging ships, and a surface radar system on Coast Guard aircraft that is "often inoperable."
Since fiscal year 2000, the number of hours flown by the Navy P-3s has decreased nearly 60 percent to about 1,500 hours in fiscal year 2005, according to the study. "Various factors pose challenges to maintaining the current level of transit zone interdiction operations," the GAO said in calling on the Pentagon and Homeland Security to develop a long-term strategy to plan for a likely shortfall in ships and aircraft. In their official responses, the departments said they were working to boost resources for drug control but acknowledged they were constrained partly by the perceived threat level as well as availability of funding.
The decline in Navy aircraft for drug patrols should not be interpreted as "a lack of DoD resolve," the Pentagon wrote, citing "war-fighting requirements."
While committed to "robust support" of drug control, "unforeseen events such as Hurricane Katrina relief efforts may temporarily impact asset availability," Homeland Security said in its response.
The GAO attributed recent successes in drug seizures to better intelligence and increased cooperation between the Homeland Security, Defense and Justice departments, allowing them to succeed with fewer resources based on targeted raids.
It also cited the use of Coast Guard helicopters equipped with machine guns and sniper rifles to hunt down drug boats, as well as cooperation from several allied nations - France, Netherlands and the United Kingdom - that helped make up for the dropoff in Pentagon aircraft for surveillance.
Still, the decline in U.S. antidrug activity poses challenges, the report said. Cooperating nations in South America have said they don't have the resources to compensate for declining U.S. involvement, the report said, citing a lack of secure communication equipment or vessels of their own.
"While some short-term fixes have been taken, the longer-term implications of further declines in the availability of monitoring and interdiction assets have not been addressed," the GAO said.
Puget Sound homeports will adapt to changing Navy
By Rep. Rick Larsen
We have crossed the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) finish line, and our state's bases are alive and well. Through a strong team effort we showed the Pentagon and the BRAC Commission our bases' military value. That effort made a difference. Naval Station Everett, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and our state's other major military bases stayed open.
The future of the Navy in Washington state is bright, yet the Navy of the future will look far different than the Navy of even 10 years ago. Both NS Everett and NAS Whidbey are positioned to benefit from these changes.
As a maritime nation, we must be able to project our influence abroad in order to protect our economic, humanitarian and security interests. The best way to achieve this presence with a purpose is an advanced, blue water Navy that is flexible and capable of responding to a crisis at a moment's notice. The Navy's Fleet Response Plan (FRP) will increase this flexibility, deploying more ships more often.
Last March I landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln and spoke with sailors as the carrier returned to Everett after completing its mission as the command center for tsunami relief. I also had the opportunity to greet many of those same sailors as they returned from serving our nation in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Lincoln's role in both military and humanitarian efforts shows the need for flexibility in the future. This new need for flexibility will continue to shape the training of our sailors.
What will this new Navy look like? The changing Navy will have new ships and new planes. The development of faster, smaller ships will refocus the Navy's attention on coastline areas where it can more effectively counter terrorist threats and improve access to hostile territory if necessary. Aircraft carriers will strengthen our presence around the world as sovereign floating islands of U.S. territory. New aircraft like the EA-18G and the Multi Mission Aircraft will better counter enemy air defenses and destroy submarines. NS Everett and NAS Whidbey will grow as a result of these changes.
NS Everett is poised to become a model military installation for a modernizing and changing Navy. I am working to secure funding for a new training center at NS Everett that will make the base a regional leader in Navy simulation training. With its modern facilities, pier space, access to the Pacific and deepwater port, NS Everett is the perfect homeport for new Navy ships such as the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the new class of destroyer. In addition to current and future Navy assets, NS Everett has the ability to host assets from the Coast Guard and other agencies with maritime related missions.
Following BRAC, NAS Whidbey has emerged as a hub of airborne electronic attack and anti-submarine warfare operations. The recent decision to place the Navy's fleet of new EA-18G aircraft at NAS Whidbey and the decision to move an air wing from Spain to Whidbey cement that role for the future. New assets such as the Multi Mission Aircraft, which will replace NAS Whidbey's P-3 Orions, and the Joint Strike Fighter could also be in NAS Whidbey's future.
As the Navy changes, our communities will adapt. Fortunately, we are blessed with supportive citizens who stand ready to help our military families adjust to a changing Navy. At home we will improve efforts to transition new families or returning sailors back into our communities. We have a strong network of schools, businesses and local services that will work to meet the needs of new students and new community members. The Navy itself should also bolster programs that support families when Mom or Dad is deployed.
Last month I flew in a Prowler jet out of NAS Whidbey. While flying in the cloud cover with the plane's skipper, it was clear that it was not only the pilot who was keeping me in the air. An entire ground crew team, the folks in the flight tower and a network of sailors were working to keep that plane in the sky.
The Navy of the future will depend on the same kind of teamwork that guides the Navy of today. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am committed to continuing my role in Congress and at home as part of that team effort that will bring our Navy into its future and secure our region's role in that vision.
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, a Democrat, represents the 2nd Congressional District, which includes most of Snohomish County and all of Island, Skagit, Whatcom and San Juan counties.
Bush promises to protect border
President Bush vowed Monday to get tough on illegal immigration, promising stricter laws, better border enforcement and swift deportation for anyone caught sneaking into the country.
Speaking near one of the busiest illegal crossing points on the nation's 2,000-mile border with Mexico, Bush also renewed his push for a temporary-worker program as part of a larger effort to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants.
