In an article from Stars & Stripes, the absence of the vessel was explained in a very curious way:
“[T]he US guided-missile destroyer USS Winston Churchill was en route to the Mediterranean to join a flotilla of allied warships, including another US destroyer, the USS Donald Cook.
It was a ruse.
While both vessels carry as many as 90 Tomahawk missiles – the main weapon used in the Friday evening strike on Syria – neither ship in the end fired a shot. Instead, according to a person familiar with White House war planning, they were part of a plan to distract Russia and its Syrian ally from an assault Assad’s government could do little to defend itself against.”
But there may be another explanation for the USS Donald Cook (DDG-75), a 4th generation guided missile destroyer, not taking part in the attack. On 10 April 2014, the USS Donald Cook entered the waters of the Black Sea.
A Russian Sukhoi-24 then approached the US vessel to disable all its radars, control circuits, systems, and information transmission on board, shutting down the all-powerful Aegis system, hooked up with the defense systems installed on NATO’s most modern ships.
After disabling the electronic systems, the Russian Su-24 then simulated a missile attack against the USS Donald Cook, as if carrying out a training exercise. The Russian aircraft – unarmed – repeated the same maneuver 12 times on the totally defenseless destroyer before flying away.
After that, Donald Cook hastily departed for a port in Romania. Since that incident, which the Atlanticist media have carefully covered up, there has been widespread speculation among defense industry experts.
One analyst who wanted to remain anonymous, told FWM that the number of weapons used in the attack on Syria over the weekend can be explained by a simple fact: everybody was testing weapons. After such tests, on the manufaturers’ websites, one usually finds the desigation “battle tested” for those thus tested and this increases their salability, he noted.
The attack pattern resembled a wide-area, short-range air defense probe, not a strike mission, according to the analyst. “The US and Israel already have the general geographical positions of longer- and mid-range air defense radars and communications networks mapped out for the time being. Taking those out will necessarily mean killing Russian soldiers. They’ll only do that when they go all out.”
He added: “It may have been a successful SIGINT/mapping mission, not a strike mission.”
The strike was remarkable for the number of widely dispersed assets used to hit the three targets the Pentagon has claimed:
– From the Mediterranean, the U.S. Virginia-class submarine USS John Warner fired six Tomahawk missiles, and the French frigate Languedoc launched 3 SCALP missiles.
– In the Red Sea, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterrey fired 30 Tomahawk cruise missiles, while the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Laboon launched another seven Tomahawks.
– In the Arabian Gulf, another Burke, the USS Higgins, shot an additional 23 Tomahawks.
– Additionally, U.S. Air Force B-1 bombers launched nineteen 2,000-lb. Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM). The extended range variant, which was used in this strike, has a range of about 1,000 km.
– British Typhoon and Tornado aircraft also launched 8 2,900-lb. Storm Shadow cruise missiles with a range of over 500 km.
– French aircraft shot a further nine SCALPs.