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Chinese Sub Pops Up Amid US Navy Exercise

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the did-somebody-order-takeout dept.

The Military 916

One NATO figure said the effect was "as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik." American military chiefs have been left dumbstruck by an undetected Chinese submarine popping up at the heart of a recent Pacific exercise and close to the vast USS Kitty Hawk. By the time it surfaced, the 160ft Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine had sailed within viable range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the carrier. The incident caused consternation in the US Navy, which had no idea China's fast-growing submarine fleet had reached such a level of sophistication.

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916 comments

Simple solution: (5, Funny)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330647)

Time to spend a few billion $ on R&D for new submarines!

Re:Simple solution: (5, Interesting)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330685)

Not really. Our submarines are far superior to the Chinese even now, but the problem is the crews.

One of the reasons I got out of the submarine business is how far the standards have fallen even in the 6 short years I was on a submarine.

Modern submariners are a joke compared to their cold war predecessors.

Re:Simple solution: (0, Flamebait)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330747)

compared to their cold war predecessors.
It looks like we might be heading into a new cold war of sorts.

I hope no one mods me down for saying this, but I really feel like we should consider starting the draft again. We need to bolster our troop levels and try to do it in as egalitarian a way as possible.

Drafting isn't egalitarian. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330785)

Those with the connections will always be excused. You'll be left with only those who cannot find any way to avoid it.

The all volunteer force is supposed to give us professional, dedicated warriors. But it doesn't seem to work out that way.

Re:Drafting isn't egalitarian. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330833)

Pardon? That's exactly how it is working out. Maybe you meant the Reserve force structure--that's always been and always will be a can of worms.

Re:Drafting isn't egalitarian. (1, Informative)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330997)

The all volunteer force is supposed to give us professional, dedicated warriors.

Blackwater and other private armies are staffed with very dedicated warriors.

Re:Simple solution: (5, Interesting)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330811)

Part of the problem is something very simple (in a Freakonomics sort of way):

Laser eye surgery is destroying the Navy

Every single officer* who joins the Navy wants to be a pilot. In the past, many smart people with less-than-perfect vision joined the Navy and many were sent to submarines. Now, all the smart ones get surgery and become pilots. It almost makes me cry to remember the type of people who now make "nuclear officers".

* (not much of an exaggeration)

Re:Simple solution: (2, Insightful)

rainmayun (842754) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330815)

There are good reasons to have a draft, but having more troops for the sake of having more troops isn't one of them. Modern wars aren't decided by the size of the armies involved. Mutually assured destruction means the odds of direct conflict between China and the USA are very low, but the odds of a proxy or asymmetric war are somewhat higher.

And here's a quote as true today as it was then. (5, Insightful)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330943)

"The war wasn't meant to be won or lost, it was simply meant to be fought. The war was never meant to end, merely to go on."

Do you folks actually think that both sides of this conflict hate each other as much as the peons do? Sheesh. When the rich meet at the country club, the boys from Company A, and the boys from Company B, regardless of nationality, are friends.

The same is true of "presidents", "bankers" and anything else. Gentleman's rules, to all games. Gentlemen don't KILL each other. They get proxies, peons, idiots and fools to slaughter each other in their names. After all, only fools would hate someone they've never had a chance to get to know, or witness first hand their deeds (and their motivation, of course). Short of aggression carried out against the individual in question, "fighting a war" generally involved mass psychosis, usually cultivated by carefully trained and prepared "superiors" and "intelligence personnel."

This stuff's as old as the world. The wars will go on, the arms races will go on, and humanity will go on. All the fears and the doomsayers are merely meant to up the ante, and keep the peons scurrying about, frittering their lives away doing nothing at all interesting or worthwhile, other than what they have been TOLD to do by someone else, for someone else's benefit and minor, if any, benefit to themselves.

Welcome to the future :)

The only reason I keep watching this mess is because it is, frankly speaking, fun to watch. Nothing more, nothing less.

Re:Simple solution: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330827)

I hope no one mods me down for saying this, but I really feel like we should consider starting the draft again. We need to bolster our troop levels and try to do it in as egalitarian a way as possible.
It should include women as well. A draft would definitely help with our apathy epidemic.

Re:Simple solution: (2, Insightful)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330935)

I hope no one mods me down for saying this, but I really feel like we should consider starting the draft again.
Helots or Spartans? Clear difference.

As a Veteran, I was proud to have served in an all volunteer Army, and in hindsight, more apt to give my own life in return.

