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November 22, 2006

Chinese sub thumbs its nose at the Shitty Kitty

After playing cat-and-mouse with Russian submarines during the Cold War, it appears that the U.S. will now start playing with China, but in coordinated exercises. How ironic, since a Chinese submarine surfaced near the USS Kitty Hawk last month. Of course it took this long for the Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral William Fallon, to confirm it (Navy Times, 11/27/06, p.26).

This is a significant event in the world of Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) for a few reasons. First, a submarine surfaced near an aircraft carrier undetected. The carrier is the life blood of the battle group. It must be protected because it has no real defenses of its own to combat an enemy submarine. It does have aircraft that can find them but they are not on the hunt 24/7, only when a suspected threat is imminent.

It is up to the ASW capable vessels in the battle group to find enemy submarines and what better tool to use than another submarine. Although the article does not identify what kind of submarine surfaced, or how long the submarine was surfaced before it was sighted by Kitty Hawk, the implication is that this submarine was close enough to have placed ordinance on the carrier. Granted, in time of war the U.S. Navy is in a heightened awareness but someone dropped the ball on this one.

Secondly, if the carrier was involved with an ASW exercise in which one of the participants launched an exercise torpedo (a regular torpedo but without the explosives) what would the Chinese submarine have done? Would it have thought it was being fired upon and launched a counterattack?

Fallon said, “We don’t consider the Chinese the enemy. None of us believe the sub was a threat.” Nice PR, Admiral, but I believe otherwise. Any submarine not of U.S. or ally origin is a threat. I understand that China has been moved to the Ally list but that is another PR stunt, in my opinion, so that we can try and keep North Korea under control. That submarine surfaced in close proximity to the carrier to thumb its nose at us.

“Coulda got ya!”

The United States and China have decreased military exchanges since an aircraft collision between a EP-3 and a Chinese fighter jet (a MIG, I think) in 2001 off the coast of Hainan Island, China. I remember that well. I was on deployment at the same time my brother was. He was attached to a P-3 squadron out of Kaneohe Bay and when I heard a P-3 had collided with a Chinese jet I feared the worst. Luckily, the EP-3 was not from his squadron but I thought, “Damn, what a great sea story for a first deployment.”

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