Three possibilities:

1. A nose-tweak aimed at showing us — and India — that China’s capabilities are further along than we thought.

2. Another fictitious threat concocted by Bush to distract the sheeple from the things that are “really important,” like a modest minimum-wage hike.

3. A whole lot of nuthin’.

Where are our Navy readers? You’ve debunked this sort of alarmism for me before; you can do it again. Don’t let me down.

Update: More worrisome than the sub encounter:

The incident is a setback for the aggressive U.S.-China military exchange program being promoted by Adm. Fallon, who has made several visits to China in recent months in an attempt to develop closer ties.

However, critics of the program in the Pentagon say China has not reciprocated and continues to deny U.S. military visitors access to key facilities, including a Beijing command center. In contrast, Chinese military visitors have been invited to military exercises and sensitive U.S. facilities.

Update: People are commenting that we used to stalk Soviet subs, and vice versa, all the time. Right, but the point of the article, as I understood it, wasn’t that China’s playing the same game now but rather that they’re playing it well enough to get within firing range of our carrier without being detected. Is that cause for concern? If not, why not?

Update: One of the boss’s readers e-mailed her this. Did Gertz’s sources feed him disinformation?

[T]he Navy will not generally comment on whether they detected the Chinese submarine or not. Any decision to do so would have to take place at the level of the Pentagon or higher. The reasoning is simple: you don’t want the enemy to know your vulnerabilities OR your capabilities. The only way to know whether this diesel sub was being tracked or not is to wait until we are at war with China. Even then you might never know since the poor, noisy thing would probably be at the bottom of the sea before it ever got within a dozen miles of a US aircraft carrier group.

If you’re a betting person, put chips on the fact the Chinese sub’s whereabouts were known the second it left Chinese ports. The fact it was able to surface within visual distance of a USS aircraft carrier is due to the simple fact that we are not at war with China — yet. I pity the Chinese sub’s crew if they try that during wartime.

Update: Reader Jason comments below:

I’m a nuclear submarine officer with extensive experience in this area.

This is less than a half-story, it’s a 1/10th story. We know almost nothing of the facts, and they won’t be released for at least 25 years.

Unfortunately, any submariner with any knowledge of why this is a non-issue will not be able comment in order to debunk it. Let the media have their headline.

Update: Bob Owens thinks this was an ambush, not a stalking, and that the intended target wasn’t the Kitty Hawk but Admiral Bill Fallon.

Tags: China