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The Military

Chinese Sub Pops Up Amid US Navy Exercise 916

Posted by kdawson
from the did-somebody-order-takeout dept.
One NATO figure said the effect was "as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik." 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 USS Kitty Hawk. By the time it surfaced, the 160ft Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine had sailed within viable range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the carrier. The incident caused consternation in the US Navy, which had no idea China's fast-growing submarine fleet had reached such a level of sophistication.
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Chinese Sub Pops Up Amid US Navy Exercise

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  • by calebt3 (1098475) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:09PM (#21330647)
    Time to spend a few billion $ on R&D for new submarines!
    • Re:Simple solution: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:13PM (#21330685) Journal
      Not really. Our submarines are far superior to the Chinese even now, but the problem is the crews.

      One of the reasons I got out of the submarine business is how far the standards have fallen even in the 6 short years I was on a submarine.

      Modern submariners are a joke compared to their cold war predecessors.
      • by Vellmont (569020) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:21PM (#21330767)

        Modern submariners are a joke compared to their cold war predecessors.

        Do we need to up to cold war standards? I'm sure that the current army soldiers are a joke compared to WWII era hardened veterans.

        Submarine warfare is limited to those nations that have the ability to have submarine fleets. Those countries aren't terribly hostile towards the United States. It's extremely doubtful we're going to fight a big naval battle anytime soon.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Wonko the Sane (25252) *

          Do we need to up to cold war standards?
          The ability of a submarine to remain undetected and at the same time to detect enemy submarines is as fundamental to the concept of a submarine as the ability to fly is to an airplane.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Martin Foster (4949)
          Iran comes to mind as a nation with a small fleet of submarines that may not have any particular love for the US. Submarine capable nations are pretty much everywhere around the globe and while they do not necessarily have high technology nuclear subs and instead make use of ageing Russian hand-me-down subs, they certainly can still prevent carrier fleets from entering certain waters.

          Subs in the Falklands war could have been deadly if their maintenance routines did not lead to interface cards being damage
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by 1u3hr (530656)
          Submarine warfare is limited to those nations that have the ability to have submarine fleets. Those countries aren't terribly hostile towards the United States. It's extremely doubtful we're going to fight a big naval battle anytime soon.

          This is China. They're telling the US that if China decides to invade Taiwan, not to mess with them. The US fleet often travels in the Taiwan Strait just to show China that they control the sealanes and can protect Taiwan. China is saying, "No, you don't".

          • Re:Simple solution: (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Usquebaugh (230216) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:47PM (#21331527)
            Bollocks.

            All China has to do is release it's US funds to the open market. Pop goes the US financial system, no money no Navy, Army, Air Force or USMC. China grabs Taiwan before the US recovers.

            The only thing that the US can hope for is that the US economy is worth more to China than Taiwan.
             
            • by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:12PM (#21331763)
              All China has to do is release it's US funds to the open market. Pop goes the US financial system,

              Right. An then pop goes the Chinese financial system. And if China did something like that, the US would be far more likely to aggressively respond to any Chinese military moves.

              no money no Navy, Army, Air Force or USMC

              The military is the last thing to get cut. Even if their budget were reduced, it would have the capacity to crush China for years, if not decades.

              Much better for China if they can suggest, by demonstrations like this, that confronting them militarily would be an expensive exercise, and that the US and China should just do business as usual if China decides to invade Taiwan (after some token protests).

  • PR ploy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:10PM (#21330661)
    Of course, if they're trying to throw the Chinese off, they'll say that.
  • Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CheddarHead (811916) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:11PM (#21330667)
    While it was no doubt lots of fun to put some egg on the face of the US Navy, I have to wonder why the Chinese did this. Why tip your hand? Now that the Navy knows how sophisticated they Chinese subs are they'll be much more careful in the event of an actual conflict. No doubt there's people thinking of new counter measures even as I type this.
    • Because... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Svartalf (2997)
      ...it may be that hostilities are about to increase. They've been at showing a bit of their capabilities, physical and electronic warfare-wise for about the last 2-3 years now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cmowire (254489)
      They can win a battle without firing a shot this way.

      The Navy's going to be less likely to discount the Chinese navy from now on, which means that they can make a more credible threat out of invading Taiwan.

      Also, it can result in the US increasing navy funding, which means that there is less money to be had for military intervention in other parts of the world, giving China a freer hand.

