7 simple designs that solve modern problems – and don’t cost a fortune

February 22, 2018 by  
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Clean water . Affordable housing. Renewable energy . These are just a few of the pressing needs that can be met by design . All around the world, people have come up with innovative solutions to life’s problems using affordable, readily available materials and technologies. Read on for a look at seven simple designs that meet these challenges and more. Recycled laptop batteries power houses You might think the Tesla Powerwall has home renewable energy storage under control, but a few creative people have decided to do it themselves, drawing on recycled laptop batteries to make their own home storage devices that cost less than the Tesla option – solving an issue and reducing waste at the same time. They’ve shared their designs online so others can also benefit. Related: 6 urban farms feeding the world Plastic bottle air conditioner uses no electricity Climate control is an issue people worldwide face, but those living in rural areas don’t always have access to the air conditioners we may have. In Bangladesh, inventor Ashis Paul repurposed plastic soda bottles to design the Eco Cooler : a cooling system that requires no power. His company has already installed them in around 25,000 homes. 3D printing homes out of clay and mud Humans will probably always need affordable, sustainable housing . The World’s Advanced Saving Project is working to meet these needs with their BigDelta, a massive printer that 3D prints houses for almost zero cost out of mud and clay. The organization draws inspiration from the mud dauber wasp, which builds its homes from mud. Ceramic Cool Brick cools homes with simply water 3D printing innovators Emerging Objects created a home-cooling solution called the Cool Brick. The ceramic device only needs water to cool down a house in a dry, hot climate – and works based on evaporative cooling systems utilized all the way back around 2,500 BC. Ceramic filters help bring clean water to Cambodia When you can switch on a tap and water gushes out, it’s easy to take clean water for granted. But people around the world lack access to clean drinking water , and UNICEF and the Water and Sanitation Program teamed up to bring it to people in Cambodia . Their ceramic water filters , manufactured and distributed by Cambodians, resulted in a 50 percent fall in diarrheal illness after they were implemented. The ceramic water purifiers cost around $7.50 to $9.50 per system, according to a report from both organizations , and replacement filters cost around $2.50 to $4. Zero-energy air conditioner made of terracotta tubes Evaporative cooling was also put to work in India in an artistic, energy efficient cooling solution designed by Ant Studio for a DEKI Electronics factory. Conical terracotta tubes comprise the installation , and when water is run over them – once or twice a day – evaporation helps lower the temperature. DIY solar generator for the people of Puerto Rico Remember those creatives who design their own Powerwall-like devices? Business owner Jehu Garcia is one, and he also put his technological know-how to work to try and combat Puerto Rico’s electricity crisis in the wake of Hurricane Maria . He posted a YouTube video detailing his design for a solar generator costing around $550, including the cost of a solar panel and light bulbs. He teamed up with a contact in Puerto Rico, asking people to build the generators and send them or parts. Images via Pixnio , Jehu Garcia , Grey Bangladesh , World’s Advanced Saving Project , Emerging Objects , UNICEF and Water and Sanitation Program , Ant Studio , and Jehu Garcia on Instagram

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7 simple designs that solve modern problems – and don’t cost a fortune

