The U.S. Navy is being tight lipped about reports that, on October
26th, a Chinese Song class submarine got within missile range (8 kilometers) of
the U.S. carrier Kitty Hawk. The Chinese sub was spotted when it surfaced. The
American carrier is supposed to be protected from this sort of thing by
anti-submarine helicopters, and an SSN (nuclear attack submarine.) The Song
class boats are the most modern diesel-electric subs in Chinese service.
Displacing about 2,000 tons on the surface, the 246 foot long, Songs carry
anti-ship missiles and torpedoes. The first Song entered service nine years
ago. The boats can be very quiet when moving underwater, even though the
Chinese have not yet mastered the most recent silencing techniques.
Similar Australian subs have frequently gotten within attack range of American
carriers. So have diesel-electric boats from other nations.
the Chinese have a reputation for poorly trained crews, the sixty sailors on
the Song boats may be the new exception. Chinese subs have been seen at sea
much more frequently over the past few years. That kind of experience, and an
American carrier group that had never known Chinese subs to operate that far
out on the high seas, may have become lax enough to let it happen.