This Is How Wars Start

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The ex-U.S. Navy minesweeper that tangled with a Chinese vessel Tuesday / Wiki photo

You know it’s never a good sign involving shipping on the contested high seas near China and the Philippines when the phrase “`accidental’ collision” appears in the first sentence of a news story — with the word accidental in quotes.

Reports Wednesday’s Philippine Star newspaper:

MANILA, Philippines – An “accidental” collision with a Navy gunboat on patrol in the West Philippine Sea yesterday forced a large Chinese fishing vessel to beat a hasty retreat, leaving behind 25 smaller boats it was towing…

“As our patrolling ship was approaching to check on the encroaching Chinese vessels, it incurred a steering problem and accidentally hit the mother ship of the Chinese fishermen,” [a senior Philippine military officer] said. He said big waves affected the ship’s steering, causing it to move uncontrollably toward the Chinese vessels.

Wait until the Chinese discover that the Philippine vessel involved — one of the oldest warships still sailing — was originally a U.S. Navy warship. The Savannah Machine and Foundry Co. in Savannah, Ga., built the 222-foot ship in the final days of World War II. The U.S. Navy commissioned it the same month the U.S. military dropped a pair of atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II.