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China sends a message?
Posted by: McQ on Monday, November 13, 2006

Bill Gertz reports that a Chinese submarine apparently successfully stalked the USS Kitty Hawk battle group recently:
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.
Of course the incident will be used to sell the need for a military force structure to address a "near peer" enemy - that would be China, of course. But a couple of interesting things about this incident make me see it as more of a message than a threat.

First the submarine surfaced well within the envelope where ASW assets (or, apparently, just about any aircraft) could spot it. If your intent is to learn to silently stalk a carrier battle group with an eye on future use (and most likely dissemination within your submarine fleet) you're not very likely to surface within range of your intended victim and all but raise a flag and shoot off fireworks. You'd sneak in, get your firing solution, and sneak out, secretly taking home the intel for internal use only.

Now obviously they can still do that, but why bob to the surface?

To let us know they can do this. Deterrent. Letting us know that if we think that we can just deploy a couple of carrier battle groups to say, Taiwan, and that be the end of it, that's no longer so. It hits me as a very Chinese way of making that point.

OTOH, while it may be a an interesting way of getting that point across, it may make it a very perishable advantage. Let me just say that I can promise they got the Navy's attention with this little demonstration. I can also promise that there will certainly be an appropriate increase in emphasis concerning anti-submarine warfare (ASW) with China as the main focus.

The article mentions that China has been busy building submarines. In fact it mentions they've built 14 in the last 4 years. And, if you read the article carefully, it tries to intimate that the Chinese are becoming an offensive threat, at least through their navy. But when you compare, for instance, the total number of ships in the US Navy (1866) as compared to the Chinese navy (284), it takes a bit of a stretch to agree. Heck, North Korea has over twice the number of vessels than does China.

And China's navy is primarily a coastal navy built on frigates and destroyers. At best, as reported by the Pentagon in 2004, this means that the Chinese are changing tactics but are still committed to being primarily a defensive force vs. an offensive force (Yes I know about their pursuit of an aircraft carrier, but heck, Brazil has one too) :
A Pentagon report made public in May stated that China is changing its warship forces from a coastal defense force to one employing "active offshore defense."

"This change in operations requires newer, more modern warships and submarines capable of operating at greater distances from China's coast for longer periods," the report said, noting that submarine construction is a top priority.
Essentially the point here is they can engage a potential enemy further from the shores of China than can a strictly coastal force. The importance of that is obvious - that sort of stand-off range allows them to better protect on-shore military assets from attack. Think a version of naval "deep battle".

That's not to say, though, that some aren't going to still try to sell the Chinese threat as more serious than it probably really is:
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.
So what are we talking about then:
According to Mr. Trevethan, China currently has a force of 57 deployed submarines, including one Xia-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine, five Han submarines, four Kilos, seven Songs, 18 Mings and 22 Soviet-designed Romeos. Beijing also has eight more Kilos on order with Russia.
The Mings (a variant of the Soviet Romeo with the same technology) and Romeos are all but obsolete in modern terms but good for coastal patrolling. So that leaves about 17. 5 are Han class nuclear powered attack subs. Report say they're fairly noisy. The only "boomer" they have is the Xia. The rest are the new Songs and old Kilos. Not a formidable sub fleet by any stretch. And while they've obviously made strides considering the success of the Song in stalking the Kitty Hawk, those sorts of advantages are usually short-lived when the ASW folks become aware of them (which is why it is perplexing to give that advantage away to send a message ... but hey, it is China we're talking about).

So it turns out that at the moment, the Chinese have 57+ subs deployed (of which maybe 5-10 appear to bear watching closely ... such as the Song) and the US Navy has 72, of which 54 are modern attack subs.