      Finally, the Chinese government exists at the whim of their huge population. Anything to keep those folks happy.
    • by davidsyes (765062) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:31PM (#21330863) Homepage Journal
      "Sinnnng, Sing a song...."

      On VETERAN'S day, no less (unless it happened on the other side of the IDL...).

      "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.

      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."

      ----

      *I* will venture to say that "consternation" is a POLITE, GENEROUS description. The USN/DOD probably are having a major cataleptic fit. They're probably throwing chairs higher, harder and faster than Steve Ballmer, and HE already throws them faster than the speed of light...

      Of course, the USN WILL, as obliged, say some shit like, "Well, if this had been the Enterprise, or the new George H.W. Bush, with their CVN ASW/CVIS suite, this would NEVER, NEVER happen. Why, our technological sophistication by FAR outstrips anything the Reds... Umm, are we on tape? Strike that... Correction all after Reds... Chinese Navy has in its inventory. Why, Our USS Virginia and Jimmy Carter boats are quieter at FLANK, above 500 below sea level than a ANY LA SSN or follow-on boat is just sitting at the pier with recirc pumps on minimal output..."

      That may be, but you STILL got your ass embarrassed.

      But, I don't for one SECOND believe China WOULD attack. They are just saying, TAG. Here's realism for your fake-ass scenarios and drills.

      Why am I talking this way? Cuz I'm an ex Sailor, from 1984-1988, and after playing the "Terrorists" in security alerts aboard my second ship (an FFG), I grew to despise TYCOM Longbeach for the shitty scenarios we had. Sure, the "Nav" upgraded since 87, but I was still bored with and tired of officers who cheated their way into regaining control of the ship when I denied them with REALISTIC scenarios.

      Also, I don't CARE that drones COST money. You have CIWS to do a TASK, not SIMULATE. That's why the Stark was popped, cuz her CIWS was BROKE DICK, NOT performing to manufacturer's claims. My ship deployed from Long Beach, as part of the NRF in Nov 87, to the Gulf, to in-chop by some date in Jan 88, and we had SIMA, Fleet this and Fleet that and I think Norden or NavElex and a other "experts" aboard, and that fucking GE gun failed to cooperate UNTIL we we're almost done transiting the Strait of Hormuz (Silworm Alley). It woke up to our surprise. Nobody in Long Beach, Pearl, Subic, or on-board could get that goddam gun to do jack shit in defensive mode.

      I FIRMLY believe the Stark was a victim of lies all over the place. The ship's captain was a scapegoat. I believe MY ship's captain felt the same, because MANY of us in the crew donated funds to the victims and their families. Few other ships did that. I think our CO was making or allowing us to make a statement.

      I also at the time, well, around June 87 as an E-4 Radioman, but not Gunner's Mate or weapons person, told several of the GM's (who were loading the DU (depleted Uranium) rounds into the gun (they were wearing asbestos gloves, but no respirators...tsk tsk...), "This gun isn't worth shit. All the Soviets need to do is pickle our asses from high altitude with a self-guided or corrected set of bombs. They don't even need a direct hit. Just defoliate our masts and antennas. Hell, they could come from zenith and attack the CVNs, BBs and anything else IF they can break through CAP (Combat Air Patrol) for CVNs or sqwack (fake being CommAir (commercial aircraft) and close in on us."

      The Gunner's Mate, Guns (as opposed to Missiles)

      But, China's stated policy (like the US') is not to fire first. However, China recently stated to the Naval Community worldwide this:

      "China will not fire the first shot. But if a shot is fired AT us, the shooter will not fire a SECOND shot."

      THAT will keep the smugness, arrogance and cheekiness out of the rest of the navies for the foreseeable future...
    • Why not? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HangingChad (677530)

      There is little that's secret about modern diesel/electric submarines. Submerged they've always been hard to detect. With advances in battery technology and quieter props it's not that big of a shock they could get close enough to launch.

      It's not like they were pulling all their clubs out of the bag, it was a demonstration what they could do with fairly basic technology. The real interesting speculation would be what they might have in the inventory that's even more capable. Long range missiles or UAV

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Himring (646324)
      I have to wonder why the Chinese did this. Why tip your hand?

      To make another killer sub movie starring [a chinese] Sean Connery! Duh!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PPH (736903)
      Because the Chinese stand to learn more about US capabilities and tactics than the US will learn about China. The US probably knows quite a bit about diesel-electric sub technology. So there's nothing to hide here. 'Popping up' in the middle of a battle group probably isn't actual Chinese battle procedures, so there isn't much for the US to learn. OTOH, how the US ships respond to a threat is of great interest to the Chinese.
  • by hax0r_this (1073148) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:11PM (#21330673)
    The exercise was presumably planned, so all he had to do was sit by the bottom and wait for the fleet to go overhead.

