January 12, 2018

Was it actually a North Korean submarine that entered Japan's contiguous zone?

Japan's Mainichi News reported January 11, 2018 that:

"TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A Chinese frigate and an unidentified foreign submerged submarine were spotted Thursday just outside Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands [near Miyako Island] in the East China Sea, the Defense Ministry said, prompting Tokyo to protest to Beijing over the sailing..." 

PETE'S COMMENT

The Japanese Navy has almost automatically assumed (or decided to announce) that because a Chinese (Type 054 or 054A) frigate was detected, the submarine must also be Chinese.

My alternative theory is that the Chinese Navy spotted a North Korean (NK) submarine. China wishing to avoid another Cheonan Incident pursued the NK sub to warn-off that sub. The Cheonan Incident  was when a NK submarine torpedoed a South Korean surface ship in 2010. An NK sub would also be a threat to Japanese surface ships.

The Chinese frigate's actions is part of China's new policy of pressuring NK to be less belligerent in its actions and threats. China wishes to de-escalate NK vs (South Korea, Japan, US) tensions.


Photo of the Chinese submarine that was forced or decided to surface in Japan's Senkaku Islands area, January 11, 2018.
---

Chinese submarine?

Comments, with links, received from readers since the first vague Japanese reports, strongly indicate it was a Chinese submarine that surfaced and showed the Chinese flag (above). The submarine appears to be a Type 093 (NATO designation "Shang" class SSN).

Another conclusion is that Japan is utilising its undersea sensor array to detect NK and Chinese submarines. See array MAP B below. The array includes seafloor hydrophones and other sensors, which is strung from the Japanese home islands, via Okinawa (main) Island and via Miyako (in Japan's Senkakus) Island etc. 

MAP A - Neatly illustrates the Japanese Senkakus vs Chinese Diaoyu Islands territorial dispute Significantly Taiwan is also in dispute against Japan. Taiwan calling them the Tiaoyutai Islands. (Map coutesy Malaysia Chronicle, January 18, 2018) 
---

The Chinese action could be a freedom of navigation exercise (FONOPS) against Japan's disputed Senkakus territorial claim. This may also be a Chinese method to test Japan's anti-submarine defences (including sensitivity of the Japanese seafloor SOSUS-IUSS array in detecting the Chinese sub). The Chinese frigate could also detect counter-moves by Japanese patrolling Soryu or Oyashio class submarines.


MAP B is from page 54 “Map 4. The US ‘Fish Hook’ Undersea Defense Line” in Desmond Ball and Richard Tanter, The Tools of Owatatsumi Japan’s Ocean Surveillance and Coastal Defence Capabilities (2015, ANU Press) http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/p309261/pdf/book.pdf?referer=444. The map may depict past or current locations of the eastern Asia - inner western Pacific SOSUS-IUSS seafloor array. 
---

Pete

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

It was Chinese submarine not NK submarine [1].

[1] http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/20180112-OYT1T50097.html (YOMIURI ONLINE)
“JMSDF (Japan Maritime Self - Defense Force) destroyer confirmed that the submarine emerged on the high seas of the East China Sea on the afternoon of 12th, sailing with the Chinese flag hoisting. The government strictly protested to the Chinese side and strongly urged the prevention of recurrence.”

Regards

PUNTER said...

http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/politics/list/201801/images/PK2018011202100068_size0.jpg

https://cdn.mainichi.jp/vol1/2018/01/12/20180112ddm001010003000p/9.jpg


The sub was forced to show its national flag.
Probably, PLAN tested hiding sub under a big surface ship, it's a classic submarine tactical maneuver.


Anonymous said...

I lean more towards China conducting an ASW exercise since the Chinese frigate is most likely a type 054 from the Northern fleet (and as always pushing, testing the territorial boundaries from its salami strategy). A new type 054, the fourth one, just joined that fleet with 2 more to come.
KQN

PUNTER said...

According to Yomiuri Shinbun,
http://sp.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/20180112-OYT1T50097.html
Japanese Ministey of Defense thinks that Chinese sub was highly likely a nuclear powered sub.

PUNTER said...

In photos, shape of the sub suggests it was probably Type 093 Shang-class (商級) nuclear attack submarine.

http://image02w.seesaawiki.jp/n/2/namacha2/9bdc9227f8ec6d53.jpg

https://www.jiji.com/news/photos/photo_news/images/658/0025891784.jpg



PUNTER said...

For me this case is reminiscent of 2 cases in the past.

(1.) In January 2011, when Robert Gates visited Beijing to meet Hu Jintao, Chinese military tested flight of J-20. Hu didn't know that.
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2011/01/12/world/asia/12fighter.html

(2.) In September 2014,
" As Xi arrived in India on Wednesday, reports said 1,000 Chinese soldiers had entered a disputed area in the mountainous northern Ladakh region, sparking a stand-off with Indian troops."
https://www.dawn.com/news/1132984

My hypothetical theory is, perhaps Xi Jinping didn't know PLAN's move of this case.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

I think JMSDF has identified the acoustic fingerprint of the Chinese submarine.

I worried about aggresiveness of PLAN and I remember the case where Song-class was detected by US Navy. “According to the defense officials, the Chinese Song-class diesel-powered attack submarine shadowed the Kitty Hawk undetected and surfaced within five miles of the carrier Oct. 26 [2].” But, I do not believe this statement, because the Song-class is too noisy to approach to US Navy without being detected. Truth is forced sufacing of Chinese submarine by US Navy.

[1] https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2006/nov/13/20061113-121539-3317r/
(China sub stalked U.S. fleet)
“A Chinese submarine stalked a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group in the Pacific last month and surfaced within firing range of its torpedoes and missiles before being detected, The Washington Times has learned.”

