Chinese warship came within 45 yards of USS Decatur in South China Sea: US

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC NEWS)

 

Chinese warship came within 45 yards of USS Decatur in South China Sea: US

PHOTO: The guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) returns to its homeport, Naval Base San Diego, after completing a seven-month deployment.Seaman Trenton Kotlartz/US Navy
WATCH Flying with the US Navy as it keeps tabs on China over the South China Sea

The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Decatur had to maneuver to avoid a collision on Sunday after a Chinese warship came within 45 yards of its bow as the American ship transited a disputed island chain in the South China Sea on Sunday, U.S. defense officials said.

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The close encounter that the U.S. Navy characterized as “unsafe and unprofessional” comes at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and China.

“At approximately 0830 local time on September 30, a PRC LUYANG destroyer approached USS DECATUR in an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver in the vicinity of Gaven Reef in the South China Sea,” said Capt. Charlie Brown, a U.S. Pacific Fleet Spokesman.

Gaven Reef is located in the Spratly Islands chain in the South China Sea where China claims seven man-made islands as its own.

The close encounter with the Chinese warship occurred as the American destroyer was carrying out a freedom of navigation operation (FONOPs) in the Spratlys, the U.S. said.

The U.S. Navy routinely undertakes FONOP missions worldwide to challenge excessive territorial claims of international shipping lanes.

USS Decatur had sailed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands when it was approached by the Chinese destroyer.

The Chinese Navy “destroyer conducted a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers accompanied by warnings for DECATUR to depart the area,” Brown added.

“The PRC destroyer approached within 45 yards of DECATUR’s bow, after which DECATUR maneuvered to prevent a collision,” said Brown.

A U.S. defense official characterized the close encounter as having been of short duration.

According to another U.S. official, the Chinese warship was initially about 500 yards on the Decatur’s port side then moved ahead of the Decatur and cut across the American destroyer’s bow at a distance of 45 yards (135 feet).

To help visualize that distance, a baseball catcher throwing the ball to second base to throw out a runner throws the baseball a distance of 127 feet.

Chinese vessels have approached U.S. Navy ships during previous FONOPs in the South China Sea, but Sunday’s encounter appears to the be the closest one yet.

“U.S. Navy ships and aircraft operate throughout the Indo-Pacific routinely, including in the South China Sea,” said Brown. “As we have for decades, our forces will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”

There was no immediate comments from China.

Over the last week, the U.S. and Chinese military relationship has deteriorated as both countries are engaged in a bitter trade dispute.

Last week, a U.S. Air Force B-52 flew a mission through the East China Sea and two other B-52 flights were carried out through the South China Sea.

Also last week, China refused a port of call in Hong Kong to the U.S. Navy ship USS Wasp slated for October and pulled a top admiral from a scheduled meeting with his U.S. Navy counterpart.

On Monday, a U.S. official confirmed that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had canceled a planned trip to China in October after China had downgraded the level of officials he was to meet.

‘Leave immediately’: US Navy plane warned (6 Times) over South China Sea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

‘Leave immediately’: US Navy plane warned over South China Sea

Above the South China Sea (CNN) High above one of the most hotly contested regions in the world, CNN was given a rare look Friday at the Chinese government’s rapidly expanding militarization of the South China Sea

Aboard a US Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane, CNN got a view from 16,500 feet of low-lying coral reefs turned into garrisons with five-story buildings, large radar installations, power plants and runways sturdy enough to carry large military aircraft.
During the flight the crew received six separate warnings from the Chinese military, telling them they were inside Chinese territory and urging them to leave.
“Leave immediately and keep out to avoid any misunderstanding,” a voice said.
The US Navy jet flew past four key artificial islands in the Spratly chain where China has built up fortifications: Subi Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Johnson Reef and Mischief Reef.
On Subi Reef, the Poseidon’s sensors picked up 86 vessels, including Chinese coast guard ships, moored in a giant lagoon, while on Fiery Cross Reef rows of hangers stood alongside a lengthy runway.
“It was surprising to see airports in the middle of the ocean,” said Lt. Lauren Callen, who was leading the air combat crew aboard the Navy flight.
Each time the aircraft was challenged by Chinese military, the US Navy crew’s response was the same.
“I am a sovereign immune United States naval aircraft conducting lawful military activities beyond the national airspace of any coastal state,” the response said.
“In exercising these rights guaranteed by international law, I am operating with due regard for the rights and duties of all states.”
CNN has reached out to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.

