In April, the US Navy christened the first of its newest class of destroyers. Costing more than $3 billion, the 610-foot-long USS Zumwalt, named after the late Admiral Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt boasts advanced technology including a composite deckhouse with hidden radar and sensors, and the Navy says the vessel’s odd angular shape will present the radar profile of a small fishing boat.
If the US Navy is hoping the fishing boat camouflage will protect the new high-tech destroyer from aggressors on the open seas, they might want to rethink he design. A month after the Zumwalt was christened, a Vietnamese fishing boat was rammed and sunk by a Chinese vessel.
According to the Vietnamese government, forty Chinese fishing vessels had encircled a group of Vietnamese boats fishing in the area, which it claims is within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone. The 10 fishermen onboard the boat were rescued by other Vietnamese boats after the incident, which occurred not far from a Chinese oil rig located near the contested Paracel Islands, which are claimed by both China and Vietnam.
Last year, Vietnam’s government lodged a protest after it said a Chinese ship fired on one of its fishing vessels near the Paracel Islands and caused a cabin fire on that boat.
Thankfully the dangers to fishermen in US waters don’t yet include aggression from Chinese vessels.