More Rain to Come as Hurricane Harvey Returns to Land


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GOES-16 satellite captures images of Harvey moving east Tuesday, Aug. 29.

The fourth largest city in the U.S., Houston, Texas is experiencing disastrous rains from category 4 hurricane Harvey, which made landfall Friday Aug. 25, stalled over the city, and has poured unprecedented amounts of rain throughout the weekend.

With over 40 inches of rain in some areas, the total could rise to more than 50 inches before the storm subsides. The U.S. Coast Guard urges anyone in need of rescue to call the numbers listed on its Twitter page:

The Coast Guard has rescued at least 3,600 people, and at least ten people are dead, but accurate totals are impossible to gauge at this point. Further rain is expected throughout the week as Harvey returns to an already inundated Houston area, and at least one foot of water is expected to accumulate and cause some flooding on the Louisiana coast as the storm moves east.

Early this morning the storm intensity was estimated at 40 kt, but it is not expected to strengthen again before making its second landfall within the next two days. NOAA predicts “ongoing catastrophic and life-threatening flooding will continue across southeastern Texas.”

Coast Guard non-stop rescue operations continue with 20 helicopters and other teams from around the country including Florida and the Pacific Northwest, sending more members to the area.

See the latest forecasts at the National Hurricane Center:

Complicated Web of Technology, Human Error and Funding Questions May Be to Blame for USS McCain Collision


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(U.S. Navy photo by Master Chief Joshua Dumke/Released)

Ten sailors lost their lives last week when USS John S. McCain collided with a Liberian chemical tanker near Singapore. Early reports blamed a possible steering failure in the McCain vessel, and the question of cyber attack is still under investigation by the Navy.

While the problem may have been related to the ship’s integrated bridge navigation system (IBNS), the recipe for disastrous collisions at sea is more complicated than a single technological failure.

As Ars Technica reports, human error or a lack of “situational awareness” may be equally at fault: Extreme traffic congestion on marine highways like the Strait of Malacca where the collision occurred makes it hard to maintain comprehensive awareness, while complicated navigation and propulsion systems—often a mix of digital, analog and human effort—make quick adjustments difficult to execute when a navigational threat arises.

Questions are also surfacing about fatigue in sailors who work long hours under the pressure of steering in crowded waters in the employ of an American military dealing with funding uncertainty. Another stop-gap budget measure may be on the table this fall, and naval experts are asking if defense spending might be to blame for a summer of disaster on the water (see the Washington Examiner article: Deadly military crashes, collisions raise fears ahead of possible stop-gap budget).

Image: 170823-N-OU129-002 SINGAPORE (Aug. 23, 2017) U.S. Navy and Marine Corps divers provide support to the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) at Changi Naval Base in Singapore Aug. 23, 2017. John S. McCain sustained significant damage following a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Strait of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21, 2017. 

USS Indianapolis Ruins Discovered in North Pacific


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The Portland-class heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA 35) underway in Pearl Harbor in 1937. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

On Aug. 18, 2017 an expedition crew aboard RV Petrel, a research vessel owned by Paul Allen, located the remains of USS Indianapolis at a depth of 5,500 m in the North Pacific Ocean.

Indianapolis suffered an attack by Japanese submarine torpedoes in the final days of World War II after making a secret delivery to the island of Tinian with components of the nuclear weapons the U.S. dropped on Japan. The ship sunk within 12 minutes in the Philippine Sea on Jul. 30, 1945. Only 316 of the 1,196 men on board survived, including Captain Charles Butler McVay III.

The ship’s discovery this August follows a number of previous unsuccessful efforts in the decades since the war. Successful discovery was aided by information from a naval landing craft sighting on the night the ship sank, information gained from a Naval History and Heritage Command historian last year, and the use of RV Petrel’s subsea equipment capable of diving to 6,000 m.

Smithsonian Scientists Use Sonar to Count Endangered Manatees


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Panama’s largest manatee population is thought to live in the San San Pond Sak in the province of Bocas Del Toro, but, like all the world’s manatee species, the Panama population is disappearing fast and at risk of extinction. Researchers who want to keep track have historically relied upon interviews, historical records and sightings from boats and airplanes. But sonar provides a new way to count.

