Tuesday, March 10, 2009

China harasses US vessel

On March 8, 2009, the USNS Impeccable, an ocean surveillance ship that is part of the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command’s Special Mission Ships Program, was harassed 75 miles south of Hainan, China, while conducting surveys in international waters as recognized by the United States. However, China claims this area in the South China Sea as a part of its Exclusive Economic Zone. The Impeccable was unarmed and was shadowed by five Chinese ships which aggressively maneuvered dangerously close to the ship, with two closing in to 50 feet, waving Chinese flags, and ordering the Impeccable to flee from the area. The civilian crew of the Impeccable sprayed water at one of the nearest Chinese ships, but the Chinese sailors, despite the force of the water, stripped down to their underwear, and the vessel closed to within 25 feet of the American ocean surveillance ship. Shortly after the incident, the Impeccable radioed the Chinese crews, informing them of its intentions to leave the area, and requesting a safe pass to travel. When trying to leave the area, however, two of the Chinese ships stopped directly in front of the fleeing ship, forcing it to do an emergency stop to avoid a collision. The crew aboard one of the Chinese ships also used a grappling hook to try to snag Impeccable's towed sonar array.

First of all fuck you China. What? It’s not enough that you own half our banks, the majority of our high end resorts, and over 24% of our foreign held public debt? Now you add insult to injury by harassing one of our civilian occupied military surveillance ships? Talk about kicking someone when they’re down. What’s next – are you going to spit on the fat kid?

Secondly, what’s the deal with stripping down into your underwear after we sprayed you with a fire hose? Um, that's just strange and a little creepy. Please cover up your steroetypically little junk.

Lastly what were you thinking trying to fuck up our sonar gear with a grappling hook? That shit’s expensive man. I just hope you messed up the 24% that you own. Who’s laughing now assholes?

This incident was the latest in a string of incidents involving the Impeccable and Chinese vessels. On Thursday, March 5, 2009, a Chinese frigate approached Impeccable and crossed its bow at a range of approximately 100 yards. This was followed less than two hours later by a Chinese Y-12 aircraft conducting 11 fly-bys of Impeccable at an altitude of 600 feet and a range from 100-300 feet. The frigate then crossed Impeccable's bow again, this time at a range of approximately 400-500 yards without rendering courtesy or notice of her intentions. On Saturday, March 7, as reported a Chinese intelligence collection ship challenged Impeccable over bridge-to-bridge radio, calling her operations illegal and directing Impeccable to leave the area or "suffer the consequences."

Yo China – don’t you dare threaten a US military vessel. Just because Dubya and his trigger finger left the White House two months ago, that doesn’t mean you can push us around. How do you think your pint sized commy leader, Hu Jintao, would fare in a cage match against Barack Obama? Yeah that’s what I thought. President Obama would bitch slap that little fucker into submission faster than you can say Mao Tse-Tung. You may very well possess the resources and ability to literally cripple our economy, but we’re still bigger, stronger, and tougher than you so back the fuck off and leave our boats alone. Besides, crippling our economy would cost your government billions and frankly I don’t think you’ve got the stones.

The United States has lodged formal protests. Under international law, the U.S. military can conduct activities "in waters beyond the territorial sea of another state without prior notification or consent" including in an exclusive economic zone of another country, said a Pentagon spokesman. "The unprofessional maneuvers by Chinese vessels violated the requirement under international law to operate with due regard for the rights and safety of other lawful users of the ocean."

I hate to change the patriotic tone of this post with a critical observation of the US military / government but seeing as how I am a self-described pragmatist I’ll do it anyway. The mission of the USNS Impeccable is to directly support the Navy by using SURTASS passive and active low frequency sonar arrays to detect and track undersea threats (namely submarines). So my question is why the fuck were we searching for submarines 75 miles south of Hainan, China? The last time I checked we have absolutely zero US interests anywhere near that part of the world. And pragmatically speaking carrying out a mission of this magnitude couldn’t have been cheap. A highly advanced military vessel with a state of the art sonar system, a crew of 20 mariners, 5 technicians, and 20 Navy personnel, and all the rations and supplies needed to sustain the vessel and crew while it plods along at just 15 miles per hour (3.5 miles per hour when towing its array of monitoring equipment) to obscure regions of the globe. I can only imagine how much that’s costing tax payers. Yet our healthcare system’s a mess, public education sucks, over 10% of the population is unemployed, and social security’s on track to dry up in roughly a decade or so. But hey, at least we can sleep easy knowing that the South China Sea is submarine free.

Humor and patriotism aside, to me this incident is just further evidence that the US Government needs to seriously reassess its process for deciding how and why it spends our money.

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