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March 20, 2013

News Briefs March 20, 2013

U.S. training accident kills seven Marines

A Marine Corps official says the seven Marines killed in Nevada died after a 60mm mortar exploded unexpectedly during a training accident, March 18.

The Marines immediately issued an indefinite moratorium on firing of all such mortars worldwide until an investigation clears as safe the type of weapon and ammunition in the tragedy. Several other Marines were hurt.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was not immediately clear whether the mortar exploded prematurely inside its firing tube or whether more than a single round exploded. The official was not authorized to speak to a reporter about the accident.

The 60mm mortar is a weapon that traditionally requires three to four Marines to operate, but it’s common during training for others to observe nearby. AP

Marine Corps helicopters in Arizona for training

A half-dozen large Marine Corps helicopters from California are in Arizona on a training mission.

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson says the CH-53E Super Stallions will conduct desert mountainous terrain training at military ranges in southern Arizona.

The training is in preparation for oversea deployment and will run through March 27.

The helicopters are from Marine Heavylift Helicopter Squadron 465 out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. AP

First U.S. search since 2004 for MIAs in Myanmar ends

A U.S. government team searching for bodies of American military personnel missing in action from past wars has finished its first mission in Myanmar since 2004.

The U.S. Embassy said March 19 that a nine-person team from the U.S. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command confirmed some previous leads and developed new ones on the fate of Americans unaccounted for in fighting against the Japanese in World War II. It said research and fieldwork was done from Feb. 21 to March 15 in three areas, including Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city.

The searches had been suspended because of Washington’s chilly relations with Myanmar’s former military regime. They resumed as a result of warmer ties after an elected civilian government took power in 2011 and initiated democratic reforms. AP

Repairs to USS Miami in Maine now uncertain

The Navy’s commitment to repairing a nuclear submarine severely damaged by an arsonist last spring is wavering under the realities of mandatory budget cuts, officials say.

The Navy announced last summer that it intended to repair the USS Miami at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Maine, with a goal of returning it to service in 2015. The cost of repairing the vessel would be about $450 million, which the Navy said would be cost-effective because the 22-year-old submarine could serve another 10 years.

But the repair has been postponed and the Navy is now rethinking its repair budget because of the mandatory cuts triggered by federal law this month.

ìThe Navy needs every submarine in our inventory. Restoring Miami remains a high priority. But it necessarily must compete with other high naval priorities during this period of restricted budgets,î said Navy Rear Adm. Rick Breckenridge, commander of Submarine Group 2 in Groton, Conn.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s 4,700 civilian workers will be forced to take 22 days off without pay between April and the end of the federal fiscal year Sept. 30 under forced federal budget cuts. AP




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