China sub secretly stalked U.S. fleet

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Pacific Historian
Jun 4, 2005
Orange County, CA
This doesnt surprise me in the least. But I dont buy this story on claims that it went undetected. It was probably being stalked from the time it left port. Diesels are not fast and do need to surface on occasion. And besides, do you think the CinCPAC would even mention a word about what our subs are actually doing?

China sub secretly stalked U.S. fleet - Nation/Politics - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

A Chinese submarine stalked a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group in the Pacific last month and surfaced within firing range of its torpedoes and missiles before being detected, The Washington Times has learned.
The surprise encounter highlights China's continuing efforts to prepare for a future conflict with the U.S., despite Pentagon efforts to try to boost relations with Beijing's communist-ruled military.
The submarine encounter with the USS Kitty Hawk and its accompanying warships also is an embarrassment to the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, Adm. William J. Fallon, who is engaged in an ambitious military exchange program with China aimed at improving relations between the two nations' militaries.
Disclosure of the incident comes as Adm. Gary Roughead, commander of the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet, is making his first visit to China. The four-star admiral was scheduled to meet senior Chinese military leaders during the weeklong visit, which began over the weekend.
According to the defense officials, the Chinese Song-class diesel-powered attack submarine shadowed the Kitty Hawk undetected and surfaced within five miles of the carrier Oct. 26.
The surfaced submarine was spotted by a routine surveillance flight by one of the carrier group's planes. The Kitty Hawk battle group includes an attack submarine and anti-submarine helicopters that are charged with protecting the warships from submarine attack.
According to the officials, the submarine is equipped with Russian-made wake-homing torpedoes and anti-ship cruise missiles.
The Kitty Hawk and several other warships were deployed in ocean waters near Okinawa at the time, as part of a routine fall deployment program. The officials said Chinese submarines rarely have operated in deep water far from Chinese shores or shadowed U.S. vessels.
A Pacific Command spokesman declined to comment on the incident, saying details were classified.
Pentagon spokesmen also declined to comment.
The incident is a setback for the aggressive U.S.-China military exchange program being promoted by Adm. Fallon, who has made several visits to China in recent months in an attempt to develop closer ties.
However, critics of the program in the Pentagon say China has not reciprocated and continues to deny U.S. military visitors access to key facilities, including a Beijing command center. In contrast, Chinese military visitors have been invited to military exercises and sensitive U.S. facilities.
Additionally, military intelligence officials said Adm. Fallon has restricted U.S. intelligence-gathering activities against China, fearing that disclosure of the activities would upset relations with Beijing.
The restrictions are hindering efforts to know more about China's military buildup, the officials said.
"This is a harbinger of a stronger Chinese reaction to America's military presence in East Asia," said Richard Fisher, a Chinese military specialist with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, who called the submarine incident alarming.
"Given the long range of new Chinese sub-launched anti-ship missiles and those purchased from Russia, this incident is very serious," he said. "It will likely happen again, only because Chinese submarine captains of 40 to 50 new modern submarines entering their navy will want to test their mettle against the 7th Fleet."
Pentagon intelligence officials say China's military buildup in recent years has produced large numbers of submarines and surface ships, seeking to control larger portions of international waters in Asia, a move U.S. officials fear could restrict the flow of oil from the Middle East to Asia in the future.
Between 2002 and last year, China built 14 new submarines, including new Song-class vessels and several other types, both diesel- and nuclear-powered.
Since 1996, when the United States dispatched two aircraft carrier battle groups to waters near Taiwan in a show of force, Beijing also has bought and built weapons designed specifically to attack U.S. aircraft carriers and other warships.
"The Chinese have made it clear that they understand the importance of the submarine in any kind of offensive or defensive strategy to deal with a military conflict," an intelligence official said recently.
In late 2004, China dispatched a Han-class submarine to waters near Guam, Taiwan and Japan. Japan's military went on emergency alert after the submarine surfaced in Japanese waters. Beijing apologized for the incursion.
The Pentagon's latest annual report on Chinese military power stated that China is investing heavily in weapons designed "to interdict, at long ranges, aircraft carrier and expeditionary strike groups that might deploy to the western Pacific."
It could not be learned whether the U.S. government lodged a protest with China's government over the incident or otherwise raised the matter in official channels.
I admit to being unsure about this. There is little doubt that these are the best submarines that the Chinese have and that they are a significant step forward compared to their old subs. That said, I cannot believe that they are as good as the latest European diesel subs which can be exceptionally quiet.
This would edge towards the USA being able to tail or track these well before they reached the task force.

That said, during the cold war it was normal practice to 'bounce' the submarine hard after a while, to let it know that it had been identified. This was aften done by droping training charges (even a hand grenade according to stories) and putting sonars to active.