Heavenly Organics uses honey to foster peace in conflict zones across India

February 20, 2018 by  
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Amit Hooda hopes to eliminate conflict with sustainable honey harvesting. He started Heavenly Organics , a company selling honey with the goal of providing ethical jobs , to foster peace . The company supports almost 600 family farmers in conflict zones across India, selling raw, organic honey they describe as the “cleanest sourced honey you can find.” Hooda discussed with his agronomist father, I.S. Hooda, how he might help people living in conflict zones. His father had spent 35 years building relationships with farmers to preserve traditional organic farming practices, according to Heavenly Organics , and help them earn money from their products. Amit grew up near a conflict zone in India during the Punjab Insurgency, and that experience inspired him to figure out a way to help others. Together, the Hoodas envisioned a company that could provide people with ethical job opportunities as a way of defeating conflict. Over a decade later, Heavenly Organics supports hundreds of farmers and sells cane sugar, chocolate honey patties, and honey. Related: Vacant lots are being transformed into urban bee farms in Detroit They don’t sell just any honey, but raw, organic honey sourced from wild beehives in the forests of Central and Northern India and the Himalayas. They say the free-range bees that create their honey and their hives have never been exposed to antibiotics, pollutants, genetically modified crops, or pesticides . Farmers harvesting honey draw on smoke-free methods to conserve wild bee colonies. Happy Fathers Day! Fathers inspire us to be our best selves and to make a real difference in the world. Amit Hooda's father is the living embodiment of this effect in action. #HeavenlyOrganics #OneSweetWorld A post shared by Heavenly Organics® (@heavenlyorganics) on Jun 18, 2017 at 9:24am PDT Heavenly Organics enables displaced people to find markets for their products and earn a reliable income, according to the website. The company says, “Our goal is to increase the number of farmers we work with to 5,000 in the next five years and to extend this business model into other countries to help create long-lasting sustainable economies in other isolated areas and conflict zones.” Our honey harvesting methods are as pure as our products. Our harvesters use a bee-friendly and smoke-free way of honey collection to protect wild bee colonies and prevent forest fires and deforestation. These sweet methods keep our honey and environment clean and harmonious. #HeavenlyOrganics #OneSweetWorld #SaveTheBees #HoneyHarvest2017 #HoneyHarvester #India #Sustainable #PeacefulProfits A post shared by Heavenly Organics® (@heavenlyorganics) on May 12, 2017 at 3:13pm PDT Like the Native Americans in the US, there’s an indigenous population within India known as the Adivasis. Unfortunately, they have been poorly treated. As a result, they are more easily convinced to join a growing movement of insurgents looking to take up arms against the Indian Government. This conflict is known as the Naxalite Insurgency. It is rarely talked about in the West, but it is a significant source of strife throughout India. The good news is, when you purchase a jar of Heavenly Organics honey, you help put an end to this conflict by supporting families caught in the crossfire. #HeavenlyOrganics #OneSweetWorld #Honey #RawHoney #Organic #FairTrade #USDAOrganic #Neem #SustainableHarvesting #SmokeFree #GlyphosateFree A post shared by Heavenly Organics® (@heavenlyorganics) on Sep 21, 2017 at 12:55pm PDT Find out where Heavenly Organics products are sold near you here . You can also read more of the company’s story in this recent Wired article . + Heavenly Organics + Heavenly Organics Story Image via Pixabay

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Heavenly Organics uses honey to foster peace in conflict zones across India

YouTuber designs a DIY solar device to help power Puerto Rico

January 5, 2018 by  
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Swaths of Puerto Rico still lack electricity . Jehu Garcia, film-making equipment company owner and YouTuber , wondered how he could help. He’s built his own do-it-yourself version of a Powerwall , and tackled the Puerto Rico power issue with his technical know-how by building a solar generator , and providing information for others to also build the DIY generators. Garcia created a solar generator , which he explained in his video is “essentially a small, lightweight, portable Powerwall .” The solar generator is a box “containing batteries , an inverter, a solar charge controller, and all kinds of different connectors to get the power in and out.” His 13-minute video details how to make the device, and the text below includes links to the various components a builder would need – costing around $550, a figure which includes the cost of a solar panel , an extension cord to connect the device to the panel, and around six light bulbs. “This is a complete system ready to deploy in Puerto Rico to light up a home and to give at least power communications or medical devices,” Garcia said in his video. The device can be equipped to offer around one kilowatt-hours worth of battery. Related: More than 20 organizations launch Solar Saves Lives to power clinics and food markets in Puerto Rico Garcia called for people to build the solar generators, and send completed devices or parts to Javier Camacho, a contact of Garcia’s in Puerto Rico. Camacho recorded a video sharing his experience on the island, saying, “We are at the mercy of the people that can actually put the grid on – or, we could help them. We could make something.” Camacho has access to a maker space, according to Garcia, with people who could build the solar generators. OZY reported there have been 15 installations so far. + Jehu Garcia on YouTube Images via Jehu Garcia on Instagram ( 1 , 2 )

