28 August 2017

Some reasons for the recent naval accidents

Naval ships, designed to avoid detection by enemy fleets and aircraft, are exempt from an international requirement that vessels automatically and continuously broadcast their position, course and speed. They tend to have fewer lights than many commercial vessels, making them harder to pick out. They are painted gray to blend into the sea during wartime but become even more difficult to spot at night. And a growing number of modern naval vessels, including the John S. McCain, are designed to scatter incoming radar signals, so that they are less detectable.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore told The Straits Times, a Singapore newspaper, that the government’s vessel traffic information system did not know the John S. McCain was there until the tanker, the Alnic MC, carrying 12,000 metric tons of fuel oil, delivered a crushing blow to the warship’s left side. Two sailors from the ship, a guided-missile destroyer, are dead, and eight more are listed as missing, as divers have begun discovering human remains inside the vessel’s mangled decks.

The Singaporean agency told The Straits Times that it had not detected the destroyer on radar and that its traffic information system had not picked up data on the ship. In addition to radar, traffic information systems rely on data from the so-called Automatic Identification Systems that all but the smallest commercial vessels are required to use to broadcast information about their whereabouts.

Military vessels typically carry the systems but often turn them off because the captains do not want to reveal so much information.
More information at the New York Times.


  1. if you would like to see the automatic identification systems of all the ships/boats anywhere in the world on a map, have a look at marinetraffic.com. for the same type of system use by aircraft have a look a fightradar24.com

  2. If one can become effectively invisible, is one allowed to barge around willy-nilly in a public thoroughfare or does one have to protect oneself and everyone else from collisions? Presumably, the crew of a warship have some control over what their ship does, so it should be possible for a relatively-nimble warship to avoid other shipping. Perhaps some training or some better deck officers are needed, ones who understand the problem. The crew of the ship made it entirely their own fault if they had turned off the recognition system, allowing their ship to be hit by another ship. The rest of the world does not deserve to be Trumped by incompetent American service personnel.

  3. I hope that that collision did not happen in daylight?

  4. Listening to the ex commander of the USS Cole...he said there is now only ONE person on watch on deck. There used to be 2 or 3. Why there isn't 2 or 3 is a complete mystery to me. You have the sailors...USE THEM!


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