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In the News

Coast Guard flies to the North Pole

A Coast Guard C-130 departed Barrow, Alaska, Oct. 25 to fly 1,183 miles to the North Pole as part of an increase in Arctic flights to assess maritime activity in the region, as recently observed climate changes provide greater access.

“The northern reaches of the Arctic is a new area for us to do surveillance,” says Rear Adm. Arthur E. Brooks, commander of the 17th Coast Guard district based in Juneau, Alaska. “We are expanding our patrols because we are seeing increased activity in the region, and we need to know what is going on up there.”

The Coast Guard is the principal U.S. federal maritime enforcement agency in the Arctic, with broad safety, security and environmental stewardship missions. The agency expects more responsibilities in the Arctic in coming years, as more access brings additional needs for traditional missions, such as search and rescue, pollution response, fisheries law enforcement, and maritime safety and security. To meet these demands it is considering establishing an operating base in Barrow by next spring.

The Coast Guard says there is mounting interest in using the Arctic region for shipping, as it offers a route between Europe and Asia that is 4,000 miles shorter than using the Panama Canal. Among the needs the Coast Guard has identified is a traffic routing system to define shipping lanes in rapidly changing waterways.

Maine boatbuilders: together we stand

The term “Maine built boats” has long been linked to quality vessels with salty, traditional lines. In 2005 members of the state’s boatbuilding community formed a grassroots association to cooperatively promote their wares. Two years and dozens of new members later, Maine Built Boats is ready to leverage more than $14 million in grant money to take its message worldwide.

“Boatbuilding is a passion,” says Bentley Collins, vice president of marketing and sales for Casco-based Sabre Yachts. “I think you’ll find more people with that passion in Maine than in any other state.”

The group plans to initiate print advertising and develop multimedia presentations by spring 2008 to be shown at boat shows, according to Todd French, of Belfast-based custom boatbuilder French, Webb & Company. Another priority for the group is to develop a strategic plan so the promotional drive can continue after the grant money is gone.

Touting a boatbuilding heritage that dates to the 17th century, the non-profit organization hopes to create a unified brand that presents Maine as a worldwide leader in quality, technology and craftsmanship. The roughly 50 members include Atlantic Boat Co., Back Cove Yachts, C.W. Paine Yacht Design, Ellis Boat Co., Hinckley Yachts, Hodgdon Yachts, The Landing School, Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding, Morris Yachts, Seaway Boats and Wilbur Yachts. For more information visit

Crewsaver recalls PFD firing mechanism

British life jacket manufacturer Crewsaver reports that its servicing department has discovered a problem with the United Moulders Mk3 Standard Automatic Head (firing head) on Crewsaver Crewfit and Survivor inflatable PFDs manufactured before 1997.

“Manufacturer tests indicate this component to be at the end of its safe and usable life and should not be replaced,” the company states in a press release. The problem applies to automatically operated inflatables.

“Providing your life jacket has been serviced annually and correctly maintained, as per the user manual guidelines, replacement of the firing head will keep your life jacket in safe working order,” the company states.

Owners of the Crewfit or Survivor PFDs in question should contact Crewsaver at 011 44 2392 528621 or by e-mail at to discuss the replacement process. For more information, visit

Crew of hijacked ship overtakes pirates

The North Korean freighter Dai Hong Dan was making a routine trip about 60 nautical miles northeast of Somalia Oct. 29 when pirates hijacked the vessel. The pirates reportedly seized the ship’s bridge while the crewmembers were in the engineering and steering compartments, and were unable to send a distress signal until the following morning.

When the crew of the destroyer USS James E. Williams received a radio report of the ship’s location from the International Maritime Bureau, they intercepted the freighter, which was carrying sugar, and ordered the pirates over the radio to give up their weapons. The Navy ship’s arrival apparently emboldened the Dai Hong Dan crew, according the U.S. State Department. The freighter crew stormed the bridge and fought the pirates to regain control. When it was over, two pirates were dead and five had been captured. A Navy small-boat crew boarded the ship to assist the injured.

— Elizabeth Ellis