Bubblehead on the ChiCom sub

At The Stupid Shall Be Punished:
USS Kitty Hawk And The Chinese Sub

More on the story noted yesterday. Of particular interest:

The media will probably try to make a big deal out of the presence of Asheville and Seawolf in the exercise, and claim that even our vaunted nuclear attack subs couldn’t stop the Chinese sub from approaching the carrier. Even if that is true, it’s more likely that the subs would have been some distance off, tasked with preparing for the exercise. To re-iterate: any decent diesel boat could approach this close to a carrier during peacetime. This doesn’t mean they could do it during periods of heightened tensions. The Chinese Song-class sub is a tiny little 2,250 ton boat that is the first indigenously-designed Chinese boat; it’s probably about two generations behind Western or Russian diesel boats.

Yes, this isn’t an earth-shaking event. And, like the Iranian drone that supposedly shadowed our carrier in The Gulf, there are ways of looking at this incident which probably underscores the fact that our potential enemy is struggling to enter the modern age. But both should also demonstrate that these potential enemies are not sitting back. We shouldn’t be, either.

For all we know, our own subs had the Chinese Song-class boat dead-to-rights all along. I certainly hope so. And our Navy would have very good reasons for not disclosing such a thing, particularly where diesel subs operated by China are concerned.

If we’re much more capable of tracking these things than common wisdom suggests, we could possibly be best served by keeping that fact quiet. If the shooting starts, the Chicoms all start sneaking up like they’ve been “successfully” practicing for years, and then BANG! they find themselves treading water a thousand feet down.

Overly optimistic? Maybe. Maybe even “probably”.

(Incidentally, if the Seawolf was in position but didn’t pick this thing up, we are in serious trouble.)


  1. If they weren’t tracking it, then that will mean we need a new ASW airplane to replace the clunky old S-3. If we start today, maybe we’ll have the replacement in 25 years or so. At that blazing speed, I don’t see how any country could realistically think they can catch up.

  2. The Washington Times is just full of bad news: Navy officials confirmed yesterday that an aircraft carrier battle group failed to detect a Chinese submarine that surfaced within weapons range of the USS Kitty Hawk. Anti-submarine defenses for the carrier battle group will be reviewed as a result, they said. ‘It was not detected,’ said one Navy official of the encounter with a Chinese diesel-powered attack submarine. ‘And we’re concerned about that, obviously.’ The Chinese Song-class attack submarine surfaced near the carrier in deep waters off Okinawa on Oct. 26. It was armed with wake-homing torpedos and anti-ship cruise missiles.

  3. I don’t understand what China gains by demonstrating this capability. Assuming, for a moment, that it is a capability in the sense that it can be reproduced. Why not keep it to yourself that you might be able to penetrate an adversary carrier group’s ASW screen?

  4. 1. You don’t really know until you try. 2. This may have been the 20th time they did it, and only the first they’ve been caught. 3. The weaker the US looks, the more countries will ally themselves with them instead of us. It’s really something when our version of socialism is less efficient than theirs. It just goes to show what voting for ‘moderates’ gets you. We’d be better of becoming full fleged socialists or going back to our capitalist roots. This is bs.

  5. If it really was undetected then clearly ASW defense needs some review. Perhaps the Chinese submarine force is more capable then had been assumed, and proper corrective measures can be taken. Large ASW screens, more aggressive patrols, whatever. It is also possible that the USN is happy to have the Chinese *think* that it was not detected. After all, if the Chinese think that their tactics work better then they really do… that’s a good thing. For that matter, I’m sure the navy doesn’t mind telling Congress that additional funding is urgently needed because of the Chinese submarine threat too. IMO this really reminds us that 12 carriers is just not that many – one bad break on ASW could blow a massive hole in any operational plan. Alas, 12 is all that there are likely to be for the foreseeable future.

  6. It is entirely possible that the Song was just laying dogo on the bottom and surfaced to say ‘HEY were are here!’ but what does China or teh PLN gain by doing that? they have to know this will cause the USN to step up ASW efforts in that theater… so……?

