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Admiral Praises USS Fitzgerald’s Crew, Announces Investigations

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The response of the crew of the severely damaged USS Fitzgerald “was swift and effective, and I want to point out — as we stand by the ship — how proud I am of them,” Navy Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, said today at a press conference in front of the stricken ship that’s now moored in Yokosuka, Japan.

The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal in the Philippine Sea at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, June 17, while operating about 64 miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, according to U.S. 7th Fleet news releases.

The Fitzgerald was able to return to its home port at Yokosuka under its own power aided by tug boats about 16 hours after the collision, according to a release.

Extensive Damage, Flooding

The Fitzgerald experienced extensive damage and flooding after the collision, Aucoin said in a news release issued today. The damage, he added, included a significant impact under the ship’s pilothouse on the starboard, or right, side and a large puncture below the ship’s waterline, opening the hull to the sea.

The ship, he continued, experienced rapid flooding of three large compartments that included a machinery room and two berthing areas for the ship’s 116-member crew.

Aucoin said the Fitzgerald’s commanding officer’s cabin was also directly hit, trapping Navy Cmdr. Bryce Benson, the commander, inside. Benson is one of three injured sailors who were transferred by helicopter to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka for treatment after the collision.

All three patients are alert and under observation at the hospital, he said.

Thanks Japanese for Assistance

Shortly after the collision the U.S. made a request for support from the Japanese Coast Guard, which was the first on scene, according to a release.

Several U.S. Navy aircraft, as well as Japanese Coast Guard and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopters, ships and aircraft were deployed to render assistance to the Fitzgerald, a release said.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships JS Ohnami, JS Hamagiri and JS Enshu were sent to join the JCG ships Izanami and Kano, according to a release. The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey served as an escort for the Fitzgerald and has also returned to Yokosuka.

The admiral expressed his “most heartfelt appreciation to our Japanese allies for their swift support and assistance.”

Praises Crew’s ‘Heroic Efforts’

At today’s press conference in Yokosuka, Aucoin saluted the Fitzgerald crew’s “heroic efforts” that prevented the flooding from spreading, which could have caused the ship to founder or sink.

The crew, he continued, navigated the Fitzgerald into one of the busiest ports in the world with a magnetic compass and backup navigation equipment. One of two of the ship’s shafts became locked, he added.

“Because of the tireless damage control efforts of a resolute and courageous team, the ship was able to make its way back to port safely on its own power last evening,” Aucoin said in the release.

“The Fitzgerald crew responded professionally as all sailors are expected to fight the damage sustained to their ship. They are known as the “Fighting Fitz,” and the crew lived up to that name,” the admiral added.

Navy Finds ‘A Number’ of Missing Fitzgerald Sailors

Seven Fitzgerald sailors were reported unaccounted for after the collision, and the Japanese Coast Guard launched a search effort, according a release.

After the Fitzgerald returned to its home port in Yokosuka, search-and-rescue crews gained access to the ship’s spaces that were damaged during the collision, according to a release.

At the press conference, Aucoin said the Navy “has found the remains of a number of our missing shipmates.”

He added, “Our deepest sympathies are with the families of these sailors. Out of concern for the families and the notification process, I will decline to state how many we have found at this time. We owe that to the families and friends of these shipmates and hope you can respect this process.”

The sailors’ remains were transferred to Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Aucoin said, noting the “families are being notified and will be provided the support they need at this difficult time. Please keep them in your thoughts are prayers.”

He said the names of the deceased will be released pending notification of next of kin.

In a Twitter message issued yesterday, President Donald J. Trump said his “thoughts and prayers [are] with the sailors of the USS Fitzgerald and their families. Thank you to our Japanese allies for their assistance.”

Investigations

Aucoin said he’s initiating a Judge Advocate General Manual investigation into the collision, and that he’ll appoint a flag officer to lead that investigation.

There will also be a safety investigation, he added.

“We owe it to our families and the Navy to understand what happened,” Aucoin said.

The U.S. Coast Guard is slated to take the lead on the marine casualty investigation, he said.

More information on any further investigations will be forthcoming, the admiral said.

“I will not speculate on how long these investigations will last,” Aucoin added.

Afghanistan, la brigata Taurinense sostituisce la Garibaldi

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Si è svolta questa mattina presso l’aeroporto di Herat, la cerimonia di avvicendamento alla guida del Train Advise Assist Command West (TAAC W), il Comando Nato multinazionale e interforze a guida italiana che opera nella regione Ovest dell’Afghanistan nell’ambito della Missione Resolute Support (RS). La Brigata bersaglieri “Garibaldi”, dopo sei mesi di addestramento, consulenza e assistenza ai vertici operativi delle Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF), è stata avvicendata dalla Brigata alpina “Taurinense”.

 

Alla cerimonia hanno partecipato il comandante della missione Resolute Support Generale Nicholson, l’Ambasciatore d’Italia a Kabul Roberto Cantone, il comandante del Comando Operativo Interforze l’Ammiraglio Cavo Dragone – che precedentemente ha fatto visita al contingente italiano a Kabul – ed il Generale di Divisione Rosario Castellano, Vice Comandante delle forze Nato in Afghanistan. Hanno inoltre presenziato il Governatore della Provincia di Herat, Mr Asif Rahimi, insieme alle massime autorità civili e militari afgane della provincia.

 

Il Generale Nicholson nel suo intervento ha ringraziato il Comandante cedente Generale Claudio Minghetti ed i militari schierati, sottolineando gli eccellenti risultati conseguiti, ricordando che il TAAC W è stato il primo ad effettuare attività di training, advise and assist a domicilio attraverso l’espressione di una expeditionay advisory package (EAP) a Farah, ed ha fatto i suoi auguri al Generale Biagini e agli alpini della “Taurinense” per il difficile e delicato compito che li attende.

