Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Chinese Navy pulls an old Cold War stunt

So, this Chinese submarine closes to within torpedo firing range of the USS Kitty Hawk and people are a little concerned.

A Chinese submarine came close to the USS Kitty Hawk carrier group in the Pacific Ocean last month, a top U.S. naval commander confirmed Tuesday, adding the encounter could have triggered an "unforeseen" incident.

The Chinese submarine got inside the anti-submarine screen of a major high-value unit of the US Navy. No one stopped it and presumably no one knew it was there until it surfaced.

I can tell you from personal experience that is more than a mere encounter. That is an unbelievable breach of the defensive layer around an aircraft carrier. Given the variety and quality of anti-submarine detection systems it speaks to poor training and a huge lack of vigilance.

Of course the Chinese are claiming they know nothing about it.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, however, said she had not heard of such an incident.
How very... Cold War.

The aircraft carrier and its supporting ships were conducting exercises in an unidentified location when the encounter occurred, Adm. William Fallon, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told reporters.

The carrier group was not engaged in anti-submarine exercises, but if it had, "and if this Chinese sub came in the middle of this, then it could have escalated into something that could have been very unforeseen," he said. (Emphasis mine)
Excuse me! Yoo hoo! Over here!

What do you mean the group was not engaged in anti-submarine exercises? Who frigging cares? The USS Kitty Hawk is a forward deployed aircraft carrier. It always has an ASW screen.

And, well, you don't mind if I sort of ask about, you know, the direct support submarines? Two of them with one purpose: to seek out and destroy enemy surface ships and submarines. Understandably, when there is no enemy, the DS submarines don't go around destroying other subs without a clear threat, but they certainly blow the whistle on them.

"I have not heard of such a report," she [Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu] said at a regular news briefing Tuesday. "China has always had a defensive national defense policy. We are an adamant force in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region as well as the world at large," she said.
Umm, yeah, except for this bit of naval expansion.

The Soviets used to say the same thing.

Given that the US military state of readiness and alert condition is generally higher now and maintained at levels that are higher than during most of the Cold War, a submarine closing that near to a carrier is bad news for the USN indeed.

The Song class submarine is probably very quiet, but there was still somebody asleep at the switch.

And, for what it's worth, the Chinese just pulled off an old Cold War trick; one that scares the hell out of battle group commanders.

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