1. good collection of stories about this crash, with this note from the editor, Zeina Karam
Editor’s note - From day one, Lebanese officials have rushed to blame Ethiopian Airlines for the crash, even though they have never had any evidence whatsoever. The box - and not the crucial cockpit voice recorder (CVR) - was recovered today, which means nothing, but the Lebanese government has already made up its mind that ‘pilot error’ was behind the crash. Ethiopian Airlines has clearly an impending battle with Beirut so much even today’s story is wrongly headlined: “2nd black box found,” while the crucial CVR which records pilot communication with the air traffic controllers at Beirut Airport is still missing.
2. Ethiopia: sabotage not ruled out
ADDIS ABABA - ETHIOPIAN Airlines said on Wednesday it still believed sabotage may have caused the crash of one of its aircraft off Lebanon last month which killed all 90 people on board….The Lebanese Army said the plane had broken up in the air before plummeting into the sea. Witnesses described it as crashing in a ball of flame. The airline said only the data recorder had been found. ‘The cockpit voice recorder and the aircraft wreckage are not yet retrieved for analysis. It is therefore too early to conclude the cause of the accident,’ the company said. — REUTERS
3. Lebanon: no sabotage. !!! also no time limits. also the black box is missing the voice recorder piece.
Lebanon hit back at Ethiopian Airlines, saying there is no evidence at all of any sabotage act behind the plane disaster as claims mounted after sources said that a pilot error caused the crash. Meanwhile, the coastal strip of Naameh south of Beirut was declared “off-limits” for search teams.
“There is no time limit on search operations,” a ministerial source said in remarks published Thursday by the daily As-Safir.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri was keen during a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday not to politicize the plane disaster.
…Information Minister Tareq Mitri, however, said Wednesday that Lebanon has not received any official information about contents of the first black box. One of the plane’s two black boxes recovered on Sunday has been sent to France for analysis. Results, however, will not come out before five or six months. Search teams on Wednesday pulled the second black box but an essential piece was missing.
“The base of the second black box from the ill-fated Ethiopian jet has been recovered; however, it appeared that the part containing the memory device of the cockpit voice recorder was separated from the base,” said a statement by the Lebanese army.
4. Ocean Alert and gold
Do the Lebanese officials know that the owner company of the Ocean Alert vessel, which is taking part in the search for the crashed plane, has already worked in the Lebanese territorial waters prospecting for gold, which is believed to have sunken in 1957?
Do the Lebanese know that the Odyssey Explorer vessel was involved in “piracy operations in Lebanese waters” and that the two ships were grounded in Spain in 2007 on suspicion of damaging Spain’s “heritage”?
The orange-colored “black box” has been shipped to France at 5 a.m. yesterday aboard a private plane provided by PM Saad Hariri. The plane also carried members of the investigation committee.
The victims’ families staged their first protest yesterday 15 days after the tragedy. They mainly protested against “the slow recovery of the bodies” and called for allowing civilian divers to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Marine Commando units.
5. History of the Ocean Alert, from the brokers that last sold the ship : date unknown but later than 2002
This ship has had a colourful history beginning life as the Canadian Coast Guard vessel CS Alert. Refitted with a 10 tonne A Frame capable of operating two mini manned submarines, Ocean Alert was chartered by a civilian company for numerous tasks including filming, several surveys and research projects worldwide. While underway towards Papua New Guinea to undertake research into Dolphin behaviour, her Charterers ran into financial trouble and she became stuck in Malta and was eventually sold.
It was soon realised that Ocean Alert provided the platform needed to extend any business and offer a low cost responsive and flexible option to their customers at the same time. After taking specialist advice, her new owners decided that an extensive refit and reclassification was required and decided to keep the vessel in Malta.
Lloyds were contracted to guide the reclassification and documentation through in Malta. The surveyor in charge and the new owners in Malta were both meticulous and thorough so the new owners now had a new regard for Lloyds 100A1 vessels and an understanding what standards ships have to be to gain this classification.
The vessel now fully complies with all major legal requirements and legislative standards and is ready for charter. The new owners were very fortunate firstly in having a top rate and hard working ship crew who, amongst other jobs, completely rebuilt the ship’s four engines, three generators and just about everything else mechanical required for the special survey.
Malta has a fine skill base centrally located in the Mediterranean so many local contractors were used. Malta Dry-docks proved to be the second fortunate choice. They were an invaluable partner during the refit, undertaking the majority of the structural work including large amounts of steel renewal.
The replacement of thirty-nine frames, six shell plates and a large section of keel have helped to produced a fine strong vessel fit to operate safely for many years to come. MDD carried out all work to Lloyd’s satisfaction in a timely and cost-effective manner.