"Our responsibility is clear: We're going to protect the border," the president told a supportive invitation-only crowd at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. "We want to make clear that when people violate our immigration laws, they are going to be sent home."
Bush delivered the get-tough talk at a time when polls show increasing frustration over illegal immigration.
A tall order at the port
KELLY KEARSLEY; The News Tribune
Published: November 30th, 2005 02:30 AM
The first feat was getting the cranes to Tacoma; the next feat was getting onto the dock.
Workers inched the first of two enormous cranes onto the Pierce County Terminal at the Port of Tacoma on Tuesday. The second crane was scheduled to be unloaded today. Dave Zelhart, vice president of the Pacific Crane Maintenance Co., has unloaded 60 to 70 cranes in his career. Everything from high winds to the wake from passing ships can make unloading go from routine to difficult.
“But when everything goes perfectly, it’s like watching paint dry,” he said.
The two cranes, made by the Shanghai Zhenhua Port Machinery Co. in China, will join five others that pluck containers from cargo ships at the 171-acre terminal. They cost between $7 million and $8 million each, according to a port spokesman. Once in position the cranes are subject to electrical and state inspections. They could be ready to work in four to six weeks, Zelhart said.
Re-enlist, get former rank back, Army says
By ROBERT BURNS
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — For former soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who might be
toying with the idea of getting back into uniform, the Army has a new offer: Join us and regain your old rank without repeating basic training.
It’s the latest twist in the Army’s pitch for recruits at a time when wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan are making it increasingly difficult to enlist young people and meet the Army’s need for 80,000 new soldiers a year.
“It’s common sense,” said Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, an Army spokesman. For the cost of
mailing a brochure to targeted former service members, the Army can open a door that had been jammed shut before.
The Army previously had welcomed back former service members, but only under conditions that made it an unattractive proposition to most, namely that they would lose their prior rank and were required to take basic training again.
Starting this month, the Army sent mailings to 78,000 people who left the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps less than five years ago, including 7,000 officers, as first reported Monday by the private Army Times newspaper.
They can re-enter at their former rank if they have not been out of the service for more than four years, and they are eligible for a signing bonus of up to $19,000, depending on their skill specialty, Hilferty said.
“There is no higher calling than service in our armed forces, and this is your opportunity to answer the call to duty again,” the recruiting brochure says. “Make part of your past, part of your future,” it adds.
The Army hopes that 1,000 to 2,000 of the 78,000 accept the offer, Hilferty said. That’s a relatively small number, considering the Army is aiming to enlist 80,000 this year, after falling nearly 7,000 short last year. But any boost is welcomed by Army officials who acknowledge that 2006 is likely to be a difficult recruiting year.
Former soldiers who come back to the Army after less than five years out of uniform can skip basic training and return at their former rank, the spokesman said. Those who come after previously serving in the Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps will also retain rank but must take a four-week Warrior Transition Course at Fort Knox, Ky., which was established under another Army program to convert sailors, airmen and Marines to soldiers.
Ferry Task Force Settles on Three Service Options
By Elaine Helm, firstname.lastname@example.org
November 30, 2005
SEATTLE -- When the legislature's Joint Transportation Committee meets this morning in Olympia, it won't receive one answer to the challenge of passenger-only ferry service in Puget Sound. It will get several.
The ferry task force appointed to advise the legislature on passenger-only service will present a set of policy recommendations and three alternatives for operating passenger ferries.
Two of three alternatives the task force considered on Tuesday propose Washington State Ferries continue its passenger-only operations between Vashon and downtown Seattle. The alternatives differ only on what to do until the ferry system receives funding for that route. One suggests a triangle route linking Vashon, Southworth and Seattle. The other would require Southworth residents to continue connecting to a passenger-only ferry from Vashon to Seattle.
The task force also decided to ask the legislature to commission an independent cost analysis of each alternative before it issues a final report in January. "We need to have more of an independent analysis done of the facts and figures," said Rep. Beverly Woods, R-Kingston, echoing a nearly unanimous concern.
After more than three months of deliberations, the 19-member task force failed to reach consensus at its final meeting about how the service should be provided. A cost analysis, as well as revenue and usage forecasts, would help legislators break the impasse, task force members said.
Both Seattle-Vashon options fit with the ferry system's long-term plans for auto ferry service from Southworth to downtown Seattle — plans other task force members debated
"The big issue with the end game is land use," said Dick Hayes, executive director of Kitsap Transit.
Hayes and other Kitsap residents on the task force found themselves allied with Seattle residents and officials in challenging the ferry system's vision.
On the Kitsap side, residents expressed concern about bringing more traffic to largely rural South Kitsap and cutting off the link between Southworth and West Seattle. Speaking for the city of Seattle, Ann Sutphin, a senior transportation planner, said Washington State Ferries' plan to address traffic problems in West Seattle simply moves the problem to downtown.
"We're questioning the wisdom of bringing a new auto route to downtown," she said, during an audience comment period.
The task force's third alternative doesn't consider the ferry system's strategy for moving cars and passengers from Southworth to Seattle.
The remaining option would make passenger-only ferries systemwide the responsibility of county transit agencies contracting with private ferry operators.
The state would subsidize operating expenses for the first few years and then voters in Kitsap and King counties would be asked to contribute through taxes.
Task force members debated Tuesday whether the state should approve funding for such public-private partnerships and whether state funds could support service to Bremerton, Kingston, Southworth and Vashon.
Most agreed, however, that some subsidies would be necessary.
"Where we're headed is we're going to need subsidies in operations for all these routes, no matter who is operating them," said Woods, one of four state legislators on the task force. "It's going to be a tough sell."