Is The U.S. Navy Being Truthful With Its Report On Recent Crash Incidents?

Authored by Duance Norman via Free Market Shooter blog,

Recently, Free Market Shooter (as well as the US Navy) questioned the cause of a string of crashes involving Navy destroyers and cruisers... all occurring this year:

Recently, the US military, unable to come up with a cause for the incidents, began investigating something else – “compromised computer systems”:


The military is examining whether compromised computer systems were responsible for one of two U.S. Navy destroyer collisions with merchant vessels that occurred in recent months, Vice Admiral Jan Tighe, the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare, said on Thursday.


Naval investigators are scrambling to determine the causes of the mishaps, including whether hackers infiltrated the computer systems of the USS John S. McCain ahead of the collision on Aug. 21, Tighe said during an appearance at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.


The presumption that has been made is that these vessels are being hacked, China is the responsible party, given the proximity of the vessel crashes to the nation, as well as recent incidents where the US and China have butted heads.  But it is worth asking; are these vessels being hacked?  More importantly, if they are being hacked, who is hacking the vessels, and why?

However, this author did not discount other possible causes for the incidents, including complacent Navy sailors…

It is also worth noting that US Navy vessels do not broadcast an AIS signal (which can be seen on with their respective position, like nearly all other vessels, due to obvious security/defense reasons. You almost never hear news of large commercial ships crashing into each other, which is due not just to AIS, but due to the fact that they actively try to broadcast their position by other means, such as running lights.


Which brings in the possibility of simple human error from US Navy operators as being the cause of these crashes.  Could it be that simple complacency and/or lack of proper training has resulted in these incidents? Given the professionalism of our military, that seems unlikely, but it wouldn’t be the first (and almost certainly won’t be the last) time it has happened.

…a theme which was commonly brought up in responses to this article after it was posted on The Burning Platform:

  • Here’s a more likely scenario – its driven and manned by a bunch of incompetent sailors, who very well may have gotten there through some kind of affirmative action nonsense, or social promotion, where pople get qualifications on things they aren’t competent enough to handle because no CO wants to get accused of racism or sexism for failing a black/women/whatever person on the oral board for underway watches. I’ve never been in the Navy, but I’ve seen it, many times. People given way more responsiblity that they are competent to handle, and you just sit back and wait for them to do something stupid, while hoping no one gets hurt. Also, they are probably spending more time doing mandated training on SJW type nonsense than learning how to sail their boat.
  • Never attribute something to highly complex malice when it can easily be contributed to stupidity and/or incompetence. Thats how Occam would slice it.
  • A complete breakdown in seafaring culture, from top to bottom. The lookouts either failed or had their reports ignored. The radarmen failed to kep track. The bridge lookouts failed, the officer of the deck failed, and the C/O failed by not ensuring that he had competent people at every position. His C/O failed because he knew that the ship captain was incapable of taut management, and likely knew that many of the junior officers and petty officers were untrained and incompetent.
  • A complete failure of culture. God help them if they become hard targets in a shooting engagement.
  • I’ve worked on vessels in the oil field my whole life and have seen the decline in discipline and accountability. With so many wireless devices it’s almost impossible to keep people focused on their task. If they would disconnect the internet from these vessels and keel hull a few of the captains most of the problem would go away.
  • Hacking, GPS spoofing, etc are all things that should be investigated. However IMO they are unlikely. What seems more likely to me is there is a breakdown of operational discipline.
  • However this was brought on is open for much debate. A large factor that I think contributes, is the shift away from the military from being an instrument of death to our enemies to a global force for good and social engineering experiments.

And in the case of the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain, the Navy has ruled that incompetence was indeed the cause of the incidents:

The collision between Fitzgerald and Crystal was avoidable and resulted from an accumulation of smaller errors over time, ultimately resulting in a lack of adherence to sound navigational practices. Specifically, Fitzgerald’s watch teams disregarded established norms of basic contact management and, more importantly, leadership failed to adhere to well-established protocols put in place to prevent collisions. In addition, the ship’s triad was absent during an evolution where their experience, guidance and example would have greatly benefited the ship.


The collision between John S. McCain and Alnic MC was also avoidable and resulted primarily from complacency, over-confidence and lack of procedural compliance. A major contributing factor to the collision was sub-standard level of knowledge regarding the operation of the ship control console. In particular, McCain’s commanding officer disregarded recommendations from his executive officer, navigator and senior watch officer to set sea and anchor watch teams in a timely fashion to ensure the safe and effective operation of the ship. With regard to procedures, no one on the Bridge watch team, to include the commanding officer and executive officer, were properly trained on how to correctly operate the ship control console during a steering casualty.

