Yesterday I began a review of the various hypotheses being advanced to explain the rash of collisions of US naval warships, the two most prominent being the recent ramming of the USS Fitzgerald off the coast of Japan, and the ramming of the USS John McCain off of Singapore just last week. While the news stories are spinning these as collisions, the damage to the ships being done in each case, with the ships being struck more or less forward-midships (starboard side on the Fitzgerald) or aft-midships (port side, apparently, on the McCain) are more characteristic of ramming than collision.
This raised the question, as I outlined yesterday, of why the crews undertook no evasive action? As I reviewed yesterday, the US Navy appears to be opting for the "implied incompetence hypothesis," rather than entertain the much more disturbing possibility that the crews might not have been able to evade the oncoming ramming. This raises the related question: what about the crews of the ships doing the ramming? One source indicated that the tanker which struck the McCain was a largely automated ship, which raises that question into stark relief. But automated or not, the question remains: why was no evasive action taken by the warships? (Or was it attempted, and we're just not being told?) And why was no evasive action attempted by the crews of the ramming ships? (Or, again, was it attempted, and we're just not being told?)
While the Navy appears to be opting for the "implied incompetence explanation", and while I am indeed tempted to entertain that hypothesis simply because of the deplorable state of Amairikuhn edgykayshun and its "products," I'm just not buying. I find it too difficult to believe that the US Navy is in the habit of placing incompetent officers in command of its warships. This leaves other high octane speculations to be entertained.
One of these is the "corruption-plus-incompetence" hypothesis, namely, that with so much money creating such advanced weapons platforms, and a corrupt procurement process and a privileged "military-industrial complex" limited to a few select and huge defense contractors, the return on the investment dollar dwindles as quality declines. Think only of the over-budget under-performing F-35 fighter. We could be paying through the nose for systems that, in effect, simply don't work as billed.
But I doubt that explanation as well. I strongly suspect that far more is going on, and that certain countries (or possibly someone elseI) with the technologies to do so are possibly sending the US messages(we'll get back to those possibilities in part four). What's the message? "Think twice before you start something." Consider only that after the Donald Cook incident, Russia's intervention in Syria at one point simply shut down NATO communications in that country. Recall also Mr. Trump's cruise missile strike, when approximately half of the cruise missiles fired on Syrian targets simply missed.
In this respect, consider the following article which appeared on the same day as the ramming of the John McCain:
In this story, Russia appears to be taking "semi-official" credit for the Donald Cook incident:
Russian attack jets carry electronic weapons that can cripple the US Navy's missile defence system, Russian state media has claimed.
Russia-1's Vesti programme said an electronic warfare device called "Khibiny" was used by a Russian pilot to completely deactivate the defence systems of the USS Donald Cook in a 2014 encounter in the Black Sea.
The US' Aegis system, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, is designed to protect a fleet against attacks by aircraft, and cruise and ballistic missiles.
But the state-controlled Vesti broadcast claimed the pilot of a Sukhoi Su-24 jet was able to deactivate "the whole ship's systems" with "powerful radio-electronic waves" during the fly-by incident three years ago, around the time of Russia's annexation of Crimea.
A similar report appears here:
In the article linked immediately above, there is a highly suggestive statement:
“Today, our Russian Electronic Warfare (REW) troops can detect and neutralize any target from a ship’s system and a radar, to a satellite,” Vesti reported. “A small jamming device with a poetic name Lesochek suppresses radio control channels with explosive devices.”
The Vesti report continued by highlighting what they referred to as an “incredible breakthrough” in Russian jamming technology, and said its combat effectiveness was tested in April 2014 when a Sukhoi Su-24 bomber successfully disabled the USS Donald Cook’s weapon and radar systems after the ship had offensively targeted the plane. (Emphases added)
Parsing this statement closely, it seems to suggest that a method of detecting and neutralizing specific systems while leaving others intact and operational has been developed, which is the highly speculative hypothesis I advanced in response to a commenter who pointed out that typical electro-magnetic pulse weapons would shut down all systems, and that the Fitzgerald was still under its own power and steerage, as was, more recently, the John McCain. Note that this capability is also claimed for satellites, which surely will have the analysts at the Pentagram burning the midnight oil.
The Russian claim is apparently corroborated by a U.S. Air Force general:
Vesti quoted a social media post by an unnamed crew member of the USS Donald Cook to describe the event:
“We watched the Russian on our locator until he reached the kill zone, to then ‘shoot him down.’ But when he entered the damned zone, mysticism began. Our locators were the first to go out, and then the whole Aegis went out. The pride of our fleet became our shame! The US military didn’t know that the Russian aircraft was equipped with the latest electronic warfare complex Khibiny.”
The report quoted the now-retired U.S. Air Force General Frank Gorenc, who served as the commander of all America air assets in Europe and Africa on his last assignment, as saying:
“Russian electronic weapons completely paralyze the functioning of American electronic equipment installed on missiles, aircraft and ships.”
So this has left us with high octane hypothesis number three: the incidents might be due to targeted systems malfunctioning due to electronic interference, a kind of "selective" or "targeted jamming". We may add a possible corollary to this hypothesis: such interference may not have been directed at the ship's systems, but at another electronic system: the human crews themselves. There are patents on record detailing technologies able to interfere remotely with human emotions, thoughts, and decision-making processes remotely, by the use of microwaves and beat-frequency entrainment processes. The corollary would seem to explain the unusual lack of evasive actions by the crews of the involved ships, but again, there is no mention of this possibility in any of the articles covering these stories. This hypothesis and its corollary do raise the possibility, however, that we might be looking at a combined technology, able to target specific ship systems or their crews, or both. (Note, in this respect, the alleged statement of a Donald Cook crew member quoted above, that when the Russian Sukhoi 24 entered the "kill zone" that "mysticism began," a statement reflective, perhaps, of his emotional and intellectual state.)
That something dire is happening - something beyond mere "crew" or "officer incompetence" - is indicated by this story which appeared (guess where?) in Russia's online Sputnik magazine; the US Navy is suspending naval operations as a result of these repeating incidents:
Note the statements, and the reappearance of the "incompetence" hypothesis and its corollary, "we need to improve training":
The US Navy will pause operations worldwide amid a series of collisions, the most recent between the destroyer John S. McCain and a merchant ship, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said.
"This trend demands more forceful action. As such I’ve directed an operational pause be taken in all of our fleets around the world," Richardson said.
Richardson said the review will examine the process of training and certifying forces, operational tempo, maintenance trends and other areas to determine the root cause of the incidents.
The probe would also look at how tactical and navigational personnel are trained and verified, Richardson added.
So again: the problem is not the ships' systems, nor possible foreign technological developments, but merely "training". But by now, I suspect, the reader will have the same high doubts about the Navy's explanations as I do. This is, after all, the same government that sold the "magic bullet" theory and the "airplane fuel brought down the Twin Towers" theory.
But there is also one final hypothetical possibility for these inicidents, but for that, we'll have to wait until tomorrow.
See you on the flip side...