Tuesday, September 25, 2012

China's Aircraft Carrier Milestone

At a naval base in Dalian,Liaoning Province in Northeast China,the aircraft carrier Liaoning,China's first,was delivered and commissioned Tuesday.Navy contractor China Shipbuilding Industry Commission endorsed a People's Liberation Army flag for the ship and a naming certificate to Senior Captain Zhang Zheng,commander of the new carrier.Zhang had previously commanded a frigate and destroyer.
The Liaoning is a retrofit of a an old Soviet era vessel,the Varyag.New engines and weapons were installed,and a year of sea trials were carried out.The ship's crew includes more than 50 officers with advanced degrees,as well as female sailors.China is the tenth country in the world to have an aircraft carrier in its navy.
China is currently contesting the ownership of what it calls the Diayou Islands with Japan,but Fang Bing,a professor at the PLA's National Defense University,said the commissioning was unrelated to the territorial issue.Chinese President Hu Jintao and outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao attended the ceremony.
The number and types of aircraft on the Liaoning were not disclosed,although foreign military intelligence will ascertain those facts from satellite photos and other sources.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Base Perimeter Breached:Marines Killed;Aircraft Destroyed

Late Friday night,15 Taliban militants penetrated the perimeter of Camp Bastion,a NATO base housing 20,000 British and US troops in Helmand Province,Afghanistan.Armed with rocket-propelled grenades;small arms;and suicide explosive vests,the militants staged an assault that killed 2 US Marines and wounded 9 others,including a civilian.They managed to destroy 6 Harrier jump jets as well,damaging 2 others.The jets are worth 20 million dollars each.
The well-coordinated attack was carried out by three teams of militants dressed in US uniforms.A hole in the perimeter fence was discovered after the three hour-long battle.US Marines were joined by British troops and a US Army unit in defending the base.The US side of the base is called Camp Leatherneck.
Additionally,the militants destroyed 3 refueling stations and damaged 6 hangars.NATO troops killed 14 of the 15 assailants;the other was detained.Prince Harry,an Apache helicopter pilot,is stationed at the camp,but wasn't near the battlefield at the time.His deployment will not be shortened because of the incident.
The militants said it was retaliation for the production of an online video offensive to Islam.
Full operations have resumed at the base.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Nature Note:Meteorological Autumn Well Underway-woolly bear caterpillars active

Since September 1,it has been meteorological autumn.Seasonal change is becoming evident before the autumnal equinox,which occurs on September 22 this year.The Mid-Atlantic region has felt its first truly cool mornings,with lows in the 40sF in some places.
This morning,a woolly bear caterpillar was noted inching across a highway off-ramp,safely making it to the other side at a quiet time of day.The bristly creature's emergence is one of the quintessential marks of autumn nationwide and in Southern Canada.It is black on the ends with an orange central band.Children pick them up and stroke them.
The caterpillars feed on asters;clover;sunflowers;and other plants.
Over the winter months,the woolly bears will shelter among rocks,in logs and under bark.In the spring,they will spin silk for their cocoons,which they also adorn with their own hairs.They will emerge as Isabella tiger moths(Pyrrharctica isabella).
There is no scientific evidence for the folkloric notion that the severity of winter may be predicted by observing the relative length of the woolly bear's color bands.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Shop Talk:Icebreaker and the Environment

Dear Readers,
There's an interesting post below this one.It's about the US Coast Guard Cutter Healy's Arctic Cruise 2012.I think some of you like icebreakers,wlidlife and the environment.You should read the preceding post,then.It's right below this one.I think you'll appreciate it.
Andrew Taylor

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

USCGC Healy Underway in Arctic-icebreaker is on scientific mission

The US Coast Guard Cutter Healy(WAGB 20),an icebreaker,has been underway for 10 days now.It is on Arctic Cruise 2012,a mission to study ocean acidification.The mission is conducted in cooperation with the Extended Continental Shelf Project.
The Healy spotted a polar bear on Labor Day.It was sitting on ice about a mile from the icebreaker.Polar bears are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.Ringed seals are their main food.
Ocean acidification is occurring as melted ice results in more sea water being exposed to the atmosphere and its surplus of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.The ocean absorbs about one quarter of human-produced carbon dioxide.This may affect the oceanic ecosystem,causing reduced shell formation;habitat loss;and less food for predators.The United States Geological Survey is researching such effects in polar and other regions by conducting field assessments;experimental laboratory studies;and existing data evaluation.
Scientists from the USGS and other institutes are aboard the Healy on the 4-week Arctic Cruise 2012.They are measuring baseline seawater chemistry to better understand ocean acidification in polar regions,collecting seawater and mineral samples and analyzing data.
The Healy is homeported in Seattle,Washington.It has a crew of 75 and can carry 45 scientists.The Healy is armed with small arms.