My favorite part of the story are the social engineering tricks used to track down the exact boat.
…she played stupid. She knew that the boating communities of north Germany were still almost exclusively male, and decided that pretending ignorance would suit their expectations.
A typical conversation went like this: “I want to rent a boat this year, and my friends, they rented a boat called Andromeda last year,” she would begin, explaining that her friends had been “so happy with it.” Then she said she didn’t know any details about the boat, even whether it was a motorboat or a sailboat.
“Well, a sailing boat usually has a mast on it,” one of the charter officials told her.
…four CIA spies died when they sailed into a tropical storm on daring mission to plant listening pod disguised as a rock on seabed…
Sailing into Tropical Storm Higos was not smart, which is why we know so much about it.
The Atlantic article gives a lot of focused attention on diving to the Nord Stream Pipeline, much more than use of long lines and remote controls. It’s entirely possible to inexpensively avoid diving while placing explosives 300ft under the surface. The author even describes the construction of the pipeline on the surface in terms of a simple engineering design that could be used to destroy it on the seabed, but never puts the two together.
I’m also reminded of a post I wrote a while ago about the Vietnam War, with modern armies thinking about future conflict in terms of needing brains more than brawn.
When you really get into reading Mrazek, you have to wonder why he didn’t call his 1968 thesis the war of art:
The impotence of the American juggernaut in Vietnam has put this problem under the spotlight of history. The one thing the guerrillas have in abundance is imagination, and this seems to outweigh the imbalance in materiel. It is the author’s contention that creativity is what wins battles–the same faculty that inspires great art.
All this means really that Russia is in deep trouble.
Its dictator has spent decades destroying any ability to think creatively (e.g. undermining threats to dictatorship) in order to drive a sad state of fealty (e.g. coin-operated politicians he controls with assassinations).
On that note, the least creative political party in the world (pro-Putin GOP) appears to be trying to use its economic power to help this dictator and his thoughtless hordes lose their wars more slowly and at an even higher cost.
This is a story about false fear, about Russian propaganda, if you read the Atlantic. Elon Musk infamously tried to boast he was personally going to prevent nuclear war by blocking Ukrainian forces, preventing them from defending civilian areas against Russian attacks.
Musk… called Walter Isaacson, his biographer, and told him there was a “non-trivial possibility” that the sea-drone attack could lead to a nuclear war. According to Isaacson, Musk had recently spoken with Russia’s ambassador in Washington, who had warned him explicitly that any attack on Crimea would lead to nuclear conflict. Musk implied to several other people (though he later denied it) that he had been speaking with President Vladimir Putin around that time as well.
He talked with Russia, they scared him with nonsense, and Musk probably thought he was sounding tough by doing what they said. To the trained ear however Musk sounds like a scared toddler hiding under his blankets, because that’s what comes through in his Moscow-themed depiction of tiny little drone attacks on big mighty ships forcing nuclear war.
Fast forward and the Ukrainian defenses carried on anyway, their drones quietly going around Musk’s chicken-little attempts at blocking them.
Now we see the result clearly, the exact opposite of Musk’s predictions, as documented in the latest news from the Institute for the Study of War:
The Russian military recently transferred several Black Sea Fleet (BSF) vessels from the port in occupied Sevastopol, Crimea to the port in Novorossiysk, Krasnodar Krai, likely in an effort to protect them from continued Ukrainian strikes on Russian assets in occupied Crimea. Satellite imagery published on October 1 and 3 shows that Russian forces transferred at least 10 vessels from Sevastopol to Novorossiysk. The satellite imagery reportedly shows that Russian forces recently moved the Admiral Makarov and Admiral Essen frigates, three diesel submarines, five landing ships, and several small missile ships. Satellite imagery taken on October 2 shows four Russian landing ships and one Kilo-class submarine remaining in Sevastopol. Satellite imagery from October 2 shows a Project 22160 patrol ship reportedly for the first time in the port of Feodosia in eastern Crimea, suggesting that Russian forces may be moving BSF elements away from Sevastopol to bases further in the Russian rear. A Russian think tank, the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, claimed on October 3 that the BSF vessels’ movements from occupied Sevastopol to Novorossiysk were routine, however. Russian forces may be temporarily moving some vessels to Novorossiysk following multiple strikes on BSF assets in and near Sevastopol but will likely continue to use Sevastopol’s port, which remains the BSF’s base. Former Norwegian Navy officer and independent OSINT analyst Thord Are Iversen observed on October 4 that Russian vessel deployments have usually intensified following Ukrainian strikes but ultimately returned to normal patterns. ISW will explore the implications of Ukrainian strikes on the BSF in a forthcoming special edition.
