An investigation into the separate recent collisions between two Navy warships from the Seventh Fleet and commercial vessels has so far shown no evidence of cyberattacks, according to Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations.
Speaking during a livestream on Facebook Wednesday, Richardson said that “to date, the inspections we've done show that there's no evidence of any kind of a cyberintrusion.”
The admiral said it has become “sort of a reality of our current situation that part of any kind of investigation or inspection is going to have to take a look at the computer, the cyber — you know, the informational warfare aspect — of our business,” adding that “We're doing that with these inspections as well.”
Speculation arose that the USS John S. McCain could have been the target of a cyberattack after CNN cited an anonymous source as saying the ship had experienced a steering failure that caused it to collide with a Liberian-flagged commercial tanker as it headed into the Strait of Malacca.
Noting that the incident was the second of its kind in the Pacific theater – the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship near Japan in June, killing 10 sailors – Richardson at the time ordered an “operational pause.” This was so that fleet commanders could convene “with their leaders and their commands to ensure that we're taking all immediate action to ensure safe and effective operations around the world," he said in a statement on Facebook and other social media. “I am also directing a comprehensive review into all potential factors contributing to these incidents.”
The Navy's probe, of course, has not been completed and investigators will continue to explore all options. “We'll continue to look deeper and deeper, but I just want to assure you that to date, there's been nothing that we've found to point to that,” said Richardson.