Comment on "Playing chicken with China"

letter to the editor
As a retired CO of two US Navy nuclear submarines and a former Deputy Commander of ASW Forces, Pacific, you are wrong.  Chinese submarines have every right to go wherever they wish in international waters. If they decide to operate in the vicinity of US Navy forces, we have the right to track them - very aggressively - if we can. In Cold War times it was standard procedure to try and track a diesel submarine with active sonar and ASW aircraft until the submarine was forced to surface by exhaustion of its air or battery. (This obviously doesn't work for long-endurance nuclear subs, but you can make clear that they'd been detected and are alive only because we're not at war.)

ASW on a modern diesel submarine is hard. It takes lots of practice.

It is the Navy's job to detect and track an intruder. We need to do it to protect our forces in wartime and must practice it in peacetime. Failure to do so is our failure not a Chinese provocation.  The Chinese submarine is responsible to ensure it doesn't collide with our surface forces or interfere with activities protected under the international rules of the road for safety at sea, such as flight activities. Submarine to surface vessel collisions with the submarine submerged are always the fault of the submarine and usually end badly for it, if the surface vessel is sturdily constructed, as is a warship.

Albert Schwartz
Capt., USN Ret.
Port St. Lucie, FL

As a retired CO of two US Navy nuclear submarines and a former Deputy Commander of ASW Forces, Pacific, you are wrong.  Chinese submarines have every right to go wherever they wish in international waters. If they decide to operate in the vicinity of US Navy forces, we have the right to track them - very aggressively - if we can. In Cold War times it was standard procedure to try and track a diesel submarine with active sonar and ASW aircraft until the submarine was forced to surface by exhaustion of its air or battery. (This obviously doesn't work for long-endurance nuclear subs, but you can make clear that they'd been detected and are alive only because we're not at war.)

ASW on a modern diesel submarine is hard. It takes lots of practice.

It is the Navy's job to detect and track an intruder. We need to do it to protect our forces in wartime and must practice it in peacetime. Failure to do so is our failure not a Chinese provocation.  The Chinese submarine is responsible to ensure it doesn't collide with our surface forces or interfere with activities protected under the international rules of the road for safety at sea, such as flight activities. Submarine to surface vessel collisions with the submarine submerged are always the fault of the submarine and usually end badly for it, if the surface vessel is sturdily constructed, as is a warship.

Albert Schwartz
Capt., USN Ret.
Port St. Lucie, FL