Do you remember the USS Donald  Cook, USS Fitzgerald, and USS John McCain incidents? In the two USS Donald Cook incidents - one in the Black Sea and one in the Baltic - the Aegis class ship's electrical and computer systems went entirely dead, just as an obsolescent Russian Sukhoi 22 fighter bomber approached it, low and fast. The Russian aircraft then made no less than a dozen mock attack runs on the ship, which beat a hasty retreat to the Romanian port of Constanza for "rest", or so we were told. Later, on patrol in the Baltic, the Russians repeated this performance on the Donald Cook. At the time of the first incident, I blogged that it was my belief that in the tensions created by the West's meddling in The Ukraine, that the Russians had demonstrated a capability to interfere with and shut down sophisticated US electronic systems. It was a clear message: don't start something you can't finish. And in the wake of the strange explosions at Russian munitions plants in the past couple of weeks, I've also offered the speculation that we might be watching some sort of electromagnetic and/or cyber warfare playing out between Russia and the USA, although Russia has now offered the explanation that the most recent explosion near Archangel was due to a small reactor explosion. That's prompted some commenters on the internet to conclude "more Russian incompetence" Chernobyl-style. I'm not so sure, quite frankly, and have always had the suspicion that perhaps Chernobyl was also some sort of cyber warfare along the lines of the gas pipeline explosion caused by deliberately faulty software that the USA tricked the KGB into stealing as a part of the famous Farewell case, the French mole being run inside the KGB's technical acquisitions branch by the French DST.

But in any case, back to the subject at hand. After the Donald Cook incidents, we then had the two strange cases of the USS Fitzgerald and USS John McCain, similar ships to the Donald Cook, which both collided with freighters, the first in the waters off Japan, and the second in the busy waters near Singapore. Again, at the time, my suspicion meter was in the red zone that these incidents may have been examples of more electronic warfare, and that the collisions had been deliberate messages. The US Navy at the time of these incidents wrote them off to poor crew training, fatigue, and irresponsibility of the ships' captains and bridge officers. A friend of mine and a former US Navy officer confirmed this view, and told me -- politely of course -- that my speculations were nonsense.

Well, in case you haven't guessed by now, there's an "update" to those stories, and particularly to the Fitzgerald and McCain incidents, in this article that was spotted and shared by N.:

The US Navy will replace its touchscreen controls with mechanical ones on its destroyers

What's intriguing here is that the article confirms my naval officer friend's views, for it rehearses the "poor training" and fatigue memes once again, with some new telltale clues:

The US Navy will replace the touchscreen throttle and helm controls currently installed in its destroyers with mechanical ones starting in 2020, says USNI News. The move comes after the National Transportation Safety Board released an accident report from a 2017 collision, which cites the design of the ship’s controls as a factor in the accident.

On August 21st, 2017, the USS John S. McCain collided with the Alnic MC, a Liberian oil tanker, off the coast of Singapore. The report provides a detailed overview of the actions that led to the collision: when crew members tried to split throttle and steering control between consoles, they lost control of the ship, putting it into the path of the tanker. The crash killed 10 sailors and injured 48 aboard the McCain.

The report says that while fatigue and lack of training played a role in the accident, the design of the ship’s control console were also contributing factors. Located in the middle of the McCain’s bridge, the Ship’s Control Console (SCC) features a pair of touch-screens on both the Helm and Lee Helm stations, through which the crew could steer and propel the ship. Investigators found that the crew had placed it in “backup manual mode,” which removed computer-assisted help, because it allowed for “more direct form of communication between steering and the SSC.” That setting meant that any crew member at another station could take over steering operations, and when the crew tried to regain control of the ship from multiple stations, control “shifted from the lee helm, to aft steering, to the helm, and back to aft steering.”

