Rising from the Waves

first_imgBy Dialogo July 02, 2013 The earth had just stopped shaking in the early morning hours of February 27, 2010, when Captain Rodrigo Lledó joined other members of the Talcahuano Naval Base’s leadership in the commandant’s office. The lights were out, as in much of Chile. Telephone communication was cut off. In a building perched on a hillside over the bay, the officers worked to assess damage from the massive magnitude-8.8 earthquake and to ensure that ships in port immediately set sail. By 5:50 a.m., two hours had passed since the earthquake, and the officers began to believe they were safe from the threat of a tsunami. That’s when Capt. Lledó heard a very loud metallic noise while assessing base renovations from a hilltop that overlooks the bay and naval installations. “The vessels collided with each other. It was a very strong and strange noise, something you do not normally hear,” he told Diálogo. What Capt. Lledó heard was the sound of 300 shipping containers from across the bay being lifted by the waves and hurled in every direction. Waves of varying sizes rolled in from every direction, swamping parts of the base in up to 9 feet of water and pushing vessels onto land while ripping others from their berths, dragging vehicles and equipment to the bottom of the bay. More than 500 people were killed by the earthquake and tsunami along the length of Chile’s coast. Incredibly, no lives were lost at the Talcahuano Naval Base, though some Sailors were forced to swim for their lives. One officer was driving on the base when the tsunami hit. In the dark of night, his headlights showed a wave approaching from the front. He quickly threw his vehicle into reverse, but saw another wave coming from behind. The water lifted his truck and washed him off the road. He lowered his windows to try to escape, and his car filled with water and slammed into a tree. Miraculously, he escaped by swimming and climbing to higher ground. The base’s infrastructure was devastated. The undulating seafloor at the epicenter, 94 miles from the coast, caused 7-foot waves in Talcahuano. A 60-foot-by-360-foot dry dock filled with water, lifting a merchant vessel under repair out of the dock and onto the roof of a repair facility. A $62 million scientific research vessel that was due for christening by then-Chilean President Michelle Bachelet later that day was pulled from its dock, slammed around with a helpless crew aboard and luckily grounded on a soft sandbank, sparing its sensitive equipment from damage. While many combat and civilian fishing vessels set sail immediately after the earthquake for the safety of open waters, some, like those in repair, were unable to. Ultimately, the Navy did not lose any vessels. Several floating docks were damaged, with one sunk and deemed irreparable. In the city of Talcahuano, 3,000 homes were destroyed and 103 Sailors’ quarters on the base were lost. In all, Capt. Lledó, who returned from retirement to serve as chief of the team overseeing the base renovations, estimated there was $300 million in damage. Captain Harold Kauer, general manager of Chile’s public-private shipbuilding and ship repair company, ASMAR, estimated an additional $350 million in losses to the shipyard. A New Base With Talcahuano effectively destroyed, the most important naval base and shipyard in the country was inoperable. The 4,626-acre Talcahuano Naval Base and its 7,000 Sailors are strategically located 500 kilometers south of Santiago, maintaining a key defensive position in the South Pacific. The base includes the headquarters of the submarine force, arsenals, training camps for marines, a hospital and Sailor housing, schools and a ship for scientific investigation. The ASMAR shipyard included two dry docks, five floating docks, several repair shops and a storage warehouse. “There was an important commitment by the government to recover and rebuild all the areas and dependencies that suffered the worst damage,” said Lucia Dammert, a security and defense expert who teaches at the University of Santiago. “Within the geographic regional strategy, there was also an important investment to improve what was there before and make it operational again very quickly.” The Chilean government decided not just to rebuild, but to upgrade Talcahuano. Within three days, once the city of Talcahuano was secured, hundreds of naval cadets and community volunteers, working in three- to four-week rotations, began to clean and rebuild the community. Simultaneously, rotations of Sailors worked on the base to bring it back to operational condition. Capt. Lledó and his team, working closely with the commander of the Navy and the government, developed a three-phase plan to rebuild and upgrade the base. The Chilean Congress approved $212 million to supplement an undisclosed sum recovered for insured facilities and equipment. The Navy committed to a goal of bringing the base back to operational capacity in 18 months. The ASMAR facilities were operational in an astonishing four months — by July 1, 2010. By February 2013, the rebuilding plan was in its second phase, with 62 percent of repairs and improvements complete and $152 million spent. “We designed a new naval base,” Capt. Lledó said. The base upgrade has thus far included more than 2,100 feet of piers installed with earthquake-resistant pilings. All nonessential facilities were relocated to higher ground, including schools, homes and offices. Since 600 computers were lost in the tsunami, sensitive equipment in seaside buildings, including new power generation plants, was raised above flood levels. ASMAR is also expanding its ship-repair capacity by dredging the bay to a depth of 24 feet to accommodate more and larger ships. “For us, at first it was a disaster,” said Capt. Kauer, as he sat at his desk below a portrait of Chilean naval hero Arturo Prat. “Today, we have realized that it was a tremendous opportunity, and we are taking advantage to re-engineer shipbuilding, logistics, human resources and obviously, with a new commercial endeavor.” For Capt. Lledó, the son of a sailor and a lifelong submariner who spent 25 years at Talcahuano, coming out of retirement to rebuild the base has special meaning. “This, for me, is also a nice life goal, to be able to finish my naval work rebuilding the place where I have always lived and worked.”last_img read more