Re:Simple solution: (2, Interesting)

Neuticle (255200) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330967)

I'd mod you up if I still had points.

To keep this on-topic somewhat: Teh Chinese R in r base, steelinz r sub planz! LOLZ!!!1!eleventy!!

But seriously, they did publish photos of classified sub propellers on Google Earth.

While I understand the value behind an all volunteer force, I've always thought there was something of value in systems of compulsory service like Israel and Switzerland, i.e. if you don't want to be a combatant, you can opt for non-combat duty. Everyone still gives a contribution of some sort, be it cook, driver, nurse, janitor/maintenance etc thus the combatants (who chose combat) can operate at best efficiency without worrying about non-combat details.

It seems to me that this is a good compromise between drafting people and coercing them to fight like the US did in Vietnam, and relying solely on volunteers for the whole operation of the military.

Plus it would eliminates much (but probably not all) the cultural and economic disparity in the ranks. If Johnny Megabucks had to serve next to William Poorhouse, as equals, it just might make the USA a better country.

/considering a military career for grad school, but not only for financial motives. There are other ways to pay.

Re:Simple solution: (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21331021)

We need a commander-in-chief that doesn't abuse his position. Many are probably afraid to sign up, not wanting to be stuck on a ten-year tour-of-duty. We should have been in and out of Afghanistan in a few months, and we shouldn't have entered Iraq at all. We didn't have a single good reason to invade. Why would anyone want to sign up for an pointless war? Our soldiers should have the right to protect our country with honor.

Re:Simple solution: (3, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330767)


Modern submariners are a joke compared to their cold war predecessors.

Do we need to up to cold war standards? I'm sure that the current army soldiers are a joke compared to WWII era hardened veterans.

Submarine warfare is limited to those nations that have the ability to have submarine fleets. Those countries aren't terribly hostile towards the United States. It's extremely doubtful we're going to fight a big naval battle anytime soon.

Re:Simple solution: (2, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330849)

Do we need to up to cold war standards?
The ability of a submarine to remain undetected and at the same time to detect enemy submarines is as fundamental to the concept of a submarine as the ability to fly is to an airplane.

Re:Simple solution: (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330843)

Not really. Our submarines are far superior to the Chinese even now, but the problem is the crews.

One of the reasons I got out of the submarine business is how far the standards have fallen even in the 6 short years I was on a submarine.

Modern submariners are a joke compared to their cold war predecessors.
Elaborate, please. Is this beause there are better options for potential recruits in the civilian world and the Navy is forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel to meet the recruiting requirements? Are you losing the mid-level NCO's and junior officers because of shitty service conditions? I hear the Army is bleeding captains like mad due to being fed up with Iraq. Is the Navy getting pressured hard by the war?

Re:Simple solution: (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330909)

Is this beause there are better options for potential recruits in the civilian world and the Navy is forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel to meet the recruiting requirements? Are you losing the mid-level NCO's and junior officers because of shitty service conditions?
Yes and yes.

Supply and demand is working against the submarine community (same in most of the military). As the recruiting pool shrinks people who would never have made it before must be retained. As the quality of new sailors showing up on the boat decreases this causes increased frustration for the more experienced sailors. Less of these people stay in, and the people who remain tend to be unemployable in the civilian world.

Can you say positive feedback?

PR ploy (3, Interesting)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330661)

Of course, if they're trying to throw the Chinese off, they'll say that.

PR inside the USA is more important (3, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330861)

The minitary need to keep their internal PR machine going. The military soak up a huge amount of the US budget, yet are slipping up. They need to keep selling to the US public to keep getting funding and keeping the generals and admirals from getting fired.

Why? (3, Interesting)

CheddarHead (811916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330667)

While it was no doubt lots of fun to put some egg on the face of the US Navy, I have to wonder why the Chinese did this. Why tip your hand? Now that the Navy knows how sophisticated they Chinese subs are they'll be much more careful in the event of an actual conflict. No doubt there's people thinking of new counter measures even as I type this.

Because... (2, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330715)

...it may be that hostilities are about to increase. They've been at showing a bit of their capabilities, physical and electronic warfare-wise for about the last 2-3 years now.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

Neon Aardvark (967388) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330759)

Because as of yet there is no real chance of any conflict breaking out any time soon, yet there is plenty of geopolitical point scoring going on, and this will help the Chinese in that area.

Re:Why? (1)

soundhack (179543) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330765)

Perhaps to see if they could get away with it? Trying that during a Navy exercise would be the perfect opportunity to see if they could get that close undetected. If they do get detected, since it is an exercise it would be likely they wouldnt be sunk (assuming no live ammo in exercises)

On the flip side, trying that during real operations would probably be more dire.