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YouTuber designs a DIY solar device to help power Puerto Rico

"It has totally changed how people feel:" new forest transforms former UK coal community

December 8, 2017 by  
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One UK organization is transforming an industrial landscape into a green, thriving woodland. The National Forest Company planted the first tree around 25 years ago, and today they’ve planted eight million trees in 200 square miles in the Midlands, creating the country’s first new forest in 1,000 years. Former coal miner Graham Knight told The Guardian , “It is quite difficult to put into words what’s happened here and the impact it has had on people. Perhaps the best way to think about it is that people seem…well, more happy somehow.” Many of the coal mines in the area were shuttered in the 1980’s. The local community took a hit – and then the trees started growing. Knight told The Guardian, “Twenty-five years ago all this was an opencast mine. Mud and dirt with hardly a tree to be seen. Now just look, people want to live here, they are proud to be from here – it has totally changed how people feel.” Related: Former coal miners receive training for renewable energy jobs The forest has revitalized the community. National Forest Company CEO John Everitt told The Guardian the project has had several side benefits, from creating jobs to improving health to offering a habitat for wildlife to sparking tourism. 7.8 million visitors venture there every single year, and the forest has led to around 5,000 new jobs with hundreds more forthcoming. There are hundreds of miles of trails for people to hike or bicycle, craft beer and food businesses in the area are thriving, and there’s a growing timber industry. One of Everitt’s goals is to have an outdoor woodland classroom and forest school teacher in every primary school. He told The Guardian, “Children who were maybe nervous of the outdoors are benefiting from being able to walk or cycle or simply play in the woods.” You can support the organization by joining in on one of their tree planting events or donating here . Head on over to The Guardian’s article for astonishing before and after pictures as well. + The National Forest Company Via The Guardian Images via The National Forest on Twitter ( 1 , 2 )

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"It has totally changed how people feel:" new forest transforms former UK coal community

18-year-old invents cheaper CO2 capture tech to fight climate change

December 8, 2017 by  
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Even with quick-paced developments in renewable energy , the world still produces the vast majority of its power via fossil fuels : over 80 percent . 18-year-old Ethan Novek is working on technology that could allow us to burn fossil fuels without climate change-inducing emissions , giving us time to install more renewable energy. His carbon dioxide (CO2) capture technology stands out from the rest because it could capture CO2 at about $10 per metric ton – around 85 percent less than the industry standard. Novek made the discovery that would lead to his potentially game-changing technology in his high school chemistry laboratory. CO2 capture technology has traditionally drawn on a substance such as amine that selectively reacts with just CO2 as other gases escape. The substance is then heated to break the chemical bond for a release of the greenhouse gas that can be converted into products. But the amines used are expensive, and it takes a lot of heat to break that bond. Novek’s discovery could overcome these issues. Related: World’s first commercial carbon-sucking plant goes live in Zurich In his high school laboratory, Novek was hoping to utilize a technique known as salting out to cheaply produce urea, a nitrogen-based fertilizer. He realized he could actually use the process to separate out and capture CO2 after fossil fuels are burned. Here’s how it could work: at a fossil fuel plant, exhaust gases could be piped into a mix of water and ammonia. Inert gases like oxygen would escape as ammonia reacted with CO2, forming a salt. A solvent could break the salt back into CO2 and ammonia. Distillation could separate the ammonia and solvent mix so each component could be recycled. And the CO2 could be transformed into chemicals like acetic acid or synthetic gas. The CO2 capture process needs 75 percent less energy than others. Novek attracted the attention of Yale University professor Menachem Elimelech, and with other Yale researchers they wrote a study published last year in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters . Novek started a company, Innovator Energy , and is working on a pilot plant that could use waste gas from a chemical factory or power plant to capture 1,000 kilograms of carbon emissions per day. + Innovator Energy Via Quartz Images via Carbon XPRIZE and Depositphotos