Anyway an interesting story and one I can promise will show up in force structure debates about future threats. It will definitely be used by the "near peer" side to claim they're right about the rising China threat (and thus need more, bigger, faster and more lethal - and expensive - subs themselves). Need to be convinced?
The U.S. has three submarines under construction today. Although the Navy’s new 30-year shipbuilding plan calls for 48 nuclear attack submarines in the fleet by 2035, the Navy’s top submarine commander, Vice Admiral Charles L. Munns, has testified before Congress that the Navy needs at least 54 boats to fulfill current critical missions. This number will rise as China’s navy expands.
That would be 54 boats on top of the 72 now in service. If China continues with its 2.5 boats a year, by 2035 it would have (and this would mean keeping all the obsolete boats it has in service now) a sub fleet of 129. There is no indication they intend to build at that rate for that long. We, otoh, would have 120 (under the 48 boat plan) or 126 (under the modified plan) with all but 18 being attack subs (this also assumes keeping the current number of 72 in service and deployed).

Do you really think that will be necessary?
 
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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.
Yea, believe that and I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in...

Dale Responds: This is just a silly comment. A Chinese Diesel electric sub surfaced within 5 miles of the Kitty Hawk. Now, either the entire incident is fictitious, and no Chinese sub appeared anywhere, or else, the sub managed to surface without being detected beforehand. If the latter, then I think, logically, it must be presumed that the sub did, in fact, get inside the Carrier group’s ASW screen, unless you posit that Scotty beamed the sub to its final location.

Any time a sub surfaces within 5 miles of a carrier, that is blindingly obvious proof that your ASW screen, which operates up to 100 miles away from the carrier, missed the sub.

Now, you appear to have trouble accepting that a Chinese sub shadowed the carrier. OK. Fine, then a very limited number of alternative possibilities arise. Somehow, the sub captain knew exactly where—and to a reasonable extent, when—the carrier would be at a specific location. The captain arrived at the location well in advance, submerged his vessel, and then lay doggo until it was time to surface.

Frankly, if that happened, that’s a cause for worry, too.

I guess I don’t get why you think its so unreasonable to assume a diesel-electric boat couldn’t be quiet enough to shadow the carrier undetected. Modern D-E Boats are not klunky old 1943 U-Boats. They’re quite sophisticated, and, without a nuclear reactor generating steam, electric boats can be just as quiet, or quieter, than nuclear boats.

Now, I doubt the carrier was shadowed for a week on electric power, but, the plain fact is that a D-E Boat made it to within 5 miles of the carrier, then surfaced to say "Hi!".

However that happened, it raises troubling questions.
 
Written By: Jay Evans
URL: http://
I have doubts a diesel boat "Shadowed" the Kitty Hawk... If it did, the CVBG commander and the commander of the CruDesRon need early relief, TOMORROW! The SSK may have lurked in Kitty Hawk’s path and appeared, but it didn’t "shadow" the CVBG, it’s too noisy.

Photo’s of the keel of the Kitty Hawk look good in the officer’s mess and on the wall of the SubRon commander, but they don’t say "spit" to the USN. I don’t blame the PLAN from having the SSK surface when and where it did. I would WANT the USN to worry about my sub force, they can only worry if they KNOW about the odd incident from time-to-time. After 40-50 years the Red Banner Northern Fleet KNEW it was being trailed, even if the NATO forces never popped up to say so, so the Submariners in NATO could hang onto their "interesting" keek plate photo’s and never release them. The PLAN isn’t in that spot, yet. So good job PLAN... I doubt that this game is anything new. Today it made the news.

We need 100 SSN’s about as much as we need 80 divisions. This is a nice little story for the US Submarine Force, but it’s not unlike all the talk in the 1980’s from US Army Intelligence about the "Dreaded T-80"-only 1.5 metres tall, 120 KPH top speed, 152mm smooth-bore cannon firing guided nuclear tipped missiles, and armoured to the tune of 2,000 millimetres RHA, and equipped with a sensor array so powerful that it could detect artillery rounds at 20 kilometres..."Oh what you say it’s only an upgraded T-72, oh well wait until the DREAD T-90!" All-in-all this is a story being put out by the "silent service" to justify an INCREASE in their budget, the GWoT having a strongly NEGATIVE effect on their perceived utility. It is a wake-up call to the USN that ASW is a perishable skill and that since the end of the Cold War it is a skill that the USN has fallen a bit lax in in-a number of Australian SSK crews will attest to that.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Yea, believe that and I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in...
Well as I’m sure you know, stranger things have happened.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"Now obviously they can still do that, but why bob to the surface?"

