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I’ve spent probably four hours over the past two days explaining to people that no, it is *not* possible to hack a Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and cause it to run into an oil tanker. There are two separate hydraulic systems controlling the rudder, one of which is entirely mechanical (no electronics at all) and the other is attached to an *analog* “autopilot” that just keeps the ship going in a specified compass direction. Neither of these can be hacked, nor can the gas turbine controls, which are basically the same as the controls in a commercial jet airliner (yes, jet airliners are driven by gas turbines, albeit their gas turbines are driving fans to shove air out the back of the engine rather than driving propeller shafts). Yep, Arleigh Burke class destroyers are basically driven by a shaft-driving version of the CF6 jet engine that powers the 747 jet airliner! The gas turbine controls are digital now, but they’re still potted boxes not connected to any external network — i.e., you aren’t going to hack them without physical access, and they are *triple* redundant so you’d have to hack *three* of them.

In short: Nope, none of this is hackable. And yes, you can hack GPS, but all that an Arleigh Burke uses GPS for is for general location-finding. Collision avoidance is via radar and the Mark II Eyeball, and depends upon a) the ship’s rudder not jamming due to hydraulic system failures, and b) a crew that isn’t so tired and bleary-eyed from lack of sleep that they can remember how to kick in the backup rudder control system, or how to hit the collision alarm, or how to jam the engine controls to full speed ahead to outrun an oncoming oil tanker.

Oh yeah, the other stupid conspiracy theory is that the tanker was hacked to run into the destroyer. Puh-LEEZE. It takes around 15 miles for a tanker to go from its normal cruising speed of around 16 knots to a full stop. When they’re coming in to port, they start slowing down *six hours* before docking. These suckers (and their giant diesel engines) have a *lot* of momentum, they don’t speed up or slow down very quickly, they aren’t going to suddenly speed up and hit a destroyer. And changing course is similarly lethargic, taking miles to change course. An oil tanker doesn’t suddenly veer into a destroyer. These things give new definition to the word “lumbering”. The largest supertankers are almost 1/4th of a mile long, longer than the Empire State Building is tall, and weigh more than the Empire State Building too. Changing course takes miles. Basically, the only way a tanker can run into a destroyer is if the destroyer places itself in front of the tanker, whether due to mechanical failure, lack of training on the part of the crew, lack of sleep on the part of the crew, whatever. Because a tanker in a shipping lane is the closest thing to an immovable object that you’ll find afloat, it’s going where it’s going at the speed it’s going, and that’s pretty much that.

Finally: The admiral in charge of the 7th Fleet is being relieved of command. Shit may flow downhill. But when four ships under his command get wrecked in embarrassing accidents, the buck stops at the Admiral’s desk. My guess is that many, many of his underlings are also very, very nervous right now…

– Badtux the Hacker Penguin

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The GAO reports that undermanning of ships is a major cause of problems with morale, training, and readiness. The GAO reports that the Navy’s “optimal manning” program under-states the amount of work needed to keep a ship operational and does not include the resources needed to properly train new sailors. You can’t send a new sailor on a snipe hunt to find some propeller fluid, incidentally forcing him to go to most of the ship’s departments as the NCO’s send him onward and onward. You don’t have the luxury of mentoring a newbie until he’s fully trained. There just isn’t enough personnel on board to do that. The Navy’s smaller combatants weren’t extravagantly manned even before “Optimal Manning”, and a 6% cut over the already-too-lean manning means that you have a lot of tired, delirious, undertrained sailors.

And tired, delirious, undertrained sailors make mistakes that can cost lives, like the U.S.S. John McCain colliding with a commercial tanker near the Strait of Malacca, or the other incidents that have happened recently.

This isn’t Trump’s fault. This started under Donald Rumsfeld as part of his plan to buy F-35 fighters for the Navy by sprinkling magic technology fairy dust on the ships so they wouldn’t need as many sailors to sail them, thus freeing up money to buy the Gold-Plated Flying Turkey that will be twice the price of the carrier it’s sitting on by the time it’s actually deployed to carriers. Thing is, the magic technology fairy dust didn’t actually reduce manning requirements. Sure, it reduced the need to send sailors to turn off steam pipe valves and shit like that, since that got automated, but there’s a shit-ton of work on a ship that can’t be done by a PC in a closet. Like if one of those valves breaks down, that PC can’t fix it. Some sailor’s going to have to fix it. Assuming that a sailor with sufficient skills is onboard. If not, then someone is going to have to go to the PC in the closet and watch the Navy equivalent of a YouTube video instructing him how to fix it, and then half-ass it trying to figure it out for the first time, where if he’d been trained, it would take literally minutes rather than hours to fix the problem that has the rudder not steering and thus has the ship going in circles in the middle of a busy shipping lane.

