Indian submarine says an unfriendly hello to Chinese destroyers

So an Indian submarine was caught snooping around the two ships that China sent on an anti-piracy mission to the Gulf of Aden. The South China Morning Post (subscription only | available here) reports that the two ships and the Indian submarine were "locked in a tense standoff for at least half and hour" on January 15th. (linkthanks V Anantha Nageswaran)

According to the report—the Indian submarine tried to jam the warships’ sonar systems, and tried to evade them by diving deeper. But it was "eventually" cornered and force to surface. In the meantime, the Chinese ships activated their anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters and prepared their torpedoes for action.

That’s how the movie ended. But what the Chinese naval strategists will be worrying about is "just when did this movie start"? They will also be worrying about whether the ending was somehow or the other scripted by the Indians.

In any case, as the SCMP points out, while "provocative and unfriendly" such an incident is hardly unusual. China knows this all too well, given that its submarines buzzed a US naval carrier group and its ‘fishing boats’ travel on two thousand mile fishing expeditions.

Given how rare it is to see a Chinese destroyer in the Arabian Sea, it is understandable that the Indian navy wanted to have a closer look. And even if the SCMP might not have all the details right, the message from this incident cannot be lost on the international community. Not least in Beijing.

Related Link: Pragmatic Euphony on the China and the military equation

10 thoughts on “Indian submarine says an unfriendly hello to Chinese destroyers”

  1. Nitin,

    IMO, while the Chinese folks would surely be wondering about the start of the movie, it is unlikely that this sort of end could have been scripted by India.

    If the Indian sub-marine could stay undetected, it would have done so for as long as possible.. testing the Chinese capabilities on various parameters (and its own in turn). I doubt if they surfaced because they figured *everything* out and decided to come up.

    Nor could it be a part of diplomatic signaling – because there are plenty of ways to send such signals that don’t involve allowing Chinese warships to exercise against our subs, and the Navy would perhaps never agree to such a thing anyway.

    PS: this is not to say that the Navy would not have considered the possibility of being forced to surface. But that’s unscripted.

  2. For a change, its good to hear such news where Indian navy is proactive instead of just reactive.

  3. The Pakistanis [via their NATO patrons] are investing very heavily both on their missile and air power capabilities and also on new naval acquisitions.

    Indians must prepare very fast to prevent a China – Pak alliance on the Indian Ocean Region.

  4. If collection of intelligence was the main objective and if the sub got within range of jamming the Chinese ships’ sonars, then the operation may be a success for the Indian Navy.

    However, you have to question the credibility of the news report as it comes from the state-controlled Chinese media. See the language: “The Indian vessel left without further confrontation.”

    Confrontation? The sub didnt launch any weapons nor did it threaten to launch. According to the report itself, the sub may have been collecting data about the two Chinese ships.

  5. I’m not sure how much credibility to give this report, if it’s being told from the Chinese pov.

  6. Do we know where exactly the incident happened? This kind of thing happens all the time. It’s just that the Chinese usually don’t show up on the western seas.

  7. Rediff reports today that the reports are bogus according to South China Morning Post

    “Subsequent investigations revealed that the details of the ‘standoff’ was actually from a Chinese military drill in 2008 and had no factual basis, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday”

    available here

  8. That Indian Navy’s submarines could track two destroyers show that the submarine commander has been able to penetrate the figure-of-eight sheild provided the the destroyers sonar system. It shows lack of preparedness or poor training for the ASW officers on board the destroyers.

    Launching ASW helicopters to force the submarine to surface is not verifiable. The submarine commander had sufficient time to move out of the zone.

    The commander of the submarine deserves to be congratulated.

  9. if indian submarine really wanted to do some thing it could have destroyed the destroyers even before they activated ASW .

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