CNN gets rare access on board a US military surveillance flight over the hotly-disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Competing claims

The Chinese government staunchly maintains large areas of the South China Sea have been part of the country’s territory “since ancient times.”
Beijing’s “nine-dash line” extends more than one thousand kilometers from its southernmost province, taking in more or less the entirety of the waters, through which the United Nations estimates one-third of global shipping passes.
The South China Sea is also believed to contain rich oil and natural gas reserves that have yet to be fully explored.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei all claim overlapping portions of the sea which spans 3.6 million square kilometer (1.4 million square miles), but the most far-reaching claims have been made by China.
Beijing’s sovereignty claims are considered by most other countries as unsubstantiated, a view backed by an international tribunal in 2016.
Despite this however, little has changed in China’s approach to the region in recent years.
To reinforce its claims of sovereignty, Beijing has been reclaiming land on and around reefs and shoals to construct artificial islands which are then militarized with airfields and radar equipment.
China has spent much of the past two years fortifying these islands, including placing missiles on the Spratly island chain during naval exercises in April.
This is despite a promise made by President Xi Jinping to then-US President Barack Obama in 2015 that the Chinese government would not be militarizing the artificial islands.

The US Navy's P8-A Poseidon plane which carried a CNN crew from Okinawa, Japan, over the South China Sea on August 10.

Rapid expansion

The last time CNN was given access to a US Navy mission over the South China Sea was in September 2015, when the aircraft was also warned off by Chinese military.
Since then, Beijing’s island building in the contested waters has moved forward at a rapid pace.
Flying over Fiery Cross Reef on Friday, a five-story building was visible, as well as a large radar installation, which looked like neatly arranged golf balls on the Navy plane’s infrared camera.
Though no Chinese missiles were seen on Friday’s flight over the South China Sea, Navy officers said some of the structures seen could potentially be used to house them.
Cmdr. Chris Purcell, who leads Patrol Squadron Four which undertook Friday’s mission, said the US has been doing these flights for five decades and they show US commitment to maintaining free passage in international waters.
“The reason we’re here hasn’t changed,” Purcell said. “The reason (the Chinese) are here has changed.”
Within hours of the trip, Chinese state tabloid Global Times posted a reaction to CNN’s report on its Chinese-language website. The article called for all readers to “give a thumbs-up to Chinese servicemen” for their defense of China’s territory.

China claims US sparking militarization

Beijing says its growing military presence in the South China Sea is necessary to protect its sovereignty, blaming Washington and its allies for tensions in the region.
Source: CNN reporting
Chinese military exercises in April included the largest naval parade in the country’s history, with President Xi Jinping overseeing drills that included 10,000 troops, 48 naval vessels and 76 fighter jets.
Beijing points to the regular US Navy patrols and flyovers of the South China Sea as an example of US militarization and provocations, and a justification for the increased Chinese military presence.
“By playing up the so-called China’s militarization in the South China Sea, certain people in the US are staging a farce of a thief crying “stop thief”,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in May. “It is self-evident to a keener eye that who is militarizing the South China Sea.”
In the past year, the US has stepped up freedom of navigation operations in the region, sailing US naval vessels within miles of China’s artificial islands across the South China Sea.
The exercises, which the US also conducts in other parts of the world, assert the navy’s right to travel wherever it pleases in international waters, a vital component of Washington’s naval power across the world.
Time may be running out to effectively challenge China’s claims in the South China Sea however.
Adm. Philip Davidson, the recently installed head of the US Pacific Command, told Senators during a confirmation hearing in April that China is already very firmly entrenched.
“China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States,” Davidson said.

Billionaire explorer discovers sunken US WWII aircraft carrier

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Billionaire explorer discovers sunken US WWII aircraft carrier

Washington (CNN)Wreckage from the USS Lexington — a US aircraft carrier sunk by the Japanese during World War II — has been discovered 500 miles off the Australian coast by a team of explorers led by billionaire Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder announced on Monday.