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

cmowire (254489) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330793)

They can win a battle without firing a shot this way.

The Navy's going to be less likely to discount the Chinese navy from now on, which means that they can make a more credible threat out of invading Taiwan.

Also, it can result in the US increasing navy funding, which means that there is less money to be had for military intervention in other parts of the world, giving China a freer hand.

Finally, the Chinese government exists at the whim of their huge population. Anything to keep those folks happy.

Re:Why? (1)

epee1221 (873140) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330795)

Even those who are vastly underestimated lose something attrition. They might make a show of strength just to make war look less attractive to the potential opposition.

Re:Why? Why? Well, the wanted to ... (5, Interesting)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330863)

"Sinnnng, Sing a song...."

On VETERAN'S day, no less (unless it happened on the other side of the IDL...).

"According to senior Nato officials the incident caused consternation in the U.S. Navy.

The Americans had no idea China's fast-growing submarine fleet had reached such a level of sophistication, or that it posed such a threat.

One Nato figure said the effect was "as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik" - a reference to the Soviet Union's first orbiting satellite in 1957 which marked the start of the space age."

----

*I* will venture to say that "consternation" is a POLITE, GENEROUS description. The USN/DOD probably are having a major cataleptic fit. They're probably throwing chairs higher, harder and faster than Steve Ballmer, and HE already throws them faster than the speed of light...

Of course, the USN WILL, as obliged, say some shit like, "Well, if this had been the Enterprise, or the new George H.W. Bush, with their CVN ASW/CVIS suite, this would NEVER, NEVER happen. Why, our technological sophistication by FAR outstrips anything the Reds... Umm, are we on tape? Strike that... Correction all after Reds... Chinese Navy has in its inventory. Why, Our USS Virginia and Jimmy Carter boats are quieter at FLANK, above 500 below sea level than a ANY LA SSN or follow-on boat is just sitting at the pier with recirc pumps on minimal output..."

That may be, but you STILL got your ass embarrassed.

But, I don't for one SECOND believe China WOULD attack. They are just saying, TAG. Here's realism for your fake-ass scenarios and drills.

Why am I talking this way? Cuz I'm an ex Sailor, from 1984-1988, and after playing the "Terrorists" in security alerts aboard my second ship (an FFG), I grew to despise TYCOM Longbeach for the shitty scenarios we had. Sure, the "Nav" upgraded since 87, but I was still bored with and tired of officers who cheated their way into regaining control of the ship when I denied them with REALISTIC scenarios.

Also, I don't CARE that drones COST money. You have CIWS to do a TASK, not SIMULATE. That's why the Stark was popped, cuz her CIWS was BROKE DICK, NOT performing to manufacturer's claims. My ship deployed from Long Beach, as part of the NRF in Nov 87, to the Gulf, to in-chop by some date in Jan 88, and we had SIMA, Fleet this and Fleet that and I think Norden or NavElex and a other "experts" aboard, and that fucking GE gun failed to cooperate UNTIL we we're almost done transiting the Strait of Hormuz (Silworm Alley). It woke up to our surprise. Nobody in Long Beach, Pearl, Subic, or on-board could get that goddam gun to do jack shit in defensive mode.

I FIRMLY believe the Stark was a victim of lies all over the place. The ship's captain was a scapegoat. I believe MY ship's captain felt the same, because MANY of us in the crew donated funds to the victims and their families. Few other ships did that. I think our CO was making or allowing us to make a statement.

I also at the time, well, around June 87 as an E-4 Radioman, but not Gunner's Mate or weapons person, told several of the GM's (who were loading the DU (depleted Uranium) rounds into the gun (they were wearing asbestos gloves, but no respirators...tsk tsk...), "This gun isn't worth shit. All the Soviets need to do is pickle our asses from high altitude with a self-guided or corrected set of bombs. They don't even need a direct hit. Just defoliate our masts and antennas. Hell, they could come from zenith and attack the CVNs, BBs and anything else IF they can break through CAP (Combat Air Patrol) for CVNs or sqwack (fake being CommAir (commercial aircraft) and close in on us."

The Gunner's Mate, Guns (as opposed to Missiles)

But, China's stated policy (like the US') is not to fire first. However, China recently stated to the Naval Community worldwide this:

"China will not fire the first shot. But if a shot is fired AT us, the shooter will not fire a SECOND shot."