Is the Navy being truthful in its assessment of these incidents?  More than likely, yes.  But it should be acknowledged that the Navy could be “covering up” another cause of the incident, which could be anything from the aforementioned hacking, to problems with the Navy’s Aegis system, as was previously stated on Free Market Shooter:

A far more likely scenario is that there is a problem with the Aegis system and/or other navigation systems on US naval vessels. The US Navy, known to cover up all sorts of problems in the past, would have every reason to mask the true reason behind these collisions if they are tied to a defective weapons system. Notably, the unreliable nature of the US ground-based interceptor program under questionable test conditions has led many to believe that the system is just another failed defense project sucking up billions of taxpayer dollars.  It is not far-fetched to believe that one of our deployed systems is operating with a serious defect that has been swept under the rug by the DoD.

It is also worth acknowledging that if hacking indeed was to blame, the Navy would not acknowledge it publicly.  If hacking was the culprit, the Navy would not want the enemy to know that it had isolated the issue and corrected it, allowing the enemy to go along in the belief that they could continue to compromise Navy vessels.

However, in the cases of all of these US Navy crashes, the simplest explanation is likely the correct one, and the simplest explanation is the one that the Navy provided – a complete breakdown in seafaring culture.  Still, it has to be acknowledged that the Navy could be covering for a far larger problem. 


HRH Feant2 Citxmech Sat, 11/04/2017 - 23:52 Permalink

I have read the previous articles on this, and other, incidents

They had nothing to do with EW (electronic warfare) and everything to do with incompetence.

This was all about hiring and promoting people to look good. To make the numbers look good.

If the person you promote is sitting at a desk shuffling paper it isn't a big deal.

On the other hand, if the people you promote are illiterate, ignorant, lazy, and incompetent, the end result is you end up with mulitiple fuck ups and people that are dead.

Exactly what has happened in the USN this past year. Sadly, on more than one occasion.

I no longer advise young people to join the military.

In reply to by Citxmech

HRH Feant2 fulliautomatix Sun, 11/05/2017 - 01:22 Permalink

"My people?" You don't know jack shit about my people.

This affirmative active action shit is blowing up in people's faces. Good. Took long enough.

That is what they get for promoting niggers not because of what they could do but because they were a nigger.

Everyone knows the game. I say let the niggers run the military. See how many other ships are torn up and destroyed. Heck I am betting at least one more incident with 10-or-more dead SMs by the end of the year.

In reply to by fulliautomatix

fulliautomatix HRH Feant2 Sun, 11/05/2017 - 01:51 Permalink

Your comprehension is a little awry - there is a way to understand "your capable people" as referring to the organisation and its personnel, not as a personal attribute of you. Of course, if you are attesting that there are no capable people you can't expect any outcome other than the cock-up, whatever the colour of those peoples' skins, in which case your argument isn't worth parsing.

In reply to by HRH Feant2

MozartIII HRH Feant2 Sun, 11/05/2017 - 07:45 Permalink

"This affirmative active action shit is blowing up in people's faces." We have a winner!! HRH Feant 2, you absolutly nailed it. All those promotions to women, blacks, mexican & homo's to make a diverse culture are not about promoting the best or the brightest. Hey we can give them another participation trophy so they feel good about achieving nothing. They are all winners though??? Right?A bunch of incompetent boobs, that can't take responsibility for their actions! Fucking marxism destruction of culture ping!

In reply to by HRH Feant2

Socratic Dog MozartIII Sun, 11/05/2017 - 15:28 Permalink

And it absolutely is destruction of culture.  The greatest culture that ever arose, Western culture.  Taken down intentionally, from within, by an alien 5th column that is so fucking cunning it can set things up that even mentioning their name brings a backlash.Kevin MacDonald has written extensively and how, and why, jews are taking down the west.  Worth a look.

In reply to by MozartIII

NoPension fulliautomatix Sun, 11/05/2017 - 07:14 Permalink

My son was invited to attend OCS. I was proud, an officer in the family. He declined...and talked to me about it.

He said... " Dad...I'll just end up being responsible for a bunch of fucking idiots, and that's not me."

I'd bet anything...ANYTHING!!!! , that these incidents, and the Baltimore grade rigging scandals ( for example) can be linked. I'd love to see a photo of the crew on the bridge. It would probably tell you all you need to know. Political correctness taken to its logical conclusion.
Idiots driving ships.

In reply to by fulliautomatix

grizfish NoPension Sun, 11/05/2017 - 12:53 Permalink

You can be proud of your son.  He sounds like a smart and very astute person.  I did graduate from OCS and spent much of my time as a junior officer with court martial duties.  I learned a great deal about the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) while serving as either defense or trial council.  11 court martials in less than 2 years in our small unit and I was one of many officers being assigned this type of duty.

