The recent reports in the Chinese media alleging a stand-off between the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and the Indian Navy resulting in an encounter forcing the Indian submarine to surface has been deemed ‘over the top’ by a top naval expert.
Commodore Uday Bhaskar, senior defense and strategic affairs expert called the idea ‘professionally untenable’. “It is simply not possible to force a submarine to surface without using ordinance of some kind or the other – whether depth charges or whatever,” he said, adding, “They’ve also been saying the Indian submarine followed the warship from the Straits of Malacca to the Straits of Hormuz. The problem with that is the speed of submarines simply isn’t comparable with that of a warship. The entire story is poppycock. No naval professional would accept such an idea. Perhaps the story is meant simply for dramatic effect for the Chinese people.”
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) had reported an Indian Kilo class submarine to have been trailing Chinese warships deployed on an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden, further alleging there to have been a ‘tense stand-off between the two navies on January 15 this year.
The SCMP reported the confrontation to have taken place when the Chinese picked up the Indian submarine on their sonar which the sub then tried to jam. Reportedly, the Chinese then dispatched Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) helicopters and readied torpedoes for firing.
Trailing and sparring between naval ships is considered quite normal on the high seas and is done to test the skills and sensors of the vessels. “Even peaceful navies, friendly navies do this. American ships do it with British submarines. This kind of friendly sparring goes on all the time. Normally, it is par for the course for navies on the high seas to trail each other,” says the Commodore, adding, “A submarine would try to test its skill and sensors against any other naval ship it encounters. This is especially the practice between friendly navies or navies of countries that have a reasonable political relation ship. Obviously the Indian Navy and the PLAN don’t have that kind of relationship so far.”
Commodore Uday Bhaskar ends with curiosity about how this news report even came to be published. “What interests me is the reason behind this story? Why are the Chinese media saying this at all? No naval professional would buy it.”