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January 25, 2013

News Briefs – January 25, 2013

Symbol of Argentina’s decaying navy sinks in port

Argentina’s defense chief says he’s ashamed over the sinking of a mothballed Navy destroyer, an incident that critics say reflects the abandonment of a once-proud fleet.

The ARA Trinidad led Argentina’s 1982 sea war against Britain, but has long been used for spare parts.

The Navy said a broken pipe flooded the ship, but Defense Minister Arturo Puricelli says he suspects negligence or sabotage, and denies that budget cuts are to blame.

Puricelli told Radio 10 Jan. 23 that ìwhen the president asks me, I’ll be ashamed, frankly, to tell her that a boat sank while tied to the dock.î
Opposition congressmen blamed years of disinvestment that they said has left Argentina ill-equipped to defend its seas and sovereignty. AP

Navy: Random alcohol tests for sailors in U.S.

The U.S. Navy says its sailors in the United States will be subject to random blood-alcohol tests starting next month.

Any sailor whose blood-alcohol level is .04 or higher when reporting for duty won’t be allowed to work, the Navy says. In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, a driver with a 0.08 percent blood-alcohol is considered drunk.

The Navy outlined its policy for conducting the tests throughout the fleet Jan. 23. A pilot program was conducted among 13 commands this past summer. By May, nearly 2,000 commands will have handheld alcohol-detection devices.

The Navy says a positive test result won’t be used to punish sailors, but could be used to refer them to counseling. However, sailors who refuse to submit to a test could face disciplinary action. AP

‘Fat Albert’ to come down after 33 years

Officials say a military blimp that’s been tethered in the Florida Keys for more than three decades is coming down for good.

An internal email by Exelis Systems Corp. – the defense contractor that operates the blimps nationally – says Air Force blimp known as ìFat Albertî that hovers over Cudjoe Key will end its 33-year flight March 15.

The Key West Citizen reports that the blimp – a Tethered Aerostat Radar System – is part of an Air Force program that is being cut. The Air Force told Exelis employees on Jan. 15 that TARS sites all along the U.S. southern border will be eliminated.

The 250,000 cubic-foot blimp was the first such aerostat used by the Air Force. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Coast Guard use the blimps in counter-drug trafficking operations. AP




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Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend

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