USCGC POLAR STAR (WAGB-10) arrives in McMurdo Sound, Antarctic

Icebreaker Polar Star first U.S. Coast Guard ship to McMurdo since 2006-07, to reach the U.S. Antarctic Program's External U.S. government site largest research station through nine miles of sea ice on Jan. 16

[January 10]

USCG vessel 'Polar Star' The United States Coast Guard Cutter 'Polar Star' was released by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority from search and rescue duties this week, following confirmation the Russian-flagged 'Akademik Shokalskiy' and Chinese-flagged 'Xue Long ' were freed from the Antarctic ice

[January 5]

Departing at 5am December 5 from Sydney US Coast Guard's Polar Star icebreaker will assist stranded Russian vessel, MV Akademik Shokalskiy, and ice-locked Chinese ship Xue Long. Coast Guard Pacific Area Command Center received the request January 2 from AMSA and determined there is sufficient concern that the vessels may not be able to free themselves from the ice

Polar Star is the US's only active polar-capable icebreaker and one of the world's most powerful non-nuclear ships, able to crack though 1.8m of ice while moving or more than 6m by ramming.

The ship was expected to take seven days to reach Commonwealth Bay, where the Chinese and Russian ships were stranded.

Class & type: Polar-class icebreaker
Displacement: 10,863 long tons (11,037 t) (standard) 13,623 long tons (13,842 t) (full)
Length: 399 ft (122 m)
Beam: 83 ft 6 in (25.45 m) Draft: 31 ft (9.4 m)[3]
Installed power: Six Alco 16V-251F diesel engines (6 × 3,000 hp) Three Pratt & Whitney FT-4A12 gas turbines (3 × 25,000 hp) Propulsion: Combined diesel-electric or gas (CODLOG) Three shafts; controllable pitch propellers Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) 3 knots (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph) in 6-foot (1.8 m) ice
Range: 16,000 nautical miles (30,000 km; 18,000 mi) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) 28,275 nautical miles (52,365 km; 32,538 mi) at 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph)
Complement: 15 officers 127 enlisted 33 scientists 12-person helicopter detachment
Aircraft carried: 2 HH-65A Dolphin helicopters

Commissioned: 1976

[December 14]
A Chinese helicopter transferred all 52 passengers aboard a stranded Russian vessel to safe ice near an Australian rescue ship on  January 2 10 days after the MV Akademik Shokalskiy became stuck in sea ice off Antarctica. The passengers, as well as luggage, scientific instruments and equipment, were flown to safe ice near the Aurora Australis by Xueying 12, a helicopter on board China's icebreaker Xuelong, and are aboard the Australian ship. An earlier flight examined the surrounding area to prepare for landing on ice.

[January 1]
The Xue Long is within about 18 kilometres of pack ice  which is needed so it can operate its helicopter when the rescue begins. “[Captain Wang] has been sitting there because his helicopter doesn't have floats, so it can't fly over water.” But to avoid getting caught in the pack itself, the Xue Long has been slowly moving back towards open water, Captain Doyle said.

[December 31 2013]

Xue Long had a helicopter on board, it was too heavy for the Aurora's helideck.

Or perhaps, When the rescue does occur, passengers will be transported via helicopter in groups of 12. The helicopter, Young said, will land on a makeshift helipad created on ice and shuttle back and forth. All 52 passengers will then be picked up by the Aurora Australis, which will then transport everyone to Hobart, Australia.

"It's now up to us three ships [the Shokalskiy, the Aurora and the Xue Long] to agree on a [rescue] strategy,"Aurora's captain, Murray Doyle said.

While the Xue Long had a helicopter on board, it was too heavy for the Aurora's helideck.

"We also can't use the helicopter at the moment because there is no visibility," he said.

"The helicopter wouldn't be able to differentiate the horizon from the ice."
The Xue Long, which has been waiting near the Mertz Glacier since Boxing Day, was also making its way back to open water.