That is, by substituting technology for trained sailors, everything takes longer. So yeah, the technology saved time on *some* things, but causes *more* time to be taken on *other* things. For a net wash as far as manning requirements go.

Now, this is a separate thing from the undermanning that was “fixed” during the Obama years. That undermanning was where the Navy didn’t even have enough sailors to meet “optimal” manning. What the GAO is saying is that even the “optimal” manning isn’t enough, because it doesn’t leave enough sailors to handle unexpected events like that valve blowing out and causing the ship to lose steering.

And Cheeto Mussolini wants us to have 12 aircraft carrier task forces? Fuck, we don’t even have enough sailors for the current ones, where the hell would we get the sailors for more of’em?! Not to mention we just don’t have the facilities to build two aircraft carriers in parallel anymore, unless we wanted to build some diesel-powered ones again… a possibility, I suppose, we don’t need a nuclear carrier forward-based in Japan, the Kitty Hawk, an oil burner, did a fine job there for many years, but the chances of the Navy agreeing to have a couple of oil-burning aircraft carriers again is sorta none to none. But hey, reality and the Orange Racist Russian Stooge never have met, right?

– Badtux the Military Penguin

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I don’t know too much about retired Marine Lt. Colonel Amy McGrath, but I do know that she’s kick-ass. Her career in and of itself, reaching that rank in the Marines, is enough to prove that.

– Badtux the Kickass-woman-admirin’ Penguin

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The Joint Chiefs of Staff say that there is a procedure to follow for policy changes, and whatever drivel spews out on a Twitter account isn’t part of that process. Until the Secretary of Defense receives an executive order, in writing, directing him to change the military’s policies regarding transgender people, and until the Secretary of Defense issues policy guidance to the various military branches, and that policy guidance is in turn passed down the chain of commands as orders, the current status quo stands.

Secretary of Defense “Mad Dog” Mattis is, of course, on vacation this week. We’ll see whether Mattis gets such an executive order after he gets back from vacation….

– Badtux the “WTF?” Penguin

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F-35 fighter in its natural habitat


Which, it turns out, is a huge amount:

“They spend how much on transgender medical services? $8.4 million? My God that’s like four screws and a couple of bolts on my ejection seat,” the F-35 told reporters, in between sips of cognac during its lunch break. “I’m so glad Trump is ending this disgraceful waste of military spending.”

Yeppers, Teh Donald fucked over his queer supporters today, banning transgender troops because of “tremendous healthcare costs”. Which, as the F-35 above points out, is such a huge amount that it could pay for four screws and a couple of bolts on a F-35’s ejection seat.

So much for the notion that Trump wasn’t going to govern as a right-wing religious zealot…

– Badtux the “Wow, what a stupid excuse!” Penguin

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This Memorial Day, feel sad for all those who died for old men’s wallets. Because other than WW2 and the initial Afghanistan war, none of our wars have been about defending our nation from outside attackers. They’ve all been about making old men rich (or, in the case of the American Civil War, defending old mens’ slave riches).

My dad had the measure of it when he signed up for the U.S. Navy during the Korean War to avoid being drafted into the Army. He wasn’t interested in dying on Hamburger Hill in order to defend South Korea against a North Korea that posed no threat to the United States. Especially given that South Korea was ruled by a brutal vicious dictator at the time and thus he would have been dying to keep one dicator from subjugating people already subjugated by another dictator, not for anybody’s freedom. That’s been most of our wars in our nation’s history — voluntary wars against people who never attacked the United States nor threatened the United States in any way, and nothing about freedom. Making the world safe for old men’s wallets.

– Badtux the Memorial Penguin

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Trump: “Hey, North Korea! We’re sending an aircraft carrier group to watch your missile launch so if you get up to something, we’ll smack you good!”

NK: “Ha ha ha. You no smack us with silly aircraft carrier, we sink it!”

Australia: “Hey wait, isn’t that aircraft carrier supposed to be holding exercises with our navy in the Indian Ocean?”

Mad Dog: (double face palm). “Yeah. It’s still on its way.” Huge sigh.

Navy: “U.S.S. Carl Vinson steams its way south through the Sundra Strait on way to joint exercises with Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean.”

Whole world: “Say wha?!”

Trump: “Well, we sent submarines instead. Very powerful, we have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier, that I can tell you.

Whole world: “Say wha?!”

Cue double face palm.

– Badtux the Sadly Laughing Penguin

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