Saturday, December 19, 2009

General Dynamics Littoral Combat Ship Team Delivers Independence (LCS 2) and Lays Keel for Coronado (LCS 4)

MOBILE, Ala., Dec. 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The General Dynamics Littoral Combat Ship Team today delivered Independence (LCS 2), its innovative high-speed trimaran combatant ship, to the United States Navy. The ship was constructed by team member Austal USA in Mobile. The delivery of Independence was preceded by the keel laying of its sister ship, Coronado (LCS 4), on Thursday, December 17.
Captain Dean Krestos, USN, Commanding Officer Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair, Bath, Maine, officially accepted custody of Independence (LCS 2), the Navy's first warship configured with a trimaran hull form. After signing the custody transfer documentation, Captain Krestos noted, "It gives me great pleasure, on behalf of the United States Navy, to accept delivery of the LCS-2, Independence, bringing to the fleet the second ship of this exciting new class of surface combatants."
A brief ceremony was conducted at Austal USA Headquarters to commemorate the ship's delivery. Those present included RDML James Murdoch, USN, the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship program manager; CDR Curt Renshaw and CDR Mike Riley, the ship's Blue and Gold Crew Commanding Officers; Jim Baskerville, vice president of the LCS Program for General Dynamics Bath Iron Works; Bob Browning, Austal Managing Director; Joe Rella, Austal USA President and Chief Operating Officer; and other Navy and General Dynamics LCS Team representatives.
RDML Murdoch, speaking on behalf of the Navy, praised the combined efforts of the Navy / industry team in delivering LCS 2 and the characteristics of the ship itself. Speaking for the entire General Dynamics LCS Team, Baskerville said, "Delivering Independence is a significant accomplishment for our team. Today, we provide the Navy with a new and highly capable warship equipped with extraordinary aviation features, large payload capacity and an open architecture computing environment for future missions – all contained within an extremely fast, stable and efficient trimaran hull form to support the Navy's needs today and tomorrow. We've designed Independence to fight – and we've built it to win."
Independence (LCS 2) will remain in Mobile, Ala., awaiting its commissioning on January 16, 2010, marking the first time a Navy ship has been commissioned in the city since 1945. After commissioning, the Navy will operate the ship in preparation for the ship's next set of trials in the summer of 2010.
High resolution still images and video clips of Independence at sea are available at
On Thursday, a brief keel laying ceremony was held in Mobile at Austal USA's Assembly Bay 4 to record completion of the first major construction milestone for what will soon be the Navy's second high-speed trimaran Littoral Combat Ship, Coronado (LCS 4). In attendance were a number of Navy representatives, including RDML James Murdoch, Navy Littoral Combat Ship Program Manager, and members of the General Dynamics Littoral Combat Ship Team, including members of the Austal USA work force. The keel module, a large outfitted section of the aluminum ship's center hull, was the centerpiece of the ceremony.
In welcoming attendees, Baskerville said, "This is a significant day for the entire GD LCS Team and our Navy counterparts in Washington, Bath and Mobile. The lessons learned during the construction of Independence are already being applied to Coronado to ensure it will be, like Independence, a highly capable and effective platform to support the Navy's needs."
Speaking for the Navy, RDML Murdoch noted the significant facility and efficiency improvements being made at Austal to the benefit of Coronado and future LCS ships. He also expressed high confidence and respect for the sailors that will serve and take Coronado into harm's way.
Coronado (LCS 4) is scheduled for delivery in June 2012.
Independence and Coronado are major parts of the Navy's plan to address asymmetric threats in the 21st century. Intended to operate in coastal areas, the ships will be fast, highly maneuverable and equipped to support mine detection/elimination, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare mission.
The ships' highly flexible OPEN CI design, developed and integrated by a General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems team, allows "plug and play" integration of both the core systems and the LCS mission modules. It meets Navy open architecture requirements, strictly adheres to published industry standards and facilitates the integration of commercially available products.
General Dynamics Bath Iron Works is the prime contractor for the General Dynamics Littoral Combat Ship Team. Partners include shipbuilder Austal USA (Mobile, AL); General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems (Fairfax, VA); BAE Systems (Rockville, MD); L3 Communications Marine Systems (Leesburg, VA); Maritime Applied Physics Corporation (Baltimore, MD); and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems (Baltimore, MD).
Bath Iron Works employs approximately 5,500 people. Since 1991, BIW has manufactured and delivered 31 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers; the shipyard is also building the lead ship of the Navy's Zumwalt (DDG 1000) class of guided missile destroyers.
Austal USA's Mobile facility currently employs almost 1,000 workers and is one of the largest aluminum shipyards in the world. In addition to the LCS, recent projects have included construction of the largest-ever aluminum ferry in the United States. Austal is also in the pre-construction design phase on the first Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV) for the U.S. Department of Defense.
General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems is a provider of end-to-end mission solutions in systems integration, development and operations support to customers in the defense, intelligence, space and homeland security communities. The company integrates land, air, sea, space and cyber assets to facilitate the collection, exploitation, analysis and dissemination of mission-critical intelligence information.
General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., employs approximately 92,300 people worldwide. The company is a market leader in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat systems, armaments and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and information systems and technologies. More information about General Dynamics is available online at

