Chinese sub pops up in middle of U.S. Navy exercise, leaving military chiefs red-faced - 2007

The following news report is very interesting, and its military implications are quite significant. A Chinese navy attack submarine is said to have suddenly surfaced in the middle of a major US naval exercise in the Pacific Ocean involving US Navy aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk. How was the lone Chinese attack submarines able to penetrate US Navy defenses during a major naval exercise? And what message was the Chinese military was trying to convey? US Department of Defense officials in Washington must be startled. Needless to say, carrier battle groups are the crown jewels of the US military; they physically and metaphorically symbolize the unchallenged might the US enjoys on the oceans of the world. One thing I don't understand is whether this news report, which I found posted within various news media outlets today, is the same one as a similar incident involving the same ships last year? Regardless of when it occurred, this incident in the Pacific Ocean becomes somewhat amusing when one takes into consideration that the Chinese submarine in question - Chinese Song Class - is actually more-or-less an improved version of the Russian Kilo Class/Romeo Class diesel/electric powered attack submarines. The technology used in this ultra-quiet Chinese attack submarine is approximately twenty five years old. Therefore, the submarine's "level of sophistication," as the news article states, is actually not very advanced. It's obvious that they are trying to make excuses as to why the lone submarine was not detected by the carrier battle group. Militarily speaking, this occurrence is a major shock to naval commanders within the US Navy. Nevertheless, I would be interested to know why this incident, if it is indeed the same incident as the one that occurred last year, is making fresh rounds in the news media today.



The uninvited guest: Chinese sub pops up in middle of U.S. Navy exercise, leaving military chiefs red-faced


When the U.S. Navy deploys a battle fleet on exercises, it takes the security of its aircraft carriers very seriously indeed. At least a dozen warships provide a physical guard while the technical wizardry of the world's only military superpower offers an invisible shield to detect and deter any intruders. That is the theory. Or, rather, was the theory. American military chiefs have been left dumbstruck by an undetected Chinese submarine popping up at the heart of a recent Pacific exercise and close to the vast U.S.S. Kitty Hawk - a 1,000ft supercarrier with 4,500 personnel on board. By the time it surfaced the 160ft Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine is understood to have sailed within viable range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the carrier. According to senior Nato officials the incident caused consternation in the U.S. Navy. The Americans had no idea China's fast-growing submarine fleet had reached such a level of sophistication, or that it posed such a threat.

Battle stations: The Kitty Hawk carries 4,500 personnel

One Nato figure said the effect was "as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik" - a reference to the Soviet Union's first orbiting satellite in 1957 which marked the start of the space age. The incident, which took place in the ocean between southern Japan and Taiwan, is a major embarrassment for the Pentagon. The lone Chinese vessel slipped past at least a dozen other American warships which were supposed to protect the carrier from hostile aircraft or submarines. And the rest of the costly defensive screen, which usually includes at least two U.S. submarines, was also apparently unable to detect it. According to the Nato source, the encounter has forced a serious re-think of American and Nato naval strategy as commanders reconsider the level of threat from potentially hostile Chinese submarines. It also led to tense diplomatic exchanges, with shaken American diplomats demanding to know why the submarine was "shadowing" the U.S. fleet while Beijing pleaded ignorance and dismissed the affair as coincidence. Analysts believe Beijing was sending a message to America and the West demonstrating its rapidly-growing military capability to threaten foreign powers which try to interfere in its "backyard".

The People's Liberation Army Navy's submarine fleet includes at least two nuclear-missile launching vessels. Its 13 Song Class submarines are extremely quiet and difficult to detect when running on electric motors. Commodore Stephen Saunders, editor of Jane's Fighting Ships, and a former Royal Navy anti-submarine specialist, said the U.S. had paid relatively little attention to this form of warfare since the end of the Cold War. He said: "It was certainly a wake-up call for the Americans. "It would tie in with what we see the Chinese trying to do, which appears to be to deter the Americans from interfering or operating in their backyard, particularly in relation to Taiwan." In January China carried a successful missile test, shooting down a satellite in orbit for the first time.