  7. An air independent sub sitting on the bottom or moving very slow is almost impossible to detect. That said, while it fun to poke the Navy, you do have give them some slack. In peacetime the Navy is prohibited from going ‘active’ sonar except in proscribed locations and times. This is to prevent killing wales and the like. With the rise of air independent boats – the US should seriously look into them. They have significant stealth/cost/safty advantages over the nuclear boats.

  8. I remember a day when we used to piss off our enemies doing stuff like that. I’m all for going back to those days. I believe the first order of business is cutting back the time it takes to field a vehicle to about 1/5th of what it takes today. Hell, my kid’s Nintendo is more powerful than any computer they used to design the F-14 and that took, what, a couple of years? If the plan is for me to become an asexual retard, I’m not going quietly.

  9. On that note, I was reading today that the #1 maintenance problem with the F-14 was its wiring. The wiring was old and brittle and would break all the time, and fixing it was a royal pain. Didn’t anyone ever think of rewiring the F-14 fleet? Would it really have been that hard? They could install some new computer and hydraulic components at the same time, and upgrade to the new engines. Given that the maintenance load was one of the main, if not the main reason for retiring the F-14, I just can’t believe they didn’t take the opportunity to fix the problem. I guess the contractors don’t get paid nearly as much to fix up an old, capable fighter than they do to design, build and deliver a new, less capable one. Just who is running the US military? The White House, or Boeing? Dfens is right, the military procurement system is totally stuffed.

  10. We could be building real stealth ships instead of ships that only cost like they’re stealthy. We could be developing aircraft that use the best of the aerodynamic techniques that make the F-14 and YF-23 great, instead we build these clunky ass jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none birds like the F-22 and F-35. We could build them faster and better and cheaper, but we aren’t allowed to. It doesn’t benefit the government, the contractors, or the US taxpayer to do things the way we do them, yet the system we have is self sustaining. It makes me crazy (as you’ve probably already noticed).

  11. Its been that way longer than I have been alive. Back when they were developing the F-15 some bright boys over at Boeing got the bright idea to re-engine and update the F-4. Working along side the Israelies (who at the time were using predominantly) they came up with some pretty impressive upgrades for the F-4 ‘Kurnass’ (Heavy Hammer) and eventually came up with the spec for what they called the ‘Super Phantom’. In fact, during wind tunnel tests, with the new engine specs, they were able to get the Super Phantom up to around Mach 3. With an avionics update to use the newer missles and equipment, the Super Phantom would have killed the F-15 before it got adopted, so the ‘fighter mafia’ killed the Super Phantom first. Boeing tried to sell the rights and equipment for production to the Israelies, and got their hands slapped because the government didn’t want them to field a fighter that could potentially be used to intercept an SR-71 (yes, the design was that fast). The Israelies would still be using Phantoms, but for the fact that they wore out the airframes. There are low hour airframes still being run by other countries. Same thing happened to the proposed ‘Super Tomcat’. Probably because it would have killed the F-18 E/F, A-12 (dead project anyway), and navalized F-22 (another dead project).

  12. Nicholas – Rewire the F-14?. Being only slighly cynical, I can guarantee you that least 3 studies were done on rewiring the bird. Studies are a contractors bread and butter. You get paid with a built in profit with no requirement to actually do anything. As for them cancelling the F-14. While the claim is that it cost to much to operate. IMO the real issue had nothing to do with cost per say. Its hard to fathom, but under current accounting procedures, building weapon systems & R&D work, studies and so on, has practically ‘no fuctional cost’. This is because the costs can be buried in line items and cross paid from other budgets, or if things to go bad, you could allways throw the project into the black world. Now manpower costs – them there is real money. People understand pay and benefit costs and its hard to bury expense. (You can cross budget the men, but it still sticks out) Therefore, you create a perverse system where the men are viewed as a expense and building a 200 million dollar fighter can be cost justified. IMO what this really points too is a culture in the Pentagon that has ‘lost it’. They have forgotten their mission and have been indoctrinated into the double speak of military jargon without realizing what they are supposed to be doing. A good example, General Curtis LeMay. To be blunt, the man was an asshole and that was the view of the men that worked for him. That said, you knew where you stood, and knew that he had your back. Procurement decisions were easy, if the bird could contribute to his doctine, and its layout didn’t piss him off, you could build it.