In reply to by NoPension

jeff montanye SoDamnMad Sun, 11/05/2017 - 05:11 Permalink

well it's just possible that before the "coloreds and girls" were promoted beyond their ability, there were a few white men, quite in the seafaring tradition (say son of an admiral who was a son of an admiral) who also had a slip up or five.most of these navy problems are the result of the russian technology, possibly sold to or shared with china, that knocks out a ship's electronics, most recently displayed during the syrian war in the black sea:… the u.s.s. john mccain was just bound to crash.…"the shift away from the military from being an instrument of death to our enemies to a global force for good"?"keelhull"?

In reply to by SoDamnMad

Withdrawn Sanction HRH Feant2 Sun, 11/05/2017 - 07:11 Permalink

A series of coinciding Incompetence?  Well, sure maybe.  So why did the incompetence suddenly manifest now in several different places?  Presumably the rot of incompetence was there for some time before, no?  I will agree, coincidence theories are so much more handy.  We just chalk things up to the laws of probability and we're done. 

In reply to by HRH Feant2

HardAssets HRH Feant2 Sun, 11/05/2017 - 07:53 Permalink

Many years ago, the Navy decided to go with simulators for training as a cost saving measure. The quality of ship handling training was severely reduced. The older, better trained officers retired. The less seaworthy officers worked their way up the promotion ladder and now are in their positions of command. Given that the Navy hasn’t fought a major naval opponent for 70 years (WW2) and hasn’t even faced a potential serious naval opponent for 20 years (USSR) - complacency & hubris have taken over.

On a few occasions I have helped out by tutoring h.s. and freshman college students in math, science, and writing. All these students got ‘good grades’ and had gone to ‘highly ranked’ public high schools. I was shocked by how poor were their academic skills. On the other hand, they all had an inflated sense of how much they knew. ‘Positive self esteem’ matched with incompetence is a recipe for disaster.

In reply to by HRH Feant2

One of these i… RAT005 Sun, 11/05/2017 - 13:48 Permalink

I wondered how the steering dude could have a problem controlling speed and direction unless his electronics was gving him problems.I've steered a small (40 foot) craft and everything happens in such slow motion that the speed control and steering is really, really easy.Looking forwards and anticipating trouble, or navigating, is where the actual skill is, but it's hard for me to believe your steering dude would have had problems setting the speed & direction as he would have been instructed.I could more easily understand a scenario where the guy finds that the speed or direction is altering itself without his inputs, he flags it as an issue and they transfer control to the other station. A hack would still have to be exquisitely timed after a long, long, period of observation and calculation to actually cause a collision. 

In reply to by RAT005

greenskeeper carl peddling-fiction Sat, 11/04/2017 - 22:24 Permalink

Ha I started reading those things he listed that other people commented on another site and realized a couple of them were from me.

If you guys have never sailed a military ship, you don't understand how hard this is to have happen. Even if ALL the completely independent systems were compromised at the same time, you still have a dozen or more people on the birdge, several of whose ONLY function is looking through binoculars at other vessel traffic. You can sea nav lights on boats this size from a minimum of 6 miles away with the naked eye. Legally, they must be visible from that distance. In reality, they are usually visible for 10 or more on a large cargo vessel.

The most likely situation is that you have a bunch of clueless fucktards that don't know what they are doing. The military mostly cares about filling minority quotas nowadays. It's not a bunch of people who have their positions because they are highly qualified, it's because they fill various diversity requirements.

In reply to by peddling-fiction

serotonindumptruck greenskeeper carl Sat, 11/04/2017 - 22:55 Permalink

I can recall the USS Stark incident where one of Saddam Hussein's Falcon 50 fighter pilots launched an Exocet missile at the ship.From the unofficial reports that I became aware of at the time, the Commanding Officer was otherwise preoccupied in his state room, possibly while taking a massive shit.By the time the aft lookout reported an inbound missile attack, as the missile was fired beneath the horizon at approximately 40 nautical miles, the crew had about 20 to 25 seconds to respond with CIWS.The rest is history.

In reply to by greenskeeper carl

webmatex Golden Showers Sun, 11/05/2017 - 04:01 Permalink

Ive spent  time at sea - on the bridge, and the radar is active at all times and you don't need to be an "experienced operator" to use one.I was maybe 6 when i learnt to turn the button that changed the radar range from 5 km to 50 km (with 10 km increments).This is not rocket science and the radar is generally close to the wheel and can be seen by all in the wheelhouse.You cannot miss seeing a radar track on a screen - especially lit up in the dark - unless everyone is absent or asleep or the radar defective and where was the response from the active deck crew (surely at least 6)? But  theres little reason to  discount an "electronic interference" angle either. 