 

Le attività di addestramento (Train) di consulenza (Advise e Assist), che attualmente sono svolte dagli advisors del TAAC West a favore delle ANDSF, hanno il duplice obiettivo di rendere le Forze di Sicurezza locali autonome nella gestione dello sviluppo professionale del proprio personale, e di formare nuovi istruttori (“train the trainers”), oltre che addestrare “specialisti” in materia di intelligence, di contrasto agli ordigni improvvisati, di impiego di mortai ed artiglierie, di controllo dello spazio aereo ed altro ancora, attraverso corsi mirati, seminari e simposi.

Tutti gli sforzi sono focalizzati allo sviluppo organizzativo e della funzionalità delle forze di sicurezza afghane, per il raggiungimento di un adeguato livello di sostenibilità delle stesse.

 

Per il Comando della Brigata alpina “Taurinense” si tratta ormai del quinto mandato in terra afghana, il terzo ad Herat. Contestualmente all’assunzione di responsabilità da parte del Comando “Taurinense” alla guida del TAAC West, il 2’ reggimento alpini con sede a Cuneo ha assunto il comando della Task Force Arena, unità preposta alla difesa ed al supporto della attività del contingente.

 

Japan Sea, USS Fitzgerald involved in collision

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USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, June 17, while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

The Japanese Coast Guard is on scene and providing assistance at the request of the U.S. Navy. Japan Coast Guard cutters IZUNAMI and KANO are on station, as well as a helicopter.

The USS Fitzgerald is under her own power, although her propulsion is limited.

The USS Fitzgerald suffered damage on her starboard side above and below the waterline. The collision resulted in some flooding. The ship’s crew is responding to the casualty. The full extent of damage is being determined.

The extent of number of personnel injuries is being determined. Currently working with the Japanese Coast Guard to conduct a medevac via helicopter for one Sailor.

The USS Dewey (DDG 105), medical assistance and two Navy tugs are being dispatched as quickly as practicable to provide assistance. Naval aircraft are also being readied.

Fenianos holds talks with French Ambassador.

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Minister of Public Works, Yusuf Fenianos, received on Thursday French Ambassador to Lebanon, Emmanuel Bonne. Discussions focused on the current political environment. Minister Fenianos also met with Brazil’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Georges Geraldo Kadri. They discussed the latest developments and bilateral relations between the two countries. In addition, Minister Fenianos received the head of the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers (CGTL), Bechara Asmar, and the secretary general of Beirut Port Workers’ Union, Khalil Zeaiter. The pair discussed the best means to reactivate the role of the Port.

Libya: Military operation launched to target fuel smugglers operating at sea

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The Fuel Crisis Committee, originally established by the Presidency Council’s government of national accord to find solutions to the shortage of fuel in Tripoli, yesterday launched what is being called “Operation Mediterranean Storm” to counter the smuggling of Libya’s subsidised fuel by sea. In cooperation with NOC (Libyan National Oil Corporation) they try to block fuel smuggling by land to Tunisia. However, to preserve the discretion they refute to tell the press of their operations. During an exchange of fire with Libyan Coast-Guard (under GNA force) 4 oil smuggler had been killed.

IPU confirms support for legitimacy in Yemen

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During the meeting of the Yemeni parliamentary delegation during the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the IPU confirmed its support for Yemeni’s unity, sovereignity and legitimate leadership and rejected the coup by the Houthis and ousted President Saleh. The delegation reviewed the situation in the country and the violation againts Yemeni people by the rebels, supported by Iran. Moreover the head of the Yemeni delegation met with IPU President and Secretary General and they discussed about the state of Yemeni’s Parliament, which was closed by rebels, who arrested MPs and theatened to kill them. As a consequence to this situation the Parliament was moved to the temporary capital of Aden.

Trump travel ban ruling promised before law takes effect tonight.

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A Hawaii federal judge asked questions of both sides in the fight over President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban and said he would issue a ruling whether to block the new immigration policy before it takes effect at midnight in Washington. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu conducted the second of three scheduled court hearings Wednesday on whether to block Trump’s revised executive order temporarily barring new immigrants and refugees from six mostly Muslim nations

Hypothesis of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and US

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During the talks between King Salman and US Sen. John McCain at Al-Yamamah Palace on Tuesday, they rewieved about the relations between the two countries and discussed common issues including enhanching cooperation in various fields. McCain also met with top saudi officials such as Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, minister of National Guard and discussed with them cooperation between Saudi Arabia and US. This visit was just two days before the peace talks in Geneva between Syria’s government and the opposition.

Two financial and technical cooperation agreements signed by Germany and Palestine

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Germany and the Palestinian Authority signed on Wednesday two financial and technical cooperation agreements that commit Germany to provide 49 million euros to several social development and economic projects, according to a press release by the Palestinian Foreign Ministry. It said the agreements, signed by Foreign Minister Riyad Malki and the German Representative to the Palestinian areas, Peter Beerwerth, will go to projects such as water desalination, education, development and job creation for youth.

Egypt: Sinai Attack Kills Senior Military Officer

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A senior Egyptian military officer, Col. Rami Hassanein, and one soldier were killed Oct. 29 in a targeted roadside bomb attack outside Sheikh Zuweid in the northern Sinai peninsula, Reuters reported. Two soldiers were also injured. The remote region is home to numerous militant factions, some with ties to the Islamic State. Meanwhile, Egypt’s government is embroiled in controversy over austerity measures, ratcheting up political instability in core areas.

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