To gloat. It is a way of saying "gotcha!", and perhaps a reminder that other folks have a navy too. Letting your opposite number know you have gotten an advantage is not unheard of.

"the US Navy (1866) as compared to the Chinese navy (284),"

True, but what types? Amphibious assault ships, for example, aren’t much use against submarines, aircraft, or surface combatants. Some of the ships are committed to other theaters, and some would be tasked to protect lines of communication , repair ships, etc. The Chinese army outnumbers ours, so by just comparing numbers we would lose.

"That would be 54 boats on top of the 72 now in service."

I read that a little differently. Where does it say 54 IN ADDITION to 72?


" (this all assumes keeping the current number of 72 in service and deployed)."

Why on earth would you make that assumption? Building a straw man?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
True, but what types?
As I said in the article, "frigates and destroyers".
Where does it say 54 IN ADDITION to 72?
As I said in the article "this would mean keeping all the obsolete boats it has in service now" and ... "this also assumes ..., etc."
Why on earth would you make that assumption? Building a straw man?
Since neither have published their decommissioning schedule tell me another way to compare.

At least this presents present power with projected power.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Perhaps scrapping the S-3 Viking with no named replacement along with major budget reductions for P-3 operations is a bad idea.

And the P-3 airframe is aging fast, again with no named successor.

 
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
Actually the "number" of USN ships is GROSSLY over-stated by McQ/the article. The USN may have 1800-plus registerred vessels, but that must include LCM’s and LCU’s and LCAC’s and the oilers, ammunition, salvage vessels, tugs and YP’s because the USN field 286 SURFACE COMBATANTS.

Now that number doesn’t cause me heart burn. There isn’t a "Blue Water" threat to the US and the USN won naval dominance in 1944, and ever since has won the Air-Sea battle, in Korea, Vietnam, 2nd and 3rd Gulf Wars pretty much by default. But the US surface fleet is at its smallestsince the Great White Fleet era of the early 1900’s. The US probably need 50-60 SSN’s and that’s about it.
I guess I don’t get why you think its so unreasonable to assume a diesel-electric boat couldn’t be quiet enough to shadow the carrier undetected. Modern D-E Boats are not klunky old 1943 U-Boats. They’re quite sophisticated, and, without a nuclear reactor generating steam, electric boats can be just as quiet, or quieter, than nuclear boats.
Because until the 1990’s and the introduction of usable Air Independent Propulsion like the Sterling Engines of a number of Swedish SSK’s and a number of similar systems in European SSK’s Diesel Electric boats were VERY NOSIY when schnorkeling. They are only quiet when they are lying absolutely still (more quiet than SSN’s because of no circulation pumps) or moving very slowly on battery power, but at a very slow rate of speed. So no a PLAN SSK did not "shadow" the Kitty Hawk. It may have laid in ambush for the Kitty Hawk, but it is unlikely to have shadowed the Kitty Hawk. The question is how did the PLAN know where to await the Kitty Hawk? But that may be more a matter of declared US plans and statements than espionage...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Suppose the Chinese sub was playing a game of brinkmanship, knowing full well that the US would do nothing to stop it. If it was detected by an attack sub what exactly would you have them do if the Chinese sub ignored all warnings? Sink it? Cause an international incident?

With the present relationship with China needed to handle North Korea that would never happen and the Chinese Military knows it.

What would be more embarrassing to the Washington if it got out, not detecting the sub or detecting it and not be able to do anything about it.

Not detected is their story and they’re sticking to it.
 
Written By: Jay Evans
URL: http://
Bruce: I am not following the distinction between a "threat" and a "messaage" in this case.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Billy Beck that’s because there IS NO DIFFERENCE between a threat and a message in this case...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Actually the "number" of USN ships is GROSSLY over-stated by McQ/the article. The USN may have 1800-plus registerred vessels, but that must include LCM’s and LCU’s and LCAC’s and the oilers, ammunition, salvage vessels, tugs and YP’s because the USN field 286 SURFACE COMBATANTS.
And, of course the Chinese navy has the same problem, doesn’t it Joe?

