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View Full Version : Thoughts on the recent collisions of U.S. Warships with commercial Vessels.



tankgeezer
08-21-2017, 11:44 AM
After reading about this latest "accident" involving the USS John S. McCain, I can only say this.

Just weeks ago the USS Fitzgerald was struck, and heavily damaged with loss of Life by a collision with a commercial Ship. Now again this happens with the collision between the USS John S. McCain and a Commercial Tanker Ship. In this latest incident 10 Sailors are missing. These are two advanced U.S. Warships whose business it is to know the location of everything remotely close to them, under all conditions, at all times. I find it very disturbing that in such a short time, two of our Ships have managed to not see something as large as the ships that struck them when they are equipped to detect targets at great distance, and have crew standing watch in order to keep everything as far away as is needed. There is something not at all right here, something smells. This is much akin to a Racing dog being knocked over by a wandering Cow.

Half-Track
08-21-2017, 02:31 PM
I agree, and you have summed it up very nicely. It is very hard to "swallow." And now it looks like ten more sailors are dead. We shall see what the report reveals, I hope it is accurate.

Churchill
08-21-2017, 08:41 PM
Agreed. You'd think people would use the most advanced sensors they have to be able to keep track of things like thousand tonne ships...

Like their eyes...

tankgeezer
08-21-2017, 10:28 PM
As far as I know, Crew stand watches and use the Mark 1 Eye Ball to do the work. Given the sophistication of modern Naval Warships, perhaps that isn't a thing anymore. I'm thinking that there will be reassignments aplenty coming soon. I always thought that Warships has a No-Go zone around them, and that anything within the zone was subject to the tender attentions of the Weps crews. Perhaps one of our Ex-Naval Members will be able to shed some light on this.

Rising Sun*
08-22-2017, 05:08 AM
It's been suggested that a cyber attack on the ships' systems could be responsible. http://www.news.com.au/technology/online/hacking/hacking-link-to-uss-mccain-warship-collision-expert-says-i-dont-believe-in-coincidence/news-story/7bce663e0c93774d2b1f755e22704dcd

Even if it was a cyber attack, and as others have said, competent watchkeeping should have detected huge merchant ships.

If the crews on these ships can't detect a huge merchant ship in their path, what chance have they got of detecting incoming aircraft or missiles?

tankgeezer
08-22-2017, 08:22 AM
It's been suggested that a cyber attack on the ships' systems could be responsible. http://www.news.com.au/technology/online/hacking/hacking-link-to-uss-mccain-warship-collision-expert-says-i-dont-believe-in-coincidence/news-story/7bce663e0c93774d2b1f755e22704dcd

Even if it was a cyber attack, and as others have said, competent watchkeeping should have detected huge merchant ships.

If the crews on these ships can't detect a huge merchant ship in their path, what chance have they got of detecting incoming aircraft or missiles?

Maybe they all have the App. for that on their phones. :mrgreen:
I have read about the same hacking possibility, and that it's possible to in the poster's words:"embed selectively disabling software. " through the Satellite link. This still does not answer the question as to why the lookouts failed to see something that huge bearing down on them. Our Ships are going to need Curb Feelers pretty soon.

Rising Sun*
08-23-2017, 05:56 AM
I have read about the same hacking possibility, and that it's possible to in the poster's words:"embed selectively disabling software. " through the Satellite link.

If so, it doesn't say much for US / USN cyber security. Or maybe it says a lot more about, for example, Chinese cyber warfare.

Anyway, one of the most trusted journals since my infancy on matters technical, being Popular Mechanics, says it couldn't have been interference with GPS systems on the USN ship. If you can't trust Popular Mechanics, who can you trust? http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/news/a27854/uss-mccain-collision-gps/

Meanwhile, the Chinese are exploiting the recent USN collisions and are, not unreasonably, saying that the USN is becoming a hazard to shipping in Asian waters. http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/08/21/china-newspaper-claims-us-navy-is-hazard-in-asian-waters.html Although, given what I'll say at the end, wouldn't it be equally correct to say that merchant ships registered under flags of convenience are just as big a hazard?


This still does not answer the question as to why the lookouts failed to see something that huge bearing down on them.

These collisions tend not to be the fault of any one person but a series of cascading mistakes which prevent successful evasive action by the time it dawns on whoever is in command on the bridge, often on both ships, that a collision is looming.

The HMAS Voyager / HMAS Melbourne disaster illustrates the point, with a range of alleged problems going beyond the immediate watchkeepers and bridge commander which infected the performance of at least one of the ships. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melbourne%E2%80%93Evans_collision This collision and subsequent allegations, inquiries, and findings polarised elements in our navy, and the wider civilian and political community. There is still bitterness in various quarters about the treatment, or mistreatment, of those involved.