    I won't be able to remark any more on the issue though (at least not on /.) as I'm about to read the article.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR (28044)
      Well if they water was shallow enough to sit on the bottom.
      Truth is they could just run at creep speed on electric and wait for them to come to them as you said.
      What bothers me is the Navy is going to retire the S-3 in about 6 months and the P-3 replacement is still no where to be seen.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by feepness (543479)

      The exercise was presumably planned, so all he had to do was sit by the bottom and wait for the fleet to go overhead. I won't be able to remark any more on the issue though (at least not on /.) as I'm about to read the article.
      My thought as well. They have 14 of them so they wouldn't have to know the exact route. It's not like it's that big an area and they probably have used similar routes in the past.

      But still, nice PR move.
  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:16PM (#21330711)
    Given the amount of lead they use I'm amazed it could float.
  • by Chairboy (88841) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:18PM (#21330741) Homepage
    Though an older technology, diesel-electric submarines can actually be quieter than nuclear submarines. A nuclear reactor has constant motion. There are usually pumps, valves, turbines, all sorts of things that are moving. The US submarine fleet was designed from the beginning to be as quiet as possible, but there's still some noise. It's not practical to shut down and turn on the reactor, so there's always SOME noise being produced.

    A diesel electric submarine, on the other hand, only makes noise when the diesel is on. Running on batteries, in absolute quiet mode, a modern diesel-electric can be a hole in the water.

    Combine this technology with good intel, and you could conceivably station a submarine dragnet in the path of a carrier group a day in advance and sit on the bottom absolutely quiet. When your target approaches, pump some ballast out (at the risk of making noise) and begin an ascent. The dive planes can convert some of that bouyancy into forward motion, and you could fine tune your course and potentially be within torpedo range before being detected.

    The defense against this is to use active sonar. This is anathema to modern sub doctrine, so surface ships might do it, but it's akin to shining a flashlight in a dark room, it will let everyone else know where you are too.

    There are russian diesel-electric subs being tested with part-time reactors for extending the underwater life for minimal noise footprint. It will be interesting to see how these develop.

    The future of submarine warfare might end up being loud and fast. Google 'supercavitating torpedo' or 'schkval torpedo' to see more. Teaser: Underwater missiles that travel hundreds of miles per hour. Kablooey!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      Google 'supercavitating torpedo'

      For a moment there I thought you wrote Google's supercavitating torpedo. Gave me a terrible fright.

    • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:05PM (#21331197) Journal
      Funny thing about the schkval is that in the 50s/60's, we were designing and about to build a Mach3 bomber ( B-70 valkrye). About the time of go-no go, the Powers was shot down, and USSR had their ICBM. Kennedy wisely decided that it would be a waste of money to pursue these, though he kept the research going for faster planes (which Nixon killed) and better rockets (NASA). Now, we see a torpedo that is KNOWN to be fast. Of course, it is not accurate, but who cares. If you can get it close with a small nuke (which russia owns), you own the ship. The real problem is that supposedly Russia has turned over that info to China. So now what do we do?

      Back in the 70's, Carter predicted that the day and age of large ships needed to end due to the ease that USSR (and other nations) could get to them. His goal was to push for small ships that worked together, basically a parallel system. Sadly, reagan killed that and pushed us back to the day of the battleships. Now, we have the ddx, but we are still pushing major ships. It strikes me that we will need to have automated or remotely controlled ships that can do the search and destroy missions. But just as the Air force fought that, the Navy is fighting that as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ross.w (87751)
      This is why the Australian Collins Class Subs, and diesel subs used by the Canadians and the Dutch regularly kick US carrier group butt [transasianaxis.com] in exercises.

      The Chinese are not the first to do this at all. Difference is of course that it wasn't an exercise this time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by inKubus (199753)
      Actually, they are using fuel cells to power the subs now, which means 6000nm range, across 45 days. They also have sterling engines available to generate power/thrust as needed. See the wiki on Air-Independent Propulsion [wikipedia.org].

