SoundingsGlobal Xpress to Provide Mobile Broadband to Americas, Atlantic Ocean. Inmarsat (London, England) scheduled the launch of Inmarsat-5 F2 (I-5 F2) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on February 1 as part of the Global Xpress (GX) service that will create the world’s first globally available, high-speed mobile broadband offering, delivered through a single network operator. GX will deliver broadband speeds more than 100 times faster than the company’s fourth generation (I-4) constellation, even in the remotest and most inaccessible regions of the world. The first Global Xpress satellite, Inmarsat-5 F1, was launched in December 2013 and entered regional commercial service in July 2014, covering Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Inmarsat-5 F2 will provide GX services covering the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean. Following the launch of Inmarsat-5 F3, scheduled for the second quarter of 2015, Inmarsat plans to commence global commercial GX services early in the second half of the year.
US Executive Order Calls for Greater National Coordination in Arctic. In advance of the U.S. assuming chairmanship of the Arctic Council in April 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order that directs federal departments and agencies to increase coordination among federal, State of Alaska, tribal and local governments, and Alaska Natives. The order also requests enhanced consultation between the federal government and the State of Alaska, Alaska Natives, industry, academic and research institutions, and nongovernmental stakeholders. This underscores the Arctic’s growth in long-term strategic, ecological, cultural and economic significance. Issues such as extended Continental Shelf claims, opening of sea routes that could significantly reduce transit time for transoceanic shipping, and access to resources are coming to the forefront of geopolitical discussions. U.S. strategic priorities during its Arctic Council chairmanship are: advancing U.S. security interests, pursuing responsible Arctic region stewardship and strengthening international cooperation.
First Hyperbaric Reception Facility in Mideast. Unique Maritime Group (Sharjah, United Arab Emirates) has set up the first hyperbaric reception facility (HRF) in the Middle East to ensure that in the event of an emergency evacuation of a diving support vessel with divers in saturation, a more controlled and comfortable decompression and medical treatment will be available for the divers. The HRF dive chamber can receive a self-propelled hyperbaric lifeboat with a bottom mating trunk or a hyperbaric rescue chamber via an end-mate or a side-mate custom spool and clamp arrangement, both of which can be transported to the HRF onshore, where monitoring and decompression of the divers can be safely completed.
NOAA Winners for Coastal Management Excellence. NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management has named the winners of the 2014 Walter B. Jones Memorial Awards for Excellence in Coastal Ocean Resource Management, an award given for exemplary leadership and a commitment to balancing the human use of coastal and ocean resources with the needs of the environment: Coastal Steward of the Year—H. Lee Edmiston of Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve and Spencer Rogers of North Carolina Sea Grant; Excellence in Local Government—Chagrin River Watershed Partners in Ohio, Currituck County in North Carolina, Town of Durham in New Hampshire, Monmouth County in New Jersey, and Town of North Kingstown in Rhode Island; and Excellence in Coastal and Marine Graduate Study—Kimberly Bittler of University of Texas Marine Science Institute, Barbara Doll of North Carolina State University, Brent Hughes of University of California – Santa Cruz, Justin Ridge of University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Paul Rudershausen of North Carolina State University, and Sharon Settlage of North Carolina State University.
Wave Energy Prize Looks to Finance Game Changer. With more than half of the American population living within 50 miles of the coastline, a wave energy industry with cost-competitive technologies has the ability to provide a substantial amount of electricity to the U.S. However, existing wave energy converter (WEC) concepts are still in the early stages of technological development and are not yet cost-competitive. What if in the next two years the wave energy industry achieved a technology leap so revolutionary that it would make the cost of wave energy competitive with traditional sources of energy? The U.S. Department of Energy’s Wave Energy Prize (www.waveenergyprize.org) aims to encourage the development of more efficient wave energy devices to reduce the cost of wave energy. Ultimately, the winner(s) of the prize, who will receive cash prizes totaling more than $1 million, will deliver a WEC device capable of cutting in half the cost of producing electricity from ocean waves by the end of the 18-month competition. Registration for the prize is scheduled to begin April 2015.
Proposals for Environmental Tech. The Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) is requesting proposals for demonstration of environmental technologies. Fiscal year 2016 funds will be awarded through a competitive process to federal and private organizations. The U.S. Department of Defense call for proposals requests preproposals related to: environmental restoration, munitions response in underwater environments, resource conservation, and weapons systems and platforms. The broad agency announcement and call for proposals for federal organizations outside the Defense Department request preproposals for: management of contaminated groundwater; and detection, classification and remediation of military munitions in underwater environments. The due date for all preproposals is March 12, 2015. More information is available at http://bit.ly/1uCLW28.