US STOCKS-Wall St rises in choppy trade; tech lifts Nasdaq

* U.S. dollar advance weighs on broader market
* Tech clings to slight gains after RIM, Oracle results
* Dow up 0.2 pct; S&P 500 up 0.6 pct; Nasdaq up 1.5 pct
* For up-to-the-minute market news.
By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Dec 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Friday in choppy trade as quarterly results from Oracle and Research In Motion lifted the Nasdaq more than 1 percent, but the U.S. dollar's climb curbed gains in both the Dow and the S&P 500.
The Nasdaq was led higher by Oracle Corp (ORCL.O) shares, which jumped 6.4 percent to $24.34, and the U.S.-listed stock of Research In Motion Inc (RIMM.O)(RIM.TO), which surged 10.3 percent to $69.99. For details see [ID:nN17242916] and [ID:nN17171897]
Despite the lift from these earnings-related stories, the robust dollar sapped much of the broader market's strength.
The U.S. dollar index .DXY climbed as much as 0.6 percent, but pared gains late in the session, easing some of the selling pressure on stocks. For the day, the U.S. dollar index ended just marginally higher -- up 0.03 percent.
Shares of multinational companies suffered from the greenback's rise. Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) fell 0.6 percent to $57.19, while plane maker Boeing Co (BA.N) was the biggest drag on the Dow, off 1.9 percent at $53.44.
Geopolitical concerns supported the flight to the U.S. dollar following reports that Iranian troops had entered Iraqi territory and raised the Iranian flag at an oilfield whose ownership is disputed by Iran.
"If there is tension developing in the Middle East, that would positive for the dollar because that would bring flight to safety ... that, in turn, could be negative for the equities markets," said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.
A strong U.S. dollar forces investors who have bet on a decline in the greenback to cover their short dollar positions by selling equities or other assets.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI added 20.63 points, or 0.20 percent, to 10,328.89. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX gained 6.39 points, or 0.58 percent, to 1,102.47. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC climbed 31.64 points, or 1.45 percent, to 2,211.69.
For the week, the the Dow fell 1.3 percent, the S&P shed 0.3 percent and the Nasdaq rose 1 percent.
The declines snapped a two-week winning streak for the Dow and a three-week series of gains for the S&P 500.
Trading was choppy as Friday marked the expiration of December options and futures, a convergence known as quadruple witching that often means increased volatility as big investors adjust or exercise derivatives positions.
In addition the market was set to see an adjustment to the S&P 500. Visa Inc (V.N), up 2.2 percent at $88.97, is among companies that will be the newest additions to the benchmark index after the close.
Volume was extremely heavy on the New York Stock Exchange, with 3.16 billion shares changing hands -- more than double last year's estimated daily average of 1.49 billion. On the Nasdaq, about 2.86 billion shares traded, well above last year's daily average of 2.28 billion.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a ratio of 3 to 2, while on the Nasdaq, 16 stocks rose for every 11 that fell. (Editing by Jan Paschal)