In general, Ocean Alert is a versatile vessel and can undertake work in several fields of operation. Traditionally the new owners have been involved in supporting the cable industry primarily through route clearance and Pre Lay Grapnel Runs (PLGR) and will continue to do so operating a variety of vessels including their own ship Ocean Alert. Additional to this work and since acquiring the ship, the company now have been approached to charter the vessel in other areas such as Hydro graphic surveying, pipe and cable route survey, seabed research, ROV operation, wreck and debris investigation and filming.
Through a wide range of equipment such as gate valves, cranes and a moon-pool, A frame and winch the ship has the capability to respond to such requests. For instance, the retractable moon-pool makes the fitting and interchanging of transducers and other sensors cheap and quick, features not found on today’s mass produced ships. The 240 sq M covered aft deck / work area makes her adaptable and an ideal platform for a variety of tasks. Ocean Alert has air-conditioned accommodation for 30 supernumeraries, a dedicated survey room and a comfortable, spacious, well-appointed lounge.
She is certified to work worldwide except ice regions, and has capacities to stay at sea for a minimum of thirty days having spacious freezers and two desalinators. Her legacy from the coast guard as a search and rescue vessel gives her a top speed of 24 knots and a steaming speed at 10 knots on two of the four engines consuming only 8 tonnes of fuel per day including the generators. The two controllable pitch four blade propellers and twin rudders combine with the 200 Hp bow-thrust to give her a high degree of manoeuvrability enabling operation in waters ranging from 10m to Deep Ocean.
The teddy bears in each cabin and names for the main engine symbolises the level of care and attention to detail the owner lavishes on Ocean Alert compared to that received by vessel that form part of larger fleets. The owners have built themselves a reputation based on the philosophy of a fair price for a good job and this has extended into their new venture - Ocean Alert.
This proud ship has been looked after and it can now repay its owners in the same way as it has repaid the previous navigators of the seven seas and that is to convey its cargo and crew to new challenges in safety and comfort. Previously owned by the Canadian Coastguard. Chartered by the famous and respected Oracle of the sea Mr Jacques Cousteau and sent on voyages all over the world, chartering this vessel is indeed chartering a truly magnificent past coupled with a remarkable owner for the future.
also: 10/1/03 When the auctioneer’s hammer crashed down in the Maltese Court, AKA Maritime Ltd became the owner of the 72m research and survey vessel Ocean Alert.
also: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute website page on the Ocean Alert - St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
The ship currently appears to be owned by Odyssey Marine Exploration. It is registered in Panama.
Basically, Odyssey Marine Exploration are in the business of treasure hunting.
6. BBC: July 13, 2007: Spain seizes ship in treasure row
The Spanish Civil Guard has intercepted a boat operated by a US company amid a row over treasure from a shipwreck.
The guard had been ordered by a Spanish judge to seize the vessel as soon as it left the British colony of Gibraltar. Gibraltar officials and Odyssey Marine Exploration, which owns the ship, said Spain had boarded the ship illegally as it was in international waters. In May, Odyssey said it had found $500m (£253m) in coins from a 17th Century wreck somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Madrid suspects the sunken galleon may either have been Spanish or have gone down in Spanish waters. The salvaged booty, which included half a million silver coins and hundreds of gold objects, has already been flown back to the US.
‘Threat of force’
After leaving Gibraltar, the Ocean Alert was picked up at about 0700 GMT on Thursday off Europa Point and sent to the Spanish port of Algeciras to be searched, the Civil Guard said.
The guard was investigating a possible “offence against Spanish historic heritage”, it said in a statement.
Odyssey said the boarding was illegal and said the Civil Guard threatened to use force if Ocean Alert’s captain did not follow orders. It said Spain had earlier promised the ship would be searched at sea.
“At this point, Odyssey is assuming that the action on the part of the Guardia Civil is a miscommunication between Spanish authorities,” the Florida-based company said in a statement. A spokesman for the governor of Gibraltar said the ship was in international waters at the time it was seized.
A lawyer for Odyssey, Allen von Spiegelfeld, told Reuters news agency that Spain had not sought permission to board Ocean Alert from officials in Panama, where it is registered.
“The owners of the vessel have contacted the Panamanian maritime authorities protesting the seizure on international waters,” Mr von Spiegelfeld said.
Spain has launched legal action over the treasure and the wreck.Some experts believe the wreck to be the Merchant Royal, an English ship carrying stolen Spanish treasure which sank in 1641. US coin expert Dr Lane Brunner has said there is evidence the shipwreck was found off England’s Cornish coast. Odyssey has kept the location of its find secret, citing security and legal reasons.