Navy Investigates Possible “Cyber Intrusion or Sabotage” in Crash of USS McCain and USS Fitzgerald

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After another fatal collision between a U.S. Navy ship and a merchant shipping vessel, the Navy has called a time-out to assess what’s happening. The two most recent accidents happened in the Pacific with ships from the 7th Fleet. And now the Navy is considering that the accidents might be the result of hacking.

Though it seems like a long shot, many have criticized the government’s lack of support for the Navy in the last few decades. Even though much of the air support in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan comes from carrier based aircraft, the Navy has taken a backseat to the Army and Marines and even the Air Force–all of which play a more visible element in the ongoing wars.

Now, though, some feel this lack of support may be responsible for the recent tragedies on the USS McCain and USS Fitzgerald.

The Daily Mail reports thatAdmiral John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, answering questions on Monday, said there were “no indications right now” of hacking in either of these incidents, though his investigators “will consider all possibilities.”

That this is even a possibility has surprised many. The USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker outside of the Port of Singapore. 10 sailors are missing. Just today, the Navy has announced that remains have been located in the flooded compartments on the McCain.

Seven sailors died on the USS Fitzgerald when the ship struck a cargo ship off Japan on June 17. The USS Fitzgerald is currently in a dry dock at Yokosuka, Japan undergoing repairs. On Friday, the Navy released a statement saying, “The collision was avoidable, and both ships demonstrated poor seamanship.”

Admiral Richardson’s inquiry will consider many possibilities. One is this inquiry into “cyber intrusion or sabotage.”

Another option being explored is the increasing number of hours spent in simulators, and the lack on on-the-job training that sailors are receiving. The simulators are infinitely less expensive to operate, but they are often paused when a problem is identified so sailors can regroup, an option not available in the real world.

The operational pause is a play called by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. It is meant to gather information on the accidents, on training procedures, and on any other influences that might have led to this tragedy.