So it’s surface combatants, limited as we speak to frigates and destroyers, is even less than the stated number, huh?

And, of course, other than you, everyone else seemed to understand the term "total number of ship" with the cite.

But with a twist, amateurs talk "surface combatants" and professionals talk total force.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Bruce: I am not following the distinction between a "threat" and a "messaage" in this case.
The message was "we can counter you" if we think throwing a couple of carrier battle groups at a situation is the answer. The threat is doing so if we threaten China (if, for instance, they make a play for Taiwan).

Personally I think it is a strategic statement.

"We’re no longer strictly a coastal defensive navy ... we now can take the defense deeper".
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Suppose the Chinese sub was playing a game of brinkmanship, knowing full well that the US would do nothing to stop it. If it was detected by an attack sub what exactly would you have them do if the Chinese sub ignored all warnings? Sink it? Cause an international incident?
All nations play these games. It’s nothing new. Getting in undetected though usually is kept secret and not announced by heading to the surface to be found. That’s what is strange about this particular incident.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Actually the "number" of USN ships is GROSSLY over-stated by McQ/the article. The USN may have 1800-plus registerred vessels, but that must include LCM’s and LCU’s and LCAC’s and the oilers, ammunition, salvage vessels, tugs and YP’s because the USN field 286 SURFACE COMBATANTS.
And, of course the Chinese navy has the same problem, doesn’t it Joe?
Actually, the Chinese navy doesn’t have the same problem. As you said, it’s primarily a coastal navy, so their ships refuel and restock at their home ports. This greatly reduces the need for support vessels.

 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Getting in undetected though usually is kept secret


But then there would be no "American weakness" PR for the Chinese to exploit.

This was a win-win situation for them. The military could not directly confront the sub without Washington approval which the Chinese knew wouldn’t happen for political reasons. Washington probably thought the Chinese would keep it secret and nobody would be the wiser.

The sub surfaces. Now Washington can admit that they were unwilling to confront the Chinese or lay the blame off on the "inept" military. We know who got the blame.
 
Written By: Jay Evans
URL: http://
Heh - I knew Bush could be blamed somehow.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
But then there would be no "American weakness" PR for the Chinese to exploit.
Indeed ... and that’s why I think they were sending a message.
The military could not directly confront the sub without Washington approval...
Nonsense ... and unknown threat to a carrier isn’t something which needs Washington’s approval to counter. They react by SOP which has been long established. So no, they weren’t successful because "Washington" was afraid to react.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
As a former Navy officer who spent a combined five years in and around the South China Sea, as part of both the Midway carrier battle group, and later, scheduling officer for 7th Fleet staff, I say that it’s very, very unlikely this sub was "undetected."

Undetected by the surface fleet and ASW assets of the air wing, perhaps, but certainly not by our most formidable ASW asset by million of miles: our attack subs.

When that boat left port, it’s very likely that it had a tail shortly thereafter that either stayed with it, or handed it off to the attack sub doing duty for the carrier group.

You’ll never know, one way or the other. Nothing as to sub operations will be confirmed or denied. But I will say that most people would tend to underestimate and underimagine just what those guys do.

But don’t ever expect them to boast about it.
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
Actually, the Chinese navy doesn’t have the same problem. As you said, it’s primarily a coastal navy, so their ships refuel and restock at their home ports.
Actually it does since I noted that they are changing their strategy from a strictly coastal navy to one which now takes the defense into deeper waters (they talked about this years ago in their "green water" plan). And that means logistical support for extended on-station patrolling.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
But don’t ever expect them to boast about it.
Understood, but ...
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.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
And the P-3 airframe is aging fast, again with no named successor.
Besides the P-8??

While they (Hell, everyone) can afford to trade sub for carrier what are the odds his batteries had enough charge to sneak away after?

And if it’s normal for a sub to try to sneak away without being discovered to hide capability, why can’t the surface fleet play the same game?
 
