Friday, August 4, 2017

Fears Of Frogmen: Why Navies Are Spooked By 'Ghost' Combat Divers

Joe Pappalardo at Popular Mechanics offers a piece on the fear of frogmen, who are capable of obtaining intelligence about an adversary's ships, as well as sabotage.

Navies around the globe have been spooked lately by the specter of unauthorized scuba divers lurking near military bases. China claims divers approaches one of its ships, while the United States recently scrambled to chase a ghost in the water, too.

The fear of these divers, or frogmen, is a subtle indicator of global tension. And with growing concerns of major conflicts erupting in Asia, Africa, and beyond, such reports indicate a rise in Special Operations missions near seaports or the heightened paranoia of the globe's biggest militaries. Or both.

The South China Post has a good summary of Chinese state media's reports about that incident. The Chinese claim "a Japanese naval ship sent frogmen to approach a Chinese warship" while docked at Djibouti. (It's telling that this drama unfolded in eastern Africa, where China is projecting its power much to Japan and India's dismay.)

The Japanese military did not report the incident. But Jian Jiamin, a legal counselor with China's PLA navy who served in Africa, reported the encounter to the media. Jiamin, now a prosecutor, says the Chinese ship could take "necessary measures to stop [the divers] or even to exercise its self-defense rights."

That's a pretty serious response to some guys in scuba gear, but such fears are on the rise. This week the U.S. Navy itself had a frogman scare at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia. Sailors on watch spotted what they thought could be a diver in a restricted pier. The Navy scrambled helicopters and ships to scour the area, but the lockdown eventually lifted after no one was found.

Still, the high alert is reasonable considering there are more than 60 ships docked at that station, including the new USS Ford aircraft carrier.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Note: You can click on the above U.S. Navy photos to enlarge 

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