Pacific Fleet brass plan visit to China despite sub incident
Reports that a Chinese diesel submarine was stalking a Navy aircraft carrier battle group last month should not affect Adm. Gary Roughead's first visit to China as Pacific Fleet leader, the Navy said.
The Washington Times reported yesterday that a Chinese Song-class diesel-powered attack submarine was seen within five miles of the carrier Kitty Hawk and its accompanying warships and was undetected until it surfaced within firing range.
The submarine was spotted by a routine surveillance flight by one of the U.S. carrier group's planes on Oct. 26, the report said. A Navy spokeswoman in Washington had no comment on the report.
The four-star admiral, whose headquarters is at Pearl Harbor, is scheduled to make an official call on the U.S. ambassador in Beijing; visit the amphibious landing ship USS Juneau, which will be participating in a search-and-rescue exercise with the People's Liberation Army Navy; and make a port visit to the southern city of Zhanjiang.
"Enhancing our navy-to-navy relationships is especially important so we can cooperate in our many areas of mutual interest," Roughead said in a written statement.
"Through routine dialogue and exercise, our navies can improve the ability to coordinate naval operations in missions such as maritime security, search and rescue, and humanitarian relief," he wrote.
Both Roughead's week-long visit and the Navy's participation in the search-and-rescue operations are a follow-up to a visit by the Chinese navy to Pearl Harbor and San Diego in September.
The second phase of the joint exercises is to occur off the coast of China during Roughead's visit.
Before the September visit by the Chinese navy, officials said the exercises would contribute to improved working relationships and act as a foundation for increasing disaster responsiveness and promoting regional security.
Since assuming command of all U.S. forces in the Pacific last year, Adm. William Fallon has pushed to increase bilateral military contacts, saying the two countries must understand each other to avoid miscalculation.
Fallon has visited China three times since taking command and has urged China to be more transparent about its military plans. He wants more Chinese officers to meet their U.S. counterparts, and asked China to show the United States more of its capabilities.