[2] ibid

Regards

Peter Coates said...

Thanks Anonymous, KQN and PUNTER

Yes it overwhelmingly appears it was a Chinese submarine. I'm adjusting the article text accordingly.

Regards

Pete

PUNTER said...

Statement of Chinese ministry of foreign affairs:

" Chinese Navy conducted tracking and monitoring (Japanese ships)...."

https://youtu.be/gxXASShbjbc

"spritual victory" again.....

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

PM Malcolm Turnbull will attend a meeting of Japan's National Security Council hosted by PM Abe [1]. I believe NK ballistic missile and Chinese submarine invasion in Senkaku Island [2] will be dicussede in NSC. Recentry, Chinese paper criticized Austraila [3]. This kind of meeting is very usefull for Australia and Japan.

[1] http://www.smh.com.au/world/turnbull-invited-to-the-control-power-of-japanese-security-policy-20180117-h0jsce.html
(Turnbull invited to the 'control power' of Japanese security policy)
[2] According to Defence minister Onodera, it was Shang Class SSN and Destroyer warned many times by using active sonar.
[3] http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1082374.shtml
(Australia least friendly country to China in 2017: poll)

Regards

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at 18/1/18 9:37 AM]

Thanks for the info.

As http://www.smh.com.au/world/turnbull-invited-to-the-control-power-of-japanese-security-policy-20180117-h0jsce.html indicates the "visiting forces agreement" would also allow Japanese troops to train in Australia and Australian troops to train in Japan.

Regards

Pete

Josh said...

I suspect the Type 54 was there to cover the baffles of the Type 93 boat during training. Remember that even though the first island chain is in the PLANs back yard, it has been the home playing field for 7th FLT for over half a century*. The PLAN can't train or test any of its ships or boats without threat of them being monitored by USN platforms before the Chinese can even kick the tires or do a shake down cruise to fit it out. So I think this was training/testing cruise with surface ASW asset assigned to scare off MPAs and clear baffles.


*Interesting dynamic of backyard versus home field, where your backyard is someone else's home field.


Cheers,
Josh

https://squidjigger.com/
Josh@squidjigger.com
twitter: @squid_jigger

Peter Coates said...

Hi Josh

Your 19/1/18 6:25AM comment seems highly likely.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at 20/1/18 1:42 PM]

Thanks for http://gendai.ismedia.jp/articles/-/54187?page=2

Unfortunately the English translation of the article from Japanese is difficult to understand.

The context of the meeting is very subtle.

A report in English of the whole background and meaning of the meeting is needed.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete (Revision of comment at 20/1/18 1:42 PM)

---In the emergency time in the Korean Peninsula, when US President Donald Trump has taken a military action against NK, concrete measures to rescue Japanese and Americans from SK are payed attention---

Last November, the first meeting of Japan and five members of United Nations Command in SK (USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and France) was held secretly in the US Air Force (USAF) Onsan Base located about 30 km south of Seoul to discsuss on rescue operation of their citizens. It was a military official consultation and SK was excluded because of possible information leakage to NK through SK Blue House [1]. Japanese attendance (Councilor of National Security Secretariat, Staff transferred from the uniform team of Ministry of Defense (MoD)) transferred from USAF Yokota Base in Tokyo to Onsan Base by USAF plane.

Numbers of the citizens in each region of SK, which USA knows, were reported by using huge screen and projector. Measures of transforting the citizens to both Busan and Incheon ports via air, land and sea were explained.

The US Department of State (DoS) informed Korea's diplomacy and security authorities being excruded from the first meeting. SK complained strongly and could attend the second meeting held in December.

Until then, these kinds of meeting by US National Security Council (NSC) and Department of Defense (DoD) and their Japanese counterparts (J-NSC, Depatment of Forign Affair (DFA)) were held secretly, and US DoS and J-MoD were excruded because their abilities of information security management were suspected.

In multilateral talks on NK situation, leakage of confidential information is fatal issue.

[1] The executive office and official residence of the SK head of state

Regards

PUNTER said...

The Chinese nuclear powered attack submarine, improved Shang-class type 093B, entered Senkaku's contiguous zone at same time with a Chinese Frigate, and the 2 boats sailed same route. It's highly likely, PLAN thought the type 093B would never be detected by JMSDF. If PLAN considered even a very slim possibility of been detected, the sub would have not entered Senkaku's contiguous zone.

PUNTER said...

The 2 boats, type 093B sub and a Frigate, entered Senkaku's contiguous water at the same time and sailed same route. This cannot be a coincidence. It was planned act. Its possible purpose was to make the sub not been detected.

PUNTER said...

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministry say, China's Frigate Yiyang entered Senkaku's contiguous water to chased 2 Japanese ships. They say nothing about Chinese submarine type 093B. Seems, it was shame and humiliation for PLAN that its sub was detected and monitored.

http://www.ecns.cn/m/2018/01-12/288049.shtml
http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-01/11/c_136888906.htm
http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/t1525880.shtml

PUNTER said...

sorry for posting many times,

According to Sankei on January 11, Japan's defense minister said,

" it is first time that a submerged submarine and a Chinese (surfaced) ship entered into contiguous water at the same time".

「潜航した潜水艦と中国艦艇が同時に接続水域に入ったのは初めてだ」

http://www.sankei.com/politics/amp/180111/plt1801110026-a.html

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at 21/1/18 12:29 AM]

Thanks for your description.

I'll turn it into an article in a few days

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi PUNTER

Thanks for your comments and links.

I'll also turn them into an article in a few days.

Regards

Pete

PUNTER said...

so far my theory is,

China was very confident that its type 093B submarine would not be detected.
But, China wanted to know whether its type 093B submarine was really stealth or not.