THAT will keep the smugness, arrogance and cheekiness out of the rest of the navies for the foreseeable future...

Why not? (2, Interesting)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330919)

There is little that's secret about modern diesel/electric submarines. Submerged they've always been hard to detect. With advances in battery technology and quieter props it's not that big of a shock they could get close enough to launch.

It's not like they were pulling all their clubs out of the bag, it was a demonstration what they could do with fairly basic technology. The real interesting speculation would be what they might have in the inventory that's even more capable. Long range missiles or UAV's that could attack a carrier from hundreds or thousands of miles away, perhaps aided by satellite, robotic mines, or something equally surprising.

When your foreign policy is built around being able to project air power it's a rude surprise to find out in the modern era a floating airport is a big, fat target.

If you really want ulcers start looking up how many countries have similar subs. You might be surprised at some of the names.

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

Himring (646324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330987)

I have to wonder why the Chinese did this. Why tip your hand?

To make another killer sub movie starring [a chinese] Sean Connery! Duh!

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#21331027)

Because the Chinese stand to learn more about US capabilities and tactics than the US will learn about China. The US probably knows quite a bit about diesel-electric sub technology. So there's nothing to hide here. 'Popping up' in the middle of a battle group probably isn't actual Chinese battle procedures, so there isn't much for the US to learn. OTOH, how the US ships respond to a threat is of great interest to the Chinese.

To get us to spend money. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21331041)

What is not said here, is that the sub could have been sitting on the bottom (pretty shallow there) and then popped up. It is probable that China decided to warn us to not mess with them. It is akin to the blowing up of the sat. They could have done it in other fashions. I am guessing that China is a lot closer to a war with the west then is assumed in the west.

Erm... (1)

AlphaDrake (1104357) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330669)

They say it was during an exercise, how did they know that wasn't part of it? :P

Are they sure it's not the wreckage from one of the broken Canadian subs sold to us by England? (Yes I'm Canadian so it's ok :P )

Finally: Did they manage to get an intact Enigma machine, and sail the crippled vessel back home?

Re:Erm... (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330837)

They say it was during an exercise, how did they know that wasn't part of it?
Quite likely, one of the acoustic operators did detect it, but someone pointed out the exercise sub was elsewhere or not due on station for a few hours and told to ignore it.......

It will all come out in the inquiry. When I say come out.. in the sense that it will be put in Dick Cheney's man size safe and we'll see it in about 90 years.

No doubt the sub commander will be either commended with the nations highest honor.... or shot.

Re:Erm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21331013)

Are they sure it's not the wreckage from one of the broken Canadian subs sold to us by England?

Nope, the Canadian ones are coloured rust and primer-grey. Also, they are generally followed around by a small fleet of tugboats. If you're still in doubt then just watch for Sea King helicopter parts falling from the sky.

Sub Captain had an Advantage (3, Insightful)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330673)

The exercise was presumably planned, so all he had to do was sit by the bottom and wait for the fleet to go overhead.

I won't be able to remark any more on the issue though (at least not on /.) as I'm about to read the article.

Re:Sub Captain had an Advantage (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330721)

How public is information about the Navy's planned exercises? Maybe it is sufficiently lowly-classified that nearly anybody can find out about it?

Re:Sub Captain had an Advantage (1)

Elsapotk421 (1097205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21331011)

The exercises themselves aren't classified usually. It's the location that's usually classified. A lot of the exercises will appear in a public newspaper such as the navy times which is available to anyone who'd like to have a subscription.

Re:Sub Captain had an Advantage (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330725)

And I won't be able to remark any more on the issue due to national security!

Re:Sub Captain had an Advantage (2, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330727)

Well if they water was shallow enough to sit on the bottom.
Truth is they could just run at creep speed on electric and wait for them to come to them as you said.
What bothers me is the Navy is going to retire the S-3 in about 6 months and the P-3 replacement is still no where to be seen.

Re:Sub Captain had an Advantage (2, Insightful)

feepness (543479) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330755)

The exercise was presumably planned, so all he had to do was sit by the bottom and wait for the fleet to go overhead. I won't be able to remark any more on the issue though (at least not on /.) as I'm about to read the article.
My thought as well. They have 14 of them so they wouldn't have to know the exact route. It's not like it's that big an area and they probably have used similar routes in the past.

But still, nice PR move.

Already Heard About It (2)

Looshi (1038712) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330689)

This is a few days old isn't it? Slashdot - you heard it here last.