Song Class Attack Submarine

Song S20 Class

A submerged Song-class attack submarine shadowed Japan-based CV-63 Kitty Hawk in the East China Sea near Okinawa without being detected on 26 October 2006. The boat surfaced within five miles of the carrier, and only then was it spotted, by one of the carrier's planes on a routine surveillance flight. The submarine is normally equipped with wake-homing torpedos and anti-ship cruise missiles. Disclosure of the submarine encounter came while Adm. Gary Roughead, Coammander of the US Pacific Fleet, was in China holding talks with Chinese navy leaders. The encounter was something of an embarrassment to Adm. William J. Fallon, Commander of US forces in the Pacific, who has engaged in an ambitious military exchange program with China. The SONG is China's first new-design, conventionally powered submarine. The SONG is a blend of Chinese and Western technology and has several key features that point to a major shift in diesel submarine design philosophy. It is the first Chinese submarine to have a skewed propeller. The SONG also is the first Chinese submarine designed to carry the developmental YJ-82, China's first encapsulated ASCM capable of launching from a submerged submarine. SONGs are probably fitted with flank-array sonars of French design. Chinese diesel submarines are fitted with German MTU diesel engines.

The Type 039 Wuhan C- class submarines, also referred to as the S20 Song-class, is China’s most modern indigenously built diesel attack submarine. The Song-class, produced at the Wuhan shipyard, is 75 meters long, and 8.4 meters wide, giving a length-breadth ratio of 8.9, about the same as that of the 035-type. The submarine is equipped with a seven-blade large slanted propeller and shock-absorbance for the main engine. As seen from the color of the submarine's hull, it is already using damping tiles similar to those used on the "K"-class submarines. The body of the submarine is water-drop shaped and it has a wrap-casing rudder, although it still retains the stepped conning tower similar to the old Ming/Romeo class. It is believed that the first Chinese naval platform capable of submerged launching of cruise missiles will be the Song-class submarine. It is designed to launch the Yingji-8 anti-ship guided missiles from underwater. However, test firings of the YJ-82 sub-launched anti-ship missile were unsuccessful during sea trials during the late 1990s.

Overall, their shape is like that of Western submarines and their technology is equivalent to the international level of the early 1980s. It also reportedly incorporates technologies acquired from Russia, as well as from Western countries. China is believed to have good access to a wide variety of foreign sonars, to include passive ranging sonars, flank array sonars, variable-depth sonars, as well as helicopters equipped with dipping sonars. Incorporating a German propulsion system and advanced hydrodynamic design, the Song-class is said to be as quiet as the American Los Angles nuclear submarines. But its overall performance is constrained by the use of 1980s technology, and the fact that the PLAN purchased the Russian Kilo-class submarines suggests that there are problems with the Song-class. Intended to replace the aging Ming-class submarines, the first Song-class submarine was launched on 25 May 1994 and started sea trials in August 1995. but did not become operational until 1998. They are a great advance on the Type 035, but are said to be a less than satisfactory design. Problems reportedly include excessive noise radiation and systems integration difficulties. The integration of Chinese, Russian and imported systems such as the French TSM 2225 sonar and German diesel engine is blamed for serious system design and operational problems on the lead boat.

Type 039G

The improved variant deleted the stepped conning tower of the first unit, resulting in an appearance like that of the French Agosta-90B. A coating of anechoic tiles is believed to have been added to reduce the acoustic signature while submerged. There is unconfirmed speculaiton that future units might be fitted with an AIP system which may have been tested onboard a Ming class SS. According to some reports, two units were in afloat as of 1997, and two or three additional units under construction, though subsequent reports confirmed that only one unit was actually active by 1999. Two more boats (321 and 322) were laid down at Wuhan Shipyard within a year after the launch of the first boat. The second unit was extensively modified due to serious problems encountered onboard the first boat. This second unit was launched in late 1999, a year later than originally anticipated, and was formally commissioned in 2001. As of late 2003 at least three Songs are in service with at least two additional units under construction. The 2nd 039G (322) was believed to be undergoing sea trial in late 2002. Since then at least three new hulls were launched at Wuhan Shipyard and one more was being built at Jiangnan Shipyard,