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18-year-old invents cheaper CO2 capture tech to fight climate change

Reversible weatherHYDE tent saves lives in extreme weather

December 6, 2017 by  
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Riots in India left nearly 9,000 families homeless in 2013. Winter hit, and around 30 children perished because of the cold. Prasoon Kumar had recently quit his job as an architect to start billionBricks , a design studio dedicated to solving homelessness, and decided to create the reversible weatherHYDE shelter to protect people from harsh weather . Inhabitat spoke with Kumar about how the tent empowers people – read on to hear what he had to say. As an architect, Kumar noticed homes for the poor were often designed and constructed so poorly no one wanted to live in them. He co-founded billionBricks to pursue quality design that would actually help people climb out of poverty , and came up with weatherHYDE, an all-weather shelter one person can set up in around 15 minutes without tools. Five people can sleep inside. The tent is reversible: one side reflects sun to cool inhabitants in summer; the other traps body heat to keep them warm in winter. There’s even a locking mechanism to afford some safety. Related: 3D-printed pod homes for the homeless could hang from NYC buildings Four principles guided the design of weatherHYDE, targeted for people in southeast Asia . First, Kumar said they viewed the homeless not as beneficiaries, but as consumers. “We were not designing something to give to them but something they would want. Then this whole idea of us being superior and them being inferior who need to be helped is not there,” he told Inhabitat. Second, billionBricks had to provide a product not simply for individuals but entire families. Women with young children often have to shower, change clothes, and sleep on the streets, and blankets just don’t cut it. Third, the tent had to offer heat inexpensively. And finally, the team wanted the recipients to pay for the product somehow, granting a sense of ownership. 15 families received the weatherHYDE in a successful New Delhi pilot project. Kumar told Inhabitat, “I went back after a month to the first family we gave to and they had set it up as their home, including a small bed inside and a few paintings. I had never imagined that a weatherHYDE would be a home. And this lady came to me and said, ‘This is my first home ever. I was born on the streets, I got married on the streets, my one-year-old kid was born on the streets too, and we’ve never had a home.’” In India, billionBricks offers donor matching because many people there generally can’t afford the full price of the tent, allowing the organization to sell them for $35 to $40. They don’t do donor matching in the United States and Canada, but if a homeless person can’t afford the full price of the tent, $199, billionBricks helps with fundraising, although a person must raise the money themselves. People interested in helping can purchase a tent right on the weatherHYDE website without waiting for a NGO or government to take action. “We have decentralized the whole system of helping the homeless and empower everybody in the world to take action.” Not just the homeless, but campers have been interested too, and can purchase a tent for recreational use for $299 here . Kumar said, “It kind of proves the point that if you don’t design something poorly for the poor, everybody would want it.” billionBricks isn’t stopping with the weatherHYDE. They’re working on a larger version to meet United Nations regulations for refugee housing , along with a showerHYDE to provide refugees with privacy while showering or changing clothes. They’re also working on versions better suited to other climates — like in Africa. They’re also developing the powerHYDE, solar homes that generate more than enough energy to power the dwelling, enabling residents to sell the excess. weatherHYDE is holding a design competition right now until January 7,2018 to personalize a tent. An artist will paint the winning design on one tent for the designer and one for the homeless. It costs $25 to enter; you can do so here . + weatherHYDE + weatherHYDE Design Competition + billionBricks Images copyright billionBricks

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Reversible weatherHYDE tent saves lives in extreme weather

American women and their dogs rescued after surviving five months at sea in shark-infested waters