One of the first US aircraft carriers ever built, the vessel dubbed “Lady Lex” was located at the bottom of the Coral Sea — nearly two miles below the surface — by the expedition crew of Research Vessel Petrel on Sunday, Allen said.
The Lexington was lost in May 1942 along with 216 of its crew and 35 aircraft during what is considered the first carrier battle in history — the Battle of the Coral Sea.
“To pay tribute to the USS Lexington and the brave men that served on her is an honor,” Allen said in a statement. “As Americans, all of us owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who served and who continue to serve our country for their courage, persistence and sacrifice.”
Along with the USS Yorktown, the Lexington and its fleet faced off against three Japanese aircraft carriers and is credited with helping to stop Japan’s advances on New Guinea and Australia.
The battle occurred just one month before the US Navy “surprised Japanese forces at the Battle of Midway and turned the tide of the war in the Pacific for good,” according to Allen.
“The Battle of the Coral Sea was notable not only for stopping a Japanese advance but because it was the first naval engagement in history where opposing ships never came within sight of each other,” read the statement from Allen.
US ships were able to rescue more than 2,000 sailors before the Lexington ultimately sank from the damage sustained from a bombardment of Japanese torpedoes.
“As the son of a survivor of the USS Lexington, I offer my congratulations to Paul Allen and the expedition crew of Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel for locating the “Lady Lex,” sunk nearly 76 years ago at the Battle of Coral Sea,” Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris of US Pacific Command said Monday in a statement.
“We honor the valor and sacrifice of the ‘Lady Lex’s’ sailors — all those Americans who fought in World War II — by continuing to secure the freedoms they won for all of us,” he said.

US Navy puzzled by recent behavior of Iranian attack boats

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

US Navy puzzled by recent behavior of Iranian attack boats

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The two sides have operated without incident for more than five months
  • In total, there were 14 unsafe and unprofessional interactions in 2017 and 36 in 2016

Washington (CNN)It is a trend that has US Navy officials scratching their heads.

Between January 2016 and August 2017, US warships consistently encountered armed Iranian “fast attack” boats and drones in the Persian Gulf as the two sides routinely accused each other of behaving provocatively.
But after nearly two years of regular “unsafe” or “unprofessional” interactions, the two sides have operated without incident for more than five months — a sudden shift the US Navy is welcoming with cautious optimism.
“We are not going to speculate on the reason for this recent positive trend in interactions, though we hope it will continue in the future,” Navy spokesperson Lt. Chloe J. Morgan, a spokesperson for US Naval Forces Central Command, told CNN in a statement.
“While we consider the decreased incidents in the second half of 2017 to be a positive development, the United States Navy remains vigilant as we continue to operate,” the statement said.
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The Wall Street Journal was first to report the story.
In total, there were 14 unsafe and unprofessional interactions in 2017 and 36 in 2016 — an average of 2.5 such encounters per month over that time period, according to Morgan.
The last incident occurred on August 14, 2017 when an Iranian drone flew in an “unsafe and unprofessional manner” close to a US aircraft carrier in the central Persian Gulf, according to the US Navy.
During that encounter, a QOM-1 drone came within 1,000 feet of US aircraft flying near the USS Nimitz, prompting the US Navy to use an emergency radio frequency in an attempt to call Iranian ground units.
A US defense official told CNN at the time that the US deemed the drone’s behavior unsafe because it did not have any aircraft navigation lights on — an issue that remains a concern for the Navy despite the recent decrease in interactions.
“Even with the decreased incidents, we remain concerned with the increased number of Iranian UAVs operating in international airspace at night without navigation lights or an active transponder as would be expected according to international norms,” Morgan said.
CNN was first to report one notably tense encounter in August 2017 when a US Navy patrol craft fired three warning shots at an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boat after US officials said it had harassed that patrol craft.
Another US patrol craft and a Kuwaiti Navy ship were also harassed in the incident, which took place in the northern end of the Persian Gulf.
At one point, the Iranian boat came within 200 yards of one of the US Navy boats. When it failed to leave the area after the Navy had fired flares and had a radio conversation with the Iranian crew, the US officials said, the USS Squall fired three warning shots. Following standard maritime procedures, the Navy fired the three shots into the water to ensure the Iranians understood they needed to leave the immediate area.
A similar incident occurred in July 2017 when a US Navy ship fired warning shots at an armed Iranian patrol boat in the northern end of the Persian Gulf, two US defense officials told CNN at the time.
An Iranian boat believed to be operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, approached and came within 150 yards of the USS Thunderbolt, a US Navy patrol ship, officials said.
The USS Thunderbolt was accompanied by the USS Vella Gulf, which is a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, and two US Coast Guard vessels at the time.
When the Iranians did not respond to any US warnings, the Navy ship then fired warning shots into the water over concerns about the possibility of a collision, one of the officials said.

