On 26 October 2006 a Chinese Song-class diesel-powered attack submarine was seen on the surface near the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), beyond the ship's horizon but reportedly within torpedo range. The Kitty Hawk battle group was near Okinawa. Reports of the incident imply that the sighting was a surprise to the U.S. battle group, reminiscent of the embarrassment when a Soviet Victor III-class submarine put up its sail near a U.S. carrier during the latter stages of the Cold War. Both incidents can be read as wake-up calls for U.S. ASW, and the current incident can be read as proof that this capability has stagnated since the end of the Soviet threat. Because the Song is a current-generation diesel submarine, the incident will also fuel fears that the largely passive techniques developed against Soviet nuclear-powered submarines are ineffective against the diesel submarines operated by countries such as Iran.
World Naval Developments: Back in the Surveillance Game
By Norman Friedman, Author, The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon Systems