"They're trying to make it back into open water so they're not trapped as well," Captain Doyle said.

Captain Doyle also feared that the 55-kilometre south-easterly wind running up the ship's stern would blow ice in and around the back of the vessel.

"It was pushing those same types of floes in behind us," he said.

"If we got into that compact stuff it would have sealed us in, we would have lost our manoeuvreability and we wouldn't have been much use to anybody.

"Having been caught in ice before, I know by experience when to get out. I didn't want to add to the drama, instead of being part of the solution," he said.

A low-hanging fog also hampered rescue efforts.

"We had no visibility so we couldn't really see if there was a way through."

Captain Doyle had informed the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Canberra of the situation.

The passengers on the stranded Shokalskiy would most likely be evacuated to the Aurora or Chinese ice-breaker the Xue Long, which was also in the area.

[12/27] A second rescue vessel, the French-flagged icebreaker L'Astrolabe, was released from the rescue operation yesterday.

The icebreakers en route are China’s Xue Long (Snow Dragon) from Fremantle, the French vessel Astrolabe and the Australian Antarctic Division vessel Aurora Australis.

Name: Xuě Lóng (雪龙) Port of registry: Shanghai, People's Republic of China
Builder: Kherson Shipyard, Ukraine
Completed: 25 September 1993
Refit: 2007
Identification: IMO number: 8877899
Call sign: BNSK
MMSI number: 412863000[1]
Status: In service
General characteristics
Type: Research vessel
Tonnage: 14,997 GT[1]
4,499 NT[2]
10,225 DWT[3][Note 1] Displacement: 21,025 tons Length: 167 m (548 ft) Beam: 22.6 m (74 ft) Draft: 9 m (30 ft) Ice class: CCS B1 Installed power: BMZ 8DKRN60/195 (13,200 kW) Propulsion: Single shaft, ducted controllable pitch propeller Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) (max) 1.5 knots (2.8 km/h; 1.7 mph) in 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in) ice Range: 20,000 nautical miles (37,000 km; 23,000 mi)[3]
Complement: 34 crew, 128 passengers or researchers
Aircraft carried: One helicopter
Aviation facilities: Helipad

Early on December 25, Christmas morning, MV Akademic Shokalskiy, a tourist ship recreating Sir Douglas Mawson’s 100-year-old Australasian Antarctic Expedition, signalled it was stuck in heavy pack ice.

While ships often get surrounded by pack ice around Antarctica, the Russian Shokalskiy, a medium-sized vessel with about 74 crew and passengers, was in danger of being hit by a large iceberg.

Just before 5am the Rescue Co-ordination Centre, part of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority in Canberra, ordered three ships, a Chinese and French vessel and the Aurora Australis, to lend assistance.

Name:    Akademik Shokalskiy
IMO:    8010336
Flag:    Russia
MMSI:    273458210
Callsign:    UBNF
    Technical Data   
Vessel type:    Passengers Ship
Gross tonnage:    1,764 tons
Summer DWT:    620 tons
Length:    72 m
Beam:    12 m
Draught:    0.5 m

    Additional Information   
Home port:    Vladivostok
Class society:    Russian Maritime Shipping Register
Build year:    1982
Builder (*):    Stx Finland Turku
Turku, Finland
Owner:    Far Eastern Research Institute
Vladivostok, Russia
Manager:    Far Eastern Research Institute
Vladivostok, Russia



Briese and Eide:big in the arms trade, report

Any ship can transport boxes of bullets or radar components; the value-add for shipping “typical” exports like guns or tanks is trustworthiness (implying connections with government officials) and general competency. A normal shipping company—i.e. one with ro-ros, container ships, etc.—seeking to enter the Russian and Ukrainian weapons market would do well to establish a relationship with Odessa companies such as Kaalbye in order to leverage their unique political connections.