      It's not that surprising that the Chinese sub was allowed to surface inside the task force. I'm guessing they will use this story to increase military spending somehow. The US, in addition to the typical ship-based sonar, will also have many sub escorts traveling with it. Also, they h
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd@bandrowsky.gmail@com> on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:18PM (#21330743) Homepage Journal
    It seems like submarines are outpacing the ability of anti-submarine warfare to keep up with them. While it is somewhat surprising that the Chinese have evolved a quiet submarine, the threat of modern hybrid electric submarines is not new.

    Indeed, there are numerous and famous stories of Dutch and German sailors sending back pictures of various US Aircraft carriers through their periscopes. This indicates that they successfully penetrated the US Navy ASW screen, made it to periscope depth, snapped a picture, and then got back out, all undetected. In response to this, the US Navy has actually asked NATO allies equipped with such submarines to drill with the American teams, in order to bolster the US ASW capability. This incident, then, suggests that the US Navy has a lot more to do.

    In general, rumours abound that submarines are now operating at close to the ambient noise level of the ocean. If genuinely operated so quietly, and given the difficult acoustic environment of the underwater world, it remains difficult to understand just how one might actually detect a submarine. Certainly, passive detection is difficult, and active detection only gives your own position away.

    What's really troubling about all of this is that, doctrinally, the US Navy does not have much in passive armor against weapons at all. Aircraft carriers, destroyers, and more are generally not armoured as doctrinally, the idea is to keep the enemy from engaging your assets to begin with by forming a screen around the capital ships. Thus, we are operating a Navy that has a reduced ability to absorb damage from an enemy increasingly able to inflict it.

    If the US does not adjust, then, it is very likely setting itself up for an enormous defeat in a naval engagement against a determined opponent.
    • by Shihar (153932) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:58AM (#21332607)
      One thing to keep in mind is that during training the anti-submarine aspect has its hands tied. Certain types of active sonar are forbidden due to the belief that they can maim/kill sea animals (namely whales).

      The other issue to keep in mind is that it is one thing to break in on a scheduled training mission. It is another thing to catch an aircraft carrier cruising around at 40+ knots. Diesel/electric boats have almost no capacity to hunt on the modern stage. They really need to move into position, wait, and hope that a target comes by. The sea is big, and airplanes with refueller aircraft have very long ranges.

      In a sea engagement the Chinese navy really is not much of a threat. The real threat comes from the Chinese missile and rock batteries, and to some extent, their air force. In a battle over Taiwan, China has a base to fly from that can be heavily guarded so as to make anything that isn't a stealth fighter weary about entering their airspace. That isn't to say that the Chinese airforce wouldn't take horrific losses, just that they could do some damage before bleeding their airforce away on the combined US/Taiwan air defense.

      The real place where China is still screwed is in the actual crossing. A Chinese boat could get lucky and whack a carrier if they positioned themselves just right, but US hunter killer subs could do horrific damage against any sort of invasion force. What the subs don't eat, the aircraft would once they leave the AAA cover of the main land. An army a few million strong doesn't do any good if it can't get to land.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:24PM (#21330789)
    Our fleet hasn't seen real naval combat since WWII. Anti-ship missiles are incredibly lethal and it costs far more to defend against them than it does to fire them. It will only take a few hits to ruin the day for any American task force. Sure, start a war with Iran. After the first carrier takes a hit that knocks it out of action for a two year repair, our fleets will be kept so far out at sea that their tactical usefulness will be zero. Score one for the Iranians.

    The whole concept of the super-carrier is very vulnerable at this point given the kinds of weapons available to potnetial hostiles. The only reason why they persist with such glowing reputations is that they have not been put to the test in battle, their vulnerabilities not made clear. In this case they are like the battleships of WWII, or possibly more apt, the battle-cruisers. The battle-cruisers were up-gunned so they could fight with the big boys but they lacked the armor to stay in the fight. Very expensive viking funerals, they were.

    The only development that will save the carrier is if active defenses can be improved to the point that nothing but nothing will get through the wall of fire. As it stands, our current ships are simply not survivable. Frigates and destroyers will get goatse'd if hit by a serious cruise missile. The torps out there these days can break a ship in two. The Russians, of course, designed torps that were supposed to be able to bust a carrier's keel in one hit.

    Our whole military aparatus is still stuck in the 20th century and is still trying to bring forward concepts that saw their genesis back in the Cold War. It's going to take a serious kicking of our collective asses to force the Pentagon to reevaluate our military and put together something that's realistic and sane. But I'm not sure how big of an ass-kicking it'll take. We're getting a good one in Iraq and the lessons don't seem to be sinking in.
    • Carriers are projection weapons.