Textron Renews Convergys HR Solutions Contract

CINCINNATI & PROVIDENCE, R.I.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Convergys Corporation (NYSE: CVG - News), a global leader in relationship management, today announced that Textron (NYSE: TXT - News), a multi-industry company with a global network of aircraft, defense, industrial, and financial businesses, has renewed its human resources management contract with Convergys. The five-year agreement extends through 2014.
Convergys will continue to provide HR and payroll administration services, including data entry, for nearly 37,000 Textron employees in the US, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Europe. In addition, Convergys will take over management of Textron’s tuition reimbursement process.
“The decision to renew our contract with Convergys reflects the flexibility of its solutions and the long-standing relationship we have with the Convergys team,” said Mike Russo, Human Resources Executive for Textron. “Our mutually-beneficial partnership has enabled us to work together so seamlessly that Convergys truly has become an extension of our Human Resources team, and is an important factor in the accomplishment of our goals.”
“Textron has been a valued client since 2003,” added John Gibson, president of the Human Resources Management business for Convergys. “In that time, we have helped Textron to streamline its HR processes while providing the flexibility it seeks to meet the changing needs of its employees. Textron’s continued commitment to the relationship demonstrates our success at delivering on our core competencies.”
As a leading global provider of HR Solutions, Convergys partners with HR clients to drive more value from employee relationships, fostering greater organizational effectiveness and lowering costs.
About Convergys
Convergys Corporation (NYSE: CVG - News) is a global leader in relationship management. We provide solutions that drive more value from the relationships our clients have with their customers and employees. Convergys turns these everyday interactions into a source of profit and strategic advantage for our clients.
For more than 30 years, our unique combination of domain expertise, operational excellence, and innovative technologies has delivered process improvement and actionable business insight to clients that now span many countries and languages.
Convergys is a member of the S&P 500 and has been voted a Fortune Most Admired Company for nine consecutive years. We have approximately 70,000 employees in 83 customer contact centers and other facilities in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, and our global headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information, visit
Convergys and the Convergys logo are registered trademarks of Convergys Corporation.
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UPDATE 2-US may block China mine investment near Navy site

* Company says "comical" to think deal a security risk
* Obama has 15 days to decide after getting recommendation (Recasts with company, Chinese Embassy comment)

By Doug Palmer and Lucy Hornby
WASHINGTON/BEIJING, Dec 18 (Reuters) - U.S. mining company Firstgold (FGD.TO) still hopes to complete a partnership deal with a Chinese mining company despite U.S. national security concerns that could cause President Barack Obama to block it, the company's chief executive said on Friday.
Firstgold has been told by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, a panel headed by the Treasury Department, that it would recommend Obama reject the plan for China's Northwest Nonferrous International Investment Co to buy 51 percent of the company.
CFIUS said the $26.5 million deal to develop the Relief Canyon mine, near Lovelock, Nevada, raised national security concerns due to its proximity to the Fallon Naval Air Station and other military installations, Lynch said.
The Navy uses Fallon, which is over 50 miles (80 km) from the Relief Canyon mine, for tactical aviation training.
If Obama rejects the deal, it would be only the second time a U.S. president has intervened to block an investment on national security grounds, a trade attorney said.
For China, however, it would form part of a growing roster of overseas resources deals that have been blocked following foreign government intervention, in what the Chinese see as a trend of protectionism in Western nations.
"Firstgold's perspective is to not withdraw (its request for U.S. government approval of the transaction) and it's not out of any disrespect," company chief Terry Lynch said.
"We just don't think the right decision has been made. ... To see this as a national security risk, you really have to give your head a shake."
"It's comical. ... If the Chinese want to buy a house in Lovelock, Nevada, nothing's going to stop them. There's no CFIUS review on that," Lynch said, adding there were no plans for the Chinese to replace the U.S. workforce.
CFIUS "definitely would like us to withdraw the petition" and spare Obama the decision, but there is no incentive for Firstgold to do that, Lynch said.
It is possible Northwest could decide by Monday to back out of the deal, but Lynch said he did not know what it would do.
Once Obama gets the CFIUS recommendation, he has 15 days to announce his decision.
Usually, companies decide themselves to abandon a project if they cannot reach an agreement with CFIUS on how to mitigate national security concerns.
"What's extraordinary here is that these companies might actually force the president himself to do it," said Timothy Keeler, a former U.S. trade official now at Mayer Brown LLP.
"It very well could be the right decision. But nestled in the broader context of U.S.-China relations right now, it's a big deal," Keeler added.
A spokesman at Beijing's embassy in Washington said China believed Chinese companies should be able to invest abroad based on market principles and international rules.
"China has been very open for foreign enterprises to invest in the country, and we hope that other countries will take the same attitude toward Chinese enterprises' investment activities," embassy spokesman Wang Baodang said.
A U.S. Treasury Department spokeswoman said she could not by law comment on specific CFIUS cases.
"CFIUS' statutory obligation is to protect national security, while maintaining an open investment environment, a responsibility that we take very seriously," U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin said in a statement given to The New York Times.
Australia's Defense Department objected this year to a joint venture between China's Wuhan Iron and Steel and Western Plains Resources (WPG.AX) near the Woomera missile testing site. An investment by Chinese state trading firm Minmetals inOz Minerals (OZL.AX) was only cleared after a mine near Woomera was stripped out.
A senior executive at Northwest's parent firm said the Chinese side had only just found out about the military base, which had not come up during initial discussions.
"A developed country should have clear laws, for instance, what kind of perimeter around military installations is allowed," said the executive. (Additional reporting by Paul Eckert in Washington; Editing by Ian Geoghegan and Peter Cooney)