Not only were Ukrainian defensive methods effective at countering Russian ships, they have proven to be a strong deterrent. Drone attacks are forcing a massive withdrawal of a completely outclassed and vulnerable Russian Navy.
Musk is wrong, wrong, and wrong. The fact he won the lottery once and has used lies and charm to balloon that one windfall into an expanding giant empire of false promises, somehow didn’t set him up for understanding basic military strategy.
Allegedly Elon Musk continuously lies about who told him to protect Russian warships and why he did it. Gaslighting, as usual, the unstable Musk has said both he personally stepped in to help Putin save the Russian ships, and also that he refused to step in and did nothing in order to help Putin save the Russian ships.
Either way, despite flip-flopping like a slimy “big fish” story out of water, it sure sounds like Logan Act time. If he really wants to be remembered in history as someone very unique, that looks like his best fit yet. And despite his self-dealing protests and complaints to silence independent expert reports, journalists are laying bare some actual truths about drone strikes in Crimea.
Here is the part you might not have heard, or not registered: The same team launched a similar attack again a few weeks later. On October 29, a fleet of guided sea drones packed with explosives did reach Sebastopol harbor, using a different communications system. They did hit their targets. They put one Russian frigate, the Admiral Makarov, out of commission. The team believes that they damaged at least one submarine and at least two other boats as well.
And then? Nuclear war did not follow. Despite Musk’s fears, in other words—fears put into his head by the Russian ambassador, or perhaps by Putin himself—World War III did not erupt as a result of this successful attack on a Crimean port. Instead, the Russian naval commanders were spooked by the attack, so much so that they stuck close to Sebastopol harbor over the following weeks.
What would happen if Ukrainian drones struck Russian warships?
BBC Verify’s research suggests Ukraine has carried out at least 13 attacks with sea drones – targeting military ships, Russia’s naval base in Sevastopol, and Novorossiysk harbour. This is based on announcements by Russian and Ukrainian authorities, and local media reports.
And we certainly don’t have to listen to Elon Musk, a proven serial liar. We know he personally interfered with U.S. foreign policy by directly negotiating with Russian officials to undermine Ukrainian defenses. He has consistently been on the wrong side of history; because he never changes.
Signs of a private citizen politically manipulating service availability to favor certain foreign policy already had been there for all to see a year ago.
Ukrainian operators are both to credit for the mission, and also to be held responsible for entrusting Musk. Militant due diligence (anathema to the ignorance and impulsivity of coin-operated Musk) alerted Starlink’s wannabe-dictator to the existence of operations threatening Putin’s naval assets in Sebastopol harbor.
It was a simple and classic mistake. Ukrainians trusted a man who can never be trusted. They expected a rational response from a man who thrives on contrarian and cruel lies. It was like filing a support ticket with a Belorussian telephone company hoping old “war crimes” Lukashenko would do anything other than suck up to Russia.
Regrettably, just like many individuals who purchased a Tesla, someone fell victim to Elon Musk’s cunning manipulation (promising assistance but ultimately not delivering). This tactic is commonly referred to as advanced fee fraud. Musk’s actions included sporadic service provision combined with requesting full payments, all while pretending to “care” about Ukraine. Unfortunately, this was a fraudulent scheme that some mistook for genuine support for Ukrainian defense efforts.