      The mistake is that they float.

      Long ago we should have began working on carriers designs that were submersibles and only surface in order to let their air craft take off.
    • by unity100 (970058)
      Pal, what you are describing as missing is being developed since hms Sheffield was sunk with a single exocet missile in falklands in 1982. "screening" a naval vessel from any incoming missiles with a hail of bullets is now a long widespread tech. there are many prominent systems on the use. and easily, carriers are the biggest platforms that carry most of these, and screen themselves quite well. im not even talking about fast, anti missile missile systems.

      what you said held true at 1980, and had there bee
    • by rahvin112 (446269) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:28PM (#21331367)
      Carrier's don't float alone. Don't underestimate the knowledge and abilities of the USN. The US played cat and mouse with the soviets for 30 years. It just means the USN is going to start playing cat and mouse with the Chinese now that their sub-tactics are improving. Chances are they were trying to surface to see if they could surface for a strike and re-submerge without being detected. In fact it would surprise me if there was a Los Angelos class sitting behind the Chinese when they did it. If not the Los Angeles class sub's will be getting their cat-n-mouse time with the Chinese in the near future.

      The USN is well aware of supersonic attack missiles and torpedoes, it's the entire reason that AEGIS exists and has the ability to track and fire on 100's of incoming targets simultaneously from every vessel in the fleet. The first principle of carrier doctrine is that carriers are huge slow moving targets, but they are also huge slow moving targets with 20 support ships and hundreds of aircraft aboard. For example, in a conflict with Iran the carriers aren't going to start the conflict while in the gulf, it will start with them outside the limits of the Iranians weapons while they bomb the living hell out of every defensive emplacement within 100 miles of coast. Then you move the carrier groupings in further so the aircraft can strike further. The carrier isn't there to sail up to the coast so the sailors can fire their machine gun at the ground or so the destroyers can fire their 12" guns, the carrier exists to support the aircraft which are the extension of the carrier's power (and that range is in the 100's of miles). I don't think you would dare argue that the Iranian's air defenses could withstand full assault by modern warplanes. Iraq had the best air defenses outside Russia in '91 (with the best systems the Russians sold) and it was picked clean in less than 100 days.

      The same is true of submarines, even diesels, given modern anti-sub warfare the Chinese wouldn't approach a carrier let alone fire on one, active sensors would be well outside the limits of the grouping actively pinging such that a yellowfin couldn't sneak up on the grouping. And no submarine can actively defend against helicopter based torpedoes and active floating sensors (except for sitting on the bottom next to something that conceals their shape), and fortunately the USN is smart enough to keep a couple anti-sub ships with two helicopters each and a hold full of sensors in every grouping. In the event of a conflict there would be a sensor net all the way from the Philippines to Alaska that would track every submarine in the water.
    • by c6gunner (950153) on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:02PM (#21331673)

      It's going to take a serious kicking of our collective asses to force the Pentagon to reevaluate our military and put together something that's realistic and sane. But I'm not sure how big of an ass-kicking it'll take. We're getting a good one in Iraq and the lessons don't seem to be sinking in.
      That's a joke, right? The entire death toll in Iraq is less than the number of allied lives lost on any one day of major offencive ops in WW2. You lost 3 times as many soldier in one year of operations in Vietnam as you did in 4 years of ops in Iraq. Even Korea cost you 30,000+. I'm not sure where you get the idea that Iraq has given you "a good ass kicking", but you couldn't be more silly if you tried.
  • by pedantic bore (740196) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:25PM (#21330809)

    It's not clear whether the sub actually navigated its way into the heart of the carrier group, or whether it was just sitting there waiting for the other ships to sail by. It's a cheap and easy tactic, and they could have had subs stationed along the common navigation channels or the exercise area (which is no secret) long before the exercise, just in case they got lucky and the carrier group sailed over their heads. Worked for the U-boats, still works today.

    But it's not quite so easy the second time. Were the US ships using any active sonar? It doesn't say, but my guess is they weren't, because this is a fairly provocative thing to do -- especially if you're in waters that another country is claiming are its territory. But now that the Chinese have made a provocative move of their own, they'll have the picket ships and helos pinging away and dropping sonobuoys. And it wouldn't surprise me if the Chinese subs all find themselves with a silent new shadow the next time they leave port...

    Ah, the bad old days are back again.

  • by thesandtiger (819476) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:29PM (#21330839)
    It's entirely possible that the Chinese subs are good enough to escape detection by our fleet, or that we didn't detect it due to user error.

