Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The collision off Singapore that badly damaged the U.S. Navy destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) was likely the result of human error, but the Navy’s now investigating if enemy hackers (read China) might have somehow caused this accident that cost the lives of 10 American sailors.
Initial Navy findings strongly suggest the collision between the McCain and the container ship, Alnic MC, off the coast of Singapore and Malaysia, east of the Strait of Malacca on Aug. 21 was caused by a combination of a fatigued bridge crew; poor communication between crew members and crowded shipping lanes.
The huge hole torn into the port side of the McCain’s hull “resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms.”
Vice Admiral Jan Tighe, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, announced the investigation into suspicions Chinese hackers penetrated the McCain’s computer systems ahead of the collision.
The Navy has no indication a cyberattack was behind the McCain incident, but has deployed an investigating team to the McCain to definitively answer this nagging question, said Adm. Tighe.
She said the Navy plans to use the results of the McCain probe to strengthen cybersecurity across the fleet. She revealed the Navy has set aside $1.5 billion between fiscal years 2014 and 2023 to improve its cyber defenses.
She also noted the “McCain incident happening so close to the (USS) Fitzgerald (DDG-62),” which was rammed on the early morning of June 17 off Yokosuka, Japan by ACX Crystal, a Philippine-flagged container ship. This incident saw the deaths of seven Navy sailors.
U.S. intelligence officials have warned cyber attacks might one day become a major problem for Navy warships.
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