The NTSB report calls out the configuration of the bridge’s systems, pointing out that the decision to transfer controls while in the strait helped lead to the accident, and that the procedures for transferring the controls from one station to another were complicated, further contributing to the confusion. Specifically, the board points to the touchscreens on the bridge, noting that mechanical throttles are generally preferred because “they provide both immediate and tactile feedback to the operator.” The report notes that had mechanical controls been present, the helmsmen would have likely been alerted that there was an issue early on, and recommends that the Navy better adhere to better design standards. (Emphasis added)

In other words, in addition to poor training and fatigue, you may now add faulty and overly complicated design to the list, a design which, in effect, led to several consoles responsible for the throttles and wheels. It would be like a bridge on a ship in, say, 1912, having two wheels, and two sets of mechanical throttles, each canceling out the other. In this case, the cancelling-out systems were digital-manual.

So the navy has, in effect, ordered a return to more analogue and intuitive systems, in effect, a wheel, and throttle levers. Turn the wheel right to make the ship turn to starboard, turn the wheel left to turn it to port, push the levers forward to make it go faster, pull the levers back to slow it down. Simple, and much easier to execute under stress than this: "Select File. Under file, select 'Bridge.' Under Bridge, open 'Steering controls,' type in the number of degrees for the turn in the first box, check "starboard" or "port" in the second box, hit enter, and then type in the speed in knots in the third box, hit enter. Then select file, and then "save file" Hit enter..."  You get the idea; several non-intuitive steps, versus one step, and with the latter, comes immediacy of execution. Instead of "Ensign, why aren't we turning yet?" and "I'm working on it sir," we get, "Thirty degrees to port, aye aye sir."

All of this makes me think, once again and in spite of my officer friend's input, that we're not being told the full truth about those incidents, and my context here is the Donald Cook incident once again. Cyber systems simply aren't secure; they can be hacked into, or simply taken down. Not a good thing to have happen if massive freighters are bearing down on a collision course. Digital solution: frantically type in numbers after opening all the correct windows. Analogue solution: turn the wheel of the ship. I suspect that what we're looking at is a general trend, something being done to secure national security, and of a piece with the sudden interest in the last two decades with finding, repairing, and making fully operable those old steam locomotives that I've occasionally blogged about, with all their huffing, puffing, hissing, and clanking, their levers and wheels and analogue gauges, because there's one thing a steam engine can do that a diesel-electric locomotive cannot: it can still run during an electro-magnetic pulse incident, and its analogue levers and wheels gauges are utterly immune to hacking...

... and that raises another important point, one to watch for if my theory is correct: watch for the railroads to bring back manually operated semaphor and switching systems along the rail lines, or for the navy to start emphasizing and training in the all-but-lost art of celestial navigation once again, or the use of flag signals and semaphors for inter-ship communications in task force formations. And the simple reason is: analogue is impervious to hacking and EMP... GPS can be hacked and "spoofed" and taken out, but the stars, astrolabes and sextants don't lie.

After all, the US Navy isn't going to the expense of "going manual", nor is the Union Pacific railroad going to the expense of restoring steam locomotives and learning how to actually build and operate them again, just for kicks and giggles. Of course, what we're really looking at is at a new kind of integration of analogue systems with digital ones, but that's a whole other story...

See you on the flip side...


Posted in

Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and "strange stuff". His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into "alternative history and science".


  1. zendogbreath on August 15, 2019 at 11:51 pm

    How long before self driving cars are in the majority? How long after that before the idea here that the navy is enacting is enacted in larger society? Let’s call it the “what were we thinking” paradigm.

    Also does this imply that the Georgia Guidestones purge will be electrically/digitally applied? enhanced with aluminum/barium/mercury/glyphosate laden vaccines, chemtrails, gmo’d foods?

  2. Waterbug on August 15, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    The Municipal United States Government is a franchise of the City of Rome Municipal Government, operated as an independent international city-state on our shores. It is a Theocracy that worships Baal using the Roman Catholic Church as a storefront. It is supposed to be limited to the ten miles square of the District of Columbia, and it is supposed to be ruled over by members of our “missing” Federal Congress acting under the provisions of Article I, Section VIII, Clause 17, to provide an open meeting ground for all the States to send their Deputies. Obviously, they have been operating secretively on their own since the 1860’s, because no American Federal Government has met in Washington, DC, since that time. Our seat of government is and always has been in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The run-amok Municipal Government has treaties and a service contract with our lawful government called The Constitution of the United States (no “of America”) which it has grossly violated in thought, word, and deed.

