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October 07, 2015

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While a Panamanian pilot takes control of the ship for navigation through the canal zone, it doesn't seem too far fetched to me that a plan that calls for taking out the canal itself would also account for re-taking control of the ship at some point prior to its arrival at the locks. Similarly, you would probably use a smaller ship that could dead-reckon a kamakazi run, rather than a Panamax carrier. However, I think you're assessment of acceleration rates would be the key issue, in terms of how much damage could actually be done to the locks from a limited 'sprint.'

It also seems clear there are far more efficient ways to take out the canal, though rather than attack the Gatún, which would require a level of demolition expertise that would likely be beyond the scope of commandos, I imagine attacking individual lock mechanisms would be better.

Damage would be limited in all the scenarios: there is all this water pressure behind the gates. The ships are heading the wrong way.

But hey, even if you don't think a demolition team will work (and I think you're right about that) then just hit the goddamned things with cruise missiles. It'd be strategically pointless, but it would take out the locks.

(The Pirates are losing but look a lot more energetic than last night's Yankees. Why is that?)

Before reading the comments, my thought was that any attempt to take out the Panama Canal by the Chinese would more realistically involve the launching of cruise missiles at the Gatún dam and the three (or four by 2024?) lock systems in place.

Taking out the Canal would be of marginal military value insofar as the US Pacific Fleet by itself would be quite an opponent for the Chinese even in 2024. But for the costs of a few cruise missiles, it isn't a bad target insofar as it might still have a marginal military effect and in the off chance that the Chinese had intended to somehow wipe out the US Pacific Fleet then it would be a good way to delay the arrival of replacement US Navy assets.

One other mistake from the book that seems to have passed everyone by due to the more glaring areas is that there is no "Panama Canal ZONE" anymore to run. There hasn't been a Panama Canal Zone since 1979 and instead we got the Panama Canal Area and later just simply the Panama Canal. There isn't a "zone" for the Chinese companies to end up running. Only a "canal" that they can run (maybe....depending on how the backstory was thought up for them to move from building a fourth set of locks to running the whole canal).

You're right about the "zone," but I chalked that up to a simple typo. Having written books, it's the sort of brain fart that I can see surviving the editing process. So I gave them a mulligan on that one.

This would be a smarter way of taking out the canal:

http://thediplomat.com/2015/12/new-wrinkles-in-maritime-warfare/

or any harbor. A pity its the USAF that developed it, huh?

(note, not agreeing with all the political stuff contained in the post, just find precision placed mines interesting and could be useful)

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