Submarines: The Deniable Hero

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January22, 2007: The U.S. Navy is still trying to get a straight answer from the Chinese, to explain why a Chinese sub surfaced, last October, near Okinawa, within missile range (less than ten kilometers) of an American aircraft carrier. The Chinese insist that they were not stalking the USS Kitty Hawk. To admit to this would lead to the United States more aggressively stalking Chinese warships. The Chinese know, from what the Russians have told them, that the Americans are very good at this sort of thing. So the Chinese insist that their sub found itself so close to the American carrier, "by chance." When the Chinese sub captain realized where he was, he surfaced to show there was no hostile intent. The Chinese also wanted to make sure the U.S. did not mistake their sub for one from Taiwan or Korea. Other Chinese officials insisted they did not want to risk a confrontation. In other words, the Chinese will admit to anything but an attempt by their sub to get within firing range of an American carrier. Such a feat should be difficult to do. The U.S. Navy officials admit that their anti-sub measures were not in effect, and these admirals are taking a lot of heat for that. The U.S. Navy is well aware that modern diesel-electric subs can get to within firing range of American carriers. Australian subs have done that repeatedly during training exercises. The U.S. Navy now has a Swedish diesel-electric sub on lease (along with its crew) to investigate what can be done to prevent these situations. But at the moment, there is one Chinese submarine captain who is a real hero at home, even if his bosses deny it.

 


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