Re:Already Heard About It (5, Informative)

Skater (41976) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330719)

More like a YEAR! [iht.com]

Yeah Coincidence (2, Funny)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330695)

The Americans had no idea China's fast-growing submarine fleet had reached such a level of sophistication, or that it posed such a threat.

Can you say industrial esponiage?

It also led to tense diplomatic exchanges, with shaken American diplomats demanding to know why the submarine was "shadowing" the U.S. fleet while Beijing pleaded ignorance and dismissed the affair as coincidence.

Yeah that's totally plausible! I mean it's not like the Pacific is this massive body of water that covers a third of the Earth.

Re:Yeah Coincidence (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330873)

I think "playing dumb" at this incident is a bit much, even for the Chinese - to me it sounds a bit like they are mocking the Americans with that explanation.

30 years (1)

Neon Aardvark (967388) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330697)

The US military can look forward to thirty or so years of such surprises until China achieves technological parity.

Re:30 years (1)

pilsner.urquell (734632) | more than 6 years ago | (#21331057)

The Chinese submarine captain either has a big brass pair or didn't have a clue here he was at. An aircraft carrier can have up to two dozen support group a carrier battle group [wikipedia.org] Lets forget the ability of US Navy of blowing them out of the water the amount of intelligence that can be gathered by such a close encounter could prove invaluable. If the Chinese captain was in error he could be in serous trouble.

What, No Active Sonar? (1)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330701)

I can understand that subs could compromise their stealth by actively "pinging" their sonars, but why would surface ships not be doing this as a SOP?.
(Unless that would give away friendly sub positions...)

Re:What, No Active Sonar? (1)

IonOtter (629215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330917)

Actively pinging your sonar is akin to trying to find someone hiding in the dark with flash-bang grenades. They can hear you coming from a thousand miles off, and when you finally get on top of them, they're going to be exceptionally pissed. At full-power, the SQQ-89(V)6 Sonar can flash-boil the water around the sonar dome at

Actively pinging someone is akin to pointing a gun at their head, and the target can be expected to respond in kind.

Re:What, No Active Sonar? (1)

ziani (255157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21331029)

Sonar buoys [bouwman.com] , dropped from ASW aircraft, cruise missiles, RPVs operating off a carrier. You drop them where you (or your subs) aren't. If they're shot at by an unfriendly, voila, new target.

What better way than this... (2, Interesting)

Vulcann (752521) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330707)

...to lobby for further hikes in defense spending. It almost sounds deliberate. Diesel-Electric subs are noisy little buggers so either the American navy is seriously incompetent or too clever by half.

Re:What better way than this... (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330733)

Diesel-Electric subs are noisy little buggers
Only when they are are running the diesel. They're pretty quiet on batteries,

Re:What better way than this... (3, Funny)

nick79au (791048) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330939)

and if the Chinese invade London they won't have to pay the congestion charge since they're running a hybrid...

Re:What better way than this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330847)

A diesel-electric sub running on batteries is quieter then a nuclear sub. There are no pumps that need to be run which eliminates a lot of moving parts, and therefor a lot of noise.

Re:What better way than this... (5, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330889)

diesel-Electric subs noisy? what are you smoking? and do you share it with US submariner's.

The Standard Diesel-electric is quieter than Nuclear Subs. Do you know why? because Electric motors are very quiet. While both types of subs use electric drive motors the nuclear reactors also turn steam turbines which make noise all the time. While quieter than a diesel engine by several orders of magnitude it is louder than a pure electric motor running on batteries.

Nuclear Power has several other advantages, including no need for consumable fuel, or exhausting harmful gases. A nuclear sub can also stay down on the bottom for the entire duration of it's mission, while diesel subs have to come up high enough to run the diesel motors to recharge the battery packs.

Re:What better way than this... (2, Informative)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 6 years ago | (#21331003)

Diesel-electric boats are noisy only when running on diesel. On battery, they can be far quieter than a nuke boat. It's a pretty good bet he didn't *snorkel* into the formation, so his boat would have been pretty quiet. This is proof the Chinese have some pretty good diesel-electric technology.

I also think there's more to this than meets the eye, but not the same thing you do. Giving away the fact that he was in range for a firing solution on a carrier could be regarded as a serious tactical error by the Chinese captain. It would be far better to let the carrier group pass by, then slip off in silence and keep that knowledge secret. Letting the US Navy know they can do that will only make the US Navy work very hard to find a solution to that problem and negate that advantage.

