Friday, June 07, 2019

Proving Their Own Guilt

The US Navy is fulminating about an “unsafe approach” between two vessels perpetrated, they claim, by a Russian warship in the Philippine Sea. The Navy bolsters its claim with photographs and a couple of film clips.

There is one small problem with the claim. The photographs and film clips clearly show that the Russian ship is to starboard of the USS Chancellorsville, and therefor is the “privileged vessel” in a meeting or crossing situation. As the “burdened vessel,” it is incumbent upon the USS Chancellorsville to stay clear of the other ship, that is to take whatever action is necessary to avoid collision.

In one photograph the wake of the Russian ship illustrates very clearly that the Russians are turning away from the American ship to avoid collision even though the American ship, as the “burdened vessel,” should be the one maneuvering to stay clear.

There is an exception in those rules, that being that a ship engaged in aircraft operations is privileged regardless of relative positions, and NPR article states that the US ship “was busy recovering a helicopter.” The film clips and photos, however, do not show any evidence of said helicopter being recovered.

What they do show is photos taken from an airborne helicopter which is clearly in no position to be landing on the flight deck at the stern of the ship. The photos are taken from ahead of the ship and, judging from the graininess of the images, are from quite some distance away - half a mile or more.

All of that being so, and the film clips are not even slightly ambiguous, it is actually the US Navy ship that was the perpetrator of the “unsafe approach,” not the Russian ship.

But what really bothers me is that the Navy would make such a claim and then release imagery which so obviously reveals the claim to be false. They claim the Russian ship to have been the intruder, and then release films which show unequivocally that the Russian ship had the right of way. They claim immunity due to being engaged in recovering a helicopter, and then show pictures taken from a helicopter which is clearly not being recovered.

Either the Navy is unbelievably stupid, or they think the public is. Or, perhaps, they are willing to tell lies without caring whether those lies are believed or not.

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