Conspiracy theorists on the Internet are very worked up these days over what they believe may have been the first shot in an exotic war of the future. On November 8, 2010, it is said, the People’s Republic of China was the aggressor and the Carnival Cruise Line’s ship, the Carnival Spendor, was the victim. The incident was widely reported. What was not so widely reported was the suspicion in some quarters that a mysterious missile fired from a Chinese submarine may have been the cause. According to the website www.abovetopsecret.com, and others, although the missile was not explosive, it was, nonetheless, the real reason for the catastrophic crippling of the ship.
The Carnival Spendor typically holds 3,200 passengers and over 1.100 crewmembers. It was only two years old and had been moved to Long Beach, California, in 2009. The fateful voyage was set to make stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and finally, Cabo San Lucas. On the day of the purported attack, the Carnival Spendor was cruising from Long Beach to Mexican waters. At 6:00 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time), it is said that the ship was hit with what is called an “Electromagnetic Pulse” or an EMP. The immediate effect was that all its electronics were shut down, and the ship was now dead in the water. The EMP causes rapidly changing electric fields. This in turn produces damaging current and voltage surges.
The Carnival Spendor did have an emergency generator that was unharmed, but it could not power many areas of the ship. Lighting was minimal; there were no propulsion, no air conditioning, and no working bathrooms. The USS Ronald Reagan brought food in the form of Spam, which had some passengers joking about their “Spam Cruise.” Because its engines had no power, the Carnival Spendor drifted for 55 miles off the Mexican coast. Many became seasick from the rolling waves. Finally the tugs arrived, and the ship was towed 150 miles back to San Diego. It took nearly 30 hours to get to a dock where the ship could be repaired and its 3,000 unhappy passenger could finally disembark.
Blogger Sorcha Faal, writing for the conspiracist website WhatDoesItMean.com, quotes an alleged Kremlin report, said to have been prepared for Prime Minister Putin by Director Anatoly Perminov of the Russian Federal Space Agency, stating that an Arkon-1 military satellite monitoring the western coastal regions of North America had detected an ‘EMP anomalous event’ occurring on November 8 at 0600 Pacific Standard Time. The report, says Faal, goes on, “Nearly 11 hours after this EMP ‘event’… Arkon-1 then detected a BGM-109 (Tomahawk) subsonic cruise missile launched from a U.S. Navy Ohio-Class submarine operating off the coast of California.” The US Navy, however, had waited 11 hours to launch its own retaliatory missile, virtually assuring that nothing would be hit.
Meanwhile, the official story was that the trouble was caused by an engine room fire, raising questions over just how such a modern ship could suffer such a problem. One retired U.S. Navy propulsion expert, Sam Jemison, stated publicly that computers, switchboards, and cables connected the Carnival Spendor’s six engines. There would be several fail-safes built into such a ship, he said.
Why, it is wondered, would the Chinese commit such a threatening act? There are two widely discussed theories. The first is to test new weaponry. While an EMP attack is not designed to take human life, it does have consequences. In war it could stop a fleet of ships. The second theory is that Chinese intelligence wanted to measure America’s response time. President Obama was in India when the ‘attack’ took place. The 11-hour delay, it is speculated, was not due to military failure but was intended to show force without escalating the situation.
If indeed the Carnival Spendor was hit with an EMP strike, it is difficult to overstate the significance of the attack. Clearly the wars of the future may be unlike anything the world has yet seen.
From ancient to modern times, new weapons have changed the course of battles and wars and history. Archimedes, generally known for his achievements in mathematics and science, also contributed many inventions to military purposes. He lived in a coastal city of Sicily, Syracuse, which came under attack by the Roman navy. To defend his home, Archimedes invented a machine dubbed the “Iron Hand” which looked something like a catapult. It reached out like a crane, whereupon its grappling tackle could hook and capsize the enemy ship. Long before the science fiction versions, he invented the “Heat Ray.” Using curved reflective surfaces; the magnified light of the sun was deployed against the invading ships, which could be set on fire. Archimedes also invented a “steam cannon” that used heat and water to launch missiles. The siege of Syracuse failed.