However, maybe it wasn't so voluntary. Possible reasons for it include running out of battery, losing control of his submarine, an equipment failure on board, or being actively pinged and forced to acknowledge his presence. Granted, the first three of those still mean he got in undetected and the last means he may have done so before being hit with active sonar, but all of them put it in a different light than deliberately making his presence in the middle of the battle group known.

Doesn't have to be that advanced (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330723)

Diesel-electric subs can easily be quieter than their nuclear counterparts. Without the need for cooling pumps a diesel sub can run VERY quietly. Even a natural circulation sub needs a lot of support equipment to keep running.

The danger of diesels (5, Informative)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330741)

Though an older technology, diesel-electric submarines can actually be quieter than nuclear submarines. A nuclear reactor has constant motion. There are usually pumps, valves, turbines, all sorts of things that are moving. The US submarine fleet was designed from the beginning to be as quiet as possible, but there's still some noise. It's not practical to shut down and turn on the reactor, so there's always SOME noise being produced.

A diesel electric submarine, on the other hand, only makes noise when the diesel is on. Running on batteries, in absolute quiet mode, a modern diesel-electric can be a hole in the water.

Combine this technology with good intel, and you could conceivably station a submarine dragnet in the path of a carrier group a day in advance and sit on the bottom absolutely quiet. When your target approaches, pump some ballast out (at the risk of making noise) and begin an ascent. The dive planes can convert some of that bouyancy into forward motion, and you could fine tune your course and potentially be within torpedo range before being detected.

The defense against this is to use active sonar. This is anathema to modern sub doctrine, so surface ships might do it, but it's akin to shining a flashlight in a dark room, it will let everyone else know where you are too.

There are russian diesel-electric subs being tested with part-time reactors for extending the underwater life for minimal noise footprint. It will be interesting to see how these develop.

The future of submarine warfare might end up being loud and fast. Google 'supercavitating torpedo' or 'schkval torpedo' to see more. Teaser: Underwater missiles that travel hundreds of miles per hour. Kablooey!

Re:The danger of diesels (0, Troll)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21331001)

I get the feeling that in a modern war against an advanced nation, these carriers would be sitting ducks for anti-ship missiles. The US Navy would probably be forced to keep them well out of harms way. They're certainly good for attacking third world countries though, so despite their vulnerabilities, they are bound to be in service for a long time.

Re:The danger of diesels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21331063)

Technically, the recent generations of nukes have low power settings where the reactor systems (esp. the cooling pumps) function via convection w/out actually using the massive pumps that generate most of the low-end mechanical noise.

Signs point to surface ship obsolesence (5, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330743)

It seems like submarines are outpacing the ability of anti-submarine warfare to keep up with them. While it is somewhat surprising that the Chinese have evolved a quiet submarine, the threat of modern hybrid electric submarines is not new.

Indeed, there are numerous and famous stories of Dutch and German sailors sending back pictures of various US Aircraft carriers through their periscopes. This indicates that they successfully penetrated the US Navy ASW screen, made it to periscope depth, snapped a picture, and then got back out, all undetected. In response to this, the US Navy has actually asked NATO allies equipped with such submarines to drill with the American teams, in order to bolster the US ASW capability. This incident, then, suggests that the US Navy has a lot more to do.

In general, rumours abound that submarines are now operating at close to the ambient noise level of the ocean. If genuinely operated so quietly, and given the difficult acoustic environment of the underwater world, it remains difficult to understand just how one might actually detect a submarine. Certainly, passive detection is difficult, and active detection only gives your own position away.

What's really troubling about all of this is that, doctrinally, the US Navy does not have much in passive armor against weapons at all. Aircraft carriers, destroyers, and more are generally not armoured as doctrinally, the idea is to keep the enemy from engaging your assets to begin with by forming a screen around the capital ships. Thus, we are operating a Navy that has a reduced ability to absorb damage from an enemy increasingly able to inflict it.

If the US does not adjust, then, it is very likely setting itself up for an enormous defeat in a naval engagement against a determined opponent.

This is in fact how WWIII will start (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330823)

Aircraft carriers, the pride and joy of U.S. "force projection", are now obsolete. Russian supersonic sea-skimming missiles can take one out, and they've been selling them to China, Iran, etc.

The threat's been building for over a decade, but now it's built up to a head where there is now a moratorium [bloomberg.com] on construction of aircraft carriers.

So here's the scenario: the U.S. and/or Israel is belligerent with Iran and/or outright attacks it. Iran fires a Sizzler missile at an aircraft carrier -- perhaps an old one like Enterprise that the U.S. sticks out in the Gulf and wants to get rid of anyway. The U.S. retaliates by nuking Iran. World War III begins.

