Chinese sub ‘practiced’ launch against USS Reagan as South China Sea becoming more militarized

Friday, December 18, 2015 by

( U.S. defense officials say a Chinese submarine practiced a ballistic missile launch against the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during a close encounter several weeks ago, another sign of the continuing militarization of the South China Sea by Beijing.

As reported by the Washington Free Beacon, the Chinese sub incident actually took place near the Sea of Japan, but it was a violation of China’s 2014 commitment to the multinational Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, which is known as CUES and aims to reduce the risk of an armed exchange between naval vessels. And, it mimics other recent provocative action by China in South China Sea waters.

Defense officials described the encounter between the Chinese sub and the Reagan as “serious,” the WFB reported.

The web site noted that a section of the non-binding 2014 agreement says commanders at sea should avoid any action that might lead to an accident or other mishap. Among those to be avoided include “simulation of attacks by aiming guns, missiles, fire control radar, torpedo tubes or other weapons in the direction of vessels or aircraft encountered,” the agreement says.

The WFB said that U.S. Navy officials have since briefed congressional staff of the incident, which took place during the weekend of Oct. 24, just says before the USS Lassens sailed to within 12 nautical miles of manmade Chinese islands in the South China Sea, an action that invoked heavy criticism from Beijing.

The White House has kept the targeting incident quiet to avoid ramping up tensions between the Defense Department and the People’s Liberation Army.
Pentagon officials had no comment on the incident. The WFB first reported on the incident Nov. 3:

The Chinese submarine sailed very close to the Reagan during the weekend of Oct. 24, said defense officials familiar with reports of the incident.

The Reagan arrived on-station in Japan Oct. 1, replacing the USS Washington strike group there. Aircraft carrier groups have multiple anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

News of the encounter comes as two Chinese warships arrive for a port call at Pearl Harbor a week ago for a five-day visit.

Some lawmakers have expressed concern about the latest targeting incident.

“If true, this would be yet another case of China trying to show us that they can hold our forces in the region at risk,” Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on Sea Power told the WFB.

“Coming on the heels of anti-satellite tests and other demonstrations, this latest incident should be a reminder of the destabilizing course that China is on and the challenges we face in maintaining a stable military balance in the Asia-Pacific region,” he added.

Rick Fisher, a China military expert with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, told the WFB the fact that the carrier strike force was aware of the potential targeting meant that the Chinese sub was under observation by U.S. naval forces.

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Washington Free Beacon

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