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Tuesday
Feb122013

Carnival Apologizes for Stranded Cruise Ship

KRTK/ABC News(MOBILE, Ala.) -- Carnival Cruise officials apologized Tuesday for the crisis on the Carnival Triumph, the fire-damaged ship that has been stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. There are 4,200 people on board, living with limited power and sanitation. The cruise line said it would get passengers home as quickly as possible when the ship is pulled ashore in the next few days.

"I need to apologize to our guests and to our families that have been affected by a very difficult situation," Carnival Cruise Lines President and CEO Gerry Cahill said at a news conference Tuesday evening.

Carnival said original plans to haul the crippled ship to Progreso, Mexico, have been scrapped because the ship drifted about 90 miles north in strong currents. Instead, the Triumph is being towed to Mobile, Ala., and should arrive Thursday afternoon.

Passengers on the ship have reported worsening conditions, including scarce running water, no air conditioning and long lines for food.

"Let me assure you that no one here at Carnival is happy about the conditions aboard the ship and we are obviously very sorry," Cahill said.

He said that most of the bathrooms are working, there is running water and that there has not been an abnormal number of people reporting to the infirmary.

On Thursday, the ship will be met by a medical triage center and extra security in case they need it, according to Alabama Cruise Terminal General Manager Sheila Gurganus.

The cruise line said it has been busily making arrangements for the ship's passengers when they reach the shore.

More than 1,500 hotel rooms have been reserved in Mobile and New Orleans and more than 20 chartered flights have been booked to fly passengers back to Houston on Friday after they have had a chance to rest, Cahill said. For those wishing to get home sooner, the company is organizing charter buses to Houston and Galveston.

"Every decision we've made since Sunday morning is to ensure the safety of our guests and to get them home as quickly as possible," Cahill said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct292012

Superstorm Sandy Ship Rescue Fills Chopper with Cheers

U.S. Coast Guard(ELIZABETH CITY, N.C.) -- Cheers filled a Coast Guard rescue helicopter Monday each time its crew plucked sailors from the churning sea roiled up by Hurricane Sandy, but one sailor from the stricken tall ship HMS Bounty was in critical condition -- and Coast Guard ships and planes are still searching for one more crew member.

Fourteen people were rescued early Monday morning from the HMS Bounty. A 15th person was pulled from the Atlantic hours later, but was unresponsive. That person, identified as Claudene Christian, was taken to Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City, N.C.

"She is here. Right now she is in critical condition," hospital spokesman Patrick Detwiler said.

Crews are still looking for Robin Walbridge, 63. The Coast Guard identified Walbridge as the ship's captain.

Christian and Walbridge were washed into the sea when the three-masted replica of the historic ship began taking on water. The crew was abandoning ship during the night when the hurricane flung them into the sea.

The Bounty, 180-foot replica of the ship featured in the film Mutiny on the Bounty, was 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., when the owner called saying she'd lost contact with the crew Sunday night.

A C130 plane spotted the wreckage Monday morning and Coast Guard Lt. Jane Peña co-piloted one of two rescue choppers to the site. One sailor was spotted adrift by himself wearing an insulated suit called a Gumby suit. Pena said he was spotted by the strobe lights attached to the suit.

The C130 crew directed the helicopter to a covered liferaft that had seven survivors aboard. Video of the rescue shows a Coast Guard swimmer being lowered into the water and attaching the sailors to the hoist line and raising them into the helicopter one at a time.

Peña said her rescue team were able to get an additional four survivors on board before they began to run out of fuel and had to head to head back to shore.

A second chopper picked up the remaining sailors.

The survivors were taken to Air Station Elizabeth City on the North Carolina coast.

The Bounty left Connecticut last week for St. Petersburg, Fla. The crew had been in constant contact with the National Hurricane Center and tried to go around the storm, according to the director of the HMS Bounty Organization, Tracie Simonin. But the ship got caught in Sandy's fury and began taking on water. The cold water survival suits, also called Gumby suits, staved off hypothermia for the shipwrecked sailors.

Initial reports said there were 17 people on the Bounty, but the manifest indicated the ship only had 16 people aboard.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep052012

Mystery of Shipwreck Uncovered by Hurricane Isaac Solved

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Hurricane Isaac has uncovered the remains of an old sailing ship on an Alabama beach, prompting questions about when the ship wrecked and where it came from.

