In a report in today’s Daily Mail, A Chinese submarine surfaced in the middle of a recent Pacific naval 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. One NATO figure said the effect was “as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik” â€“ a reference to the Soviet Union’s first orbiting satellite in 1957 which marked the start of the space age.
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.
The Chinese fleet includes at least two nuclear-missile launching subs. It is not known if the sub in question was one of these.
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.”