    Admiral Jeremy “Mike” Boorda was the first enlisted Sailor to rise from the ranks to become Chief of Naval Operations. During his tenure, he focused his energies on bettering the quality of life for all Sailors, especially those used for experiments without their knowledge or consent denied medical coverage by the Veterans Administration. He had a meeting with Bill Clinton to finalize payments/coverage the day he was murdered.

    Curious what prompted the Clinton Library to publish this video 22 years after Admiral Mike Boorda’s Funeral at the National Cathedral?
    Was it to edit out numerous comments of the military & politicians 1:55, 1:58, 2:00, 2:01? Especially — those of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Shalikashvili @ 1:55 whose father fought in World War II in a Nazi-organized unit commanded by the Waffen SS, according to documents on file at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute. Abel Danger reported Bill Clinton instructed Shalikashvili to leave behind our military files on a four-day official visit to China in an effort to improve ties between the two countries’ militaries.

    Funeral Service for Adm. Mike Boorda – May 21, 1996 Location: National Cathedral. Washington, clintonlibrary42 Published on Jul 16, 2018
    Around 1:02 – 1:15 Bill Clinton addresses audience [He also does a wrap up toward the end around 2:01; however it appears to be a repeat of some things said earlier]

    AP Archive July 21, 2015 – Shalikashvili’s China visit late 90s

    Collapse of the American Empire? The Agenda with Steve Paikin – Chris Hedges interview and his latest book, ‘America, the Farewell Tour,’ is nothing short of a full-throated throttling of the political, social, and cultural state of his country. 27 Minute Video with almost 3 Million views:
    Published on Sep 12, 2018

    In conclusion,

  3. Waterbug on August 15, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    QUOTE: “that my speculations were nonsense.” Not nonsense whatsoever, Dr. Farrell. I call it a “brilliant observation”. No one IN OR OUT OF UNIFORM will ever openly admit the USN has been under the thumb of the Brits since their creation. Back then we only had commercial trading vessels at that time. During wartime, private vessels were offered/commandeered into service and owners reimbursed for losses. The rot goes back to when the Brits enslaved their people and robbed their wealth with the “Enfranchisement Act”.

    This plague of deceit and criminality was started under the reign of Queen Victoria when she sold out the British Working Class by “enfranchising” them and their assets as chattels to back the Raj in India and to promote herself as Empress of India.

    In 1868 a private Scottish commercial corporation merely calling itself “The United States of America”—Incorporated, set up shop, infringed upon our Proper Name in an obviously fraudulent manner, and misrepresenting itself as our lawful government, accessed our credit and stole our gold.

    Next, the Pope and the Municipal United States took their turn at pillaging and raping America. In addition to the phony Territorial “States of States” set up to administer the foreign military protectorate, the Roman Municipal Government set up its own phony Municipal “STATES OF STATES” and the Double Dipping began.

    This clip from early 2016 is 1 minute and ½ long. At 6 seconds and 1:27 is perhaps the only time a Representative in the Municipal US Gov. Spoke the Truth. Savor it!

  4. Pierre on August 14, 2019 at 10:50 pm

    Fukushima had manual levers and wheels to turn the thing around, it’s just that the displays had been Stuxnetted and they were ‘not telling the truth’.
    My 1994 Ford has too much complicated computerised gear. I cannot get the ‘cabins’ fan to work reliably (even without A/C) and I would settle for the old cable to the flap that lets the air in. All I need is the air that I breath.(The Hollies song).

    • goshawks on August 15, 2019 at 2:00 am
      29 Nov 2018

      “Fukushima fast fact that kills the official story:

      Off site power was never lost. All nuclear facilities have power from other power facilities available to run back up systems so they don’t need to use the generators. At Fukushima, this off site power coming in from elsewhere never failed. What happened? The switch gear that connects it (these are giant switches weighing a thousand pounds that you see in substations) shut off without any explanation whatsoever. Tepco had this switch gear replaced within three hours after the tsunami and even the new switch gear would not engage. WHY??