Navy pilot recalls encounter with UFO: ‘I think it was not from this world’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC)

 

Navy pilot recalls encounter with UFO: ‘I think it was not from this world’

ABC News
WATCHDetails about Pentagon’s secret UFO hunters

Retired Cmdr. David Fravor spent 18 years as a Navy pilot, but nothing prepared him for what he witnessed during a routine training mission on Nov. 14, 2004.

“I can tell you, I think it was not from this world,” Fravor told ABC News. “I’m not crazy, haven’t been drinking. It was — after 18 years of flying, I’ve seen pretty much about everything that I can see in that realm, and this was nothing close.”

PHOTO: An unidentified flying object shown in a photo first obtained by the New York Times.Obtained by ABC News
An unidentified flying object shown in a photo first obtained by the New York Times.

Fravor’s stunning retelling of his encounter off the California coast with what appeared to be a 40-foot-long wingless object that flew at incredible speeds in an erratic pattern comes as the Pentagon revealed the existence of a secret program to investigate sightings of UFOs.

The program was shut down in 2012 because of other budget priorities, according to the Pentagon.

“I have never seen anything in my life, in my history of flying that has the performance, the acceleration — keep in mind this thing had no wings,” Fravor said.

He recalled flying his F/A-18 fighter on a training mission on a beautiful Southern California day 13 years ago when things started to get strange.

Controllers on one of the Navy ships on the water below reported objects that were dropping out of the sky from 80,000 feet and going “straight back up,” Fravor said.

PHOTO: Former Navy Commander David Fravor told ABC News about his encounter with what he believed was a UFO.Obtained by ABC News
Former Navy Commander David Fravor told ABC News about his encounter with what he believed was a UFO.

“So we’re thinking, OK, this is going to be interesting,” he said.

As they were looking around for the object that appeared on the radar, another aviator spotted something. “I was like, ‘Dude, do you see that?'” Fravor recalled saying.

“We look down, we see a white disturbance in the water, like something’s under the surface, and the waves are breaking over, but we see next to it, and it’s flying around, and it’s this little white Tic Tac, and it’s moving around — left, right, forward, back, just random,” he said.

The object didn’t display the rotor wash typical of a helicopter or jet wash from a plane, he said.

The planes flew lower to investigate the object, which started to mirror their movements before disappearing, Fravor said. “As we start to cut across, it rapidly accelerates, climbs past our altitude and disappears,” Fravor recalled.

“When it started to near us, as we started to descend towards it coming up, it was flying in the elongated way, so it’s [like] a Tic Tac, with the roundish end going in the forward direction … I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what I saw. I just know it was really impressive, really fast, and I would like to fly it,” he said.

The disturbance in the water also vanished with object, he remembered.

“So we turned around — we couldn’t have been more than about a couple miles away — and there’s no white water at all in the ocean,” Fravor said. “It’s just blue.”

At that point, they decided to return to complete the training exercise when they were told the object or something similar reappeared.

“And the controller comes up and says, ‘Sir, you’re not going to believe this. That thing is at your half point,’ which is our hold point,” Fravor added. “And I’m like, ‘Oh, great.'”

Another plane that launched from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz around the same time had its radar jammed and was able to pick up the object on an infrared channel.

“He gets close enough to see a couple of objects come out of the bottom, and then all of a sudden it takes off and goes right off the side of the screen and, like, takes off,” Fravor said.

He recalled that the speed of the object, which he said had no exhaust trail in infrared scanning, was stunning.

