EXCLUSIVE: In July 2023 the Seafarers International Union Warned About Chinese Flagging of US Ships | Joe Hoft

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EXCLUSIVE: In July 2023 the Seafarers International Union Warned About Chinese Flagging of US Ships

Seafarers Intl Union

The Seafarers International Union warned about China’s actions related to flagging US ships.  This was ignored and now a major bridge in Baltimore lays in the harbor. 

It was reported after the collapse of the Baltimore bridge that there were links between the ship that hit the bridge and China.

The firm managing the ship that hit the bridge is Synergy Marine Group which is connected to China.  Another firm named Searchlight Capitol announced its minority acquisition of Synergy in a press release in 2022.  In the press release, the following was said about Synergy:

Synergy provides ship owners with mission-critical services including full technical management (e.g. regulatory compliance, maintenance, procurement and remote systems monitoring), crew management (e.g. sourcing and training of seafarers and services like payroll) as well as marine services, (e.g. decarbonization services, seafarer health and wellness, newbuilding design and supervision and project management including for the installation of energy saving devices).

BREAKING EXCLUSIVE: Synergy Marine Group Managed Ship that Hit Baltimore Bridge and Has a Strong Business Relationship with China – It Specializes in Remote System Monitoring

This was not a surprise to the Seafarers International Union.  This group warned about China’s actions in tracking US ships in mid-2023.

Imagine the following scenario: American military forces are placed on alert for possible immediate action in a destination without a nearby military base. The equipment they will need to sustain their involvement is scheduled to be delivered aboard U.S.-flag merchant ships being loaded at various ports in the United States.

Massive Chinese-built cranes with electronic devices used for cargo tracking load the containers while electronic monitoring devices and software systems record which boxes stacked on which vessels carry the materiel and note the final destinations.

En route, the civilian-crewed ships receive orders to alter their plans as the original locations for disembarking have been disabled. American military forces, meanwhile, are left without their valuable and much-needed gear.

Think this is a movie plot awaiting an ending because of the writers’ strike? Think again. This is one of numerous situations involving international logistics under consideration by elected officials, government agencies and port operators.

There are two linked threats. The first is a Chinese data management system increasingly being used around the world called LOGINK, “a logistics management platform that aggregates logistics data from various sources, including domestic and foreign overseas ports, foreign logistics networks, hundreds of thousands of users in the People’s Republic of China and other databases,” according to the Baker Institute of Rice University. (The Baker Institute is a 30-year-old nonpartisan think tank named for former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III.)

The Baker Institute report adds, “LOGINK offers Beijing [China’s capital] a means to monitor and shape the international logistics market, increase foreign strategic dependency on China, and exploit the vulnerabilities of LOGINK users for economic and geostrategic purposes.”

LOGINK (which stands for China’s state-supported National Public Platform for Transportation and Logistics) started late in this century’s first decade as a provincial truck and logistics tracking system. By 2010, it was used for tracking data in northeast Asia including ports in China, Japan and South Korea.

According to the Baker Institute, LOGINK today has the ability to collect and funnel transportation and logistics information around the world. Using statistics from a Naval War College Review and included by the Baker Institute, China has a “presence in at least 95 overseas ports.”

The second risk is due to China’s dominance in building and supplying cranes used to load and offload cargo. These cranes are in use at ports in the United States and around the world. The software used to run these cranes can be remotely accessed and, as Chinese companies must follow the orders of the Chinese Communist Party, could be used to disable these cranes, thus stopping any loading or offloading. That is not some hypothetical threat: hacking has occurred with remote control of the cranes as reported by Forbes in 2019 (several foreign ports) and by CNN in 2021 (Houston).

This collapse of a US bridge may have been intentional and the US was warned that it might happen. 

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