Written By: Ryan
URL: http://
This, I didn’t notice before:
The Kitty Hawk battle group includes an attack submarine and anti-submarine helicopters that are charged with protecting the warships from submarine attack.
So, they are admitting that the carrier group includes an attack sub.

But here’s what doesn’t add up: the "shadowed" part, because there’s no way a diesel boat is going to shadow a fleet in transit, even if it was running on the surface under diesel. These groups transit at around 15-18 kts or so. And, when the carrier does flight ops, it has to create 25+ kts of relative wind across the deck (of course, that could require going to opposite way, depending on where true wind is coming from).

If it was conducting exercises and generally hanging around the same area, as we used to do in Team Spirit with the Koreans, then perhaps, but if they did have an attack boat with them, it’s pretty inconceivable to me that the attack boat would not have detected it. Thing is, you’ll never know and the US sub fleet is perfectly content to let everyone believe that it hadn’t detected it.

It’s a wake up call, I suppose, but it looks to me more like a stunt than anything else. If the Chinese sub fleet was to be taken seriously, as in: like we used to take the Soviet sub fleet seriously, then we would be shadowing all their harbors with our attack subs, and everything would be accounted for at all times.

Having one boat conduct a blue-water stunt does not necessarily mean the US Navy ought to be jumping through hoops, yet, to keep track of all the Chinese assets, if they aren’t already.




 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
"...it looks to me more like a stunt than anything else."

That would be: "torpedo-range stunt".

If I’m standing on the bridge of Kitty Hawk, I’m bloody impressed.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
And yet Billy, whilst it lloks good on Drudge, and makes the Submariners all say, "Ey-uh we need more submarines", IF there was no practical effect, has others might point out...are you really impressed even on the bridge of the Kitty Hawk?

For it to mean something, I’d like more data. It means something IF the SSK chose the correct area to hide, out of millions of sq km. It means we may have a leak at PaCom. It means something if the SSK trailed the Kitty Hawk. But absent any more than we know right now, it’s tough to say if it really means anything at all, here or on the bridge of the Kitty Hawk. No offense meant.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I don’t really care how it happened, Joe. When you’re standing in the cross-hairs, how it happened is a very peripheral consideration except for the lesson to be taken from it.

The fact is that the ChiComs were in position to pull the trigger on a CV. That’s a big, big deal.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
That would be: "torpedo-range stunt".

If I’m standing on the bridge of Kitty Hawk, I’m bloody impressed.
Why?

We aren’t at war. We can’t drop depth charges on them. What, exactly, would you have had the task force do?

Force them to surface?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
What, exactly, would you have had the task force do?

Force them to surface?
Yes. A frigate pounding away right on top of you with max power active sonar is VERY effective at that. It’s also a very unfriendly act. You can injure people on the sub and raising tension could cause an oopsie. A submarine admits defeat by surfacing and heading out. ("Becoming Identitified" IIRC)

I just read the article, and am a bit confused by:
The surfaced submarine was spotted by a routine surveillance flight by one of the carrier group’s planes.
Were they under EMCON? Why didn’t radar find it first? And at 5 miles it sounds like they were still outside the screen. Not great, but better than getting inside.
 
Written By: Ryan
URL: http://
The fact is that the ChiComs were in position to pull the trigger on a CV. That’s a big, big deal.

While that might be a first for the ChiComs, it’s certainly nothing new. Back in the late 80s, Soviet aircraft armed with anti-ship missiles used to come within firing range of the CVs in WestPac all the time — like: daily, and sometimes several times per day if we were conducting exercises.

I’d guess there were Soviet subs thereabouts as well, but being a real threat, they were no more interested in showing their hand than our subs are.

Of course, I know nothing about the subs, cause nobody ever talks. But as alpha-whiskey on the picket-station cruiser, we were intimately involved with the air war. Rule of thumb: get ’em under fighter escort at 250+ NM from the CV, and if they get within 200 before you’ve got them intercepted, someone’s getting their ass chewed big time.

Though there was always the implicit threat, we never dwelled on that. There was a definite mutual respect and everyone understood that each side’s excursions created training opportunities for the other.

 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
We aren’t at war. We can’t drop depth charges on them. What, exactly, would you have had the task force do?