RPT-Q+A-What is at stake in Nigeria's Niger Delta?

LAGOS, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Nigerian militants said on Saturday they had carried out their first attack on an oil pipeline since an amnesty period ended in October because the absence of President Umaru Yar'Adua was delaying peace talks.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said its fighters, armed with rocket launchers and machineguns, carried out a "warning strike" against a Royal Dutch Shell or Chevron pipeline in Abonemma, Rivers state.
There was no independent confirmation of any attack from the military, oil firms or security contractors working in Africa's biggest oil and gas industry.
Following are some questions and answers on the Niger Delta.
Politically, the amnesty programme and resulting lull in violence in the Niger Delta is seen in as one of relatively few significant achievements of President Umaru Yar'Adua's two and a half year-old administration.
Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi has said growth in sub-Saharan Africa's second biggest economy hinged largely on a solution being found to the unrest in the region.
The violence, which had included kidnappings, pipeline bombings and oilfield raids, was costing $1 billion a month in lost oil revenues, the central bank has said.
The unrest over the past three years has prevented the OPEC member from pumping much above two thirds of its 3 million barrels per day installed capacity.
The insecurity has been a major deterrent to new investment.
Hundreds of foreign workers have been kidnapped, prompting companies in sectors ranging from energy to telecommunications and construction to withdraw non-essential staff.
The Niger Delta, a network of thousands of shallow creeks opening into the Gulf of Guinea, is the heartland of Africa's biggest oil and gas industry.
The region's light crude oil is popular among U.S. and European refineries as it can be easily processed into fuel products.
The United States, the world's top energy consumer, has said it wants the Gulf of Guinea to supply a quarter of its crude oil imports by the middle of the next decade. China depends on Africa for some 30 percent of its oil imports.
Nigeria also holds the world's seventh largest proven gas reserves and supplies 10 percent of global liquefied natural gas.
Attacks on Nigeria's oil and gas infrastructure last year helped lift oil prices to record highs near $150 a barrel.
U.S. oil majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, Italy's Agip, and France's Total run major oil and gas operations with Nigeria's state-run NNPC in the Niger Delta.
Insecurity in the region had forced companies to shut down about 800,000 barrels a day of crude oil production.
Gas supplies have also been affected. Shell's Soku gas plant had been shut down for about a year before reopening in October, but closed again this week due to a pipeline leak.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is a nebulous group which emerged in late 2005 and has been responsible for pipeline bombings and kidnapping oil workers. It says it is fighting for greater local control of oil resources.
MEND launched a series of attacks in September 2008, dubbed a six-day "oil war", and carried out a raid on Royal Dutch Shell's Bonga platform 120 km (75 miles) offshore in June 2008.
But it has failed to carry out any attacks as spectacular as those of early 2006 when it knocked out almost a quarter of Nigerian output in a matter of weeks.
Its presumed leader, Henry Okah, accepted a presidential offer of amnesty in July after gun-running and treason charges against him were dropped and he was freed.
All the group's other known top field commanders also accepted amnesty by the October deadline, significantly weakening its operational capacity. (Reporting by Randy Fabi and Nick Tattersall; Editing by Matthew Jones) (For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit:

US Senate approves $636 bln military spending bill

WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate approved a $636 billion military spending bill on Saturday that funds the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and also includes money to extend jobless aid and Medicare payment rates for two months. By a vote of 88-10, the Senate approved the bill and sent it to President Barack Obama to sign into law. The House of Representatives passed the bill on Wednesday. (Editing by Peter Cooney)