October 27, 2017 by  
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Two women from Honolulu, Hawaii , are basking in sweet relief as they and their dogs were rescued after spent five months stranded at sea in shark-infested waters. Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava set a course for Tahiti on May 3rd but suffered engine failure and a broken mast when a storm battered their boat. Fortunately, they had water purifiers, a year’s worth of dog food, and rice, pasta, and oatmeal. The basic supplies kept them alive long enough to be spotted by a Taiwanese fishing vessel roughly 900 miles southeast of Japan . On Wednesday morning, the day after Appel and Fuiava were discovered, the USS Ashland (a 610-foot Navy ship) rescued them from the boat. Said Appel in a statement, “I’m grateful for their service to our country. They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [U.S. Navy] on the horizon was pure relief.” Less than a month after the women set sail for Tahiti , they hit a patch of bad weather. Calling for help was impossible, as their only phone went scuba diving on the first day. For five long months, they drifted in the Pacific Ocean , sending out distress calls and waiting for help. “It was very depressing, and it was very hopeless,” Appel said. “The only thing you can do, you use what you can and what you have. You have no other choice.” Believe it or not, lack of food wasn’t the greatest concern – the boat was constantly surrounded by sharks .“We were slowly maneuvering through their living room. They came by to slap their tails and tell us we needed to move along,” Appel said. “They decided to use our vessel to teach their children how to hunt. They attacked at night.” After Fuiava and Appel were brought aboard the USS Ashland, they received medical assistance. They will remain aboard until the Ashland’s next scheduled port of call. Related: US Navy Will Recover the Bombs it Dropped in the Great Barrier Reef On Thursday, footage of the rescue (above) was released. Their reaction to being saved is both exciting and touching. Said Commander Steven Watson, Ashland commanding officer, in a statement: “The US Navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation.” Via Gizmodo U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay

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American women and their dogs rescued after surviving five months at sea in shark-infested waters

American women and their dogs rescued after surviving five months at sea in shark-infested waters

October 27, 2017 by  
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Two women from Honolulu, Hawaii , are basking in sweet relief as they and their dogs were rescued after spent five months stranded at sea in shark-infested waters. Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava set a course for Tahiti on May 3rd but suffered engine failure and a broken mast when a storm battered their boat. Fortunately, they had water purifiers, a year’s worth of dog food, and rice, pasta, and oatmeal. The basic supplies kept them alive long enough to be spotted by a Taiwanese fishing vessel roughly 900 miles southeast of Japan . On Wednesday morning, the day after Appel and Fuiava were discovered, the USS Ashland (a 610-foot Navy ship) rescued them from the boat. Said Appel in a statement, “I’m grateful for their service to our country. They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [U.S. Navy] on the horizon was pure relief.” Less than a month after the women set sail for Tahiti , they hit a patch of bad weather. Calling for help was impossible, as their only phone went scuba diving on the first day. For five long months, they drifted in the Pacific Ocean , sending out distress calls and waiting for help. “It was very depressing, and it was very hopeless,” Appel said. “The only thing you can do, you use what you can and what you have. You have no other choice.” Believe it or not, lack of food wasn’t the greatest concern – the boat was constantly surrounded by sharks .“We were slowly maneuvering through their living room. They came by to slap their tails and tell us we needed to move along,” Appel said. “They decided to use our vessel to teach their children how to hunt. They attacked at night.” After Fuiava and Appel were brought aboard the USS Ashland, they received medical assistance. They will remain aboard until the Ashland’s next scheduled port of call. Related: US Navy Will Recover the Bombs it Dropped in the Great Barrier Reef On Thursday, footage of the rescue (above) was released. Their reaction to being saved is both exciting and touching. Said Commander Steven Watson, Ashland commanding officer, in a statement: “The US Navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation.” Via Gizmodo U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay

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American women and their dogs rescued after surviving five months at sea in shark-infested waters

American women and their dogs rescued after surviving five months at sea in shark-infested waters

