The United States Navy is investigating the cause of a collision of the USS John S McCain and a Liberian tanker near Singapore this week, the fourth such incident this year. There are concerns that the collision may have been the work of hackers.
The US Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson has ordered a temporary pause of operations around the world to launch a fleet-wide review to probe systematic issues plaguing operations. The Admiral even tweeted that the investigation will look into “the possibility of cyber intrusion or sabotage”.
A number of accidents involving warships in the Western Pacific has stoked concerns of external factors affecting ships and the crews. These accidents even took place during “the most basic of operations”, according to Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift.
A former Navy information warfare specialist, Jeff Stutzman, told McClatchy:
There’s something more than just human error going on because there would have been a lot of humans to be checks and balances. I don’t have proof, but you have to wonder if there were electronic issues.
Previous incidents include the case of the USS Antietam, a guided missile cruiser, which ran agound off the coast of Japan on Jan 31st this year. Another cruiser, the USS Lake Champlain, was struck by a South Korean fishing vessel on May 9. The USS Fitzgerald, a $1.5 billion destroyer with a boatload of electronics, collided with a container ship that resulted in the deaths of seven sailors. Subsequently, the commanding officer and two other officers were officially removed of duties.
On June 22, the first known instance of GPS ‘spoofing’ occurred, wherein someone manipulated GPS signals in the eastern area of the Black Sea to leave some 209 ships with distorted situational awareness. Although appearing to work normally, the onboard navigation systems on the ships reported their locations to be 20 miles inland.
Image credit: Pixabay.