HMAS Melbourne managed a similar feat again under different command when it collided with USS Frank E. Evans, or vice versa. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melbourne%E2%80%93Evans_collision

Back to the Fitzgerald and McCain, it's interesting that media and other commentary focuses only on how the USN ships were deficient in avoiding the collisions. Surely the same criticisms levelled at the USN crews apply equally to the merchant ships, being why did their various electronic and human eye systems fail to detect the approaching ship?

Doesn't the conduct of the crew of the merchant ship in the Fitzgerald collision raise questions about whether that conduct is more consistent with innocence or guilt ? https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/18/world/asia/path-ship-hit-uss-fitzgerald.html?mcubz=3

Doesn't damage to the aft port of the McCain and damage to the starboard bow of the Alnic suggest that McCain had right of way and was attempting to turn out of the Alnic's path when McCain realised that Alnic wasn't observing the right of way rule which required Alnic to give right of way to vessels on its starboard side? (I know the right of way rule from my vast experience of the law of the sea, which applies to all vessels, gained from playing around in small boats in relatively sheltered waters.).

Obvioulsy these are matters to be determined after proper inquiries, but they seem to be largely overlooked as possibilities in media commentary on the collisions.

I seem to recall reading 20 or 30 years ago that watchkeeping on merchant ships was often woefully deficient as crew numbers and crew competence were steadily reduced in the interests of profit. If so, it's hardly likely to have improved under continuing pressure for greater profits, especially on ships registered under flags of convenience. Such as the Alnic MC, which collided with the McCain and is registered in Liberia https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/636017930

If the spotlight was shone equally on the merchant ships involved in the collisions, would there be the firm and decisive action taken against their crews, especially their commanders and those above them, that the USN has taken so far against those on the Fitzgerald and McCain, and those above them? https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/08/22/navy-7-th-fleet-commander-joseph-aucoin/592685001/

Yeah, that's likely on a merchant ship registered in Liberia to avoid as much regulation as possible on every desirable safety and other standard, notably crew wages and conditions, and taxation.

tankgeezer
08-24-2017, 09:04 AM
Many seem to believe that it is nothing more than a lack of proper Command, and poor attention to standards. I can go along with that to a point, seeing as the Fitzgerald was hit only 2 months earlier, I would guess (not being in any way Nautical) that corrections would have been implemented already. In today's World, Cyber attacks can take many forms, and the Chinese, and the North Koreans to a lesser extent have spent loads of resources to improve, and develop new forms of Cyber infiltration. It's not that these things can't be done, it's only a matter of risk in doing it should one be discovered, and the money it will cost in preliminary espionage, and setting up the attacks. China is the foremost adversary in Cyber warfare, people in China even attacked this Site a couple years back, attempting a DDOS attack. (Distributed Denial of Service ) where a site is overwhelmed with service requests until it can no longer process them. This is sometimes done in order to gain control of servers, or just to block the road, and aggravate people legitimately trying to utilize a service. Lord High Mage Procyon waved his wand, and stopped it, otherwise there would have been problems for us.
At any rate, it certainly is a possibility that someone is trying out something new in Cyber warfare, though to be honest I'd rather it was a laxity in Command that caused these incidents. We can more easily fix bad management. I agree that the Crews, and if needed the owners of the Commercial Vessels should be taken into custody for interrogation so we can know what they know. What I see is two Western Warships are now out of action on the Asian Seas.

Nickdfresh
08-24-2017, 11:23 AM
If so, it doesn't say much for US / USN cyber security. Or maybe it says a lot more about, for example, Chinese cyber warfare.

Anyway, one of the most trusted journals since my infancy on matters technical, being Popular Mechanics, says it couldn't have been interference with GPS systems on the USN ship. If you can't trust Popular Mechanics, who can you trust? http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/news/a27854/uss-mccain-collision-gps/
...

Interesting. I have read that the Navy's latest technical debacle of vastly over-budget and behind the schedule super -destroyers - The Zumwalt (class). Designed to provide both heavy gunfire support as well as carry a ****load of missiles, the ships have been plagued by their stealthy and next gen concepts that have proven very expensive. For instance, their high tech guided rocket propelled 155mm shells are almost too expensive to build let alone fire.

One interesting feature though is that the techy ships actually run on a propriety set up for Linux software rather than MS, making them quite a bit more secure and I'm guessing hard to hack. I'm no expert, but I do have a Linux OS on an old computer just so it runs the internet after the Windows XP became untenable. Nothing is omnipotent but my understanding is Linux is quite a bit tougher to hack because malware cannot simply run on it without various permissions and notifications. My version of Linux Ubuntu, one of the two most popular OS the other being Linux Mint, does have an antivirus program but that is there only to scan programs compatible with Windows...