The German firm Briese Schiffahrts GmbH and Co KG is another transporter of Russian and Ukrainian weapons. Based in Leer, Germany, Briese is one of the largest shipping companies in Germany and among the largest heavy-lift shippers in the world, with a fleet of over 140 ships. Heavy lift ships typically carry their own cranes, and so can move large, heavy, and unusually shaped cargo such as tanks, artillery, etc. Bulk carriers and normal cargo ships—such as those owned by Kaalbye Shipping—cannot do so. This ability becomes even more useful if the port of discharge lacks proper infrastructure for handling such bulky cargo, since the ship can use its own crane rather than relying on old or non-existent port equipment. We believe that this gives Briese (and other EU heavy-lift firms discussed later) an important functional role in the Odessa Network: heavy weapons shipments, in particular to poor-infrastructure countries. This judgment is born of empirical data.

Briese has facilitated involved transporting heavy military equipment to poor-infrastructure states. Briese ships appear to be heavily staffed with Russian and Ukrainian captains and seamen, reflecting the fact that most of Briese’s crewing business comes from Russia and Ukraine.

2 The Norwegian firm Eide Marine Services is the second most frequent weapons transporter in our dataset. Eide is one of the few firms which possesses exactly such a ship, the Eide Transporter, which has been used multiple times to move unusual Russian military cargo to foreign customers. This includes Tarantul -class missile corvettes, Gepard -class frigates, and Svetlyak -class patrol boats to Vietnam, and Kilo -class submarines to China.

The Odessa Network centers on a group of Odessa-based private companies that regularly move large arms shipments. Affiliated EU and Russian shipping firms such as Briese Schiffahrts (and its subsidiary BBC Chartering) and Balchart play an important specialized role in transporting particularly large or sensitive shipments. The network is deeply interconnected. Personnel and equipment frequently cycle between different companies, and many network members are family members, close friends, former classmates, etc. The vast majority of weapons shipments leave from the Ukrainian port of Oktyabrsk, which was specially built by the USSR to move weapons (for example, this was the point of origin for Cuba-bound missiles in 1963). Despite being located in Ukraine, Oktyabrsk is functionally controlled by Russia—the port manager is a former Russian navy captain, and the port owner is a Kremlin-linked oligarch. Russian state weapons export agencies and Odessa Network firms maintain offices and personnelin Oktyabrsk.
more [September 7 2013]

A new study by independent conflict researchers describes a heavy volume of traffic in the past two years from Ukraine’s Oktyabrsk port, just up the Black Sea coast from Odessa, to Syria’s main ports on the Mediterranean. The dozens of ships making the journey ranged from smaller Syrian- and Lebanese-flagged vessels to tanker-size behemoths with a long history of hauling weapons cargos.Despite being in Ukraine, Oktyabrsk “is functionally controlled by Russia,” and the port is headed by a former Russian navy captain and owned by a business magnate with close ties to the Kremlin, the report said. Major Russian weapons exporters have offices there, alongside Ukrainian and Russian shipping and logistics companies the report has dubbed the “Odessa Network.”


Kiev-class aircraft carrier R33 Vikramaditya arrives at Kanwar

Former Soviet aircraft carrier has reached the Indian coast.  INS Vikramaditya (R33) (Sanskrit, Vikramāditya meaning "Brave as the Sun" is a Project 11430 modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier .
The Vikramaditya is to become India’s second aircraft carrier.   The deal also included the purchase of 12 single-seat Mikoyan MiG-29K 'Fulcrum-D' (Product 9.41) and 4 dual-seat MiG-29KUB aircraft (with an option for 14 more aircraft) at US$1 billion, 6 Kamov Ka-31 "Helix" reconnaissance and anti-submarine helicopters,
The Vikramaditya, formerly known as the Admiral Gorshkov, arrived at a naval base in Kanwar in the western state of Karnataka on December 7.