Areas in Ukraine occupied by Russia were being given a taste of intermittent network access on purpose by the duplicitous and compromised Starlink operation:
RU occupied Kherson
RU occupied Zaporizhzhia
RU occupied Mykolaiv
RU occupied Kharkiv
RU occupied Donetsk
RU occupied Luhansk
RU occupied Crimea
Political service map.
Shortly after Ukraine’s secret defense operation details for October 2022 were shared with the American company, meant to enhance network reliability under Starlink’s public commitments to assist in defense against Russia, Elon Musk seems to have employed this exact information to pursue a completely contrary agenda. He allegedly actively worked to undermine U.S. objectives, turned his assistance programs into a means to block operations, and promoted pro-Putin propaganda campaigns.
October 3, 2022 proposed a “George Blake peace” plan that involved Ukraine surrendering and ceding its territory to Russia
If this seems too simplistic, as if Musk doesn’t have a clear enough motive for personally interfering to block U.S. executive branch policy (e.g. appear so treasonous), blame China.
Musk caring about Russia invading Ukraine, which seems to have nothing to do with his stated “business” or even personal interests, actually parallels top concerns of his Chinese handlers (e.g. defense of Taiwan).
Taiwan is “not for sale”, the island’s foreign minister said in a stern rebuke to Elon Musk who asserted Taiwan was an integral part of China, as the billionaire again waded into the thorny issue of relations between Beijing and Taipei… Last October, he suggested that tensions between China and Taiwan could be resolved by handing over some control of Taiwan to Beijing, drawing a similarly strong reprimand from Taiwan.
Last October. See?
Musk does whatever China says. Ukraine is a proxy.
It’s no secret Russia is China’s strategic ally in these conflicts and also a present testing ground for undermining U.S. foreign policy (let alone actual defense operations) by compromising selfish and greedy American tech executives.
In 2016, when Elon Musk was questioned about Tesla’s “Autopilot” potentially causing fatalities, his response was marked by anger and defensiveness. He argued that since millions of people die in car accidents, he shouldn’t be expected to care about individual deaths related to his product. Subsequently, he initiated a deceptive public relations effort claiming that his cars were the safest and would save more lives than any others, even though Tesla vehicles continued to be involved in fatal accidents, surpassing the combined total of all other electric vehicles.
Then, in 2022, when informed about the use of drones to prevent ships from bombing civilian areas, Musk intervened with network services to ensure these ships could continue their actions, which resulted in harm to hundreds or thousands of innocent people including children. He subsequently launched a fraudulent propaganda campaign, taking credit for preventing a fake potential world war by stopping drones, despite the simple fact that the drones still managed to target the ships.
Musk was willing to let some quality issues slide…. Tesla was building the airplane as Musk was heading down the runway for takeoff.
A new Vanity Fair article details the management culture that caused OceanGate tragedy under sea, but really it is about the absurdity of Elon Musk.
Carbon fiber is great under tension (stretching) but not compression (squeezing), he told me, offering an example: “You can use a rope to pull a car. But try pushing a car with a rope.”
The entire premise of OceanGate was false. Just like the completely backwards Tesla AI “vision” for driverless has always been a fraud.
The Vanity Fair writer calls this an “avoidable inevitable” disaster, which is a disturbing oxymoronic phrase. It sounds like something that should not be set into motion that is set into motion, and kills people.
Why? It seems that in America, there is a tendency to overlook clear failures in ensuring safety, all while allowing unchecked experimentation under the guise of anti-regulation, with individuals who lack expertise defending this approach by claiming false certainty about the future.
In 1776, America rejected scientific reasoning, rejected adherence to established rules, and actively resisted safety precautions in its pursuit of creating a new nation for perpetuating slavery, even as the rest of the world was moving towards abolition. This decision was driven by a small group of white men who fancied themselves as pioneers, disruptors, and rule-breakers, and were willing to disregard the value of human life to expand slavery. It is the kind of men highlighted again by this Vanity Fair article.
