unknown

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO “HMMM…”: USS FITZ BACK TO ...

August 12, 2017 By Joseph P. Farrell

It's been quite awhile since anything has warranted the "things that make you go 'hmmm'" introduction, but this is definitely one of them. Ever since the USS Fitzgerald was hit by a Philippine freighter off the coast of Japan, speculation has abounded. One of my speculations was that the Fitz was the victim of some sort of cyber and/or electromagnetic warfare or pulse attack, and in this respect, I've pointed out the oddities of the USS Donald Cook incidents. One individual emailed me and suggested that it could not have been an electromagnetic pulse attack, since the Fitz was still under its own power and steerage. Well,  this is true, at least, on any standard view of electromagnetic pulse. His comment made me wonder: was the attack done by cyber attack, as I've also speculated before? Or has what we know about electromagnetic pulse publicly been rendered obsolete by a whole new class of electromagnetic pulse weapons, weapons that can shut down particular systems, and not others?

I'll grant you, that's some pretty tall speculation, and I suspect it's beyond our ordinary high octane speculation. In fact, I suspect I've managed to walk all the way to the end of the twig once again, before wehave  even dealt with today's article. It's definitely not my ordinary practice, and before it's over, I may have fallen off the twig altogether, and we can all have a good laugh. Not all end-of-the-twig speculations are created equal, and this may be one of them.

But there's a little method in my willingness to crawl way out on to the end of the twig before we even get started, if one reads the following article shared by Mr. F.L.M. carefully:

Damaged Destroyer USS Fitzgerald Heading to U.S. for Repairs as Soon as September

Now, as I was reading the first thing that caught my attention was this:

The destroyer damaged by a collision with a merchant vessel off the coast of Japan is heading back to the U.S. for repairs, according to a Navy solicitation issued last week for a transport large enough to take the warship back to the U.S.

A Navy official confirmed to USNI News that the solicitation is a sign that service leadership has decided to take USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) back to the U.S. for repairs to fix the hundreds of millions of damage from the June 17 collision that claimed the lives of seven sailors. (Emphasis added)

I looked at the picture of the vessel, and then back at the phrase "...repairs to fix the hundreds of millions of damage..." and then back at the picture, and then back at the phrase, and so on. Now, obviously, what I know about maritime or, for that matter, modern naval architecture you can write on the back of a postage stamp(a small American one, not those big African things). My first thought was that this did not look like "hundreds of millions of damage," but of course, we're also to remember that some of the damage was below the waterline. Still, I had to wonder, "why so much damage?" My first thought was that they were building all our missile frigates out of gold bars (which might account for all that missing gold that so many countries are having trouble repatriating from various central banks).

My second thought was that these missile frigates are full of sensitive and presumably expensive and costly electronics. We're informed that each one of these gold-plated missile frigates costs about one billion dollars to build. Nevertheless, the physical damage from the collision to my eyes still does not look like "hundreds of millions of damage."  Later we're given a more exact repair estimate:

While the Navy is still tabulating the estimates, the cost to repair Fitzgerald could easily exceed $500 million — twice the repair bill of Cole.

In other words, repairs to the collision damage - or whatever other mechanism may have been in play - amount to about half the cost of the entire ship!

So, perhaps there's damage to the electronics systems that we do not see, which seems to be confirmed by the following statement:

Much of that cost will be driven by the extensive damage to the ship’s electronic systems, USNI News reported last month. (Emphasis added)

There you have it. Now, I can easily imagine that the collision caused extensive damage to the ship's electronic systems. But I still have to say that, to my untrained, non-naval eye, a collision doing damage to the ship's electronic systems to almost half the estimated cost of the entire ship, given what we see, strains my credulity a little too much. It makes me think, once again, that perhaps we've been given just a little bit of a hint that some other mechanism of cyber warfare or perhaps a "targetable" type of electromagnetic pulse, may have been in play.  It also makes me wonder about the national security wisdom of having missile frigates that are so packed full of sensitive equipment that, to repair them, one has to haul them all the way back to the USA.

See you on the flip side...