The United States continues to grieve the final, most likely, loss of one of the most advanced and most expensive ($ 3 billion) strike ships in its fleet, the USS Connecticut multipurpose nuclear submarine. Now this submarine with badly destroyed bow compartments, smashed up as a result of an underwater collision that happened on October 2 in the South China Sea, rests in the dock at the largest American naval base in the Pacific Ocean (Guam island).
“At least the USS Connecticut will be decommissioned for years to come. And, perhaps, the damage as a result of the accident is so serious that the submarine will prematurely retire, ” Craig Cooper, military columnist for Forbes magazine. The author believes that the situation is aggravated by the almost complete absence of spare parts for the world’s most high-tech submarines of this type, which, due to their extreme high cost, are literally piece items. Indeed, in order to save the series of “Sea Wolves”, which was originally supposed to have 30 submarines, the Pentagon decided to limit it to only three copies. One of which the unfortunate USS Connecticut was.
Meanwhile, the command of the US Navy continues to figure out what exactly was the sudden reason for the loss of a key combat unit for its 7th fleet. Although the investigation is a long way off, the submarine commander Cameron Aljilani, his senior assistant and the operator of the sonar complex were surprisingly quickly removed from their posts and ruthlessly kicked out of service. So far, only one thing has been more or less definitely officially declared: during a planned patrol in the South China Sea, USS Connecticut at a decent speed ran into an underwater rock, the existence of which in the navigation area the crew had no idea.
According to a spokesman for the 7th US Navy Fleet Hayley Sims, this object was an underwater rock that was not marked on the maps of the US Navy. Therefore, the collision with her was sudden. And it looks very strange because the South China Sea and the submarines and surface ships of various countries have long been traveled far and wide. Especially in recent decades, when the military confrontation between the United States and China has become one of the main factors in world politics, not only in the Asia-Pacific region. All shoals and other navigational obstacles there have long been marked on any navigational charts.
Where, it seems, could have come from that seamount, about which the Americans before the disaster of USS Connecticut, as it turns out now, – not in a dream, not in spirit?
In fact, there are only two options. Or we have before us a rare natural phenomenon, unnoticed by anyone before the accident, as a result of some tectonic activity in this area of the Pacific Ocean floor, which no one could have foreseen. Either that seamount is clearly man-made. And then it is curious to try to understand: by whom, how and why it was secretly erected?
Actually, the same two versions in his commentary to the RIA Novosti agency on this story were expressed by the former chief of the General Staff, First Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy (in 1998-2005), Admiral Viktor Kravchenko… According to our naval commander, the underwater object could indeed be absent on American maps if it was only a recently appeared mountain. “The mountains are growing, it is quite possible,” said the former chief of the General Staff of the Russian Navy.
But another assumption of the admiral is much more significant: the mysterious object could have arisen artificially. It could be purposefully “piled on” by China in order to exclude the passage of submarines of a potential enemy in this area.
If this is so, then it turns out that the American “Sea Wolf” fell into a trap, which on the route of its patrol was prudently set up by the Chinese for this very purpose. And then it turns out that the construction of artificial underwater rocks is a new element of the anti-submarine defense system of the PRC coast. In favor of the assumption that this is exactly how the case with USS Connecticut was, it seems to me, several factors speak at once.
First: the Americans are carefully hiding what their submariners were doing on that fateful trip. But it is known that the recently created Yulin, the most important base of Chinese nuclear submarines, is located in the South China Sea. A couple of years ago, her appearance on the real tourist pearl of China – the island of Hainan – came as a real surprise to the CIA.
The fact is that, judging by the information of the American press, confirmed by images from space satellites, the PLA naval submarines are not openly at the Yulin berths. Accompanied by tugs, returning from the campaign, they immediately hide in the tunnels of a huge cave, carved into the coastal rock. Approximately the same one that was built at one time in our Balaklava, and later – in Ara-Guba by the Soviet Northern Fleet.
The presence of the same cyclopean shelter on the island of Hainan, most likely, explained the long ignorance of American intelligence regarding the true purpose of the activity of the Chinese military around Yulin.