Additional construction of the improved variant was reportedly planned at two per year from 1998 with as many as nine additional improved units contemplated. This program was apparently slowed in favor of Russian-built submarines and continued production of the Ming-class. Other sources suggested that the class would be cancelled in favor of further purchases of Russian boats, given the unsatisfactory performance of the first unit of the class. As of late 2004 there were probably at least five Songs completed, with eight or more under construction. The year 2004 was a landmark for the Song, with two vessels launching at the Wuchang shipyard, and, for the first time, two more launched at Shanghai's Jiangnan shipyard. By early 2005 there were at least 10 Songs either in commission, on sea trials, or in the final stages of being fitted out, with seven of these submarines reportedly built since 2003. From pubished photos it can be confirmed that the following numbers have been painted on PLAN Songs: 320, 314, 315, 316, 321, 322, 323, and 324. Janes Fighting Ships says there is a 325, though as of mid-2005 there were no published photos.


In other news:

Russia Seeks Its Place in the Sun

The declaration earlier this month by Admiral Vladimir Masorin, commander of the Russian navy, that Moscow intends to re-establish a permanent naval presence in the Mediterranean is under close scrutiny from Washington to Tel Aviv. While more an aspiration than established fact, the move carries myriad, challenging implications, ranging from the US Sixth Fleet's regional monopoly on naval power to the security of trans-Caucasian and North African energy supply routes. Yet it is the prospect of Russia reactivating its cold war naval bases in Syria's Tartus and Latakia ports which could have the most dramatic impact. By raising Syria's stock in the region, analysts say such a move could further complicate western attempts to achieve settlements in Lebanon and Palestine. Defensive missile and surveillance systems around any Russian installations might also shift the military balance to Israel's disadvantage. A brief by, a private US intelligence firm, said: "A Russian naval presence off the Syrian coast could allow Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's regime to better inoculate itself against a potential attack by the US or Israel ... The Russians would be offering an attractive insurance policy."

The Russian Black Sea fleet's 720th Logistics Support Point at Tartus has been in disuse since 1991, when the Soviet Union imploded. Yet it remains the only Russian military base outside the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States territory. Last year Russia reportedly dredged Tartus and began building a new dock at Latakia. Kommersant newspaper said the plans were far from implementation. But as the Kiev Post noted, the Black Sea fleet's lease on its Sevastopol base is hostage to Ukraine's volatile relations with Moscow - and will in any case expire in 2017, necessitating a renegotiation or a move. Wary of Israel's possible reaction (and Russian domination), Syria denies any intention to host a new military presence. But in the double-dealing world of Middle East politics, such statements by a regime with long-standing political and commercial links to Russia are not taken at face value.

Syria could threaten a Russian go-ahead if its recent, limited cooperation with the US over Iraq fails to win concessions on Lebanon or guarantees that Washington will not pursue regime change. President Vladimir Putin, involved in a bare-chested global game of military and diplomatic one-upmanship with the US, may also be using the Syrian bases as pawns. They could equally be used to increase Russian leverage over the US-led peace process or to control Syria's future behavior, depending on where Moscow's perceived interests lie. Dmitri Trenin, of the Carnegie Endowment, says Moscow's pragmatic - and by implication, unprincipled - foreign policymakers are "looking for opportunities wherever they may be". That meant building influence in the Middle East in particular.

For this reason, said Pavel Baev, of Eurasia Daily Monitor, Mr Putin was hedging his bets while he waited to see how the twin crises with Iraq and Iran play out. One example: now that panicky Arab states are pursuing nuclear programs to match Iran's, Russia wants its share of the resulting business in the Gulf. Yet at the same time, Moscow is helping Iran complete its Bushehr nuclear facility. Mr Baev said Russia was manoeuvring to profit from an irresistible window of opportunity: the power shift that would follow a US defeat in Iraq. "In the envisaged no-holds-barred power play, Russia would not have any allies but could enjoy perfect freedom of manoeuvre and exploit the advantage of not being afraid of any oil crisis. "Declaring its adherence to pragmatism, Moscow is increasingly adopting anti-Americanism as its guiding political idea," he said. Toying with military bases in Syria was just part of a bigger, bolder bid to challenge US regional and global leadership.


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The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

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