In reply to by Golden Showers

Freddie Shemp 4 Victory Sat, 11/04/2017 - 23:23 Permalink

Supposed "conservatives" over at Free Republic blaming Obama enlistees and lower quality Navy recruits.  They lap up the crap the navy sends them.  Like the Pentragram tells the truth.  See Iraq and Gulf of Tonkin and the list is endless. Obviously, the See Eye A overrules The Pentagram but I am amazed at how people accept the news and crap on TV like it is the gospel truth.Old people especially think anything on TV is true.  Old whites also still love their Trayvon NFL,, NCAA and NBA.A f**king nation of mindless sheep.  The Navy may be f'ed up but those are hundreds of millions of dollars of (shitty) ships made by corrupt defense contractors.  I know a guy who was on ships like this one on the helm navigating the ship.He said he is almost 100% sure this was not  the crew screwing up.  Oddly, this was in China's neck of the woods.

In reply to by Shemp 4 Victory

ElTerco chunga Sun, 11/05/2017 - 00:56 Permalink

Millennials are glued to their phones and full of themselves. They know better than their superiors when they need to be careful. Experience is useless since it's a different world than the one the old guys with 20/30 years experience grew up in. Just ask the millennials, they'll tell you.

In reply to by chunga

OverTheHedge ElTerco Sun, 11/05/2017 - 01:38 Permalink

 Don't go blaming the millennials for that attitude: you were exactly the same with the old pharts when you were just going out into the world. Youth ALWAYS knows best, until it learns the hard way, that it doesn't.What I don't know is if the internet is available to all hands on a warship, at all times, and what the penalty for dicking with your phone would be when you were supposed to be on watch. I would expect the charge for a lookout who was watching porn, not ships, to be fairly extreme, especially in a busy bit of water. But this is a modern, inclusive military force, so who knows....Perhaps some of the more knowledgeable commenters might be able to confirm the crime of being a millennial is not necessarily to blame.Can you imagine the conversation between the lookout and the bridge... "Umm, guys, about that fuck-off enormous ship you are planning on crashing into...are you absolutely SURE you want to hit it?  You know - the one I have been whining about for the last ten minutes...the really, realy big one you are driving straight into....guys?....Guys....Hello? Is there anybody out there? Fuck! Is that Bermuda I can see?! HELLO?!?"Unless there absolutely were no lookouts, I don't believe any of this sillyness. If your only job is to look for ships, and you see a ship, you are going to report said ship, because it is something fun to do in a boring, cold, dark night, and because you will get strung up and crucified and it will be your turn in the barrel FOREVER if you fuck up. Oh, and you might all die, but that would be less worrysome than having to face the wrath of all your shipmates, assuming that some survive. Imagine being the lookout who didn't see the really, realy big ship. You're going to get abuse about that for the rest of your life.I also can't believe that the sailors haven't talked about it - loose lips sink ships, but do sunk ships loosen lips? Buy a sailor a beer, and he's yours for the night, so I am led to believe.

In reply to by ElTerco

ElTerco OverTheHedge Sun, 11/05/2017 - 03:39 Permalink

One more thing -- there *is* a difference between the youth of my generation and the current generation.

When I was young and joined a software project, I respected the guy who wrote the software because (1) he wrote essentially all the core algorithms of the software project (2) he had extensively validated the software vs real world experiments (3) he had worked in the field for over a decade before writing the software.

Current millennials (essentially all millennials I've observed at work, not just a few) *completely ignore* those guys, and assume that their college professor, who has only worked on tiny toy problems in unrelated areas for their entire career and probably done little if any field work, they assume those professors know better than the guy who wrote the software the millennials were hired to work on, even when that guy *is their boss*.

There is a Grand Canyon sized chasm there in difference of approach and judgement. BTW I was never that guy that wrote a project from scratch, but I definitely had the basic reasoning skills to know I should respect what those guys were doing, and assume there was a good reason for stuff they did in their software, even for things that looked bat shit crazy.

In reply to by OverTheHedge

Freddie OverTheHedge Sun, 11/05/2017 - 09:17 Permalink

+1Easy for the Navy to blame the crew versus blaming the defense contractors who butter their bread after retirement.  Lots of good post retirement jobs with Raytheon, Leckheed, et al if everyone follows the program.  Could be a ship full of clowns but I am thinking they got hacked. As far as millenials, to their credit, they are turning off TV and the shit NFL faster than anyone. 18 to 34 numbers are tanking the fastest. Down over 36%.  Old white men and dumb souther/Texas fucks still loving their Trayvon NFL, NBA, NCAA college ball thugs like white sheep.

In reply to by OverTheHedge