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September 16, 2013

News Briefs September 16, 2013

Study recommends $453 million Los Angeles River restoration

A federal study recommends spending $453 million to restore part of the concrete-line Los Angeles River to nature – but critics say it doesn’t go far enough.

The Army Corps of Engineers on Friday unveiled four options for restoring an 11-mile stretch of the river, a flood control channel that runs from the San Fernando Valley to the ocean in Long Beach. The options ranged in cost from $375 million to more than $1 billion.

The agency recommended an option that would strip the concrete from 588 acres of river between Griffith Park and downtown Los Angeles. It’s one of the cheaper options.

Advocacy groups say it’s not enough and they’ll push for broader rehabilitation of the 51-mile-long channel. The LA City Council also backs a more extensive option. AP

Top doc on Navy ship ousted over fitness records

The Navy says the top doctor on one of its two hospital ships has been relieved of command for falsifying his own physical fitness and weight records.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Capt. William Cogar was removed Sept. 13 as commanding officer of the San Diego-based hospital ship Mercy.

The Navy announced that in a non-judicial punishment procedure known as an admiral’s mast, the 59-year-old Cogar was found to have failed to comply with the Navy’s physical readiness program. He also failed to obey an order and committed conduct unbecoming an officer and gentlemen.

The Navy requires that all personnel meet certain fitness and weight standards.

Cogar has been reassigned to Navy Medical Center San Diego. Former Mercy commander Capt. Jeffrey Paulson will serve as interim commander. AP

$71 million spent on USS Miami before repair scuttled

The Navy says it spent about $71 million on cleanup, planning and initial repairs on the fire-damaged USS Miami before scuttling plans to restore the nuclear-powered submarine.

The plan was to repair the submarine at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and return it to duty but then the Navy discovered additional cracks in pipes. That drove the estimated repair costs up from $450 million to $700 million.

The Navy announced last month it was scrapping plans to repair the Miami because of the higher estimates coupled with mandated budget cuts.

The $71 million expense consisted mostly of damage assessment, planning, repair materials and some initial repair efforts, along with $7 million for cleanup. The figure was provided at the request of The Associated Press. AP

Kuwait ruler presses Obama on Guantanamo detainees

Kuwait’s ruler says he has asked President Barack Obama to speed the process of releasing two countrymen held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Obama earlier this year announced a renewed effort to close the facility. Congress thus far has thwarted his efforts.

Kuwait’s Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah says he discussed the continued detention of the Kuwaiti detainees with Obama during an Oval Office meeting Sept. 13. He says he asked Obama to speed up the process of releasing them in keeping with the president’s stated commitment to close the facility.

Obama did not mention Guantanamo during remarks by both leaders to the media after the meeting.

Kuwait’s two remaining prisoners have been accused of belonging to a terrorist group. AP

Ingalls reaches milestone on destroyer

Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., has started fabrication of the U.S. Navy’s next Aegis guided missile destroyer, Ralph Johnson (DDG 114).

The ship will be the 30th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer built by Ingalls. The $697.6 million contract for the ship was awarded in 2011.

Ingalls officials say the start-of-fabrication milestone signifies that 100 tons of steel have been cut for DDG 114.

Ralph Johnson is expected to be delivered in the first half of 2017.

DDG 114 is named to honor U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Ralph Henry Johnson, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions that saved others during the Vietnam War. The Charleston, S.C., native had only been in Vietnam for two months and a few days when he was killed, at the age of 20. AP

Top China general orders navy to speed improvement

A top Chinese commander has ordered the country’s rapidly growing navy to accelerate training and technical upgrades to boost its war-fighting readiness as it faces a complicated and difficultî security environment.

Gen. Fan Changlong was quoted Sept. 13 as saying the navy needs to respond immediately to threats and be capable of fighting and winning under modern conditions. Naval capabilities were vital to safeguarding China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, Fan said.

Focus on responding to the complicated and difficult situation, grasp hold of the outstanding problems and points of weakness, accelerate advancing all forms of preparation for fighting at sea,î Fan said.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Fan made the remarks Sept. 12 during an inspection tour of a navy unit in Guangdong province, which lies on the disputed South China Sea.

China’s massive naval upgrade is seen as spurred in part by Beijing’s desire to put teeth into its claims over virtually the entire South China Sea. Beijing also recently reorganized its coast guard to streamline its command structure, and is rapidly adding new ships to the force.

China’s navy has benefited greatly from China’s booming military spending, now the world’s second largest after the United States. It has commissioned its first aircraft carrier, a refurbished Russian model, and is building new destroyers, frigates and submarines.

Other claimants to South China Sea territory, mainly Vietnam and the Philippines, also have been upgrading their naval forces and coast guards.

China also is involved in a dispute with Japan over unoccupied islands in the East China Sea, and the Chinese navy has increasingly been used to safeguard Beijing’s economic interests, such as vital Middle East oil shipments. AP

Memorial seeks relatives of fallen Canadian airmen

Virginia War Memorial officials are seeking information on relatives and descendants of 13 Virginians who were killed while serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force During World War II.

They want to invite the families to a ceremony on Oct. 22 dedicating a plaque listing the names of the fallen airmen.

The airmen and their hometowns are: R.T. Edwards, Ronald Hayes and Fred Renshaw Branch, Norfolk; Thomas Coke DuBose, James Gilmer Heath and Richard Fuller Patterson, Richmond; William Deveraux Langhorne and Harry Alexander Lowe, Chatham; Lionel Lodowick Burns, Bluefield; Harold Barbour Moore, Boones Mill; Charles Francis Nash, Portsmouth; Mark David Romilly, Alexandria; and Thomas Austin Withers, Roseland.

Memorial officials say anyone with information can contact Jeb Hockman at 804-786-2074 or by email at jhockman(at)vawarmemorial.org. AP




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