No Peking Duck For Thanksgiving
While those of us at home here on Thanksgiving are enjoying our turkey feasts, the Sailors of the Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group will be eating on the mess decks out in the South China Sea because of the strange actions of the Chinese government. USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and five other ships, including my old boat USS Topeka (SSN 754), were unexpectedly denied entry into Hong Kong yesterday for unknown reasons.
There wasn't a good explanation given by the Chinese; in this Reuters article, it's suggested that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs blocked the planned visit for some perceived slight. The State Department wouldn't speculate on what the reasons might be, but I figure it's that the Chinese Foreign Ministry is filled with assholes.
Other than putting out the families of the Sailors who traveled to Hong Kong for a mid-deployment reunion, this really puts the Supply Departments of the various ships in a bind. I'm sure they were planning on having most of their crews ashore for the holiday; now, they'll have to feed probably 3x the planned number of customers a traditional turkey dinner -- and I bet they don't have enough turkeys thawed. Expect lots of Sailors to be really pissed off at the inscrutable Chinese this Thanksgiving Day.
Update 0802 22 Nov: The Chinese Foreign Ministry apparently backed down and allowed the ships into port for what they said were "humanitarian concern only" -- meaning, they knew they had a PR nightmare on their hands from all the families that they let into Hong Kong who weren't going to see their Sailors. So I wonder what it was that set the Chinese off originally -- the Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama? The complaints about Chinese toys? Selling Patriot missiles to Taiwan? We might never know...
Update 2229 22 Nov: Not surprisingly, the U.S. ships weren't just hanging around with their noses pressed against the 12-mile limit wondering if they'd be let in; they were already heading northeast towards Japan when the delayed Chinese approval came in, and they aren't turning around. Hopefully Seventh Fleet will be able to get them a good replacement port call. And maybe when the next Chinese ship comes looking to pull into San Diego, with more than half their fuel gone, we might forget to provide diplomatic clearance...
Update 2252 29 Nov: It turns out it was the Patriot missile sale to Taiwan that set the Chinese off. Plus a little bit of Dalai Lama.