More Questions Than Answers

On Saturday, CBS News reported the collision of the USS Fitzgerald and the ACX Crystal, a large container ship. Unfortunately, seven sailors were killed in the collision.

CBS News reported:

The Fitzgerald was struck by the Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal. The Philippine ship is 29,060 tons and 730 long, the coast guard said, much larger than the 8,315-ton naval destroyer. Aerial television news footage showed its bow on the left side was dented and scraped, but it did not appear to have suffered any major structural damage.

…The Fitzgerald, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer commissioned in 1995, is based in Yokosuka, according to the Navy. Its crew typically includes 23 officers, 24 chief petty officers and 291 enlisted sailors.   

Not so fast. There seem to be some questions surrounding the incident. Thomas Lifson has posted two articles in The American Thinker–one yesterday and one today–that raise some questions as to what actually happened. For the sake of keeping related information together, I am going to combine facts from the two articles.

Thomas Lifson observes:

We received an email from a Navy Mother that raises serious questions. We will redact her name, while the rumors (and that’s how they must be categorized for now) reported by her son aboard the Fitzgerald are checked out. Here is what she wrote to us:

My son is assigned to the USS Fitzgerald. I am unable to share his rate with you.

The information is short and not so sweet. The implications are disturbing.

The ship is registered in the Philippines. We do not know who the owner is. The container ship neither had its running lights or transponder on. That is an action taken willfully. Furthermore, for the container ship to strike with such accuracy is troublesome. Given what some have done with cars in Europe, what a feather in the cap it would be to sink a U.S. Navy warship. Think on that.

My son missed being washed out to sea by the blink of an eye. He was on his way to one of the berthing areas that was rammed.

Yes, language is important. “Rammed” is the perfect word.

Loving and Concerned Navy Mother

If there is any substance to this – that the ACX Crystal disabled protective systems and rammed the Fitzgerald at high speed aimed at crtical facilities (evident from the damage)

…we have to consider the possibility of an asymmetric warfare attack designed to disable missile defense of a carrier strike group, as North Korea demonstrates the ability to make exactly such attacks on a multibillion dollar warship carrying thousands of sailors.

The American Thinker also quotes a report by the Associated Press:

Japan‘s coast guard is investigating why it took nearly an hour for a deadly collision between a U.S. Navy destroyer and a container ship to be reported.

A coast guard official said Monday they are trying to find out what the crew of the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal was doing before reporting the collision to authorities 50 minutes later.

There may be a very obvious explanation of the reporting of this incident. If the incident is in fact a ramming, rather than a collision, it requires a response. The first thing to find out is who owns the ACX Crystal and who was controlling the helm at the time of the incident. At that point, the Trump Administration has a choice–they can either roll over and play dead as the past administration did when something like this happened or they can respond with force. It is my hope that if this is proven to be no accident, the Trump Administration will respond with enough force to let whoever did this know that doing it again is a really bad idea. I don’t want to see the government overreact, but if this was not an accident, I do want to see our government react with strength.

The High Cost Of A Feckless President

The U.S. Naval Institute is reporting today that a Russian Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker flew within ten feet of an American Navy P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft over the Black Sea today.

The article reports:

The incident between the Navy P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft and a Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker occurred at about 11:20 A.M. local time in international airspace over the Black Sea, according to a statement provided to USNI News.

“During the intercept, which lasted approximately 19 minutes, the Su-27 initially maintained a 30 foot separation distance then closed to within 10 feet of the P-8A, which is considered unsafe and unprofessional,” read the statement.

“We have deep concerns when there is an unsafe maneuver. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident which results in serious injury or death.

The article concludes:

U.S. Navy aircraft and ships routinely interact with Russian units in the area and most interactions are safe and professional. However, we have deep concerns when there is an unsafe maneuver. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident which results in serious injury or death.

This is a reflection of what Vladimir Putin thinks of the Obama Administration. Things will not change if Hillary Clinton is elected.

Does President Obama Have A Hard Time Telling America’s Friends From America’s Enemies?

