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"USS John S McCain Collides With Merchant Ship" Topic

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Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP20 Aug 2017 5:02 p.m. PST

Yes. Another collision of a Navy vessel.


I'm beginning to think someone is affecting the gps on our ships.


StarCruiser20 Aug 2017 5:24 p.m. PST

The Russians – they already can screw with GPS systems. They have experimented with Merchant ships in the Black Sea.

It's not clear if they are messing with our ships, or the Merchants that are crashing into them…

USAFpilot Supporting Member of TMP20 Aug 2017 5:33 p.m. PST

I'm still curious about the USS Fitzgerald, what was their real mission in that part of the world. Were they intentionally taken out? And by whom? Too many unanswered questions about that incident and they are not being answered by our worthless news media which is too busy playing politics.

Great War Ace Inactive Member20 Aug 2017 5:34 p.m. PST

The McCains are not having a very good year.

Personal logo Striker Supporting Member of TMP20 Aug 2017 5:44 p.m. PST

I thought the Navy used lookouts?

tookey23 Inactive Member20 Aug 2017 5:59 p.m. PST

Not everything is a Russian plot to bring the US navy to its knees by sailing, slowly at them in large vessels that are easily spotted.

GPS is only useful if the person looking at it is competant.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP20 Aug 2017 6:15 p.m. PST


I agree. Too many unanswered questions.

I think someone doesn't want us in those waters. ISIS (Mindanao)? China? Lil Kim? Godzilla? I don't know who, but I think someone in that part of the world seems to have found a chink in our navigation armor.

I haven't heard of any military vessels from Russia, China, UK, or anyone else having collisions like this so close to one another, and on the same side of the planet.

PS. Not sure if there any other ships like this in the area that are big enough to bring the McCain back home:

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian20 Aug 2017 6:16 p.m. PST

Too many unanswered questions about that incident…

But the obvious problem is that no senior officer was on the bridge while the ship was transiting a very busy area.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian20 Aug 2017 6:48 p.m. PST

The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21.

There are currently 10 Sailors missing and five injured…

Alnic MC is a 600-foot oil and chemical tanker with a gross tonnage of 30,000.


Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP20 Aug 2017 7:28 p.m. PST

Too many unanswered questions about that incident…

But the obvious problem is that no senior officer was on the bridge while the ship was transiting a very busy area.

Yeah. Have to agree. That's quite obvious.

USAFpilot Supporting Member of TMP20 Aug 2017 7:43 p.m. PST

Anyone on this forum actually serve on a ship in the US Navy? Would like to hear your thoughts.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member20 Aug 2017 7:59 p.m. PST

Murphy's Law is usually is sufficient. Apparently not enough care is being exercised on naval ships. I suspect over reliance on automated or computerized systems, myself, and not enough on old-fashioned seamanship.

The Chinese can breathe easier, knowing that US naval ships are more vulnerable to good ol' ramming like what was so popular at Salamis than to high-tech missile or aerial attacks.

Cyrus the Great20 Aug 2017 8:17 p.m. PST

I personally like conspiracy plots, rather than facts. Facts only get in the way. The truth is out there!

BigDan Supporting Member of TMP20 Aug 2017 8:37 p.m. PST

USAF Pilot. Im a civilian but serve and have served aboard USN vessels for 16+ years. Since im a civilian now it is all sea duty, no shore side rotations.

Never been in a collision. But I read every accident report that is released. I will say that the one thing they almost all have in common is crew fatigue, almost always a contributing factor.

Since you are a pilot, this might make sense to you, imagine if a large portion of the civilian and military airfleets of all of the worlds all used the same couple of airports every day.

Ok, slower than a plane but also with only lateral and longitudinal planes/axis and since most of the traffic is civilian and from a host of different countries without all of the deconflicting mechanisms. Several ships within a mile of you at all times. Since these are mainly commercial vessels their bridge might only be manned with 2 guys 24/7 and they are not as "agile" as military vessels with a very slow turn radius and almost no ability to change speed.

Literally tens of thousands of planes at the same airfield at the same time 24/7. Thats what the waterways around Hong Kong, Singapore, Straights of Malacca, Straights of Hormuz, Tokyo WAN etc…have going on. Ive been in those areas dozens of times and it is still overwhelming when I go out on deck and see 3-400 ships all around.

