By Ravi Velloor
The Straits Times
Four days after the USS John S. McCain suffered major damage in
a collision while on approach to Singapore, questions swirl about
the manner of the accident, and its reasons.
That it should have come so soon after a sister vessel the USS
Fitzgerald suffered a similar accident while leaving a Japanese
port, has raised a bunch of troubling questions.
As they say, the first time may be an accident and the second
coincidence, but three becomes a pattern.
In the US Navys case or more specifically, the 7th Fleets case
there have been not three, but four costly mishaps just this
Two other ships currently deployed to the Asia-Pacific, the USS
Antietam that ran aground in Tokyo Bay and the USS Lake Champlain
that struck a South Korean fishing boat, suffered damage this
That certainly makes for a pattern. With a US warship calling in
Singapore every three days or so, there is every reason for the
Republic to take more than a little interest in whats going on.
Naturally, conspiracy theories abound.
One line of thinking is that hackers may have corrupted the
massive computer systems of the John S. McCain and perhaps, other
In the case of the John S. McCain, that does not seem the case.
Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the Pacific fleet, seems to have
ruled out a cyber attack in near categorical terms.
Adm Swift should know, of course, but George Kurtz, former head
of technology at MacAfee who now owns CrowdStrike, one of the
worlds top cyber security companies, had a more nuanced view.
USS John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side, which is
the left side of the vessel facing forward. Photo was taken off
Changi Naval Base on Aug 21, 2017. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
While declining to speculate, he told me that any assessment of
an incident of this nature would necessarily have to be placed in a
In the John S. McCains case, it had just completed a Freedom of
Navigation Operation, or FONOP, in the South China Sea where it was
repeatedly warned by Chinese vessels.
The current chatter in cyber security circles, he said, is that
while the McCains computers may not have been compromised, it is
probably worth examining if anyone could have tinkered with the GPS
system to send her, or the other vessel, off course by a few
It is an interesting theory and not the first time it has come
up for mention.
In the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies, Pierce Brosnan is
sent off by MI-6 on precisely such a mission: to block a power-mad
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