And when it became clear that the latest Chinese Project 093 Shan multipurpose nuclear submarines, built in 2005-2010, had long been moored at this naval base, the Pentagon’s espionage interest in this island grew many times over. “The tunnels close the eyes of potential adversaries who want to understand the state of the submarines and deprive them of the opportunity to determine the state of China’s military preparations, as well as to obtain information that is critical for assessing Beijing’s intentions and plans,” he commented in 2020 on the unexpectedly opened United States confidential former Director of Operations, Joint Reconnaissance Center, US Pacific Command Karl Schuster…
It is clear that since then, flights of American reconnaissance aircraft of the P-8A Poseidon type to Hainan Island have become regular. But at least they can be fixed with radar airspace monitoring devices. But for obvious reasons, for the most part, one can only guess about the presence of nuclear submarines of the US Navy in the same waters and for the same purposes. But do not hesitate: they are constantly spinning there too!
Naturally, the PLA naval command is not happy about this. Then it is simply obliged to take measures to suppress the underwater tracking of its nuclear-powered ships and to impede the navigation of uninvited guests near strategically important Yulin. And not only near him.
It seems that Beijing has decided not to limit itself to the installation of an extensive network of underwater hydrophones at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, similar to the long-functioning US SOSUS system. Indeed, recently he has perfected the technology of erecting various artificial structures on the ocean floor. And even whole man-made islands.
In more detail: about seven years ago, the PRC leadership began implementing a large-scale reclamation program to create artificial islands, which in the West was called the “Great Wall of Sand”. For the first time this name was used in March 2018 by the commander of the American Pacific Fleet, Admiral Harry harris, already then, obviously worried that it would not end with anything good off the coast of China for his subordinates.
Judging by the open press, the essence of this program is simple. Since the delivery of rocky soil from the mainland of the PRC and its dumping in unthinkable quantities to the bottom in the sea area of interest to Beijing is too expensive and time-consuming, an ordinary coral reef is selected in advance. Then, with special vessels, he begins to wash it up with sand from the bottom of the ocean. Then – concreting to create an integral structure.
To move things forward, in 2017, the Chinese built the world’s largest dredger the size of a light aircraft carrier. They called her “Tian Kun Hao” (“Creator of the Magic Islands”). Its displacement is 17,000 tons, length is 140 meters. The vessel is capable of remotely crushing pitfalls, and then pumping their fragments, sand and mud over a distance of up to 15 kilometers. It is also able to pump about six thousand cubic meters of sand from a depth of 35 meters to the surface every hour.
Is it any wonder that during the formation of the Chinese “Great Wall of Sand” along the PRC coast, at least seven artificial islands have already been erected, most of which have become military installations with their garrisons, administrative and residential buildings, marinas and airstrips. So, Johnson’s reef, Gaven’s reef, Quarten’s reef and others have been turned into full-fledged islands.
However, if you are able to wash out sufficiently strong, vast and safe areas of land in the middle of the ocean surface, then what should you, without much publicity, in the words of our either just a very sagacious or well-informed Admiral Kravchenko, quickly “pile up” an underwater mountain in the depths , say, the South China Sea? Let’s say, somewhere on the approaches to the most important naval base Yulin? So that the various USS Connecticut and the like would not run around her without asking? And then identify the navigational obstacles that have arisen only on those maps that are in the hands of only their submariners? Which, with their help, will make it easy to bypass unknown shoals to anyone else at the exit from their own bays.
This is, of course, only the Free Press version. Although, if it is correct, it becomes especially amusing to re-read the official statements of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which are fired from there over and over again after the embarrassment of American submariners in the South China Sea.
For example, on November 3, an official representative of the Chinese diplomatic department Wang Wenbin emphasized that the American side deliberately did not indicate the specific location of the accident, stating only that it occurred in the so-called waters of the Indo-Pacific region. Wang Wenbin noted that the United States did not indicate the route of the nuclear submarine, the specific location of the accident, did it occur in the exclusive economic zone or in the territorial waters of other countries?
After all, not only it seems to us that in fact the Chinese were aware of this accident from the very beginning and now they are simply gracefully trolling Washington, driven into a dead end.
However, the reader may ask the following question: how did it happen that one of the most advanced nuclear submarines, equipped with state-of-the-art hydroacoustics, suddenly became “blind”, “deaf” and banally “sawed” into an underwater rock? In fact, within the framework of our version, this is explained quite simply.
If USS Connecticut carried out reconnaissance in the territorial waters of China (namely, this is hinted at by the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC on November 3), then, of course, it did it with maximum secrecy. Its hydroacoustic complex probably worked exclusively in the direction finding mode, not showing itself as active impulses. Thus, you can hear the noises of the propellers of the ship of a potential enemy. But seamounts, of course, do not make noise until a gape submarine crashes into them. Then the roar – to the whole world.