Hector M. Guzman, a marine biologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Panama City, Panama, used side-scan sonar to scan almost 2,000 km of river in the San San estuary. Using their data from nearly 100 repeated sweeps of the 18 km of protected river, his team converted more than 1,000 detections into seasonal manatee population estimates. Their goal was to provide better data to inform decisions about the next steps for manatee conservation. Read more at STRI.

Image: Hector M. Guzman in Panama. Credit:


Navy Commander Fired in Wake of USS McCain Collision


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USS McCain.jpeg

On Monday, the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker off Singapore, resulting in 10 sailors missing. In the wake of the accident, some remains have been found, and VAdm. Joseph Aucoin, the three-star commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, was relieved of command.

The Navy said it had lost “confidence” in the commander.

Aucoin’s removal follows four accidents involving Navy ships in the Pacific this year.

Read the NPR story here.

Photo Credit: U.S. Navy

Ten Sailors Missing After US Destroyer Collision with Chemical Tanker


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USS John S. McCain arrives at Changi Naval Base

(August 21, 2017) Damage to the portside is visible as the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) steers toward Changi Naval Base. (Photo Credit: Joshua Fulton/U.S. Navy)

Ten sailors are missing and five injured after a collision between the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain and an oil and chemical tanker in the Straits of Malacca in the South China Sea near Singapore. The collision occurred Sunday, August 20 at 5:24 p.m. EST (6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time). No cargo spillage has been reported.

Search and rescue operations continue with local law enforcement Singapore, RSN Fearless-class patrol ships RSS Gallant, RSS Resilience, RSN helicopters and Singaporean Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark, as well as MH-60S helicopters and MV-22 Ospreys from the amphibious assault ship USS America, according to the website of the Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet.

USS John S. McCain sustained hull damage port aft side that flooded communications and machinery rooms and crew quarters, but with flooding under control the vessel was able to sail under its own power and has arrived at Changi Naval Base.

The Liberian-flagged tanker involved in the collision, Alnic MC, is a 600-ft. tanker with a gross tonnage of 30,000 that was carrying 11,987 tons of fuel oil at the time of the collision. The vessel is expected to arrive at the Port of Singapore today.

View the animation of the collision at:

Follow updates online at the U.S. Navy website or

‘Marine Megatropolis’ Photo Exhibit


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Marine Megatropolis 1974-1981,” featuring photos by Bob Evans, will be on display at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum in California November 16, 2017 through April 2018.

The exhibit includes 26 images selected from expeditions by Bob Evans and Andrew J. McMullen of La Mer Bleu Productions in Santa Barbara. Bob and Andy photo-documented the marine life as it developed beneath the offshore oil platforms of the Santa Barbara Channel between 1974 and 1981.

Evans told us that the legendary scientist and explorer Willard Bascom introduced him to Sea Technology magazine in the 1970s and that one of Evans’s images of offshore oil platforms was used as a cover shot for ST.

New MARAD Head Sworn In


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RAdm. Mark H. Buzby, U.S. Navy (retired), was sworn in as the administrator of the U.S. Maritime Administration. Prior to his appointment, Buzby served as president of the National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA). As Maritime Administrator, Buzby will lead an agency tasked with promoting the use of waterborne transportation and its seamless integration with other segments of the transportation system; and the development and maintenance of an adequate, well-balanced U.S. Merchant Marine, sufficient to carry a substantial portion of the nation’s waterborne commerce and capable of service in time of war or national emergency. The Maritime Administration also oversees the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

A career Naval officer with more than 34 years of service, Buzby has an extensive background in maritime transportation and leadership, having served on the staffs of the Sixth Fleet, the U.S. Fleet Forces Command, the Navy staff and the Joint Staff. Prior to his retirement from the U.S. Navy in 2013, Buzby served as the commander of the Military Sealift Command (MSC) from October 2009 to March 2013. MSC is the provider of ocean transportation for the Department of Defense, operating approximately 120 ships daily around the globe.