GPS is for navigating from point A to point B not for navigating traffic or congested areas. All Navy ships have at least 2 radars tied in to an ECDIS, have multiple look outs etc…they still get overwhelmed at times.

I'm not a conspiracy theory type or a Trump partizan.

But I think there is a big part of the answer. The US Navy has collisions…plural EVERY YEAR….every year. E-V-E-R-Y single year that I have been sailing we have had multiple collisions.

It never gets reported outside of Navy or Maritime or military news sources until this year.

StarCruiser20 Aug 2017 8:56 p.m. PST

Not sure if this really qualifies as a "conspiracy plot" but there was this little article:


Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP20 Aug 2017 9:34 p.m. PST


The radiation from Godzilla could interfere with ship sensors, or so I've been told.

Not everything has to be the Russians. :)

PS. Good article, by the way.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP21 Aug 2017 1:35 a.m. PST

I suppose it's like "friendly fire" – if you provide most of the air cover, you'll be responsible for most such incidents. Similarly, if you have the largest navy and cover the world's hotspots, you'll have most of the collisions.

Also worth bearing in mind that ships are not as manoeuverable as land-based or airborne vehicles – it takes a long time, and a lot of water, to stop them or for them to change direction.

pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP21 Aug 2017 3:26 a.m. PST

+1 Big Dan. I'm prior Coast Guard ship driver. Also read many accident reports in my day. Almost always there was a chain of events that could have been broken at many points, but was not.

Add the fact that most merchant vessels don't respond to radio calls when you try to find why they just made that course change that now puts them on a collision course. And few in that part of the world speak English (not surprising, of course).

Going to sea is a dangerous business, and takes constant vigilance and forethought.

skipper John Supporting Member of TMP21 Aug 2017 5:52 a.m. PST

Cacique wrote;
"The radiation from Godzilla could interfere with ship sensors…"

I like that! Yes, from now on I'm going with that.

Major Mike21 Aug 2017 6:38 a.m. PST

Sounds too much like part of a James Bond movie plot.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP21 Aug 2017 6:42 a.m. PST

Skipper John, Major Mike,

If it isn't happening yet with military ships, it will.


So, if the ships in Southeast Asia weren't done in by Godzilla, or human error, then by default it must be the Russians or North Korea that doesn't want us in that area. I don't think we're allowed to blame anyone else these days without risking being ridiculed or labeled. :)




USAFpilot Supporting Member of TMP21 Aug 2017 7:45 a.m. PST

It never gets reported outside of Navy or Maritime or military news sources until this year.

One may wonder why not until this year?

BigDan, thanks for your experienced insight on this topic. I understand about accident investigations from an aviation perspective, i.e. Crew fatigue, chain of errors etc. My plane cruises at 450 knots and has electronic warning systems to prevent mid-air collisions, but aircraft at big airports collide when they at only going 15 knots during ground taxi. It happens more then what you see in the news; usually no one is hurt.

So, is this business as normal for the US Navy, or do you think they have a problem somewhere?

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP21 Aug 2017 7:54 a.m. PST

The Chinese are doing it.
"Nice ships you got there. It would be a shame if something really bad happened to them. Now. About those islands in the CHINA SEA."

Rogues121 Aug 2017 8:14 a.m. PST

Retired US Navy ship driver. It has been a few years since I served on the bridge of a carrier and other vessels, but I also agree with Big Dan, congestion, fatigue and poor attention to seamanship details (like lookouts). GPS and other SatNav systems are for transit, these accidents are occurring in high congestion areas that have limited maneuverability and challenging ports to enter and exit. The bridge is using SatNav, GPS, Radar cuts, and visual cues (think lights from buoys or lighthouses), to get their position, this is about seamanship within channels and congested waters – you know where you are, it is paying attention to your surroundings and reacting ahead of time. Ships have no brakes, and though the gas turbine engines are pretty responsive if a commercial ship is not paying attention or steaming on autopilot (yes ships have it as well, and they could be spoofed) but it is incumbent on the US Naval ship to avoid the oncoming vessel even if we have right of way or the greater gross tonnage. I think we are seeing that our increasing optempo in an area that is not used to a large military presence and does not know how to respond to it (or maybe even care). I guess this would be the equivalent of putting a traffic cop in the middle of a highway at rush hour to direct traffic. We need to up our seamanship game and I think we need to adapt to the realities of the location (narrow straits, lots of congestion, non-English speakers on commercial vessels, etc.). This is a case where preparedness matters, because turning to avoid hitting another ship happens multiple minutes before a collision not seconds.