So did the Chinese Captan get lucky or did the USN know about it? Probably we will never know
This is a concern I think. The new electric subs are really quiet. I had friends on a carrier that said, if I remember correctly, that during sub vs. carrier exercises, a sub surfaced next to his carrier and launched a flare that landed on the deck. A carrier has a lot of value packed into a small place and would be huge loss.
Diesels are very quiet, but I gotta agree with sys on this one. It sounds screwy. Been my experience that when you track and enemy, he never knows it. Well, not for a good ten years. Best not to let the other side know what your capabilities are. You sneak up, get some pics of his screws, track him for a while and sneak away. The last person to find out is the Washington Times.

Sounds more like a PR exercise. Chinese know they are in the bag so they pop up.

On the other hand, it could have happened, but it just doesn't sound right.
A European built sub sneaking up close to the carrier is quite plausable. An indigineous PRC sub doing it...... unlikely.

Plus its peacetime. In wartime, every single PRC sub would be accounted for and stalked.
Heres an unpublished picture of the PRC sub.........

I can just imagine what the crew sings at karaoke every day....


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Or it is US propaganda to fill the Navy coffers. China is a real threat and a staged "Ooops" could serve many purposes (fool china into complacency, ammo for more congressional funding, does not show US hand in our capabilities). As noted above, we'll never know. If the sub truly came within our picket line, heads would roll. And I doubt they do. :)
I believe some of NS's pals have done that as well.
Mmmmm...maybe...maybe not. :-\"

I can't comment on the quality of Chinese submarines or crews specifically, but a good captain and crew know how to get the most from their boat, regardless of it's relative technological status. Don't for a second underestimate a diesel submarine. The concept is anything but obsolete. Just ask the Germans, Swedes, or Australians.

Sys, diesels don't need to surface very often. More often than a nuke perhaps, due to the obvious differences in fuel, but not nearly as often as you might think.
Spotting Subs is still pretty difficult i thought, even with the most advanced sonar and electronic equptment just one bit of elevation in seabed or a big @ss rock could f*ck with the sonar, atleast this is what i was led to beleive
I've been on 2 exercises where a half dozen ASW aircraft could not exactly find a sub (sonar gave the crews a rough position). It was a flight engineer on a P-3 who visually spotted the thing.
The navy now says that the sub was not detected.

"Navy officials confirmed yesterday that an aircraft carrier battle group failed to detect a Chinese submarine that surfaced within weapons range of the USS Kitty Hawk. "

But they also say that there was no anti sub operations being conducted.

So I can conclude that:
1) Maybe or maybe not, the sub was being tracked by our own subs
2) The carrier was not conducting antisub operations which is probably normal for peacetime ops, but not wartime.
3) I seriously doubt the sub snuck up on the CBG simply because diesel subs cant susteain high speeds under water for extended periods. The sub was probably "in the right place at the right time" and in the path of the CBG.
4) The PRC navy might have harmed itself in the long term by doing this, because now we will be watching them far moe closely, peacetime or not.
5) The PRC still isnt equivelant in size or capability as the former USSR.

Defenses on subs to be reviewed - Nation/Politics - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper
Also there is the possibility of a false accoustic signal being given out on the sub so that they may have had it but thought until it surfaced that it was one of the US subs. I know that is mentioned in 'To Sink the Potemkin' but I don't know how good it would be in fooling new US digital technology... A secret test perhaps by the Chinese of an accoustic masking device?
This one is getting squirellier and squirellier. Now the Navy is saying, "Yeah, they snuck up on us and we never saw them". On top of that, the US has an Admiral in Bejing for "talks" about search and rescue (say what?).

There is a lot more going on here than meets the eye. The Navy rarely lets this stuff out. If the Chinese had really gotten a good lead on them, we'd read about it in a book 10 years from now.

Granted, diesels are quiet and they may've snuck up on the Task Force. But the whole thing just sounds a little too odd. More like posturing and manuvering by both sides. Chinese want something, but so does the US Navy.
Could a submerged diesel sub go at sustained 20+ knots (in silent mode too)to chase down a CBG? I dont think so.

I also would suspect the cavitation noises from the props would be readily picked up.
Adler, It'll probably come out, one way or the other, in the next year or so. Probably the Navy worrying about budget money for Subs (fewer of them now). But the reason for the Chinese is harder to fathom. When you have a sub that can sneak up on a Carrier Battle Group, the last thing you would want to do is let the other guy know you can do it. Be doing him a favor. Better to let him know when you pump 3 or 4 missles into him in the middle of a war.

Whole thing is pretty odd.

BTW- Congrats on getting out (if I read a previous post right).

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