The remains of the large wooden ship have been seen before: The wreckage is normally covered by sand, but the beach erosion caused by big storms has periodically given glimpses of what is left of the ship's hull.

The wreckage was first exposed after Hurricane Camille in 1969, then again in 2004 after Hurricane Ivan, and again in 2008 after Hurricane Ike.

But Isaac unearthed more of the ship than has been seen before, bringing droves of people out to see the bit of historical mystery on the shore.

Local historians say there really is no mystery about the ship's origins. According to Mike Bailey, historian with the Fort Morgan, Ala., Historical Society, the ship is the Rachel, a schooner built in Pascagoula, Miss., during World War I.  At that time, the government was using most steam ships for the war effort, but the region still needed trade ships, so the Rachel was built to carry cargo in the gulf.

The Rachel was built at the De Angelo Shipyard in Moss Point, Miss., for the purpose of carrying lumber.  When she was completed in 1918, she was the largest ship built in the yard at more than 150 feet long with three masts.  However, with the conclusion of WWI, she wasn't in high demand, sitting unused for several years, Bailey told ABC News.

In 1923, the ship was carrying a small amount of cargo and a crew of about eight men on her first voyage, when she ran into a damaging storm.

"The crew tried to save her by dropping an anchor, but she ran aground and was destroyed," Bailey told ABC News. "What little cargo she was carrying was salvaged, and the ship was burned."

Bailey said the real mystery is what the ship was carrying.  The Rachel was built as a lumber schooner, but ran aground during the Prohibition years when alcohol was illegal.

"The legend is that she was carrying illegal liquor," Bailey told ABC. "That's unconfirmed -- and nobody who might know what cargo she was carrying seems to want to say -- so that's the mystery."

Despite rumors that the ship pre-dates the Civil War, Bailey said he's sure it's the World War I-era Rachel.

"It's her.  We have the pictures, the stories from families who have been in the area for 150 years whose parents or grandparents remember the wreck," Bailey said.  "We have news reports from the time of the wreck, the blueprints -- it's the Rachel."

The ship is largely on private land, and there aren't any plans to attempt to move the ship, because such an undertaking would be incredibly expensive, according to the Alabama Historical Society.

So for now, the ship is a bit of history that washes ashore every few years.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb292012

Woman Missing from Celebration Cruise Ship

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- A Canadian woman has vanished from a Celebration line cruise somewhere between Grand Bahama and the Florida coast, according to police and the FBI.

The woman "was reported missing by her boyfriend at 8 a.m. today," said Charles Kinnear, president of the Celebration Cruise Line, in a news conference Wednesday.

Neither the missing woman, said to be in her mid-40s, nor her boyfriend have been named.

The boyfriend told authorities he'd last seen the missing woman at the ship's gift shop before heading to the casino at around 1 a.m. Tired, he then decided to go to sleep.

The ship docked at the Port of Palm Beach in Riviera Beach, Fla., at 7 a.m.

When the boyfriend awoke, he searched the ship. At around 8 a.m., he alerted the ship's crew, which along with the Coast Guard launched a full search of the ship for the woman.

No trace of the missing woman has been found.

"We've given [investigators] our complete track from when we left Grand Bahama last night, every position that we took during the evening," Kinnear said. "We're still hoping for the best -- that somehow she snuck off the vessel or she is still hiding somewhere."

Two searches occurred -- once the ship reached port in Riviera Beach and as the ship's passengers began to disembark. The ship has a capacity for 2,000 passengers, according to Celebration Cruise Line.

The FBI, which is leading the investigation, told ABC News it had nothing further to report.

Adding to the mystery, the Coast Guard and customs officials believe the woman was on the ship when it left Freeport, in the Grand Bahamas, at around 8 p.m. Tuesday night, because every passenger must swipe a card to get on or off the ship.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb102012

Navy Announces USS Gabrielle Giffords

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Navy’s newest ship will be the USS Gabrielle Giffords.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus made the announcement Friday at a Pentagon ceremony, calling Giffords someone whose name is synonymous with courage.

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords looked on at the Pentagon as Mabus made the announcement in a public ceremony. Also in attendance at the brief ceremony in the Pentagon Courtyard was Roxana Green, the mother of 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. Green was among those killed in last year’s deadly shooting rampage in Tucson that targeted Giffords as she met constituents outside a supermarket. Roxana Green will be the ship’s sponsor.