On Friday The Daily Signal posted an article about some of the recent actions of the Obama Administration regarding China and Taiwan. Traditionally, America has pledged to protect Taiwan’s independence from China, but the actions of the Obama Administration do not appear to support that pledge.

The article reports:

Tsai (Tsai Ing-wen), head of the Democratic Progressive Party, had scored a major victory over the Kuomintang’s Eric Chu in elections this past January. As important, the Democratic Progressive Party won enough votes to also secure control of the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s legislature, reflecting broad public support.

While the Democratic Progressive Party has generally stood for Taiwan independence, Tsai has been very careful in her comments and remarks not to push for separation. Indeed, during the campaign, as well as prior visits to the United States, she has avoided raising the subject.

Nonetheless, Beijing has insisted that she must acknowledge the “one-China” principle, in effect rejecting the idea of Taiwan independence.

The article goes on to explain the American reaction:

For Beijing, however, it is “all or nothing.” Failure to meet its formulation would lead to the suspension of cross-Straits dialogue, a threat that Beijing has now fulfilled. Chinese officials tied the ending of talks directly to Tsai’s failure to acknowledge that Taiwan is part of China or otherwise formally reject any move toward independence.

Normally, this would draw an American response. Under the Taiwan Relations Act, the U.S. has made clear that it supports stability in the Taiwan Straits; any effort at reunification must be peaceful and be supported by the population on both sides.

It is Beijing, not Taipei, that has refused to commit to a peaceful resolution. The People’s Republic of China has always reserved the right to forcibly reunify the two sides; the People’s Liberation Army is constantly preparing for a Taiwan contingency.

Instead, the U.S. has invited that same People’s Liberation Army Navy to attend the Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, 2016 exercises this year. This will be the second time the People’s Liberation Army Navy participates in the exercises, having also attended the previous Rim of the Pacific 2014.

The article concludes:

While the U.S. Navy dispatched only one ship to join the four People’s Liberation Army Navy ships attending the 2014 exercises, this time the U.S. Navy dispatched an entire carrier battlegroup, centered around the USS John Stennis. The battlegroup is apparently conducting joint maneuvering and training with the five Chinese ships Beijing is sending to Rim of the Pacific 2016. It is unknown whether the Chinese have also dispatched a spy ship, as they did to Rim of the Pacific 2014.

Meanwhile, the Taiwan navy remains on the sidelines. Unlike Beijing, Taipei has received no invitation from the Obama administration to attend Rim of the Pacific.

It’s getting harder to tell who is an adversary and who is a friend, based on how the U.S. government treats them.


There Are A Number Of Possibilities Here

Yesterday The New York Times posted an article about American concerns that Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications

The article reports:

In private, however, commanders and intelligence officials are far more direct. They report that from the North Sea to Northeast Asia and even in waters closer to American shores, they are monitoring significantly increased Russian activity along the known routes of the cables, which carry the lifeblood of global electronic communications and commerce.

Just last month, the Russian spy ship Yantar, equipped with two self-propelled deep-sea submersible craft, cruised slowly off the East Coast of the United States on its way to Cuba — where one major cable lands near the American naval station at Guantánamo Bay. It was monitored constantly by American spy satellites, ships and planes. Navy officials said the Yantar and the submersible vehicles it can drop off its decks have the capability to cut cables miles down in the sea.

This is part of Vladimir Putin’s muscle flexing. It is the result of Putin’s knowing he will not meet resistance from President Obama. We can expect this sort of cat and mouse game to continue until America gets a stronger President. It is also quite likely that the Russians have tapped into our communications lines, just as we have done to them in the past.

The article further reports:

Attention to underwater cables is not new. In October 1971, the American submarine Halibut entered the Sea of Okhotsk north of Japan, found a telecommunications cable used by Soviet nuclear forces, and succeeded in tapping its secrets. The mission, code-named Ivy Bells, was so secret that a vast majority of the submarine’s sailors had no idea what they had accomplished. The success led to a concealed world of cable tapping.

And a decade ago, the United States Navy launched the submarine Jimmy Carter, which intelligence analysts say is able to tap undersea cables and eavesdrop on communications flowing through them.

