Deniz Stratejileri

The Collisions in The Pacific Ocean

15 December 2017 - 12:44 - Update: 15 December 2017 - 12:49

 We have been seeing that some American destroyers under the tactical command of 7th  Fleet in Pacific Ocean consecutively collided with the commercial vessels or grounded for last ten months. The grounding of USS Antietam due to propeller failure in 31 January 2017, the collision of USS Champlain with a fishing boat in 09 May 2017, the collision of USS Fitzgerald with a container ship in 17 June 2017 and USS John S.Mccain with an oil tanker in 21 August 2017 caused a surprise all over the world.[1] [2] My colleagues who are formers or ones on duty know that every thing can be happen at the sea. The sequential collisions of the destroyers having technological superiority naturally lead to some questions.

Nevertheless technology addiction is recently increasing in the vessels, it seems that these collisions can happen to any vessels at the sea. But cyber attacks scenarios have already been started uttering by some western media. The cyber attack is, of course, one of the possibilities and it’s known that 20 ships were reported to have suffered ‘satellite navigation problems’ in the Black Sea in June. But it is too early to comment for cyber attack unless the official details of collision investigation report is promulgated. For instance, it seems that USS Fitzgerald was hit on its starboard side above the waterline, severely damaging the communication nodes and the commanding officer's cabin under the bridge and ACX Crystal was hit on its port bow on the berth deck. Considering the crash positions, it can be seen that either one or both disregarded ‘Overtaking/Rule-13’ of International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREG) in the same or suchlike course.

The chaos of pyramid hill can lead to tragic results for downstairs. After first incident, 7th Fleet and its components could tidy up and clarify the situation. It’s come to light that the orders and warnings were not be a remedy after the first event, paying attention next sequential collisions. On the other hand, it is stated that some submarine commanding officers were also relieved of their duties due to different reasons alongside destroyers’ commanders.[3] It seems that operating tempo is incresing in the Pacific Ocean theater where the Chinese and the North Korean Armed Forces are included. We do not know how uncertainties of the executive decisions and resignations of senior managers in Washington affect the political directives ordered Commands. But it seems that it is obligated to shorten, eliminate or defer training and maintenance of the warships due to ops tempo and high activity.[4]

The competitors of the Pacific Fleet have nuclear weapons. Showing a tendency and zigzags to use nuclear weapons by North Korea may fray nerves. As a matter of fact; the reason of frayed nerves is not any weakness or incapability of the Pasific Fleet. The reason is that  it’s understood the competitors know that U.S. as a counter party will not assault unless first attack is started by themselves. The competitors know counter party is strong. They always prefer the profile as a poker face and play wargame with counter party. These attempts of China and North Korea inevitability cause additional stress and press on the U.S. Fleets in the Pacific Ocean theatre and make increase the ops tempo lead to some savings for the period of trainings and maintenance.

Finally, 4 destroyers became as the vessels not under command for a long period unless they fight. Commander of 7th Fleet was relieved of his duty after last collision due to ‘a loss of confidence in his ability to command’.[5] Is it a chess playing with China or is everything spontaneous or is there any rush or/and infirmity on command and control or all of them ? Unless the chaos of pyramid hill is clarified, suchlike problems will go on. I suppose 7th Fleet dossier will be a good lesson for naval academies all over the world in the near future.






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