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP21 Aug 2017 8:20 a.m. PST

Why does everyone on TMP jump to the weirdest conspiracy theories every time something happens? The fact that no collision alarm was sounded means a failure by the officer of the watch and the lookouts. My guess is that when the full accident report is issued it will be as simple as that or something similar. Unfortunately, men were lost, careers will be ruined, but the U.S. Navy will go on.

Outlaw Tor21 Aug 2017 9:09 a.m. PST

In my experience with the collision of the USS Coral Sea (CV-43) with the Ecuadorian tanker Napo, it was the failure of a weak watch team and bad decisions at critical times that caused the incident. The failure to realize it was going bad and senior advice and experience were needed allied with an aversion to asking for help when needed did not improve the situation.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member21 Aug 2017 10:34 a.m. PST

Confederate statues did it.

Private Matter21 Aug 2017 11:37 a.m. PST

I love how folks jump to a conspiracy theory. It keeps certain radio personalities going. Perhaps, some folks need to tone down how strong of a glue they're using when assembling miniatures

BigDan has some very good points. The crew members that are getting punished are getting punished for either lack of situational awareness and/or not following/enforcing "at sea protocals" from what I have read in the Navy Times and other publications. While hacking of GPS systems can happen, I imagine, the control of the ship is the responsibility of the watch team on the bridge.

The areas where the collisions happen are areas where US ships operate as part of the open ocean doctrine. There is nothing mysterious here.

And the reason we don't hear about collisions is that most do not entail the loss of life. However, two major collisions in such a short time frame would indicate to me, as USAF Pilot asks, a problem; probably in either training or operational tempo.

PrivateSnafu21 Aug 2017 12:57 p.m. PST

I'll add another conspiracy.

China did it, they are unhappy with the McCain.


Wulfgar21 Aug 2017 1:02 p.m. PST

"Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships, today!" – Ist Earl and Admiral David Beatty, on the British Battlecruiser losses at Jutland, 1916.

14Bore21 Aug 2017 2:45 p.m. PST

At least more thought here than anything I read in the media

StarCruiser21 Aug 2017 4:49 p.m. PST

The whole problem does come down to dependence on automated systems on both military and civil ships.

GPS hacking and spoofing are NOT new concepts. There are plenty of kids hacking people's phones, cars and even fitness trackers (some of those have GPS included) just to have fun.

It's been rumored for some time that Iran (and probably others) have been working on hacking drones. It's just a matter of time before ships become the next target of "professional" hackers (i.e. Intelligence Services).

I know that a warship should far more difficult to hack but, even there, the US Navy is more vulnerable than ever since we have this very bad habit of trying to use off-the-shelf operating systems to control those ships.

Trust me, I work on computers for a living…

StarCruiser21 Aug 2017 6:13 p.m. PST

And now – others are starting to ask questions:


McKinstry Fezian21 Aug 2017 6:26 p.m. PST

We confess. You got us.

Yours Truly,

The Illuminati

P.S. – Now that we've been rumbled it's back to probing rednecks with our Alien partners.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP21 Aug 2017 7:14 p.m. PST

Yep. If it's not human error and a foreign power is somehow to blame, of course it must be Russia or North Korea. It can't possibly be China.


Lion in the Stars21 Aug 2017 10:12 p.m. PST

Anyone on this forum actually serve on a ship in the US Navy? Would like to hear your thoughts.

Collision was reported at 0624 local time, that's right about sunrise down there (close to the equator, sunrise/set is 6a/6p year-round). Captain was probably not on the bridge, he was checking overnight message traffic for stuff not important enough to wake him up.

If it was on my sub, that'd be half an hour past breakfast (not sure what surface ship schedules are). The 6-12 watch would be an hour into their shift, but I think surface ships run 4-hour watches. So, it'd be the 04-08 watch, and they'd be tired as hell, having been awake since 0230 or 0300 and on watch since 0330. And had been awake until probably 2200 the night before, because someone is going to be killed for the nerve of sleeping before the sun goes down!