      Answer: Because the Stuxnet virus was in their systems and instantly infected the new switch gear as soon as it was installed. They did not realize they had an electronic warfare scenario, and even if they did, they’d never get the virus out of the system (which was a vast infection) on time to save Fukushima.

      The loss of the generators (if that did happen, and it did not) was irrelevant. They had power the whole time.”

  5. marcos toledo on August 14, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    By the way LP records are making a comeback. The military is learning the hard way new is not always better old tech might be old but it’s not obsolete and more importantly more secure hackers can’t hack it. Steampunk world is the future heck good old books might make a comeback.

  6. Charles Smarr on August 14, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    K. I. S. S. Fly by wire systems may have their place but those are usually places where weight is a big part of the consideration.
    The recent Russian explosion makes me think of the horrendous “industrial explosion” in China a while back.

  7. Richard on August 14, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    Not one to add a flash point to your “high octane speculations” but would suggest that your cyberwar / cyberwarfare speculations are already well underway and have been for some time before you first speculated. The dogs-of-cyber-treachery and cyberwar have escaped the pen they were confined and maltreated decades ago taking the cats-in-bags along with them (some of them Tigers now). That many operations remain clandestine, are seemingly malicious hacks, involve military, industrial, economic, and socio / psychological components are quite apparent, but what will become prosecutable evidence and who will appear in a court of law, is another matter yet to be grappled. I suppose one should mention a given that big tech, high tech, even treacherous tech is easily involved despite some ridiculous show-boating hearings on record. One might suggest that if they’re [politically biased] going to veer toward regulations that they, at least, have savvy enough law makers and staff that can Boolean Boogie with the best of the phd’s. Misplacing, misdirecting, misinforming those processes of bits and bytes can lead to catastrophic failure. Another question, “How can those elusive malcontents behind those software / hardware failures affecting industry, socio-economic, transportation (roads, rail, waterways, and air) and military assets, be prosecuted and required evidence made known?” Not an easy assignment for the timid and uninformed or ill-informed.

    Your “octane” in high octane speculations might easily imply those bytes in play (bits in eights), on networks, in programs, and affecting just about anything computerized. Ask yourself, “What will the next recall, software / hardware failure, grounding or tragedy be?” Blood has been drawn, now it’s a matter of containment, reducing losses, curtailing escalation. If it’s politicians, narratives, and rhetoric one might need to account for those peta flopping story telling hardware and software arrangements as well as those well-resourced that have already been deployed. STUXNET is not the only demonstration to date but then its prosecution remains elusive with circumstantial suspicions pointing yet not touching. As for those plotting-tweakers behind the peta floppers, one question to ask might be, “Who do they work for this time?”

    One of the items not often mentioned or asked about cyber vulnerabilities, “Have all the zero-day exploits been sufficiently identified and mitigated?” With groundings, recalls, deviations on instrumentations, and intermittent broadband skimming, and online {cloud} source interference – An easy, not likely. Pitiful obsolescence before thine eyes. There does not seem enough of those special permutations to adequately correct for malicious and maligned behaviours that tweak-a-peta-flopper. One’s suspicions have already left orbit on these matters sometime ago.

  8. Westcoaster on August 14, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    These “Naval Follies” bring to mind the awful result of computer automation on the 737 Max resulting in 2 crashes and over 300 dead. Sure wouldn’t want to be aboard a “modern/automated” airliner during an EMP! Might want some analogue redundancy there as well!

    • Joseph P. Farrell on August 14, 2019 at 6:01 pm

      Yup… I agree!

    • zendogbreath on August 15, 2019 at 11:59 pm

      Surprised it hasn’t happened yet come to think. An EMP downed aircraft that is.

      BTW, that Talpiot/8200 grads killswitching and backdooring every amd/intel chip run system on the planet forwarded by Brendon O’Connell was applied directly to the 737 software issue.

  9. Robert Barricklow on August 14, 2019 at 11:50 am

    W/O even reading the article and just the headline:
    Yesterday’s message: lightning-fast high-tech.
    Today’s message: written by an old tried & true typewriter.