General characteristics
Class & type:     Modified Kiev-class
Type:     Aircraft carrier
Displacement:     45,400 tons of loaded displacement[5][6]
Length:     284 metres (932 ft) (overall)
Beam:     60 metres (200 ft)[7]
Draught:     10.2 metres (33 ft)
Decks:     22[8]
Installed power:     6 turbo alternators and 6 diesel alternators which generate 18 MWe[8]
Propulsion:     8 turbopressurized boilers, 4 shafts, 4 geared steam turbines, 180,000 hp[8]
Speed:     in excess of 30 knots (56 km/h)
Range:     7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km)
13,500 nautical miles (25,000 km) at 18 knots (33 km/h)[9]
Endurance:     45 days[8]
Complement:     1,600 - 2,000[7]
Sensors and
processing systems:     Long range Air Surveillance Radars, LESORUB-E, Resistor-E radar complex, CCS MK II communication complex and Link II tactical data system[8]

    AK-630 CIWS
    Barak 8 (LRSAM)[10][11][12]

Aircraft carried:    

Maximum of 36 aircraft including:

    30 × Mikoyan MiG-29K Multi-Role fighters
    6 × Kamov Ka-31 AEW&C and Kamov Ka-28 ASW helicopters[13]

Aviation facilities:    

    Two acre flight deck.[14]
    14 degree ski-jump ramp
    Three 30 m wide arrester gears and three restraining gears.


Norwegian Getaway to New York for Superbowl

The 4,028-person Norwegian Getaway cruise ship — christened the Bud Light Hotel for the weekend — will dock at Pier 88 from Thursday, Jan. 30 to Monday, Feb. 3, housing thousands of football fans who plan to party in the city for the big game.

The ship — which will be filled with Bud Light partners, VIPs, and members of the general public who won tickets — will also host a series of concerts featuring the Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons and The Roots in a parking lot across from the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

Norwegian Getaway recently finished construction in Germany. The unfinished Norwegian Getaway has been chartered by a private company during the week leading up to the 2014 Super Bowl, and will make a transatlantic voyage in January to New York City instead of Miami, Norwegian Cruise Line said. As a result, a previously scheduled inaugural cruise on Feb. 1 from Miami has been canceled.

  • IMO: 9606924
  • MMSI: 311050900
  • GRT: 144017 t
  • Summer DWT: 11000 t
  • Build: 2013
  • Flag: BAHAMAS


Hezbollah perhaps moves anti-ship missiles to Lebanon,

Thousands of P-15s were built and installed on many classes of ships from MTBs to destroyers, as well coastal batteries. The P-15 was quite successful in the conflicts where it was deployed.

According to an American official, there could be upwards of 12 Russian-made anti-ship cruise missiles in Hezbollah’s possession inside Syria. The official stated that while the organization had successfully smuggled at least some of the parts of the weapons into Lebanon this past year amid the chaos of the Syrian conflict, not all required parts had been transferred.

[November 5 2009]

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki protested, "the report was not true. The ship was heading for Iran from Syria carrying Syrian goods, not weapons."

Israel Defense Force Commando Unit 13 knew what they were looking for. 36 of the 400 containers on board the Francop were intended for Hezbollah, "Hezbollah categorically denies it has any connection with the weapons which the Zionist enemy claims it seized aboard the Francop ship," Hezbollah said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press in Beirut.

IDF sources said that they were not ruling out the possibility that some of the mortar shells were manufactured in Israel and painted to make them look new. Israel's Soltam Company sold thousands of mortar shells to Iran during the regime of the Shah in the 1970s and some of them are believed to have been already transferred to Hizbullah in the past.

The Spanish crates were carrying 106 mm. shells and each had the words "2 Disparos" written on them, meaning two shots, for the number of rockets inside.

The 107 mm. rockets were in crates claiming that they were manufactured in 2007. There were even instruction manuals inside in English explaining how to handle the rocket, carry it and even place it inside a launcher.

The 122 mm. Katyusha rockets appeared to have been manufactured in Russia since they were covered in Russian writing. Some of the Kalashnikov bullets likely came from China.