Tired Mammal22 Aug 2017 4:40 a.m. PST

It shouldn't need a senior officer to set off an alarm or do an emergency course correction for collision avoidance. Why have people on watch if they cannot do anything? Unlike merchant vessels lack of crew should not be a problem and going through busy waters in the early morning should when they make an effort to be most alert.
Sounds like complacency or over officious management on board or perhaps the ship did not behave as it should. That or somebody panicked and got their port and starboard mixed up which has never happened before…..

StarCruiser22 Aug 2017 6:57 a.m. PST

There was one report yesterday that the McCain was having steering issues?

Not sure where I saw that – that raises questions about the ship itself and even more about "where was the Captain?".

David Manley22 Aug 2017 9:32 a.m. PST

Steering gear failure is the latest report. Been there in a frigate that, as a result, rammed the ship that we were working with. Went from fine to disaster in a very few seconds. Fortunately in our case only minor injuries and a KO'd helicopter in our incident (not our help)

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 Aug 2017 11:41 a.m. PST

US Navy collisions stoke cyber threat concerns

"The Pentagon won't yet say how the USS John S. McCain was rammed by an oil tanker near Singapore, but red flags are flying as the Navy's decades-old reliance on electronic guidance systems increasing looks like another target of cyberattack.

The incident the fourth involving a Seventh Fleet warship this year occurred near the Strait of Malacca, a crowded 1.7-mile-wide waterway that connects the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea and accounts for roughly 25 percent of global shipping.

"When you are going through the Strait of Malacca, you can't tell me that a Navy destroyer doesn't have a full navigation team going with full lookouts on every wing and extra people on radar," said Jeff Stutzman, chief intelligence officer at Wapack Labs, a New Boston, New Hampshire, cyber intelligence service…"
Main page


Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP23 Aug 2017 10:48 p.m. PST

Well, mighty interesting.


And to think people kept calling me a paranoid conspiracy nut for suggesting it. I might turn out to be one, I admit there's a good chance of that, but there are way more and way better reasons for calling me that than this Navy string of collisions.


PMC31724 Aug 2017 4:32 a.m. PST

It wouldn't surprise me if someone in that region was testing EW gear that can spoof or mislead GPS based systems. Given the West's reliance on tech and GPS systems it's an obvious line of defence/attack.

Barin124 Aug 2017 4:52 a.m. PST

I remember bringing company car from Germany to Russia, we were taking a ferry from Lubeck to Helsinki and there was an oprganized visit to the command deck.
Apart of GPS, there were two radar systems and of course there were at least three crewman there all the time. Even if GPS system was fooled, I wonder how you can hack the radar….and eyes.
My car has rear view camera, but I'm still looking in the mirrors as in good old times…

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP24 Aug 2017 5:12 a.m. PST

Any physical attack against us will be preceded by a cyber one.


But the cyber attacks could be used all by themselves to convey a political message for our military and our ships to back off, or to misdirect our attention and resources elsewhere, or to artificially create a state of heightened alarm for a prolonged period, which can be very detrimental to our response in an actual emergency.

Or the cyber attack might be directed at our citizens and infrastructure and not at our military. It would create chaos if the citizens suddenly got messages directly from a foreign government asking them to stand down or to accept terms or a regime change, wouldn't it?

So, whomever makes most of our components could end up having a major advantage over us. :)





Lion in the Stars25 Aug 2017 4:04 a.m. PST

Ouch. Loss of steerage is a good way to have a very bad day!

Tired Mammal25 Aug 2017 7:19 a.m. PST

Maybe it is just too stealthy to be in busy waters after all the tanker also collided. Curious to know which one took evasive action first though a destroyer should be more agile.

Lion in the Stars25 Aug 2017 6:38 p.m. PST

I'd be surprised if the cargo ship took ANY evasive action.

Also, please remember that even if the DDG took evasive action, it still has a very large turning radius and takes a while to stop. I mean, if it comes down to it, the DDG can probably stop in a little under twice her own length with an All Back Emergency order, but that's not always an option.

wardog27 Aug 2017 1:50 p.m. PST

with all this automation lately leading to reduced crews ,is it now a case of not having enough crew to man watches

Lion in the Stars28 Aug 2017 3:45 p.m. PST

Cargo ships usually have 12 people on the crew. By the usual rules, that's one guy watching the engine, one guy on the bridge, and one-two lookouts. Across three or 4 watches.

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