As the world now knows, Stockton Rush touted himself as a maverick, a disrupter, a breaker of rules. So far out on the visionary curve that, for him, safety regulations were mere suggestions. “If you’re not breaking things, you’re not innovating,” he declared at the 2022 GeekWire Summit. “If you’re operating within a known environment, as most submersible manufacturers do, they don’t break things. To me, the more stuff you’ve broken, the more innovative you’ve been.” In a culture that has adopted the ridiculous mantra “move fast and break things,” that type of arrogance can get a person far. But in the deep ocean, the price of admission is humility — and it’s nonnegotiable…
In December 2015, two years before the Titan was built, Rush had lowered a one third scale model of his 4,000-meter-sub-to-be into a pressure chamber and watched it implode at 4,000 psi, a pressure equivalent to only 2,740 meters. The test’s stated goal was to “validate that the pressure vessel design is capable of withstanding an external pressure of 6,000 psi — corresponding to…a depth of about 4,200 meters.” He might have changed course then, stood back for a moment and reconsidered. But he didn’t. Instead, OceanGate issued a press release stating that the test had been a resounding success because it “demonstrates that the benefits of carbon fiber are real.”
This is the “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters” brag applied to science, as if it’s just a coin-operated popularity contest. Gravity doesn’t bother tinpot dictators who buy media companies to peddle anti-gravity snake-oil. Henry Ford purchased the Dearborn Independent newspaper with the intent of promoting harmful racist ideologies and a callous disregard for human life. This effort succeeded in persuading fervent supporters, including Adolf Hitler, with a web of egregious falsehoods that led to genocide.
In this situation, it’s essential to identify who possesses clear authority to prevent a dangerous plan that rejects science, disregards regulations, and poses a significant threat to human lives. When an individual in America claims that they are merely joking or experimenting, similar to how a toddler might behave, it raises questions about accountability. Such “inevitable but avoidable” plans to cause harm disregard the rights protected by any recognized authority and instead assert the unilateral power to define truth, often arguing that experiments with almost certain fatal outcomes should not be held accountable.
Across the annals of history, a stark and recurring theme emerges: the dramatic elevation of the right to unjustly put people into harms way, frequently accompanied by an unwavering commitment to ignorance (akin to the abusive nativist “Know Nothing” movement), often taking precedence over any fundamental right to life.
These included missing bolts and improperly secured batteries, components zip-tied to the outside of the sub. O-ring grooves were machined incorrectly (which could allow water ingress), seals were loose, a highly flammable, petroleum-based material lined the Titan’s interior… Yet even those deficiencies paled in comparison to what Lochridge observed on the hull. The carbon fiber filament was visibly coming apart, riddled with air gaps, delaminations, and Swiss cheese holes — and there was no way to fix that short of tossing the hull in a dumpster…
Rush’s response was to fire Lochridge immediately, serve him and his wife with a lawsuit (although Carole Lochridge didn’t work at OceanGate or even in the submersible industry) for breach of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment, and misappropriation of trade secrets; threaten their immigration status; and seek to have them pay OceanGate’s legal fees.
Excellent reporting from Vanity Fair.
Regrettably, as many are aware, the unfortunate sequence of events that followed involved the CEO taking his own life, along with the lives of his customers, in a tragedy that seemed preventable but sadly unfolded in a cult-like Kool-Aid disaster.
Safety experts, responsible for establishing explicit guidelines and regulations, could only watch in dismay as both OceanGate and Tesla customers ended their lives unnecessarily. Henry Ford surely would be impressed, probably in the same way he allegedly inspired Hitler and contributed to millions of deaths.
The best phrase to describe both OceanGate and Tesla comes from 2018, when Vanity Fair says a science expert was asked for advice on the design:
Do not get in…. He is going to have a major accident.