In the fourteenth century knights in newly created armor became a deadly force that could cut through an unprotected enemy like a knife through butter. Such equipment was expensive to maintain and often required six to eight men to help ready the knight for battle. Then came a relatively cheap but more effective weapon. The long bow had been used for thousands of years in hunting, and in the 1300s it became a weapon of war. In the hands of a professional archer, arrows from bows—4 to 6 feet in length—could reach distances of 400 yards, with a strategic minimum requirement of 220 yards. Arrows from a long bow could not always pierce armor for more than an inch but were forceful enough to remove a knight from a horse or to wound infantrymen. The greatest effect might have been psychological—demoralizing soldiers as they saw their companions felled by forces from far away. The terrorizing of the enemy has, since time immemorial, been one of the most important objectives for war planners.
The Tesla Death Ray
While weapons of mass destruction—from atom bombs to germ warfare—have been enough to keep us all up nights, we can be grateful that not all of the many exotic weapon technologies dreaded by humanity have actually come to pass, at least not yet. While World War II provided a seemingly endless array of such horrors, several notorious technologies never made it off the drawing board. The Nazis never fielded their rumored fleet of UFOs, and the Allies never built Nikola Tesla’s ‘Death Ray.’
Electrical technology pioneer Tesla preferred the term Death “Beam.” Such a ray, he explained, would diminish in intensity with distance. A ‘beam,’ he said, could project particles a great distance with more energy than is possible in a ray. He was actually hoping such a device would stop warfare and allow any nation great and small a defense against invading craft. The Germans and the Japanese were conducting research at the same time with less altruistic goals.
Tesla believed his device could stop anything within 200 miles. A New York Times article said it could bring down 10,000 planes. This would in effect create a “Chinese Wall.” Tesla was actually given a patent in 1937 but was unable to get support or funding. Instead he drew the attention and suspicion of the FBI. He would die two years short of deployment, to defeat Japan, of the most terrible weapon ever created, the nuclear bomb. The FBI immediately raided the hotel room where he had been living and sealed all his research notes. In September of 2016, 73 years later, Tesla’s notes were finally released to the public.
The history of warfare has featured many innovations. Not all have been as overwhelming in conception as an A-bomb or a Death Beam, but some have, nevertheless, proven decisive. One of the best examples was in the Russian war with Afghanistan, where the Mujahedeen guerrillas used “man-portable” anti aircraft missile launchers made in America to thwart the mighty Russian Air Force. Designed and produced by General Dynamics, the Stinger missiles proved lethal to Soviet helicopters. A single man using a weapon priced in the hundreds of dollars could take down a weapon that cost in the millions. Ironically, the tactics learned by the guerrillas of that war have proven very costly to the West ever since.
If the most feared weapon of the twentieth century was the nuclear bomb, the wars of the future could offer a completely different kind of devastation, but one perhaps even more destructive to civilization—the Electromagnetic Pulse or EMP.
Russia’s Secret Weapon
In March of 2014, fighting broke out in the Ukraine between Nationalists and pro-Russian separatists. To most in the United States the aid Russia was providing, which included sending troops into Crimea, was an act of war. Just to make Russia aware that America was ready and able to intervene, an American warship was sent into the Black Sea.
The USS Donald Cook entered those waters on April 10. This ship is very modern, very powerful, and carries between fifty and a hundred Tomahawk missiles. These weapons are capable of carrying nuclear explosives and have a range of over 1,500 miles. It also carries 50 anti-aircraft missiles to protect itself. Among the most advanced equipment is the Aegis Combat system that can detect, track, and destroy hundreds of targets at the same time. This formidable destroyer seems to be a most capable war machine.