    Chernobyl[in my book] was a high-tech black op;
    w/some HUMINT elements.
    By whom? The usual suspects.

    Then you have these weapons of mass destruction on digitized hair-trigger, high-tech iffy systems?

    Moving into a more human system should be the wave of the future for all systems! Period. Exclamation point!

    [Incidentally, the Navy was also going in a human generalized-system operation of high-tech; where a few extraordinarily-gifted sailors did many, multiple number of jobs, and thereby cut the personnel required dramatically. Problems skyrocketed! Efficiencies plummeted! Solution? Back to the future w/a regular G.I. Joe personnel specializing in just a few specific tasks.]

    EMP took out John Jr w/a future King George the Lesser in charge to meet the blood-in/blood-out requirement.
    [Hey! High octane speculations is our game.]

    Digital needs to go back to the future drawing boards; and be re-built from scratch. Too many foundation hole$ & back door$.

  10. OrigensChild on August 14, 2019 at 8:19 am

    If you expect enough infrastructure to survive a severe EMP event, either one from natural causes, one from human action and intervention, or any combination of the two, for a bare minimal strategic recovery plan one needs redundancy for digital in analog form. This would have both civilian and military applications. Perhaps these two stories are related. If one expects to see full implementation of the carbon tax agenda in the rollout of a new economy one may well see the return of steam for certain kinds of transport since it is more cost effective if water vapor is the primary exhaust. The US still has a huge strategic reserve of coal from which to convert into a viable fuel source as a third option, yet I think that is only a small piece of the whole. I’m beginning to think we’re looking at a more exotic technology emerging.

    Here’s another companion thought related to the two. By now there may be even more exotic methods of generating heat for steam using cold-fusion as the primary energy source for creating plasmas. If one has found a new method of propulsion for steam and wants a place to test the technology with minimal attention the railroad industry would gladly volunteer for the opportunity if the price is right. When one looks at the history of the Hamiltonian banking system in operation here in the US one finds a well-documented track record of government welfare to corporations with “innovative solutions” to problems that remain buried until the economy is ready to receive them safely, cheaply and with proper economic controls.

    Now, I hope everyone can feel free to shoot these ideas down. It’s an attempt to do some lateral thinking.

    • Robert Barricklow on August 14, 2019 at 11:54 am

      Good points!
      [Yet, steampunk literature is the worst. I refuse to read it.]

  11. DanaThomas on August 14, 2019 at 6:16 am

    I hadn’t come across the hypothesis that the Chernobyl disaster was sabotage related to the Promis software. Has anybody else discussed this possibility?

    • Joseph P. Farrell on August 14, 2019 at 6:06 pm

      I have heard this as well.

    • zendogbreath on August 15, 2019 at 11:54 pm

      The story makes more sense with this idea than without it.

  12. goshawks on August 14, 2019 at 5:32 am

    Well, we’re back to the point made in Battlestar Galactica about the Cylons. Or SkyNet, if you prefer. Anything Important should be manual/mechanical, and directly operated by a human. It will be considerably more expensive, but much less expensive than an Armageddon-event…

    The Navy is doing the right thing with its destroyers. Aircraft (especially fighters) will have a rougher time building-in mechanical backups. I still remember the scene in BG where the fanciest, newest Colonial fighters suddenly had their computerized controls go off-line, just as the Cylon fighters arrived…

    • RBG Santa Monica on August 14, 2019 at 10:53 pm

      I agree that the setup for the new Battlestar Galactica (2004) series is precisely the sort of scenario that fits with Dr. Farrell’s speculations regarding the “ease” with which digital systems can be taken down by a clever opponent, and why digital automation is inherently unreliable when lives and security are on the line. I guess the Navy (or the Air Force) didn’t watch that show. Self-driving cars are the next wave of stupidity that will get people killed (as they already have).

      • zendogbreath on August 15, 2019 at 11:53 pm

        This is the Brendon O’Connell rant (recently youtubed before he and/or they removed his videos). His thesis was about ALL amd and intel chips being backdoored and killswitched and therefore controlled by the military industrial complex who happen to be top heavy with talpiot and 8200 grads.

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