The story of the Halibut is told in a book called, Blind Man’s Bluff, by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew. It is an amazing book that details some of the exploits of American submarines during the 1970’s.

This Doesn’t Seem Very Peaceful To Me

CNN is reporting today that Iranian warships briefly pointed the weapons on its deck at a U.S. military helicopter and coalition warship two weeks ago in the Gulf of Aden. First of all–this story is listed under CNN Politics. This is not politics–this is national security–which until recent years was apolitical. One of the problems with the current politicians in Washington is that they are perfectly willing to sacrifice the good of America for the good of their political party. Term limits are needed, but that is another article.

The article at CNN reports:

In a statement released early Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Navy characterized the interaction as “unsafe and unprofessional.”

The U.S. Navy took photos of the incident but has not publicly released them. The incident was observed by the USS Farragut, which had launched the U.S. helicopter.

The official said it’s been several weeks since there have been any serious encounters with Iranian military ships, although on two recent occasions, U.S. Navy ships did sound their horns to warn Iranian ships they were too close, and those ships moved to a farther distance.

The U.S. Navy said its forces are routinely approached by Iranian warships as they operate in the region, with the majority of all interactions by the Iranians conducted “in a safe and professional manner.”

“Unsafe and unprofessional!” What does it take for America to stand up and say that this is unacceptable? I am not in a hurry to go to war with anyone, but it seems to me that if we do not stand up to this sort of bullying at some point, it is only going to get worse. Obviously, the time to stand up to this bully is before he is equipped with nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, our current leadership in the White House does not seem to understand that.

While We Are Preparing To Sign A Nuclear Arms Treaty…

Yahoo News is reporting today that Iran has seized the Maersk Tigris cargo ship in the Persian Gulf near the Strait of Hormuz. Yesterday the U.K. Telegraph carried the story.

The Telegraph reports:

The vessel had apparently declined to change course and steer towards the Iranian coast. Warning shots were then fired across the bridge and the ship was boarded by personnel from the naval wing of the Revolutionary Guard Corps and steered towards the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.

The container ship was travelling from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to the port of Jebel Ali in Dubai. It was flying the flag of the Marshall Islands and chartered by Rickmers Ship Management, a company based in Hamburg. The vessel is owned by Maersk, the Danish shipping and trading conglomerate.

…Fars, the semi-official Iranian news agency, described the ship as a “trade vessel” which had been “seized by the Iranian navy” at the request of the country’s Ports and Maritime Authority.

Fars added: “The ship was seized after a relevant court order was issued for its confiscation.” No further explanation for Iran’s actions was offered.

The idea of simply seizing the ship and the innocent people aboard the ship does not seem like the appropriate response to the court action.

Meanwhile, Yahoo News reports:

Iran’s foreign minister told a New York City audience on Wednesday that Tehran respects freedom of navigation in the Gulf, a day after Iranian patrol boats seized a Danish container ship in one of the world’s busiest oil shipping lanes.

“The Persian Gulf is our lifeline … We will respect international navigation,” Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said during a discussion hosted by New York University’s Center on International Cooperation and the think tank New America. “For us, freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf is a must.”

This doesn’t sound like freedom of navigation.

Yahoo News reports:

Maersk said in a statement that it was in communication with the Danish Foreign Ministry and trying to ascertain why the Maersk Tigris had been diverted.

Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization said a court had ordered the ship seized after ruling against Maersk Line in a case about debts brought by Pars Talaie, an Iranian company.

Zarif told the audience on Wednesday that Maersk was required to pay damages on the basis of a court order. He said the legal proceedings had been going on for some 14 years.

“Simply, our naval forces implemented the decision of the court,” Zarif said in New York, characterizing Maersk’s actions as “peculiar.”

Tasnim, an Iranian news agency, quoted a Pars Talaie lawyer as saying the debt involved a cargo that Pars Talaie had hired Maersk to take from the Iranian port of Abadan to Dubai more than a decade ago but which never arrived.

This is another example of what happens when America has a weak President. There were American warships in the area, but Iran had no reason to fear them. This is also an example of the lawlessness of Iran.

