Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fighting the US Navy in one's underwear

Many of you may have heard about Sunday's incident in the South China Sea between USNS Impeccable and various Chinese vessel. The US Navy website has info on it here, and there is an expanded look at the legal implications of the event that EagleSpeak has provided here.

I only want to provide two short commentaries on this incident, the first being about the comical actions of the Chinese mariners who interfered with the Americans' operations. As the USN reported, "The Chinese vessels dropped pieces of wood in the water directly in the Impeccable's path," and "Crewmen aboard the Impeccable used fire hoses to spray one of the vessels as a protective measure. The Chinese crewmembers disrobed to their underwear and continued closing to within 25 feet."

Just to make sure no one missed this, the Chinese threw bits of lumber overboard in an attempt to slow the American vessel and then, when faced with high pressure water, opted to strip to their skivvies so as to preserve their...well, I'm not sure what they were thinking, to be honest. And two by fours do not generally pose a risk to navigation, no matter what's been reported.

The second observation is that the Impeccable is part of the Military Sealift Command, and her crew included a lot of civilian mariners who had to deal with this problem. It wasn't piracy they were facing, but it was another example of the man-made threats facing mariners every day.

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