Two days later, according to unsourced Russian news media, a single Russian SU-24 tactical bomber crippled it. Not with bombs or missiles but a small basket mounted under the fuselage. The basket contained an electronic war device the Russians call Khibiny. This technology, according to the Russians, is the result of three decades of research. It started as a defensive device, part of electronic countermeasures (ECM) designed to delay aircraft detection, mask the aircraft against false deflections, render range-finding difficulties and increase the time it takes for radar to capture it. The problem at first was size and weight, but in the last few years both have been reduced. They can even be built into an aircraft.
The Russian SU-24 passed over the USS Donald Cook. The Khibiny, the Russians said, disabled all radar (the Donald Cook actually carried four radar systems), disabled control circuit systems, and scrambled all information transmission. The U.S. Navy denies this claim. If the report were true, like the victim of the Chinese attack on the Carnival Splendor, the Donald Cook would have been shut down. One writer described the event as like simply turning off a television with a remote.
On April 11 and 12, 2016, according to Wikipedia, a pair of Russian SU-24s performed several low passes on Donald Cook while the ship was conducting exercises with a Polish helicopter in international waters in the Baltic Sea 70 nautical miles off Kaliningrad. During these flights the aircraft passed over the destroyer at very low altitudes. A Russian Ka-27 “Helix” anti-submarine helicopter also circled the destroyer seven times. The U.S. Navy released photos and videos of the incident on April 14, and the U.S. Government lodged a complaint with the Russian Government. In response the U.S. Secretary of State commented that “under the rules of engagement, that could have been a shoot-down.” The Russian Federation Council’s official Igor Morozov retorted that the U.S. likewise “ought to know that Donald Cook approached our borders and may already be unable to depart those.”
Adding grave insult to injury, the Russians said the bomber then made numerous passes over the ship simulating a bombing attack. There was nothing the naval personnel on the ship could do but watch. More than twenty asked to resign from active duty as the attack was at least demoralizing. The ship, however, made it into harbor in Romania. The U.S. did little to protest but the Russians gloated in their media. A photograph of a memorial coin depicting the flyover appeared on the Internet with the caption “Lesson of Peace.”
In recent years, according to reports, the Russians have stepped up their already advanced Electronic Warfare systems (EW) to the point that even infantry brigades are armed with such devices and trained in their use. Possibly their greatest secret weapon is the “Murmansk BN” that has a range of 5,000 kilometers and can jam multiple frequencies. While not yet public, the weapon system has been demonstrated at the Moscow Aerospace Show, where they displayed a system that can actually jam the American AWACS. The AWACS is a hard system to defeat as it has numerous frequencies that alternate constantly. One official says the goal for EW systems is suppression of entire bands with powerful and focused noise jamming.
After the Donald Cook incident, the Russian director of EW research declared the more complex a system, the easier it is to disable. The United States has moved to all digital systems with little or no backup.
The Future of War
The next war may be fought with Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) weapons that can explode 200 miles above the earth to bring down a large area, or closer to earth to focus on a city, a power grid, or utility plant. A single attack could bring down the entire power grid and everything with electrical circuits. This includes most cars manufactured since the 1960s when computerized digital components became more and more standard. At the time of such an attack, all means of transportation can cease to work.
There are other reasons our power grid can fail. A computer hacker could destroy the grid. A virus could disable, as well as cause our communication systems, banking systems and transportation to grind to a halt. Natural events like solar flares have, on occasion, disrupted communications and could knock the power systems out, as well. Natural catastrophes can cause events like the Fukushima incident, when an earthquake triggered a tsunami, which caused a meltdown at a large nuclear plant. One hundred and fifty thousand lost their homes. This was in Japan where communications didn’t fail, and the lights remained on.
We have all seen the effect of even short-term blackouts in many cities. Looting seems to begin as quickly as the lights go out. A prolonged event would mean no television, no cell phones, no refrigeration, no gas or heat, and no means to get food to an increasingly hungry population. Riots and looting would not take long to begin. The goal of looting might be to get whatever food is left in supermarkets. Water systems could stop working within a week as, without power, filtration becomes impossible on a large scale. Even well water stops being pumped when the electricity stops.
A major EMP attack could—after a week or two of no lights, no water and no food—turn ordinary citizens into their own worst enemies.