A Piece Of History Will Become Scrap

Last week Stars and Stripes reported that the USS Forrestal, the Navy’s first supercarrier, will be towed from the Navy’s inactive ship facility in Philadelphia to All Star Metals’ facility in Texas, where it will be broken down into scrap metal.

The Forrestal  played a major role in the war in Vietnam. In 1967 there was a tragic fire on the ship which killed 134 men and injured more than 300 men.

The article reports:

The Navy’s first “supercarrier,” the Forrestal was in the Gulf of Tonkin the morning of July 29, 1967, for the Vietnam War effort when stray voltage triggered a rocket to launch from an F-4 Phantom on the flight deck.

The rocket struck an armed A-4 Skyhawk — piloted by a young Lt. Cmdr. John S. McCain III — rupturing the fuel tanks and sparking a chain reaction of fires and explosions on the deck, which was parked full of planes.

The crew fought the flight deck fire for an hour, but other fires blazed into the next day.

A piece of history is now become scrap metal.

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Sometimes History Happens Quietly

There was a major historic moment yesterday that you might have missed. An unmanned drone landed on an aircraft carrier. The drone, an X-47B demonstrator aircraft, landed on the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush off the coast of Virginia yesterday.

Fox Business News carried the picture:

northrop grumman navy drone

So why is this so important? What is the cost of training a military pilot to fly a fighter plane versus the cost of training a military pilot to operate a drone? How many systems can be left out a a drone that are necessary in a manned fighter plane–ejection seat, cabin pressure system, cabin temperature system, etc.? What is involved in the rescue of a downed pilot or the negotiations for that pilot if he is taken prisoner? In a dogfight a pilot is limited by the amount of G’s he can endure as well as the amount of G’s the plane can endure. If a drone is involved in a dogfight, it is only limited by the number of G’s the plane can take.

Yesterday was a preview of the nintendo wars of the future.



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Would You Let These People Near Your Household Budget?

Yesterday’s Washington Examiner reported the following:

“In March, Gevo entered into a contract with the Defense Logistics Agency to supply the U.S. Army with 3,650 gallons of renewable jet fuel to be delivered by the second quarter of 2013,” Gevo announced this week in its first quarter financial report. “This initial order may be increased by 12,500 gallons. All shipments will be at a fixed price of $59 per gallon during the initial testing phase. These shipments are in addition to the renewable jet fuel supplied to the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and the U.S. Navy (USN).”

In plain English this means that the Defense Department is paying $59 per gallon for renewable jet fuel when regular jet fuel costs $3.73 a gallon. Note that this is called a ‘testing phase.’ I need someone to explain to me why you would test anything that costs almost 20 times what you are already using. I fully support green energy–but not until it is economically feasible. This is ridiculous.

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Your Tax Dollars At Work

It is no secret that one of the priorities of the Obama Administration is green energy. The problem with green energy is that we do not yet have the technology to make it cost effective. I suspect we will have that technology within the next thirty years, but we do not have it now. However, that has not stopped the government from using it when it is entirely impractical to do so.

Reuters posted a story today about the U. S. Navy‘s latest foray into the world of green energy.  The “Great Green Fleet,” the first carrier strike group to be powered largely by alternative fuels, is currently headed to the central Pacific in an effort to prove that bio-fuels are as effective as conventional fuels.

There is, however, a problem. The article reports:

Some Republican lawmakers have seized on the fuel’s $26-a-gallon price, compared to $3.60 for conventional fuel. They paint the program as a waste of precious funds at a time when the U.S. government’s budget remains severely strained, the Pentagon is facing cuts and energy companies are finding big quantities of oil and gas in the United States.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the program’s biggest public booster, calls it vital for the military’s energy security.

We need to understand that green energy will become cost effective and practical when the free market is allowed to develop an effective green fuel. Meanwhile, throwing money at solar panel manufactures that go bankrupt and rewarding political cronies who are involved in green energy simply slows down the progress toward practical and inexpensive green energy. If energy independence is so important to the Obama Administration, why did they veto the Keystone Pipeline, close down coal-powered electric plants, and slow down permits for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico?

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