Dragon Trails

Found this article from the South China Morning Post (4 Feb Online):

Chinese warships sent to fight piracy in waters off Somalia were stalked by an Indian attack submarine and the two sides became locked in a tense standoff for at least half an hour, mainland media reported yesterday. After rounds of manoeuvring during which both sides tried to test for weaknesses in the other’s sonar system, the two Chinese warships managed to force the Indian submarine to surface. The Indian vessel left without further confrontation.

The incident was reported by Qingdao Chenbao yesterday and was widely carried by major mainland websites such as Sina.com and QQ. Both Beijing and New Delhi were silent about the matter.

This is the first reported military standoff between China and India since a bitter border war in 1962.

The incident took place on January 15in waters near the Bab Al-Mandab Strait, which separates Yemen and Djibouti, at the western end of the Gulf of Aden. The Chinese destroyers had picked up an unidentified submarine on their sonar, the report said.

The Chinese navy soon identified it as a 70-metre-long vessel armed with 20 torpedoes. Although the report did not directly specify the model, it provided a file photo of a Kilo-class submarine belonging to the Indian navy, which fit the description.

The submarine tried to evade the Chinese warships by diving deeper. But the warships continued the chase.

The report said the Chinese ships sent an anti-submarine helicopter to help track the submarine, which had tried to jam the Chinese warships’ sonar system.

But the two destroyers eventually cornered the submarine and forced it to surface. The report said the submarine had been trailing the Chinese ships since they had entered the Indian Ocean on the way to Somalia.

It said that at one point the Chinese commander even ordered the helicopter to have its anti-submarine torpedoes ready.

The Indian submarine is believed to have been collecting electronic signals and sonar data from the Chinese warships. Such information would be crucial in naval conflicts.

The two destroyers China sent to Somalia are among its most advanced warships. One of the destroyers, Haikou, was commissioned in 2005.

It is rare for mainland media to report such a close encounter between the Chinese navy and foreign warships. Although deemed a provocative and unfriendly gesture, it was not unusual for one country to send submarines to collect other navies’ information.

In 2006, a Chinese submarine was detected stalking the US aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk near the Japanese island of Okinawa. The Chinese submarine eventually surfaced close to the US battle group.

Unless the sub driver was really having a bad day I seriously doubt he was “forced” to surface.  Though I have little reason to doubt the encounter may have happened, I am very skeptical it “went down” as described.  But even funnier was the cartoon that accompanied the article on the SCMP site….

scm_news_cartoon_61

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9 thoughts on “Dragon Trails

  1. Nutty,

    The more this story plays out the more your basic premise appears to be the answer; the Indian sub was already there and “popped out” where the Chinese could see them.

    Still a powerful political message: “Beware! You’re playing in OUR yard!”

  2. Nutty

    I do not think that a DE Boat could track two DD’s across the Indian Ocean from the straights of Malacca to Aden. Average speed of DE boat when dived 2/3 knots. Average speed of DD’s on passage 15 knots. So the boat would need to snort virtually continually to keep up with them. This would make very open to detection.

    The Chink boat involved was a SSN 30 knots plus and could run rings around the two DD’s.

    Who is the most credible, I think I come down on the side of the IN. If there was a meet it was when the DD’s were off Gulf of Aden and the boat was already in the area and popped along for a look-see.

    Bob

  3. But did it really happen….

    India rubbishes reports of Navy submarine ‘forced’ to surface (http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/002200902081924.htm)

    New Delhi (PTI): Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta on Sunday rubbished reports that China’s warships on anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden had “forced” an Indian submarine in the area to surface.

    Vehemently denying the Chinese claim, he said, “There is no such incident that had happened where an Indian Navy submarine had to surface, that’s what I can say.” Earlier, the Navy had said that the vessel “was not” an Indian one at all.

    Dismissing Chinese media reports with regard to the purported incident, Mehta told reporters after flagging off a Vintage car rally here that no one in the government has ever said anything about occurrence of any such incident.

    The Indian Navy had earlier rejected claims by the Chinese media that the two Chinese Destroyers had spotted an Indian submarine tracking them in the Gulf of Aden and forced it to surface.

    Chinese newspapers and websites had reported a week ago that their warships sent to fight piracy in waters off Somalia were stalked by an Indian attack submarine and the two sides became locked in a tense stand-off for at least half-an-hour.

    They also claimed that after rounds of maneuvering during which both sides tried to test for weaknesses in other’s sonar system, the two Chinese warships managed to force the Indian submarine to surface.

  4. Nutty

    Rockymountain

    Nail, hit, head springs to mind. Both were “In yer face” moves if the Indian sub did surface. No pics/videos with Chinese ship on the same bit of sea publiched only old libary picture of IN Kilo boat.

    In the RN we use to fire a red flare “Bang your dead” in the same circumstances.

    Bob

  5. Bob Head

    Quote “In 2006, a Chinese submarine was detected stalking the US aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk near the Japanese island of Okinawa. The Chinese submarine eventually surfaced close to the US battle group.”

    As I understand reports of the encounter a Chinese Submarine was only detected tracking a CV Task Force when it surfaced near to the CV.

    I have little knowledge of Indian Navy crews efficiency but I can say that in 2003 a a Polish Navy Kilo Class took on a RN T Class SSN and the score was Poles 4 Brits 0. It would appear they are very good boats not with standing they first appeared 20 plus year ago.

  6. Peter Zim

    Thanks for that cartoon. I’m not an online subscriber to SCMP in HK so I couldn’t read the original story. If it’s true then the Indians probably realized too late that since the Chinese also have Kilo class subs that they could recognize it’s signatures.

  7. Bob Melley

    Let the games begin…..go to it boys. China regards the entire South China Sea as her home waters, and aggressively patrols there and has naval observations platforms there as well. India believes the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal are parts of her naval sphere on influence.
    Shades of the 21st century “Cold War,” this round has some new players…..

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