Force them to surface?
Good grief.

Uh, first you have to freaking know they are there!

That’s the freaking failure for heaven sake.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"Back in the late 80s, Soviet aircraft..."

Jesus — I don’t understand why people are not getting this and insist on running comparisons to stuff like that.

We’re not talking about the Sovs, Rich, and besides: we always knew they were there. You’ve said so yourself, and I’ve seen all the bleedin’ photographs of Bears and Phantoms flying close-form around the task force.

This is something quite new and different.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Recall the Wei Wong incident...sometimes the enemy just does something stupid like surface too close when they should not have, or miscalculate and ram another airplane.

You know, if I were in the PLA or PLAN, I would consider captaining a sub to be a pretty crappy job. I’d rather be managing director of a export arms factory where I could become very very rich. Chinese culture right now is all about MONEY. If you have it, you have face, 3 wives, and a huge mansion. If you don’t...hahhahahaha.

By the same token, it could be our forces who made the dumbass mistakes necessary to allow this diesel sub to do this rather than a Chinese superman sub commander.

Just some alternative thoughts before we start worrying about the PLA-N too much.



 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Uh, first you have to freaking know they are there!

That’s the freaking failure for heaven sake.
McQ. How the h*ll do you know they weren’t detected? Because we said so?

I’m not a squid, but I don’t think they are that effing dumb to admit it.

I say again. We aren’t at war with them. Why the devil should we tip our hand about our ability to detect them?

 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
"True, but what types?"
"As I said in the article, "frigates and destroyers"."

I was referring to our navy. I would have thought the rest of the paragraph would have made that obvious. Joe made this point in more detail, and probably better.

*****************************

" that the Navy needs at least 54 boats to fulfill current critical missions. This number will rise as China’s navy expands."

"That would be 54 boats on top of the 72 now in service"

I ask again, why does that mean an ADDITIONAL 54 boats? Keeping all the obsolete boats in service does not enter until a few sentences later.

**************************

"The question is how did the PLAN know where to await the Kitty Hawk?"

Maybe they didn’t. It could have been a fortuitous(for the Chinese) accident. The right place at the right time. Maybe they had some general information from satellite or other sources and were in the general area, cruising along, and they hear something on their sonar, decide to go deeper, and the battle group cruised right over it. Diesel subs are usually very quiet when operating on battery. Maybe they surfaced because their battery was flat after using a burst of speed to get in position. Who knows? We can speculate all week, but we will probably never know how or exactly why that submarine was at that place at that time.

****************************

"What would be more embarrassing to the Washington if it got out, not detecting the sub or detecting it and not be able to do anything about it. "

There is nothing embarrassing about not being able to do anything about it in peacetime. This type of game was played fairly frequently with the Soviets. They would try to penetrate a screen, and we would let them know they were unable to do so without being detected.
*****************************

"And, of course the Chinese navy has the same problem, doesn’t it Joe?"

Not nearly to the extent we do. The Chinese, as you pointed out, are not a blue water navy and thus have little need for oilers, replenishment ships, etc. The Chinese also, as I pointed out, have no need to secure long sea lines of communication, etc. Thus, a smaller proportion of our force will be available.

"But with a twist, amateurs talk "surface combatants" and professionals talk total force."

I am sure that professionals talk "surface combatants" when they consider what forces are available to engage the enemy.

*************************
"So, they are admitting that the carrier group includes an attack sub."

It is standard practice from what I have read for a carrier battle group to have at least one attack submarine with it.




 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Could it be possible that they had some HumInt on where the KittyHawk would be?
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
It’s one diesel boat, Billy. One.

In terms of sheer tonnage, subs, surface, and air, they are light years from where the Soviets were many years ago.

They manage to get one boat out in blue water for a stunt. Big deal. They have no bases, no real means of replenishment. No real logistics. No established and defensible sea lines of communication beyond their own brown water. They have no legs. They may be a real threat, someday, but I think this is an overreaction.

