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Pacific edition, Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sailors aboard the USNS Shasta rescued all five crewmembers aboard a commercial cargo ship that had caught fire on its way from Busan, South Korea, to the Solomon Islands, a Navy news release says.

On Saturday, the Shasta, an ammunition ship from Military Sea- lift Command, got a request from 7th Fleet to come to the aid of a ship in distress, the release says.

The Shasta raced 90 miles to the cargo ship in about four hours, finding the crew OK but the ship itself dead in the water. The next day, the Shasta began towing the ship to Saipan.

“We had a lot of rigging to accomplish to get the towing bridle aboard and in place,” Boatswain’s Mate Ronald Hanses is quoted as saying in the release. “Without mechanical power, it was a tough job pulling a towing rig from one ship to another. It helps to have that knack for improvising.”

The rescued crewmembers were taken aboard the Shasta, where they received medical attention, food, clean clothing and $800 in donations raised by the Shasta’s sailors.

Japanese officials to watch nuclear ship drillYokosuka city and Japanese government officials are visiting Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Washington State to observe a drill involving a nuclear-powered ship conducted by the U.S. Navy and the local city, U.S. Navy and Yokosuka city officials said.

While in the States, the Japanese officials also were to hold their fourth meeting with the Navy to discuss nuclear carrier safety measures and scenarios for the drill Yokosuka city plans to conduct this fall, a Yokosuka city official said.

Yokosuka will host its first nuclear-powered ship, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington, in 2008. The Navy and Yokosuka city signed a document in March stating that the Navy and the city will work together in case of an emergency. The group will return to Japan on Friday, the official said.

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