The Cause of the Cruise Ship Disaster

By: Brian Bass,

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — A Coast Guard official said Monday that the cause of the engine-room fire on the Carnival cruise ship Triumph was a leak in a fuel oil return line.

Cmdr. Teresa Hatfield gave the description in a conference call with reporters and estimated that the investigation of the disabled ship would take six months.

Hatfield said the Bahamas —where the ship is registered, or flagged — is leading the investigation, with the Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board leading U.S. interests in the probe.

She said investigators have been with the ship since it arrived Thursday in Mobile. Since then, she said, interviews have been conducted with passengers and crew and forensic analysis has been performed on the ship.

She said the crew responded appropriately to the fire. “They did a very good job,” she said.

In an email after Monday’s conference call, Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Diaz described the oil return line that leaked as stretching from the ship’s No. 6 engine to the fuel tank.

The Triumph left Galveston, Texas, on Feb. 7 for a four-day trip to Mexico. The fire paralyzed the ship early Feb. 10, leaving it adrift in the Gulf of Mexico until tugboats towed it to Mobile. Passengers described harsh conditions on board: overflowing toilets, long lines for food, foul odors and tent cities for sleeping on deck.

Hatfield said investigators from the Coast Guard and NTSB would stay with the ship until about the end of the week, then continue work at their respective offices. She said the investigation will look further at the cause of the fire and the crew’s response, as well as why the ship was disabled so long.

UTC Student Meets His Brother on Facebook

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP/The Loop)- Have you ever received a Facebook message from someone you don’t know? For UTC senior Ryan Van Winkle, during March of 2012, someone from New York kept sending him the message “Hey”.

“For a while I didn’t respond to him,” Van Winkle said, “I do not know anyone farther north than Kentucky so I was sure this kid from New York was just some weirdo.”

But time passed and eventually curiosity got the best of Ryan.

“One night I was sitting with friends in my basement on the computer and the kid messaged me again. One of my friends told me to message him back and see what he wants to get rid of him. So I did. I sent ‘Hey man watsup’.”

Minutes later, Van Winkle received a message that read: ‘I think I’m your brother.’

Van Winkle said, “The entire basement went pretty quiet when we all read that.”

The kid from New York was named Marcus Costello, and after talking that night both Ryan and Marcus figured out have they same father; who neither had seen since they were very young.  The mutual grandmother who lives with Marcus in New York knew of Ryan and told Marcus to try to find him on the internet.

Ryan Van Winkle

“We talked consistently for the next few weeks,” Van Winkle said,”It was strange how similar Marcus and I were even though we grew up so differently.”

Marcus Costello (in middle)

 Ryan eventually learned of a whole new family he had never met.  Marcus then offered Ryan an invitation to their family reunion in South Carolina that summer.

Van Winkle said, “At first I was hesistant because I had no idea who these people were or what they thought of me.  There was just a lot of doubt in my mind as to how they would accept me.”

Ryan put his fears aside, however, and made the trip to South Carolina to meet this new family.

“It could not have gone better,” Ryan says, with a smile on his face, “As soon as I walked in I wasn’t a stranger, I was family.”

Ryan has kept in touch with Marcus and has grown a strong relationship with the rest of the family.  His new grandmother has become an important part of Ryan’s life and has a finance internship set up for him this summer in Philadelphia.

“It’s really amazing”, Ryan says, “She has the exact career that I want and is going to help put me on the path to my dream job. It is hard to believe this time last year I didn’t know she existed.”

Mocs Enjoy Warm Weather

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) — An end to winter’s bitter cold will come soon, according to Pennsylvania’s famous groundhog.

Following a recent stretch of weather that’s included temperatures well below freezing as well as record warmth, tornadoes in the South and Midwest and torrential rains in the mid-Atlantic, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his lair Saturday in front of thousands but didn’t see his shadow.

Legend has it that if the furry rodent sees his shadow on Feb. 2 on Gobbler’s Knob in west-central Pennsylvania, winter will last six more weeks. But if he doesn’t see his shadow, spring will come early.

The prediction is made during a ceremony overseen by a group called the Inner Circle. Members don top hats and tuxedos for the ceremony on Groundhog Day each year.

Bill Deeley, president of the Inner Circle, says that after “consulting” with Phil, he makes the call in deciphering what the world’s Punxsutawney Phil has to say about the weather.

Phil is known as the “seer of seers” and “sage of sages.” Organizers predicted about 20,000 people this weekend, a larger-than-normal crowd because Groundhog Day falls on a weekend this year.

“I just hope he’s right and we get warmer weather soon,” said Mike McKown, 45, an X-ray technician who drove up from Lynchburg, Va., with his mother.