Re:This is in fact how WWIII will start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330915)

The U.S. retaliates by nuking Iran.

And of course, nobody in Iran foresees this outcome, because they're all a bunch of congenital dumbasses.

<rolleyes>

Re:This is in fact how WWIII will start (2, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330977)

Russian supersonic sea-skimming missiles can take one out, and they've been selling them to China, Iran, etc.

I'm not worried as much about the Sizzlers, as, theoretically, all the missile defense research we're doing suggests that we'll be able to intercept those too. air is fairly permeable to electromagnetic radiation and so we can "see" the target at least. In the ocean, its a lot worse... sound bounces all over the place, there's ghost images, light doesn't get through it. So, there's a lot more theoretical limits on detecting things under the ocean.

Really, submarines basically mean that no single side will be able to have control of the ocean surface.. and they are the threat. The only thing I can think of is a continuously operating flight of actively pinging ASW helicopters, and, that will give away our own ships in the battle group as much as find theirs. The other thing is to have a heck of a magnetometer, but, what if the enemy sub's hull isn't made out of a magnetic material? I've heard of satellites attempting to measure the bulge in the ocean surface to find a sub... but that seems aweful dodgy if the sub is really deep.

Re:This is in fact how WWIII will start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330993)

So here's the scenario: the U.S. and/or Israel is belligerent with Iran and/or outright attacks it. Iran fires a Sizzler missile at an aircraft carrier -- perhaps an old one like Enterprise that the U.S. sticks out in the Gulf and wants to get rid of anyway. The U.S. retaliates by nuking Iran. World War III begins.

You have it right. There was no exit strategy for Iraq and it was no mistake. As a result, there is no way to avoid WWIII as far as I can see.

This could well result in certain countries pushing their end-game buttons, resulting in massive losses in Europe and Asia and the eventual dissolution of the United States as economic and political structures around the world topple.

Re:Signs point to surface ship obsolesence (1)

neurojab (15737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330971)

If the US does not adjust, then, it is very likely setting itself up for an enormous defeat in a naval engagement against a determined opponent.


I agree. The US Navy points to its fleet of aircraft carriers as the sign of its naval superiority, but the age of the aircraft carrier is over. In WWII an aircraft carrier could project power around the world, so owning a few of them meant you were a superpower. Now, however, the carrier is costly and vulnerable when compared to submarines, missiles, and long-range bombers. Sure, they're good in a low-level conventional skirmish against a low-tech opponent; but an aircraft carrier would be useless against a country with the resources to invade our territory. They'd sink the carriers, then move on. Why then do we need so many of them? Are we anticipating that many simultaneous low-level conflicts? I guess so.

Inevitable... (2)

Prius (1170883) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330779)

You know, this shows how badly we're going to do in the upcoming Second Cold War. China beats us to the moon, they have awesome subs, and they're slowly poisoning our children with lead and drugs. That's why we should all move to Canada.

Carriers, so big, so beautiful, so dead (5, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330789)

Our fleet hasn't seen real naval combat since WWII. Anti-ship missiles are incredibly lethal and it costs far more to defend against them than it does to fire them. It will only take a few hits to ruin the day for any American task force. Sure, start a war with Iran. After the first carrier takes a hit that knocks it out of action for a two year repair, our fleets will be kept so far out at sea that their tactical usefulness will be zero. Score one for the Iranians.

The whole concept of the super-carrier is very vulnerable at this point given the kinds of weapons available to potnetial hostiles. The only reason why they persist with such glowing reputations is that they have not been put to the test in battle, their vulnerabilities not made clear. In this case they are like the battleships of WWII, or possibly more apt, the battle-cruisers. The battle-cruisers were up-gunned so they could fight with the big boys but they lacked the armor to stay in the fight. Very expensive viking funerals, they were.

The only development that will save the carrier is if active defenses can be improved to the point that nothing but nothing will get through the wall of fire. As it stands, our current ships are simply not survivable. Frigates and destroyers will get goatse'd if hit by a serious cruise missile. The torps out there these days can break a ship in two. The Russians, of course, designed torps that were supposed to be able to bust a carrier's keel in one hit.

Our whole military aparatus is still stuck in the 20th century and is still trying to bring forward concepts that saw their genesis back in the Cold War. It's going to take a serious kicking of our collective asses to force the Pentagon to reevaluate our military and put together something that's realistic and sane. But I'm not sure how big of an ass-kicking it'll take. We're getting a good one in Iraq and the lessons don't seem to be sinking in.