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Giffords is still recovering from the gunshot wounds to her head that she suffered during last January’s shooting incident. Just two weeks ago she stepped down from Congress.

The ship named Friday for her will be the Navy’s 10th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a new type of ship designed to bring the Navy fighting power into shallow coastal areas. The first two ships in this class were called Freedom and Independence, but since then the conventional practice has been to name the other ships in the class after a city.

Giffords also visited the White House earlier in the day to watch President Obama sign the last piece of legislation she sponsored as a member of Congress. The Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act of 2012 was passed late last month and gives law enforcement broader authority to counter illicit drug trafficking on U.S. borders.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb102012

Will US Navy Name Ship After Gabrielle Giffords?

Gabrielle Giffords with her husband Mark Kelly. ABC/Ida Mae Astute(WASHINGTON) -- Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is coming to the Pentagon on Friday as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announces the name of the Navy’s newest ship. Her visit has set off speculation that the Navy might name the ship after her.

Also in attendance at Friday afternoon’s brief ceremony in the Pentagon Courtyard will be Roxana Green, the mother of 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. Green was among those killed in last year’s deadly shooting rampage in Tucson that targeted Giffords as she met constituents outside a supermarket.

Navy spokespersons are not commenting on whether their presence at Friday’s event is tied to the ship’s name and they are not providing any clues about what the ship’s name might be.

Also on hand for the event will be former Rep. Ike Skelton who, along with Mabus, will ”reveal” a placard that will have the name of the ship on it. Skelton is a former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Giffords is still recovering from the gunshot wound to her head that she suffered during last January’s shooting incident. Just two weeks ago, she stepped down from Congress. She will be at the White House Friday morning as President Obama signs into law the last piece of legislation that she had proposed as a member of Congress.

The ship being named on Friday will be the Navy’s 10th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a new type of ship designed to bring the Navy fighting power into shallow coastal areas. The first two ships in this class were called Freedom and Independence, but since then the conventional practice has been to name the other ships in the class after a city.

The Navy has also named ships after living persons with some recent examples being the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush and the submarine USS Jimmy Carter.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb202011

Navy Monitoring Yacht Seized by Pirates with Four Americans Onboard

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SALALAH, Oman) -- The U.S. Navy is carefully tracking a yacht seized by Somali pirates Friday with four Americans onboard. A source confirms to ABC News that the Navy has at least one warship and helicopters monitoring the vessel as it makes its way to Somalia from Yemen.

The advocacy group Ecoterra International indicated that the S/V Quest was seized 240 nautical miles off the coast of Oman in the Indian Ocean.

The 58-foot S/V Quest is owned by Jean and Scott Adam, who have been sailing the boat around the world for the past seven years. As they approached the notoriously hostile waters off the Horn of Africa, the Adams cut back using their radios and satellite systems so their location couldn't be tracked by pirates, but they were still found.

The Adams are members of the Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina Del Rey, California.

Pirate seizures have continued in the waters off East Africa despite the constant patrols of by the world's navies, including ships from the United States. It is believed that Somali pirates currently have 29 ships in their possession and are holding 660 crewmembers hostage. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov162010

Crippled Carnival Splendor Out Until Mid-January

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MIAMI) -- Carnival's Splendor cruise ship, which stranded more than 3,000 passengers in open water after an engine fire, will be out of service until mid-January 2011 while investigators search for the cause of the fire and repair the ship, Carnival said Tuesday.

Any guests who were scheduled to make sail with the Splendor in the meantime will receive a full refund for the cruise fare, as well as air transportation costs, plus a 25 percent discount on a future cruise.

Carnival's parent company, Carnival Corp., said in a statement the incident would cost the company about seven cents per share in the fourth quarter -- or $56 million. At the usual one trip per week and an estimated 3,000 passengers per trip, the announcement could affect as many as 24,000 travelers.

The company said it is booking passengers for the Jan. 16, 2011 voyage. But this means the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years travel plans of thousands will be upset.

The U.S. Coast Guard is leading the investigation into the fire that stranded the 4,500 on board off the coast of Mexico on Nov. 8 without power. Until they were dragged by tugboat to a San Diego port four days later, passengers lived without hot or cold air, hot food and few lights. For more than day, the toilets did not flush, causing what some described as "disgusting" conditions.

Carnival is the world's biggest cruise ship operator, with lines including Holland America, Princess and Cunard.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐







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