“No aircraft that we know of can fly at those speeds, maneuver like that and looks like that,” ABC News contributor and former Marine Col. Stephen Ganyard said.

Fravor said there is no rational explanation for what they saw that day.

“I don’t know if it was alien life, but I will say that in an infinite universe, with multiple galaxies that we know of, that if we’re the only planet with life, it’s a pretty lonely universe.”

There was no further investigation into the incident, he said.

“You know, you see a lot of interesting things,” Fravor said. “But to show up on something that’s a 40-foot-long white Tic Tac with no wings that can move, really, in any random direction that it wants and go from hovering over the ocean to mirroring us to accelerating to the point where it just disappears — like, poof, then it was gone.”

China stands by its North Korea plan, contradicting Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

China stands by its North Korea plan, contradicting Trump

Beijing has long campaigned for a “dual-track approach” in which the United States would halt military drills in the region while North Korea would freeze its weapons programmes.

WORLD Updated: Nov 16, 2017 20:15 IST

Press Trust of India, Beijing
US President Donald Trump takes part in a welcoming ceremony with China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China.
US President Donald Trump takes part in a welcoming ceremony with China’s President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China.(REUTERS)

China denied Thursday that it has abandoned its long-standing proposal to ease the North Korean nuclear crisis after US President Donald Trump suggested Beijing had agreed to drop the policy.

Beijing has long campaigned for a “dual-track approach” in which the United States would halt military drills in the region while North Korea would freeze its weapons programmes.

But Trump suggested Wednesday following his five-nation trip to Asia, which included meetings with President Xi Jinping in Beijing, that the Chinese leader had ditched the plan.

“President Xi recognizes that a nuclear North Korea is a grave threat to China,” Trump said. “And we agreed that we would not accept a so-called ‘freeze for freeze’ agreement like those that have consistently failed in the past.”

But Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing’s position on the nuclear issue remained “consistent and clear-cut”.

“We think that under the current circumstances, the suspension for suspension initiative is the most realistic, feasible, fair and reasonable plan,” Geng told a news briefing when asked about Trump’s comment.

“It can not only ease the current tense situation but also solve the most pressing security concerns for all parties, provide opportunities and create conditions for resuming peace talks and find a breakthrough to get out of the stalemate,” he said.

“We hope all relevant parties can have an earnest approach and give a positive consideration to the good faith of the Chinese side,” Geng said, adding that using military force was “not an option” to resolve the crisis.

Xi is sending a special envoy, Song Tao, to North Korea on Friday. Although Song’s mission is officially to brief North Korea about China’s recent Communist Party congress, analysts say he will likely discuss the nuclear issue.

China not yet ready to invade Taiwan ???

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TAIPEI TIMES)

 

China not yet ready to invade Taiwan

By Ray Song 宋磊

Peter Enav, a former Taiwan correspondent for The Associated Press, on Tuesday last week published an article on the Web site Taiwan Sentinel, entitled: “Taiwan Under the Gun: An Urgent Call to Action,” in which he warned that the three conditions required for China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to consider an attack on Taiwan are close to being fulfilled.

Enav believes that as soon as the middle of next year, China’s military will have completed its readiness to the extent where it could decide to launch an invasion of the nation.

The three major conditions, as Enav sees it, are: One, China must feel certain that the “political option for unification” is now impossible; two, China’s military must be ready and able to launch an unimpeded amphibious attack across the Taiwan Strait — and feel confident that it can crush any post-invasion resistance; and three, Beijing must believe the international fallout and economic sanctions following an invasion of Taiwan would not outweigh the gain of unifying the nation with China.

These three conditions tally with the basic criteria for an invasion that have been put forward by Beijing in the past.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has said that China would experience a political and cultural renaissance that could endure for up to 200 years. Implied within this overall goal is a timetable for the unification of Taiwan.

Looking at this timetable, China would not be ready by launch an attack on Taiwan until 2021 at the earliest. In reality, while the PLA’s Rocket Force possesses long-range missile strike capability, China’s military still lacks sufficient transport and lift capability and also still needs to first shore up its core strategic interests in the East and South China seas and further increase the strength of its forces before it can consider invading the nation.

