Not-so Silent Service

Looks like the Chinese are ready for some “strategic communications” drills during the event to take place during the upcoming 60th Anniversary of the PLAN….

 From Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post Online posting on 18 Apr 09:

The country’s mysterious nuclear submarine fleet will be the centrepiece at an unprecedented naval parade in Qingdao on Thursday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army’s navy, a senior mainland naval researcher says.

Rear Admiral Yi Zhuo, former director of the Chinese Naval Strategy Research Institute, said in an online interview with Xinhua yesterday that there would be a clear, detailed display of the most covert and deadly weapon owned by the Chinese navy.

“The submarines will cruise in front of the leaders. Media will have a lot of opportunities to produce very clear video footage or photographs.

“People can examine our ships in great detail, as well as our elite servicemen and servicewomen onboard. The demonstration will reflect the conditions of our warships, the advancement of our weapons syspons system and the level of our naval force training as well as the morale of our officers,” he told Xinhua.

The admiral said there would be a new model of nuclear submarines taking part in the parade.

“They will be totally different from the ones you might have seen before. Our nuclear submarines used to look like whales. They were imported or replicas (of old Soviet models). Now we have developed models of our own, which look like drops of water.”

He said the new submarines were better than the old ones in virtually every respect, including having larger bodies, more long-range missiles, and better torpedoes and sonar.

Rear Admiral Yi said the navy wanted to showcase its most advanced nuclear submarines, together with battleships and new fighter jets, to tell the world of China’s growing military might at sea. This is in stark contrast with the navy’s past practice. The PLA navy has kept its nuclear submarine fleet under heavy wraps and has rarely exposed it to view.

“As soon as we mount a nuclear reactor on a submarine, it becomes a strategic military platform. We can achieve fast manoeuvres, dodge enemy detection and quietly move behind their defence lines.

“With the development of information technology, the enemy can locate almost every one of your missile-launching platforms on the continent by satellites. They can calculate where you are about to hit and intercept you. But a nuclear submarine can spring a surprise, and they can easily survive the initial nuclear strike and retaliate.”

Nearly 30 nations will send representatives to the parade. Warships from 15 nations will also take part in the event, according to Xinhua. Among the guests will be Admiral Gary Roughead, head of the United States Navy as well as Vice-Admiral John Bird, commander of the Seventh Fleet, the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes said.

Rear Admiral Yi said that naval officers and chiefs would attend a forum after the parade.

“They don’t just come here to congratulate us. We will discuss important issues such as anti-piracy and drug smuggling at sea,” he said.

But the most important purpose of the parade was to raise the awareness of mainland residents, and party and government officials, about the importance of the ocean, he said.

“We are holding such an event to remind the leadership at all levels, as well as ordinary Chinese citizens, that we have territory and interests in the ocean. Our sea security is still under imminent threat.”

In an interview with CCTV on Wednesday, Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong said the weapons of the Chinese navy were still significantly behind those of many countries.

“Speaking of modernity, our equipment cannot make the world’s top 10 list. The United States, Russia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy as well as our neighbour Japan, are all far ahead of us.”

The nation’s military spending for this year will rise by 14.9 per cent, despite a slowing economy amid global financial turmoil.

I have long privately thought that submarines are the”dreadnought” of the 21st century; that is, the fleet unit that marks you as “arrived”  on the world maritime stage.  Looks like China is trying to show that the pundits are wrong and the PLAN is “for real.”

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