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Carmi Rotary learns about recent Navy ship collisions

At Thursday’s meeting of the Carmi Rotary club, US Navy veteran Don Drone presented a fascinating look at the two recent Navy collisions in the far east.

On June 17th of this year, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan. This accident happened at 1:30 in the morning, and the incident cost the lives of seven Navy personnel. Don explained to the Rotarians the amount of servicemen that would normally be on watch or manning the radar on a ship, and the accident almost seems impossible with that manpower on duty.

The US Navy has relieved the top three officers of the ship of duty, and shortly after that announcement, the head of the 7th Fleet was also removed from duty.

Barely two months later, on August 21st, the USS John McCain was travelling through the Strait of Malacca, near Singapore, when it was struck by a merchant ship as well. In that accident ten more sailors lost their lives.

Don explained that ships on the open sea and in port fall in to two categories: they are either Ships of Burden, or Ships of Privilege. Ships of Burden are supposed to carry the burden of making sure other ships have safe passage, while Ships of Privilege have the right of way, as long as they maintain their course and speed. At this time, both wrecks are under investigation, so it is not known what category our ships fell under.

As with the first accident, the CO and XO of the McCain were relieved of duty, effectively ending their Navy careers.

Don stated that the Navy strength is currently down by 20%, while the commitments around the world have not gone down, and in fact are increasing. With that in mind, there have been reports that sailors are working 100 hour weeks, which some think might have contributed to the crashes. As Don noted, though, there is not a lot to do on board the ships other than work, so that may or may not have been a factor. Don showed the Rotarians a very interesting website: www.marinetraffic.com which keeps up with ships all over the world almost in real time.

In other club news, Pastor Randy Douglass showed a brief video which was a modern day reenactment of the classic Abbot and Costello skit of “Who’s on First?” This updated version featured Jimmy Fallon, Billy Crystal, and Jerry Seinfeld, and is available to see on You Tube.

The Rotarians discussed the upcoming Chili Supper, which will be held on Friday, October 27th at the Lion’s Den in Carmi. Tickets are only seven dollars per person. Food will be served between the hours of 5:00 and 7:00 that night and can be purchased in advance from any Rotarian or can by picked up at the door.

Also on the horizon for the Carmi Rotary club is the Fall Trivia contest. This year’s even will be held on Saturday, November 4th at the American Legion in Carmi. More info to follow shortly on this big event.

Patrick Haskell was named the day’s phantom, and Kent Armstrong won the 50/50 drawing but did not claim the day’s growing cash prize.

The Carmi Rotary club meets every Thursday at noon at the First United Methodist Church on Main Street in Carmi. Anyone wishing to learn more about this civic organization is welcome to attend a meeting or speak with any Carmi Rotarian.