At present, it would be difficult for the PLA to muster sufficient forces to mount a successful invasion. For these reasons, Enav’s warning that the PLA would be ready to attack Taiwan by next year seems somewhat alarmist.

Furthermore, as the recent high-level economic dialogue between the US and China shows, the two countries are still at loggerheads on trade, as they have been for some time.

Economic issues never exist in isolation but are invariably part of a wider political, military and diplomatic picture. If the trade dispute between the US and China is not resolved and the relationship sours, Washington would use the prospect of warships from the US military’s Pacific Fleet forces stopping over in Taiwan to deter Beijing.

US President Donald Trump recently approved a plan by the Pentagon that allows the US Navy to conduct full-year passages through international waters in the South China Sea illegally claimed by China as its own.

The White House clearly intends to use freedom of navigation as a means to respond to Beijing’s sovereignty claims in the South China Sea. It is also clear that containment of China has already become established US policy. The US would not easily allow the PLA to attack Taiwan.

The US is still the only superpower and, while willing to cooperate with Beijing in many areas, Washington is increasingly wary of China and employs military and diplomatic means to contain it. Competition between the two nations is intensifying, which could benefit Taiwan.

2 Women Lost at Sea for 5 Months Survived Shark Attacks and Storms

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

‘Horrific.’ 2 Women Lost at Sea for 5 Months Survived Shark Attacks and Storms

7:41 AM ET

Two American women and their dogs were rescued this week by the United States Navy, after being adrift in the Pacific Ocean for five months.

Their engine had failed while attempting to sail from Hawaii to Tahiti. The women endured two separate shark attacks, with their boat surrounded at one point by seven sharks slapping their tails against the hull, they told reporters Thursday night on a conference call, in remarks reported by ABC NewsThe Guardian and other news outlets.

“We thought it was lights out, and they were horrific,” one of the mariners, Jennifer Appel, said of the shark attacks after being rescued Wednesday.

They also said they survived two major storms, the first of which lasted for two days, with 25-foot waves and hurricane force winds flooding the boat’s engine leaving the two of them to rely on the boat’s sail alone for the next five months. They had packed enough dried food for a year, but had another close call when Appel fixed their broken water purifier with only a gallon of clean water left on the boat.

Appel, an experienced sailor, was accompanied on the trip by her friend Natasha Fuiava, a sailing novice, and their dogs, Valentine and Zeus. The women, both from Honolulu, Hawaii, were spotted 900 miles south-east of Japan by a Taiwanese fishing vessel, which alerted Guam’s coastguard.

They were rescued by the USS Ashland the following day. “They saved our lives,” Appel said. “The pride and smiles we had when we saw [them] on the horizon was pure relief.”

The Navy said the women had received medical attention and would remain on the USS Ashland until its next port of call.

“The U.S. Navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation,” Commander Steven Wasson, the Ashland’s commanding officer, said in a statement.

US Navy warship collides with cargo ship off coast of Japan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)

US Navy warship collides with cargo ship off coast of Japan

The USS Fitzgerald was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel while operating off the coast of Japan and there have been injuries, according to a statement Friday from the U.S. military.

The Japanese Coast Guard has arrived on the scene, about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

Live footage shot from a helicopter Saturday morning by Japanese broadcaster NHK showed heavy damage to the mid-right side of the Navy ship, which appeared to be stationary in the water. People were standing on various parts of the deck.

The collision occured at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time on June 17.

Three compartments aboard the guided-missile destroyer are flooded, according to a Pentagon official.

“There is no danger of the ship sinking,” one official told Fox News.

There are plans to tow the US warship back to Yokosuka, Japan
home to a US Navy base.

The incident will be investigated.

Fitzgerald, a guided-missile destroyer, carries Tomahawk cruise missiles and missiles capable of shooting down ballistic missiles, part of the regions ballistic missile defense program.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and the Associated Press contributed to this report. 

The Navy Is Considering Calling Up The USS Kitty Hawk Amid Fleet Expansion Pressure

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TASK AND PURPOSE)

uss kitty hawk navy trump header photo

GEAR & TECH
The Navy Is Considering Calling Up The USS Kitty Hawk Amid Fleet Expansion Pressure

on June 9, 2017

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When President Donald Trump railed against the electromagnetic catapult on the Navy’s brand new USS Gerald Ford and demanded a return to “goddamned steam,” we’re not sure this is what he had in mind.