October 27, 2017 by  
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Two women from Honolulu, Hawaii , are basking in sweet relief as they and their dogs were rescued after spent five months stranded at sea in shark-infested waters. Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava set a course for Tahiti on May 3rd but suffered engine failure and a broken mast when a storm battered their boat. Fortunately, they had water purifiers, a year’s worth of dog food, and rice, pasta, and oatmeal. The basic supplies kept them alive long enough to be spotted by a Taiwanese fishing vessel roughly 900 miles southeast of Japan . On Wednesday morning, the day after Appel and Fuiava were discovered, the USS Ashland (a 610-foot Navy ship) rescued them from the boat. Said Appel in a statement, “I’m grateful for their service to our country. They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [U.S. Navy] on the horizon was pure relief.” Less than a month after the women set sail for Tahiti , they hit a patch of bad weather. Calling for help was impossible, as their only phone went scuba diving on the first day. For five long months, they drifted in the Pacific Ocean , sending out distress calls and waiting for help. “It was very depressing, and it was very hopeless,” Appel said. “The only thing you can do, you use what you can and what you have. You have no other choice.” Believe it or not, lack of food wasn’t the greatest concern – the boat was constantly surrounded by sharks .“We were slowly maneuvering through their living room. They came by to slap their tails and tell us we needed to move along,” Appel said. “They decided to use our vessel to teach their children how to hunt. They attacked at night.” After Fuiava and Appel were brought aboard the USS Ashland, they received medical assistance. They will remain aboard until the Ashland’s next scheduled port of call. Related: US Navy Will Recover the Bombs it Dropped in the Great Barrier Reef On Thursday, footage of the rescue (above) was released. Their reaction to being saved is both exciting and touching. Said Commander Steven Watson, Ashland commanding officer, in a statement: “The US Navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation.” Via Gizmodo U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay

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American women and their dogs rescued after surviving five months at sea in shark-infested waters

American women and their dogs rescued after surviving five months at sea in shark-infested waters

October 27, 2017 by  
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Two women from Honolulu, Hawaii , are basking in sweet relief as they and their dogs were rescued after spent five months stranded at sea in shark-infested waters. Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava set a course for Tahiti on May 3rd but suffered engine failure and a broken mast when a storm battered their boat. Fortunately, they had water purifiers, a year’s worth of dog food, and rice, pasta, and oatmeal. The basic supplies kept them alive long enough to be spotted by a Taiwanese fishing vessel roughly 900 miles southeast of Japan . On Wednesday morning, the day after Appel and Fuiava were discovered, the USS Ashland (a 610-foot Navy ship) rescued them from the boat. Said Appel in a statement, “I’m grateful for their service to our country. They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [U.S. Navy] on the horizon was pure relief.” Less than a month after the women set sail for Tahiti , they hit a patch of bad weather. Calling for help was impossible, as their only phone went scuba diving on the first day. For five long months, they drifted in the Pacific Ocean , sending out distress calls and waiting for help. “It was very depressing, and it was very hopeless,” Appel said. “The only thing you can do, you use what you can and what you have. You have no other choice.” Believe it or not, lack of food wasn’t the greatest concern – the boat was constantly surrounded by sharks .“We were slowly maneuvering through their living room. They came by to slap their tails and tell us we needed to move along,” Appel said. “They decided to use our vessel to teach their children how to hunt. They attacked at night.” After Fuiava and Appel were brought aboard the USS Ashland, they received medical assistance. They will remain aboard until the Ashland’s next scheduled port of call. Related: US Navy Will Recover the Bombs it Dropped in the Great Barrier Reef On Thursday, footage of the rescue (above) was released. Their reaction to being saved is both exciting and touching. Said Commander Steven Watson, Ashland commanding officer, in a statement: “The US Navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation.” Via Gizmodo U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay

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American women and their dogs rescued after surviving five months at sea in shark-infested waters

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