Re:Carriers, so big, so beautiful, so dead (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330855)

Why would would we use carriers to fight Iran when our new Iraqian allies will give us a nice big base for free? Plus all the oil we need to fly planes out of it. Maybe someone has already thought along your lines and decided the next best thing to a carrier parked outside your door was a hostile country parked outside your door.

Re:Carriers, so big, so beautiful, so dead (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330877)

Why would would we use carriers to fight Iran when our new Iraqian allies will give us a nice big base for free? Plus all the oil we need to fly planes out of it. Maybe someone has already thought along your lines and decided the next best thing to a carrier parked outside your door was a hostile country parked outside your door.
Interesting. And how does that seem to be working out for us?

Come On.... This story is over 12 months old! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330791)

This is not news for nerds....or news to anyone. This story is over a year old. How does stuff like this get posted?

The Clinton Legacy (0, Flamebait)

tsunamiiii (975673) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330799)

Ahhhh the Clinton Legacy does just fine even without Hillary. Thanks for selling us out to the Reds Bill!!

Re:The Clinton Legacy (0, Troll)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330959)

I remember one of the cuts Clinton tried to make (or maybe did, I didn't follow it up) was the Navy engineering group responsible for designing silent valves, for use on nuclear submarines. Good call there, Bill. So far as our military is concerned, Clinton doesn't get half the bad rap he deserves, frankly. Not that George Bush is even the slightest bit of an improvement. How we ended up with two such useless people being granted the title of Commander in Chief is beyond me.

Re:The Clinton Legacy (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330985)

Oh look, a "but...but...but...Clinton!"
I haven't seen one of those in a while - how cute!

Let's see, it's been how many years since Clinton?
And most of those years with a cooperative Congress?

The first time is easy... (5, Insightful)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330809)

It's not clear whether the sub actually navigated its way into the heart of the carrier group, or whether it was just sitting there waiting for the other ships to sail by. It's a cheap and easy tactic, and they could have had subs stationed along the common navigation channels or the exercise area (which is no secret) long before the exercise, just in case they got lucky and the carrier group sailed over their heads. Worked for the U-boats, still works today.

But it's not quite so easy the second time. Were the US ships using any active sonar? It doesn't say, but my guess is they weren't, because this is a fairly provocative thing to do -- especially if you're in waters that another country is claiming are its territory. But now that the Chinese have made a provocative move of their own, they'll have the picket ships and helos pinging away and dropping sonobuoys. And it wouldn't surprise me if the Chinese subs all find themselves with a silent new shadow the next time they leave port...

Ah, the bad old days are back again.

Another possibility... (5, Interesting)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330839)

It's entirely possible that the Chinese subs are good enough to escape detection by our fleet, or that we didn't detect it due to user error.

Or, perhaps, it was seen and detected all along but we're just saying it wasn't so that we don't give out an idea of what our tech is or isn't capable of.

No Surprise. (2, Funny)

bmo (77928) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330857)


There are two kinds of seagoing vessels: submarines and targets.

--
BMO

pwned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330881)

lolbackdoor So, I do know that there was some recent fuckup where there was a photo of a submarine propeller, possible the chinese already copied it?

An optimistic alternative (5, Interesting)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330893)

While waiting for informed responses to trickle in here, I found this [google.com] on Google Groups (UseNet):

When the incident first happened I commented that we would never know if the Chinese boat was detected and being tracked, which would provide far more intel than flushing it when first detected.

Considering they were in international waters and responses were limited. My comment was that the telling factor would be determined by how many, if any heads rolled. The USN does not forgive such lapses without someone being sacrificed. As far as I can tell, no one has been punished. That would indicate to me that they had a solution on the Chinese boat and were gaining intel.

We do not know why the Chinese Sub surfaced when they did. What happens below the water is rarely shared with the general public. It's entirely possible that once the Chinese got within a certain distance the American boat 'encouraged' them to surface. Just as when a fighter plane can signal it's non-hostile intents by lowering its gear, a Sub surfaces.

If the Chinese were truly undetected they could have gained far more by staying undetected than the minor political points garnered by surfacing.

Why leak that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330907)

Either this is some counter-intel thing ir the leaker is some kind of traitor. I'm sure the Chinese suspected what the American reaction to this was but why confirm it?

SEEMS THERE ARE A FEW CHINKS IN NATIONAL SECURITY (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330981)

One might expect that discovering a few chinks in the national security armour would be expected during an exercise.
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