Ever since the USS Fitzgerald incident where a US warship collided with a cargo ship off the Coast of Japan, or the collision of the USS John McCain near Singapore - again with a cargo ship - I've been suspicious of these incidents. Not that collisions of civilian and military ships don't happen: the RMS Olympic, sister ship of the Titanic, had a collision with a British warship early in her career (leading to some interesting theories, too). But then we had the Suez Canal incident where a ship literally beached itself on the sides of the canal, blocking traffic through the crucial waterway for a week. Just a few days ago, a crack in the I-40 bridge over the Mississippi River at Memphis Tennessee brought barge traffic on the waterway to a halt. And yes, having seen a picture of the crack on the bridge, I'm suspicious, especially as it occurred in the same relative time frame as the Colonial Pipeline hack and shut down.
Well, E.G. spotted these two stories, and yes, I'm at least "suspicious" once again:
In the first instance, we know only this:
A search is ongoing for three crew members reported missing from a roll-on/roll-off (ro/ro) vessel that sank off the coast of Japan early Friday morning. The MV Byakko sank at about 2:40 a.m. local time after colliding with the chemical tanker Ulsan Pioneer just before midnight in the Seto Inland Sea, Reuters reported. The Byakko reportedly sank about 2.5 miles off the coast of Imabari.
The 557-foot-long Byakko is operated by Kobe, Japan-based Prince Kaiun Co. According to Kyodo News, the Byakko was carrying auto parts and left Kobe at 4:30 p.m. Thursday bound for Kanda, Japan. The Ulsan Pioneer reportedly departed a port in China on Tuesday and was scheduled to arrive in Osaka, Japan, on Friday afternoon.
A cause of the collision has not been reported. According to FreightWaves meteorologist Nick Austin, there were no indications of unusual weather at the time of the accident.
"Not unusual" weather, and presumably the Japanese are not building ships without the latest technologies and competent crews. So are we looking at design flaws? Incompetence on the part of the crews of either ship? We don't know, but what we do know is that a lot of insurers are going to have to pay out a lot of money after they conclude their investigations, which may well be worth watching.
In the second instance, we have this, and again, note the absence of any genuinely informative details:
Technical problems onboard a massive crude tanker Friday led to the shutdown of Turkey's Bosphorus Strait.
The vessel veered off course in the Bosphorus Strait, a narrow waterway that divides the city of Istanbul and connects the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
At its narrowest point, the waterway is 700 meters wide. The temporary suspension of traffic in the Strait conjured up fears of the Suez Canal blockage in late March. Bosphorus is a strategic chokepoint and represents a substantial geopolitical risk if extended closure were to happen because its critical to global trade between Asia and Europe.
While we may never know what "technical problems" the vessel experienced or what exactly caused it, one thing is sure is that the Strait has become an essential route for Russian naval traffic.
There's probably a lot more to this story that is not being disclosed...
I couldn't agree with Zero Hedge's conclusion more: "technical details" seems to cover a lot of room. Did the rudder somehow get stuck? Was the helm unresponsive? Were the computer systems not performing optimally? Were they hacked?
When you stop and think about it, all of this considered together is more than passably strange. Two US warships colliding with cargo ships within months of each other, the Suez canal blocked and later the Bosporus, barge traffic on the Mississippi brought to a standstill because of a crack in a support member in a major bridge on a major highway artery, a crack which, incidentally, looks suspiciously "uncrack-like." And in most of these cases, an almost baffling lack of any real details as to the cause. In the case of the Japanese cargo ship sinking, the insurers of the ship and cargo are going to be out a pretty penny, and one can rest assured they will be conducting their own corporate investigations.
But I have to wonder if someone is running "practice" or "drills" in efforts to learn how to shut down shipping. Are we looking at hacking and cyber war? Or incompetence or, worse, remote mind manipulation interference with the ships' crews? In the case of the Suez and Bosporus, there would be pilot crews on board that know the waterways. So explaining these "mishaps" by mere "technical difficulties" seems to be the "story of first resort", a literal appeal to a glitch ex machina, while the real story may be covered up just long enough so that people will forget, and reports never published. Are we to expect more "technical difficulties" on ships at other choke points, the Straits of Hormuz or the Strait of Gibraltar, for example?
Time will tell, but for now, you can continue to put me in the "suspicious" column...
See you on the flip side...