Diego Garcia: The “Unsinkable Carrier” Springs a Leak

Shutterstock The recent decision by the Hague-based International Court of Justice that the Chagos Islands — with its huge U.S. military base at Diego Garcia — are being illegally occupied by the United Kingdom (UK) has the potential to upend the strategic plans of a dozen regional capitals, ranging from Beijing to Riyadh. For a tiny speck of land measuring only 38 miles in length, Diego Garcia casts a long shadow. Sometimes called Washington’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier,” planes and warships based on the island played an essential role in the…

Naval Officers Won’t Face Criminal Charges In Deadly USS Fitzgerald Crash : NPR

The USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship off the coast of Japan on June 17, 2017. The $1.8 billion destroyer, manned by a 300-member crew, had been steaming on a secret mission to the South China Sea when it was struck by a cargo ship more than three times its size. Seven sailors died. Eugene Hoshiko/AP hide caption toggle caption Eugene Hoshiko/AP The USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship off the coast of Japan on June 17, 2017. The $1.8 billion destroyer, manned by a 300-member…

US, Filipino and Aussie forces conduct premier military exercise, but don’t mention China

Officials have said that the major U.S., Filipino and Australian exercise known as Balikatan isn’t aimed at China, but given Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent words of warning, observers can be forgiven for thinking that. Balikatan 2019 is running from April 1-12 and taking place on the islands of Luzon and Palawan. This year’s 35th iteration of the exercise includes about 4,000 Filipinos, 3,500 Americans and 50 Australians, according to local media. The focus, according to official statements, is showcasing and developing maritime security, amphibious capabilities and multinational interoperability.…

As Taiwan’s media flounders, so does its democracy

For those of you horrified by the “sweat bees” story in your social media feeds this week — the one about the woman who supposedly had four of the tiny bees living in her left eye, feeding on her tears — I offer this caveat: It came from Taiwan. Take it with a grain of salt. I don’t mean to knock the media there — it’s a lovely place, filled with lovely people — but they give me no choice. During a five-day journalism fellowship on the self-ruled island last…

Vietnam verifying location of Chinese oil rig in Gulf of Tonkin

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said Thursday that authorities were trying to confirm whether China’s Dongfang 13-2 CEPB oil rig is functioning within Vietnamese waters in the Gulf of Tonkin in the East Sea, known internationally as the South China Sea. On Sunday, the Xinhua news agency reported that “Dongfang 13-2 CEPB,” the second largest offshore oil production and processing platform in China, was completed for shipment and would be shipped to the Yinggehai Basin on Wednesday. Yinggehai Basin lies at the southern end of the Red River…

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang’s Regular Press Conference on April 11, 2019

Q: In its World Economic Outlook report issued on April 9, The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is downgrading its outlook for global economic to 3.3% this year down from 3.5% it had forecast in January, while upgrading China’s economic growth to 6.3% from 6.2% in its previous forecast. What’s your comment? A: We noted the relevant report. This is the second time for the IMF to downgrade its forecast for global economic growth since this year, which shows that the downward pressure on global economy is still increasing. Against such…

Controversial Chinese oil rig drills first well in east South China Sea | China | South China Sea | oil | rig | drilling | islands | disputed | indigenous | US | Philippines | Vietnam | Haiyang Shiyou 981 | HYSY 981

An indigenously-developed deep-sea semi-submersible drilling platform has completed drilling its first deep-water development in east South China sea, according to the Chinese state-owned publication, Global Times. With a measured wellbore depth 4,660 metres and a true vertical depth (the distance from the well to the surface) of 2,529 meters, it is claimed to be the first deep-water well in operation by a Chinese-manufactured platform. The $1 billion platform was built by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and was launched in 2012. That same year, the company’s chairman, Wang…

U.S. Navy drops criminal charges against USS Fitzgerald officers in case of 2017 fatal collision

The U.S. Navy said Wednesday that it will drop charges against two former USS Fitzgerald officers accused of criminal negligence in the warship’s deadly 2017 collision south of Tokyo Bay. Former Fitzgerald commanding officer Cmdr. Bryce Benson and the destroyer’s former tactical action officer Lt. Natalie Combs will instead receive secretarial letters of censure from Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, the navy said in a statement. The two were previously dismissed from their jobs and received nonjudicial punishments, the navy said. Benson and Combs had been charged with dereliction in the…

Island Building Alters Waters Leagues Away and for Years After

Dredging the seafloor to create new islands in the South China Sea significantly affected the surrounding waters during and after island building, according to a recent study. Satellite imagery revealed that building an artificial island on Mischief Reef released kilometers-long sediment plumes and altered biological markers in the water surrounding the island. Hard data on the long-term environmental damage from island building could lead to better evidence-based policies about the practice and protect vital marine resources. “Not only is it impacting the biological activity in the reef, but it’s impacting…