Phil’s got company in the forecasting department. There’s Staten Island Chuck, in New York; General Beauregard Lee, in Atlanta; and Wiarton Willie, in Wiarton, Ontario, among others noted by the National Climactic Data Center “Groundhog Day” Web page.

“Punxsutawney can’t keep something this big to itself,” the Data Center said. “Other prognosticating rodents are popping up to claim a piece of the action.”

Phil is the original — and the best, Punxsutawney partisans insist.

The 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray brought even more notoriety to the Pennsylvania party. The record attendance was about 30,000 the year after the movie’s release, said Katie Donald, executive director of the Groundhog Club. About 13,000 attend if Feb. 2 falls on a weekday.

Phil’s predictions, of course, are not always right on. Last year, for example, he told people to prepare for six more weeks of winter, a minority opinion among his groundhog brethren. The Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University later listed that January to June as the warmest seven-month period since systematic records began being kept in 1895.

“We’ll just mark it up as a mistake last year. He’ll be correct this year,” McKown said hopefully.


Ron Todt reported from Philadelphia.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

The Time is Now for Men’s Tennis Team

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP/The Loop)- With six seniors on the ladder for the men’s tennis team this year, the expectaions have reached new highs.  After winning SoCon Frehsman of the Year four years ago, South African Roberto Vieira leads the Mocs on the campaign for their first conference title since 2000. 

Vieira knows all too well the expectaions that fall on his team this year. 

“We know what we are capable of,” Vieira said,  “and we know what is expected from us especially with six seniors, now its our job to go out there and get it done.”

The guys will have to contend with perrenial powerhouses Elon, and the College of Charleston, if they want to take home the conference trophy this season.  Both teams, like Chattanooga, are full of veteren leadership.

However, Argentine and Senior Mannuel Barroetavena isn’t concerned by the talent that covers the Southern confernce.

Senior Manuel Barroetavena

Barroetavena said, “We know Elon, we know Charleston, we know they are good teams. But we also know how good we are and how hard we have worked.  We can beat anyone if we play how we are capable.”

So far, the guys are off to a solid start, going 5-2 with three matches left to play until conference showdowns begin.  Their first home match will be a big test against College of Charleston.  That match will be Saturday, March 2nd at 1 p.m. Attendance is free so come to the UTC tennis courts to show your support as these men begin their chase for the championship.


UTC Bad Luck Brian Twitter account drawing huge following.

By Brian Bass

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP/The Loop) – Students at UTC are quickly realizing that if you want to follow a UTC Twitter account, you are going to run into options. There are the typical accounts that are run by the school or by different departments that are moderated and updated by faculty.
These accounts update students about changes in class times, when different clubs meet, and other school related activities.

However, an anonymous student runs the most popular account that involves a more personal look at the life of a UTC student. The Twitter feed @UTCBadLuckBrian, which describes the negative and unlucky encounters a UTC student can come across in an average day, and has drawn thousands of followers.

Miles Magallanes, senior from Nashville, says he enjoys following the account because many things that happen to “UTC Brian”, have happened to him.
“Whether it’s getting a quiz on syllabus day or not being able to park’, Magallanes said, “the Bad Luck Brian usually nails the problems of this school.”

The popularity of the account seems to grow by the hour.
Chad Roberts, a senior from Franklin, says the reason students love the Twitter feed is because it creates a common bond.
Roberts says, “Even if you love UTC you will see something on the Twitter feed that has happened to you and makes you laugh.”

Students get big laughs from new Twitter account.

The UTC BadLuckBrian has over 1,200 followers with that number growing every day.

Criticism of the accounts has come from the controversy over multiple comments made about the school’s Greek system, in particular, individual fraternities and sororities.
Posts involving Greek stereotypes and rumors about fraternities and sororities have started online fights over their validity with many Greek members.

The most hotly debated post came over the reason for Sigma Chi’s probationary period this year.  The fraternity claimed the post to be  false and wanted it taken down.

As of now, university officials have no plans to become involved in the Twitter account.

Forget Knoxville, I’m Gettin’ Paid

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP/ The Loop) -Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, wide receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson and defensive end Darrington Sentimore are bypassing their senior seasons to enter the NFL draft.

Tennessee quaterback Tyler Bray

The university announced their decisions in a release Wednesday.

Patterson caught 46 passes for 778 yards and five touchdowns this fall as a first-team all-Southeastern Conference all-purpose player. Hunter had 73 receptions for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns as a second-team all-SEC pick. Both are considered potential first-round selections.

Bray threw for 3,612 yards and 34 touchdowns this season to rank second on Tennessee’s single-season list in both categories, behind Peyton Manning’s 3,819 yards and 36 touchdown passes in 1997. Bray also threw 12 interceptions.

 Copyright 2013 The Associated Press