Maybe it was an oh-sh*t. We don’t really know. Maybe the US sub in company with the group had it locked the whole time. If it did, which is likely, you’ll never know it.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a news story about anything I was personally involved in or had knowledge of that wasn’t wrong in one respect or another, and I doubt this is any exception.
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
"It’s one diesel boat, Billy. One."

Well, to begin with, at least we’re not bloody talking about Soviet bombers two hundred miles out and we’re back on point. Thank you for that, sir.

In any case, this is the part where you get to take it up with Admiral William Fallon (Pacific Command) and his brief on some of the implications, Rich. Do please observe that he implicitly admits that the submarine was undetected in noting what might have happened if the thing had appeared in the middle of an ASW exercise.

Let me tell you something, Rich: you served in the Navy around this stuff and I never did, but I know things that you don’t.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"Two years ago [Secretary of the Navy John] Dalton warned in an editorial in the Navy Times about the PLA acquiring advanced Russian submarine technology. Dalton wrote, ’One thing the past teaches us is that we have never been able to predict where our next enemy will arise.’"
(September 1997 Insight Magazine article archived here.)

Very interesting that he put it that way, innit?
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Rich: you’re hip to Proceedings, right?

Read this.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I am a former STS1(SS) - Sonar Technician first class, Submarine qualified. I’ve lost count of the number of times we US submariners have gotten in close and popped a flare at a bird farm. If we could do it so easily, during full-on ASW exercises no less, why would anyone think the Chinese (...or Russians, or Swedes, or Australians, etc.) couldn’t do it too. Face it - just about "any" submarine can do it if the conditions are right.

Was the submarine really undetected? I don’t know, but I’m willing to take Adm Fallon at his word that it wasn’t.

Did the sub "shadow" the battle group(CBG)? Possibly, but not likely under normal circumstances simply because as others have pointed out, a CBG is "fast" - way too fast for a typical diesel boat running on the battery to be able to follow for very long. Most likely, the sub waited in ambush - a very common, perfectly good tactic for any submarine to kill a faster target. However, shadow or ambush, it doesn’t really matter - the result is the same. And both tactics must be successfully countered if the CBG expects to survive.

Under normal circumstances, five miles is inside of the ASW screen. And the reason the sub wasn’t sighted until it surfaced is because you generally don’t "see" a submerged submarine - you "hear" it - either by human ear or super-sensitive machine ear. I can tell you from personal experience that a diesel-electric boat running submerged, on the battery, is just about the quietest thing in the ocean - the acoustical equivalent of a "hole-in-the-water".

We Americans tend to be somewhat arrogant when it comes to our naval prowess. I think it’s because we’ve gone essentially unchallenged as the masters-of-the-sea for over 60 years. This encourages complacency. So in my humble opinion, a little forced humility now and then can be a good thing - especially if it happens at a place and time where there are no lives lost as a result.

 
Written By: Roy
URL: http://
Problem, of Daly, is that ’undetected’ is a knife that cuts both ways. We’re really have no idea how long the Kittyhawk was being followed. None. Not really.

Given the diesel design of the sub, we must assume that they couldn’t have been there for longer than say a couple hours, and not have been detected, since they would have to charge the batteries. That means cranking up the diesel and making a lot of racket.

Couple that with the idea that they’re not exactly experienced in the matter by their own admission;
The officials said Chinese submarines rarely have operated in deep water far from Chinese shores or shadowed U.S. vessels.
... and what we have is a situation where assuming anybody on that boat is listening to what’s going on in the world around them, the chances of them actually pulling that trick off are so low as to be a million to one shot.

Well, I don’t believe in million one shots. Nor do I believe that the entire boat was sleeping. The only option that leaves us with the is that the submarine snuck in on the boat and within the first fifteen to twenty minutes popped up on them. Purpose: Showboating for political points.

That said, it seems to me that some heads ought to roll over this one.


 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Did I mention that posts like this are a tribute to your integrity, Q?

It’s a very easy and popular thing to demonize any criticism of any form of defense spending, anytime, anywhere. Of course, it’s also terribly corrosive to intelligent decisions. Over time, more expensive programs are favored simply *because* they are more expensive.

Defense spending is too untouchable.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

 
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