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Navy To Investigate Whether Damaged Destroyer Was Hacked

U.S. Navy/Petty Officer 3rd Class James Vazquez/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter

The U.S. Navy’s investigation into the latest fatal collision at sea will consider the possibility of cyber intrusion.

After the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John McCain collided with a tanker more than three times its size Monday, killing several American sailors, some observers raised the possibility that the U.S. warship might have been hacked. The collision follows several other maritime mishaps, including the deadly USS Fitzgerald crash two months ago.

“There’s something more than just human error going on,” Jeff Stutzman, chief intelligence officer at Wapack Labs and a former Navy information warfare specialist, told McClatchy.

“That’s is certainly something we are giving full consideration to but we have no indication that that’s the case—yet,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson explained at the Pentagon Monday. “But, we’re looking at every possibility, so we’re not leaving anything to chance.”

“We’ll take a look at all of that, as we did with the Fitzgerald,” he added, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

The four-star admiral clarified on Twitter that there is currently no conclusive evidence to suggest that a foreign actor penetrated the ship’s electronic systems.

China is the prime suspect for the cyberattack theory, as the USS John McCain recently conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation in the South China Sea, angering Beijing.

China was also critical in the wake of the latest accident, asserting that the U.S. Navy is “becoming a hazard in Asian waters.”

“The US Navy, which likes to claim its presence can help safeguard ‘freedom of navigation’ in the South China Sea, is proving to be an increasing hindrance to ships sailing in Asian waters,” the state-run China Daily reported. “Anyone should be able to tell who is to blame for militarizing the waters and posing a threat to navigation.”

“It’s sad to see the Chinese use this loss of life as a way to advance their area interests,” a Navy official explained to the Free Beacon.

The accident involving the USS Fitzgerald was blamed on poor seamanship and flaws in keeping watch, but more details are pending. In response to the recent string of incidents at sea, the Navy is conducting multiple reviews and investigations to identify the root cause of a serious problem that is costing the lives of American sailors.

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