Marine Warning: right whales have been sighted off Boston and along the South Shore to Plymouth
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A) Congressman Bill Delahunt announced that dredging of the Fore River channel, from Hull Gut to the Quincy shipyard, will start in November now that funds for the 4.6 million dollar project have been approved by Congress. The channel was last dredged in the 1970s, making it at least 36 feet deep at low tide, but over the years it has filled in reducing parts of the channel to a low-tide depth of 28 feet. Congressman Delahunt called the dredging project critical for the industries located on the river, and said that fewer bridge openings would be required, alleviating some of the commuter traffic problems.
B) NOAA and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries have issued the following marine warning: right whales have been sighted off Boston and along the South Shore to Plymouth. That means effective May 10th, lobstermen and gillnet fishermen must modify their fishing gear using nonbuoyant or sinking lines. The modification will remain in effect until May 24th, covering an area of ocean of almost 1900 square miles. Furthermore, all mariners must use extreme caution when transiting this area between Boston and the Cape Cod Canal. A speed limit of 12 knots is in effect and will be enforced by the Massachusetts Environmental Police and the Coast Guard. Eleven right whales have been spotted in this area, and another 27 right whales were spotted off Race Point in Provincetown. Scientists said the whales are chasing their food supply, spending hours and hours with their mouths open.
C) Massachusetts Congressman Michael Capuano said he met with officials from an unnamed liquefied natural gas company who said they are considering taking an old, gas-filled tanker out into the ocean and "hitting it with a missile to see what happens." This could be a first-of-its-kind test that could answer questions about what might happen if an LNG tanker were attacked in Boston Harbor. Since no LNG tanker has ever been blown up, there has been much debate how far reaching the flames might go and whether or not the blast would turn into an inferno. Some predict that people could get second-degree burns up to a mile away. Congressman Capuano said that he would like to eyewitness the test.
D) Coast Guard officials said they will court-martial the former commander of Station Chincoteague in Virginia for disobeying orders. The commander was relieved of his duties this past April after he was told twice by "higher ups" not to tow a disabled vessel off private property that was involved in a civil dispute unless a distress situation occurred. In his defense, the commanding officer said a distress situation did in fact occur when the vessel was in danger of hitting the Chincoteague drawbridge. If convicted of two counts of disobeying an order, he faces a maximum punishment of dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay, and up to five years of confinement for each count. More than 700 locals have signed petitions saying they want the station's commanding officer reinstated. The Coast Guard has yet to set a date for the court-martial.
E) The 76-foot fishing vessel Norseman with seven people on board radioed a mayday, reporting a fire in the boat's engine room. They gave their position as about 75 miles southeast of Chatham, Mass. A Coast Guard helicopter and jet plane were sent from Air Station Cape Cod. Also, the 270-foot Coast Guard Cutter Spencer was diverted to the scene. However, the crew of the New Bedford based Norseman was able to extinguish the fire. They managed to restart the engine, and headed for home, maintaining hourly communications with the Coast Guard.
F) This past week, the world's largest cruise ship, Freedom of the Seas, was formally christened in front of the Statute of Liberty in New York Harbor. When the ceremonial ribbon was cut to formally dedicate the ship, it triggered the smashing of a 25 liter bottle of champagne against the ship's bow. Boston will be the next stop for the cruise ship. It is expected to arrive on May 18th and stay in Boston until May 22nd. Then she will depart for her regular homeport of Miami. Some of the firsts on board the Freedom of Seas include an ice skating rink, the first boxing ring on a cruise ship, a 9-hole miniature golf course, and flat screen TVs in every stateroom. Although the Queen Mary II is slightly longer, the Freedom of the Seas weighs more and can carry almost 50% more passengers.
G) A New Yorker's attempt to become the first black American to row solo across the Atlantic ended when his homemade boat started to sink a few hours after he left the coast of Africa. He was rescued, but the 24-foot rowboat he built, sank. Victor Mooney, a 41 year old college publicist, said he had been preparing for the trip for three years, rowing as many as 365 miles at a time. The purpose of his voyage across the Atlantic was to raise awareness of AIDS in Africa and also to memorialize the route that took African slaves to the Americas. Although his boat had no sail or motor, Mooney said the boat and supplies on board were worth more than $100,000. He said he was traveling with three phone systems, three GPS units, solar panels, three water purifiers, an emergency life raft, and "tons of food." He also had a computer with a satellite internet connection that he planned to use to keep a Web log. The Ocean Rowing Society said that out of approximately 100 solo rowing attempts across the Atlantic, fewer than 50 people have made it. Four out of the hundred have been lost at sea and 40 others have had to abandon their trips.Bill ScanlonUSCG Master 50 GT Inland Waters
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