30 Days: 20 Red Tag specials are awaiting Cobb’s Liquor this holiday season

first_imgby Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — Those who drink responsibly know the importance of having the right variety of holiday spirits for the Christmas party and family gathering. Cobb’s Liquor is your one stop shop for your Christmas needs.Cobb’s Liquor, located at 1002 North A Street, is a mom-and-pop type liquor store – owned by James and Sandy Cobb of Wellington.The liquor store is located in one of the most unique locations in Wellington. You know where the round-about is? Then that’s where Cobb’s Liquor Store is. Just make the turn before you make the turns!Cobb’s Liquor has been a fixture in Wellington since 2001. And Cobb’s customers have never been disappointed about the prices available.“We have the lowest prices in Wellington,” Jamie Cobb said. Cobb doesn’t like to specifically name the items on specials. But look for the “Red Tag” special. Cobb’s usually has 20 tags in his store placed on specific alcoholic beverages for out-of-the-world savings. And the special is ever changing.And besides the price, what does Cobb’s Liquor do to preserve a dedicated customer base?“We have one of the greatest staffs anywhere,” Cobb said. “They are always there to help you.” How to contact them:Just give James and Sandy a call at 620-326-7677. Great Christmas stocking stuffers: Take your pick. Cobb’s has an outstanding selection of beers, wines, specialty liquors, and other spirits for the holiday.last_img read more

Questions of Govt policy-making keep piling up

first_imgDear Editor,The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) wishes to respond to a letter by Mr Robin Singh published on Friday, August 31, 2018 under the title “Questions for government policy making keep piling up.”The letter writer insinuates that the position of the GRA and that of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the granting of concessions for remigrants is the “source of much confusion.” He made reference to the recent views expressed in the press by the Honourable Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Commissioner-General of the GRA.The Authority wishes to state categorically that the views of the two Agencies are in no way at odds. The Agencies are tasked with differing roles and responsibilities. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs ensures that the remigrant meets the criteria set out in the said scheme for being a remigrant; while the Ministry of Finance, through the GRA, is responsible for administering the tax concessions. Administering allows the GRA to withhold, suspend, or cancel the concessions when the remigrant is in breach of the conditions of the scheme.In the case of motor vehicles, the exemption of duties on motor vehicles is granted on conditions pursuant to Sections 23 and 36 of the Customs Act, Chapter 82:01. These clearly state that the remigrant must:* Maintain legal residence in Guyana in accordance with Section 2 of the Income Tax Act, Chapter 81:01, for five (5) years from the date of registration of the vehicle* Report to the GRA in person every six (6) months with the motor vehicle certification of road worthiness/fitness, insurance and registration of inspection* Reside in the country for at least 183 days of each year until the five-year period has expired* Use the vehicle as a primary mode of transportation, and ensure that it remains in his/her possession within the five (5) years without being leased, transferred or sold.The Commissioner-General’s remarks on the breaches are factual. There have been blatant breaches in the remigrant conditions specified. The statement that “one in every three” of the concessions is breached can be borne out by the figures and visits to remigrant residences, where the “high end” vehicles cannot be found and the remigrant cannot be located. Investigations have revealed that funds are provided to prospective remigrants, who buy the said high-end vehicles and transfer possession by means of powers of attorney, then return overseas during the stipulated period that they are required to remain in Guyana. Some of these high-end vehicles include Rolls Royces, Hummers, Range Rovers, and Ferraris.To curb this practice, the GRA has been requesting the source of funds for these applicants. These acts constitute serious offences that warrant the Commissioner-General, under Section 36 of the Customs Act, to impose penalties, inclusive of forfeiture or fines in lieu of forfeiture. In December 31, 2017 alone, over $50 million in fines, penalties and duties were recouped from these individuals.Lastly, the Commissioner-General’s views on tax credits versus exemptions are well known. These views are in keeping with international norms and those of the Tax Reform Committee of which he was a member.Sincerely,Godfrey StatiaCommissioner-Generallast_img read more