Monday, June 19, 2017

Merchants of Death

He maintained course as he thought he was the law
& he maintained the course as he thought he was on the right side of the law.
Both maintained their course and hence the intercourse.
The US Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with NYK chartered boxship MV ACX Crystal during the Mid watch in the early AM hours on Saturday, 17th June, 2017 in the congested Japanese coastal waters.
In a full impact lateral collision the much heavier Merchant ship's bow severely damaged the starboard accommodation of the US naval ship. It was the bulbous bow of the merchant vessel which ploughed into the crew quarters & machinery space area below the waterline of the warship causing flooding, trapping and eventually death of seven US marines who may have been sleeping at that hour.
Prima facie, the onus rests with the watchkeepers at the pilothouse of the warship. As per the ROR, the warship was the give way vessel and the merchant ship was the stand on vessel being on her starboard side and it was the duty of the naval ship to safely manoeuvre her round ACX Crystal. But that was not to be. However, a probe has been ordered and the details of the findings will expose what transpired at the bridges of the two ill fated vessels.
Meantime a weird thought; the destruction of the naval destroyer by a merchant carrier has once again raised the possibility of use of commercial carriers in the modern terror/warfare. It started with 9-11, 2003 and lately commercial road vehicles have become the favourite weapon of the terrorists to execute their sinister & deadly game plans.
Considering the size of ships, the trend could be scary and the damage colossal when it comes to shores. MV ACX Crystal was just 30,000MT dead weight ship. Let's consider a VLCC loaded with 300,000MT of crude oil having TOE of 3 million tons of TNT ie equivalent to 150 Fatman, the Nagasaki nuclear bombs. If the vessel hits a port at full speed and with few detonators going off simultaneously, it will wreck an unprecedented havoc in a vast coastal area. It may probably do more damage then a state of the art aircraft carrier. Increasing automation and unmanned ships may increase the threat as hacking the navigation and manoeuvering software may lead to such situations at will.
I think the world's national defense forces should do some brain-storming and construct a contingency plan to counter and prevent induction of commercial equipment in neo warfare.


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