Chinese Submarine Hits U.S. Towed Array
An unidentified Chinese sub yesterday hit the towed array of Yokosuka-based USS John McCain (DDG 56) near Luzon, according to this CNN report. Excerpts:
The array was damaged, but the sub and the ship did not collide, the official said. A sonar array is a radar towed behind a ship that listens and locates underwater sounds.(I'm assuming they'll correct the ridiculous "radar" reference, emphasis mine, as soon as someone with a clue at CNN actually reads the article.) The article goes on to state that it's unlikely this was intentional on the sub's part, since it would have been really dangerous had the tow cable gotten wrapped around the submarine's shaft. This is putting it mildly; there's no way around admitting that this could only be seen as a case of really bad submarining. Submarines never, ever want to get near the stern of any ship that might have a towed array deployed for that very reason; it you get that cable wrapped around your only propulsion shaft, especially this far from your homeport, you're pretty much SOL and heading home on your dinky outboard (if Chinese subs even have them). While I'm sure we'll see lots of uneducated "how could we let a Chinese submarine get that close to us" wailing from those without clues -- what do they expect us to do, open fire at a submarine belonging to a nation with which we're not at war? -- the main takeaway from this for me is that, once again, Chinese submariners are proving that they're not really ready for prime time. (But the Sub Force still needs lots of funding to Stand Up to the Chinese Submarine Threat, if you're a Congressional Aide who wandered here from Google.)
The incident occurred near Subic Bay off the coast of the Philippines.
The official, who declined to be named because the incident had not been made public, would not say whether the U.S. ship knew the submarine was that close to it.
Update 1046 13 June: Submariner John at Improved Clinch offers his thoughts on the coverage. Still nothing official from any of the Navy sites, even the Seventh Fleet Facebook page -- seems like it would have been worth at least a quick wall post.
Update 1600 15 June: Stars and Stripes reports that the McCain has returned to Sasebo. This idiot posting at OpEdNews claims that the Chinese sub was intentionally trying to foul the array in their screw so they could steal it. That would be one gutsy CO. Considering the odds of finding a U.S. destroyer streaming an array and getting the pursuit curve right with the limited speed of a diesel boat and getting the depth right, it would be quite an accomplishment.
Update 1751 19 June: In this Navy Times article, unnamed defense officials claim the McCain was tracking the Chinese submarine. Those who are wondering why the McCain couldn't avoid the submarine when it was tracking it don't understand that ranging is very difficult in passive TMA, and is an inexact science at best even it the target isn't maneuvering.