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March 17, 2010

Officers reprimanded for crashing British nuclear sub

Officers reprimanded for crashing British nuclear sub

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

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A British Royal Navy commander was reprimanded on Monday by a court martial, after pleading guilty to “failing to ensure the safe direction” of the submarine HMS Superb. Commander Steven Drysdale was in charge of the nuclear-powered submarine in May 2008, when it struck a rock pinnacle 132 metres below the surface. A navigation chart showed the pinnacle, but Drysdale said that he had misread its depth as 732 metres.

Officer of the Watch Lieutenant-Commander Andrew Cutler and Navigating Officer Lieutenant Lee Blair were also reprimanded for their part in the incident by the court martial, held at the HMS Nelson centre at Portsmouth naval base.

Cquote1.svg The three defendants all looked at the chart and the sub was taken to 250m. No thorough check was made to establish whether this depth was safe from obstacles. Cquote2.svg

—Captain Stuart Crozier, prosecuting

The £32 million submarine was in the Red Sea, heading for the Persian Gulf, and was suffering from technical problems at the time which were slowing it down. The officers decided to dive from 100m to 250m, which would allow them to travel faster and reach their destination on time.

According to prosecutor Captain Stuart Crozier: “The three defendants all looked at the chart and the sub was taken to 250m. No thorough check was made to establish whether this depth was safe from obstacles.”

Lieutenant-Commander Cutler then realised that a change to the route could shorten it. “On assessing the chart, Officer of the Watch Cutler saw he could cut the corner of a dog-leg, saving about three to four miles,” said Crozier. “He then instructed the plot officer to draw a new line on the chart. However Lieutenant-Commander Cutler did not check the depth around this new track.”

“Unfortunately, with the sub now dived to 250m, this new track went directly over a pinnacle which showed only 132m of available depth.”

The new route was plotted directly over the pinnacle on the chart, and the court martial was told that this made it harder to spot the error. None of the officers, including Commander Drysdale, realised that they had put the vessel on a collision course.

HMS Superb struck the pinnacle at 10.01 on May 26, suffering damage to its bow and sonar equipment. There were no casualties, but the submarine was forced to abandon its mission and return to the United Kingdom. It was decommissioned in September 2008, though the Ministry of Defence said that this was not due to the accident.

Commander Alison Towler, representing Drysdale, said that he accepted full responsibility and had “deep remorse and regret” over the incident. “He believes that due to the surrounding information he simply misread 132m as 732m” she said. “It was only later that he realised the plot officer had drawn the sub’s new transit straight through the pinnacle, which made it even harder for it to be seen.”

Navigating Officer Blair also pleaded guilty to failing to take into account all the dangers in or near the planned movements, and Officer of the Watch Cutler pleaded guilty to failing to supervise the plot officer adequately. All three officers will continue to serve in the Navy, but Drysdale has been moved to a desk job and will not be taking up the position in Washington DC he had planned to.

Captain Philip Warwick, president of the court martial board, told the three: “It was indeed fortunate that no one was hurt and we note that the submarine could not complete its deployment in full. The failings were unacceptable and we take an extremely dim view of them.”

The Royal Navy has since brought in new procedures on submarines to prevent a repeat of the incident, requiring that all depths are rechecked when plotting a new route.



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February 1, 2009

Cyprus detains weapon-laden ship

Cyprus detains weapon-laden ship – Wikinews, the free news source

Cyprus detains weapon-laden ship

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

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On Friday, authorities in Cyprus said that they had detained a ship carrying the nation’s flag. The ship, which had initially docked at Port Said in Egypt, went to the Cypriot port of Limassol after Egyptian authorities ordered it to leave.

In Limassol, the container ship, the Monchegorsk, was anchored and boarded by Cypriot authorities. It still remains anchored there as of Sunday. The Famagusta Gazette cited well-informed sources as saying the ship contains specialized components for the manufacture of rockets.

According to reports, the ship was initially stopped in the Red Sea by the United States Navy, but it lacked the authority to board the ship or prevent it from continuing its route.

Cyprus state radio reported the vessel was Russian-owned traveling from Iran to Syria with weapons destined for Hamas.

Haaretz reported that Israel believes the weapons were bound for Hezbollah or for Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

On Friday, the President of Cyprus said the ship was in violation of United Nations resolutions. However, he did not go into detail.

“We are investigating what it is carrying and for this reason we have to handle things very responsibly and with a great deal of seriousness, without a lot of media noise,” President Dimitris Christofias said.

“It is a problem for us that we are forced to accept a ship under the Cypriot flag which is carrying whatever [it] is carrying, which is contrary or in conflict with Security Council resolutions,” Christofias added.

On Sunday, Cyprus foreign minister Markos Kyprianou said that the government was still investigating whether the ship was in violation of United Nations resolutions.

“Our aim is to resolve the matter in the best possible way without harming the interests of the Republic of Cyprus … The less that is said the better,” said Marios Garoyian, president of the House of Representatives of Cyprus.



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July 28, 2008

Five of six accused over Egyptian ferry fire that killed over 1,000 are acquitted

Five of six accused over Egyptian ferry fire that killed over 1,000 are acquitted

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Monday, July 28, 2008

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Five of the six defendants accused of manslaughter over the 2006 fire on board Egyptian ferry al-Salam Boccaccio 98 have been cleared of all charges. The February 3 fire and subsequent sinking killed 1,034 of around 1,400 passengers.