As part of the daunting and ridiculously expensive task of boosting its 275-ship fleet to 355 hulls in the coming years, the Navy is exploring ways to coax retired and mothballed ships into sailing the open seas again. And while Naval Sea Systems Command Vice Adm. Thomas Moore floated the idea of reactivating a flotilla of Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, he also offered a puzzling possibility: the return of the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), one of the military’s last conventionally powered aircraft carriers in service when decommissioned in 2009.

“Of the carriers that are in inactive status right now, Kitty Hawk is the one that you could think about,” Moore said in a June 1 interview with DefAero report. “The carriers are pretty old, so I think there’s limited opportunity in the inactive fleet to bring those back, but we’re going to go look at that ship by ship and put that into the mix.”

The first and last carrier of its class, Kitty Hawk has a long and illustrious history. Commissioned in 1961, the 82,000-ton supercarrier’s 18 deployments included six tours in Vietnam War’s, including one during the infamous Tet Offensive; providing contingency operations during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis; supporting U.S.-led coalition forces in Somalia and Iraq in the early 90s; and playing a central role in the early years of the Global War on Terror supporting the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Decommissioned just weeks after her 48th birthday, there’s a good reason the Kitty Hawk earned the nickname “Battle Cat.”

But the Kitty Hawk also has another nickname: “Shitty Kitty,” a term of endearment among many of her former sailors due to the aging vessel’s frequent breakdowns. In Richard Miller’s “A Carrier at War: On Board the USS Kitty Hawk in the Iraq War,” a Navy vet turned photojournalist laid out the carrier’s many problems: “This boat’s old. Old pipes, too many coats of paint, too many welds and re-welds. She’s been around too long. Lots of sailors don’t like her. She’s a pain in the ass to clean and too damned expensive to run.”

This reputation isn’t totally unwarranted: the Kitty Hawk suffered several major breakdowns and technical problems in her first decade of service, culminating in a December 1973 jet fuel blaze during routine maintenance on the ship’s oil systems that left six crewmen dead.

While the honor of “Shitty Kitty” is often overshadowed in the media by the 1972 “race riot” between black and white sailors during the carrier’s Vietnam deployment, perpetual maintenance and frequent accidents have remained a pillar of the ship’s identity. One former crewman even characterized the Kitty Hawk in 2017 as “a punishment ship” for less-than-orderly sailors, complete with “its own CDC disease in the form of ‘Kitty Hawk Gastro.’”

With these problems in mind, the prospect of the “Shitty Kitty’s” return to the Navy’s fleet seems trifling compared to the potential return of the Perry-class frigates, which Maritime Executive characterizes as “notoriously hard to sink”:

USS Stark survived two Exocet missiles fired by an Iraqi warplane in 1987, and USS Samuel B. Roberts managed to stay afloat after striking an Iranian mine the following year, despite severe damage. Both vessels were repaired and returned to service. In a live-fire exercise in 2016, the decommissioned USS Thatch absorbed four Harpoon anti-ship missiles; one Maverick missile; multiple Hellfire missiles; one 2,000 lb. bomb; one 500 lb. bomb; and one Mk. 48 torpedo. She stayed afloat for 12 hours (with calm weather, and without fuel or munitions aboard).

But there’s still certainly good reason to wave aside the Hawks’ potential issues. As the War Zone points out, reactivating the supercarrier might prove a useful bridge between the Navy’s current fleet of 10 operation carriers until the USS Gerald Ford is ready for the open seas, both closing the so-called “carrier gap” in the branch’s global deployments, especially with the Department of Defense’s increasing emphasis on fielding more high-tech aircraft to carry out strikes against enemy targets.

But more importantly, reactivating the “Shitty Kitty” might satiate Trump’s demand for a total of 12 seaworthy airbases to project U.S. power across the planet, despite distaste for the vessel among sailors. After all, the four catapults used to assist aircraft on Kitty Hawk-class carriers are all goddamned steam, all the time — just what the Pentagon needs to scare the bejesus out of China.

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