By Scott Longman
Socialism gives rise to tyranny, poverty, stagnation and often genocide.
But it does have one benefit: it occasionally creates entertaining displays of idiocy. We’d need an article bigger than would fit in the Library of Congress to chronicle all of it, but let’s just focus on one recent example, courtesy of the mouth-breathers who run Venezuela.
Venezuela went from being the most prosperous country in Latin America (and the fourth most prosperous in the entire world) to a total, cratering disaster after Hugo Chavez’s “Bolivarian Revolution” in 1999. Seventy-five percent of Venezuelans are now living in “extreme poverty” and about a third struggle just to get enough to eat. And Chavez’s follow-on, Nicolas Maduro, is equally totalitarian. Given that kind of leadership, there’s a pretty good chance you can expect their warship commanders would also behave like tyrannical douchebags.
Enter the RCGS Resolute. This ship is the profound antithesis of “threat.” It’s a freakin’ cruise ship, designed and built to take gray haired prosperous tourists around South America, and down to Antarctica, because . . . penguins or something. The most dangerous offensive weapon aboard was a butterknife on the lido deck. And the Resolute had zero capacity for carrying cargo so no worries about supplying insurrectionists, if you don’t count second-rate porterhouse steaks and Hell’s own collection of chicken nuggets.
Did the Resolute pose even the slightest risk to the Bolivarian Revolution? Even Lenin and Trotsky would have said nyet.
But if you’re an itchy little despot, taking down the Resolute might seem like a really good idea.
The Resolute was in international waters. Twelve miles is the limit, and there’s no reasonable debate that they were at 13 or more. Indeed, they weren’t even moving: the Resolute had stopped for some basic engine maintenance. It was in no way doing even the slightest aggressive thing.
The Venezuelan Coast Guard’s Naiguata approached, and demanded via radio that the ship go to a port on Isla Margarita, to be boarded and searched. That was a serious demand, because the Naiguata wasn’t some little coastal runabout. It was a full-on warship: 259 feet long, with a 76mm Oto-Melara deck gun, a 35mm Oerlikon Millennium system and two .50 caliber machine guns.
The cruise ship’s master necessarily thought he’d best check with his superiors, because the direction the Venezuelans wanted to go was the opposite of his chartered course. While he was calling in, the commander of the Naiguata began his attack. Here is how Columbia Cruise Services, the operators of the cruise ship, described it:
“While the Master was in contact with the head office, gunshots were fired and shortly thereafter, the navy vessel approached the starboard side at speed with an angle of 135 degrees and purposely collided with the RCGS Resolute. The navy vessel continued to ram the starboard bow in an apparent attempt to turn the ship’s head toward Venezuelan territorial waters.”
Well, tiny-minded tyrants failed to consider two things. The first was elemental physics—the Resolute displaced 8,378 tons, while the warship displaced only 1,720, meaning it was outweighed almost 5:1. Their ramming attack was more or less the same thing as a Smart car ramming a Brinks truck. Second, they apparently didn’t try to get any background on the ship. Had they tried, they would have seen almost immediately that the Resolute was specifically constructed with a massively reinforced bow and hull of special steel plating, to allow it to safely sail in iceberg laden waters. In short, it had been built to have big, heavy things run into it.
The warship had not been built that way. They tore their hull to shreds and began to sink. In happy contrast, the cruise ship probably needed three or four cans of spray paint to fix their damage. The $118 million warship ended up joining Venezuela’s economy and Maduro’s credibility on the bottom, all at unsalvageable depths.