US Navy Ships crashing – are they being hacked?

The USS John McCain Guided Missle Destroyer recently ran into a commercial ship causing damage and more importantly, loss of life. How does a US Navy ship that has advanced computer systems, hundrUSS John McCaineds of crew members simply run into another very large ship? Don’t they have people literally standing watch to shout “look out for the big boat on the left?” Back in 2011, Iran was able to bring down a CIA Spy drone in a controlled landing. The US govt even acknowledged this was a real event.  Since 2011, other “odd” occurrences of unmanned craft (both air, sea and land) have lead the US to believe that Iran, and possibly China and Russia have gained a better understanding of how to interfere with these vehicles. While they may not have full control ability, they clearly are able to manipulate how the craft uses GPS and other technologies. So how is this relevant to US Navy ships bumping into rocky shore bottoms and other boats? We know it has been happening since at least 2013, based on this report out of Italy and this report from 2017 about the Russians doing exactly what we’re talking about now.

The area of the four recent Navy incidents is a very small (2 miles wide) area of water. Even if Russia, Iran or China cannot fully hack GPS systems, if they are able to send a signal that blocks the GPS from communicating with satellites or if they are able to spoof (meaning they can create a fake duplicate to trick the Navy) the location of the ship, the crew members might not realize they are so close to another ship or a shallow area. This is why the Navy is now looking at new procedures when in these types of areas. Instead of so much reliance on technology, they’re going back to old school tactics. Having humans on watch on all sides to help navigate these areas. Remember, some of these areas are the most busiest shipping routes in the world. I read that 1 in every 4 cargo ship passes through these same waters. Imagine having 30-40 big ships in a small 2 mile wide area at the same time, and these big ships don’t stop like cars. Even if you hit the brakes so to speak, it takes some time and distance to stop or change course. Added that modern navigation panels usually sit in an area of the ship with no windows, it isn’t like they just look outside and see that their GPS is giving them wrong information. With new procedures being re-introduced, hopefully we can mitigate this potential high tech trickery with some very low tech defense.

Skip to toolbar