    Or, perhaps, it was seen and detected all along but we're just saying it wasn't so that we don't give out an idea of what our tech is or isn't capable of.

  • by Lost Penguin (636359) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:30PM (#21330845) Homepage
    Submarines and targets.....
  • by bmo (77928) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:31PM (#21330857)

    There are two kinds of seagoing vessels: submarines and targets.

    --
    BMO
  • by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:34PM (#21330893) Homepage
    While waiting for informed responses to trickle in here, I found this [google.com] on Google Groups (UseNet):

    When the incident first happened I commented that we would never know if the Chinese boat was detected and being tracked, which would provide far more intel than flushing it when first detected.

    Considering they were in international waters and responses were limited. My comment was that the telling factor would be determined by how many, if any heads rolled. The USN does not forgive such lapses without someone being sacrificed. As far as I can tell, no one has been punished. That would indicate to me that they had a solution on the Chinese boat and were gaining intel.

    We do not know why the Chinese Sub surfaced when they did. What happens below the water is rarely shared with the general public. It's entirely possible that once the Chinese got within a certain distance the American boat 'encouraged' them to surface. Just as when a fighter plane can signal it's non-hostile intents by lowering its gear, a Sub surfaces.

    If the Chinese were truly undetected they could have gained far more by staying undetected than the minor political points garnered by surfacing.

  • Just for laughs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lelitsch (31136) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:05PM (#21331203)
    Not directly related, but here is a nice picture a German submarine took of the USS Enterprise during a NATO exercise. http://rula.de/marktplatz/files/zielfoto_u24_enterprise.jpg [rula.de]

    And IIRC, that was during an antisubmarine drill.
  • How News Is Made (Score:5, Informative)

    by draevil (598113) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:27PM (#21331355)

    I would caution everyone to note first of all that the FA is from the Daily Mail and so most of the facts contained therein are subject to question.

    As some have noted this incident took place approximately a year ago and in fact it's not even the first time [pqarchiver.com] that the Chinese have stalked the Kitty Hawk - albeit from a greater distance that time.

    Essentially what the Mail have done here is to raise an issue that ticks all their usual buttons.

    • It takes a dig at the Americans - note the use of "dumbstruck", "embarrassment" and "red-faced".
    • It is a cheap article to do - dig up old news, stick some cheap stock pics in and you're done.
    • It's about the Chinese - who are scary and foreign.

    Consequently, on behalf of all Brits, I apologise for the existence of the Daily Mail - plainly we should do more to end it. On the other hand, however you have given the world Fox News and Ann Coulter - although they do hold a certain amusement value.

    As an exercise use google news to see how many other 'articles' have now sprung up which in places basically copy the DM article word for word.. :)

  • by starseeker (141897) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:27PM (#21331359) Homepage
    Reading the comments, it seems like the consensus is that given sufficient time, motivation, and technology it's hard to passively detect a well designed and built submarine in the open ocean, if it's built for quiet (i.e. non-nuclear) and active detection is the electronic version of wearing a "KICK ME" sign.

    Well, the solution to that is obvious - do just what satellites have done for surface bases; map the oceans with automated sonar/other detection grids until we know what's going on everywhere, and the dark (unobserved) areas are points of interest simply by appearing - if someone removes our ability to see it's an automatic point of interest.

    The environmental impact of doing something like that would not be trivial of course, but probably given sufficient time, money and resources it could be done. It would mean WE couldn't move quietly either, most likely (we wouldn't be the only ones doing it, once it started) but it would make a "sneak attack" rather more unlikely.
  • Happens quite a bit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by waimate (147056) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:48PM (#21331543) Homepage
    I don't have the reference to hand so feel free to claim it never happened, but this occurred a few years ago with an Australian Collins-class diesel electric. It also happened a few decades ago with an Australian Oberon-class sub, and ISTR some European sub managed a similar trick.

    The problem seems to be that US sub crews simply aren't accustomed to going up against diesel-electric subs, which *are* much quieter than the US nukes. There may also be a hubris effect going on, in that the crews *assume* they and their technology will easily detect interlopers, and therefore aren't as much on guard as they should be.

    The worrying bit is that (for want of a better term) "rogue states" are much more likely to be using a diesel-electric sub than anything else.
  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:53PM (#21331579)
    My guess is that the submarine sensed the flotilla sailing on a collision course and surfaced to identify and save itself. That still doesn't excuse the US Sonar Operators for not sensing it.

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