Mamdouh Ismail, owner of the al-Salam company, his son and three company executives were all cleared of manslaughter. Ismail is a member of parliament directly appointed by the president, and both he, his son and another of the executives were tried in absentia as they have left the country. They had all been charged with manslaughter stemming from safety violations on the ship.

Convicted was Salaheddin Gomaa, captain of nearby ferry Saint Catherine. He was jailed for six months after the court found he did not come to the stricken al-Salam 98′s aid. It found he “did not do his duty by failing to go to the rescue of victims,” and that he failed to show any compassion.

The last reported point where the al Salam Boccaccio 98 was observed by coastal radar.
Image: Rune.welsh.

The ship went down in the Red Sea near Egyptian port Safaga, where the trial was held, having departed earlier from Saudi Arabia’s Dhaba port. A parliamentary report balmed the disaster’s scale on the owners, as well as the government and Panama, the state where the ship was registered. The report said al-Salam had kept operating the ship “despite serious defects” with her, and that the government had “failed to manage the crisis adequately” in the following days.

It was found that the 36-year-old al-Salam 98′s safety documents were forged, that the ship’s extuinguishers and life rafts were not fit for purpose and that there were an inadequate number of winches to lower the rafts into the sea. However, the elder Ismail had put the blame on his ferry’s captain, who he claimed wrongly believed the crew could deal with the fire when it broke out. The captain was amongst the dead.

Ismail’s assets were frozen and a travel ban was imposed on him following the disaster, but both were lifted later that year after he paid E£300,000,000 (US$57,000,000) into a victim’s compensation fund. Many victims were poor Egyptian migrant workers, and some were bringing home savings accumulated over months or years.

The Misdemeanor Court’s acquittal of all except Gomaa — who was fined E£10,000 (US$1,887) — met with anger from relatives, who turned out en masse to hear the verdicts. One man told al-Jazeera “The day of the accident everybody saw that the ship was in bad shape and two years later they say the boat was in good shape. It doesn’t make sense. This is awful. My wife and children died and after two years everyone responsible is found to be innocent.”

Public prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmud was also unhappy with the result. In a statement he said he intends to appeal the verdict and demand a retrial. He alleges serious “violations in documented records, corruption in investigation, shortcomings in validatings and arbitrary conclusions,” and cites these as his reasons for a retrial.



Related news

  • “400 Survivors rescued from ferry disaster” — Wikinews, February 5, 2006
  • “1,000+ of Saudi Arabia’s guest workers feared drowned” — Wikinews, February 4, 2006
  • Egyptian passenger ferry sinks in Red Sea” — Wikinews, February 4, 2006

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May 28, 2008

UK submarine hits rocks in Red Sea

UK submarine hits rocks in Red Sea – Wikinews, the free news source

UK submarine hits rocks in Red Sea

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The incident occurred at the Red sea

HMS Superb, a navy submarine from the United Kingdom, crashed into rocks in the northern half of the Red Sea on May 26. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) released a statement saying, “there were no casualties and the submarine remains watertight, is safe on the surface and able to operate under its own power.”

The MoD also said that “the submarine’s nuclear reactor is completely unaffected, and there is no environmental impact.”

BBC News has reported that an investigation will be launched to discover the cause of the incident.

According to the MoD, “no other vessel, military or civil, was involved in the incident.” The MoD has stated that the process of informing the relatives of the crew is underway.


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February 4, 2006

Egyptian passenger ferry sinks in Red Sea

Egyptian passenger ferry sinks in Red Sea

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Saturday, February 4, 2006

Location map of the accident

An investigation has been commenced by Egypt into the Friday sinking of one of El Salam’s passenger ferries in the Red Sea. M/V al-Salam Boccaccio 98 was carrying 1408, including many Egyptians returning from work in Saudi Arabia. The ship left from the port of Dubah in Saudi Arabia enroute to the port of Safaga in Egypt. On the west coast of Saudi Arabia during the night a sandstorm occurred due to high winds.

David Osler of Lloyd’s List has said of the ship that “It’s a roll-on, roll-off ferry, and there is big question mark over the stability of this kind of ship,” he continued and said that “It would only take a bit of water to get on board this ship and it would be all over. … The percentage of this type of ferry involved in this type of disaster is huge.”

Mamdouh Ismail, head of Al-Salaam Maritime Transport Company, stated that another one of El Salam’s ferries, Saint Catherine received a distress call from one of the lifeboats of the Boccaccio when it arrived in Dubah from Safaga. The Saint Catherine notified its company headquarters, and El Salam reported it to Egyptian authorities.

According to a statement given to the Associated Press by Ismail, the ferry was carrying 96 crew members, 1,200 Egyptians, and 112 other passengers. A Transport Ministry spokesman has stated that 314 people have been rescued. More than 185 bodies have been recovered from the sea according to an Egyptian police official who has requested anonymity.

Four rescue ships from Egypt arrived Friday afternoon, approximately ten hours after the sinking of the 35-year-old ferry in the night near the Egyptian port of Hurghada. Aid from Britain and the United States was initially refused. Later, both the British HMS Bulwark and the US P3-Orion maritime naval patrol aircraft were recalled, but due to its distance at the later time, the request for the return of the Bulwark was called off by Egypt.

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