View Full Version : Report: Chinese Ships Confronted U.S.S. Kitty Hawk

01-16-2008, 09:40 PM
Report: Chinese ships confronted Kitty Hawk


Kyodo News Service
Posted : Wednesday Jan 16, 2008 12:03:36 EST

TAIPEI — A Chinese attack submarine and destroyer shadowed U.S. warships in November in the Taiwan Strait, sparking a 28-hour standoff that brought the group to a battle-ready halt in the tense waters, a report in a Taiwan daily said Tuesday.

The confrontation occurred as the Navy aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk and other ships in its battle group were heading back to Japan following China’s sudden cancellation of a long-scheduled holiday port call in Hong Kong, the China Times said, citing U.S. military sources.

The carrier strike group encountered Chinese destroyer Shenzhen and a Song-class sub in the strait on Nov. 23, causing the group to halt and ready for battle, as the Chinese vessels also stopped amid the 28-hour confrontation, the Chinese-language daily reported.

The Kitty Hawk battle group had planned to pass the Thanksgiving holiday in Hong Kong as it had done in previous years, but China refused it entry without giving a reason.

By the time China reversed its decision, the U.S. ships had already turned around and headed for their home port in Japan. China later told the U.S. that its earlier refusal was a “misunderstanding.”

But that incident came on the heels of China’s refusal of safe harbor in Hong Kong for two Navy minesweepers seeking refuge from a brewing storm. Due to that refusal, the ships had to get refueled at sea so they could return to their home port in Sasebo, Japan.

The two incidents have ruffled feathers in Washington.

Adm. Timothy Keating, who heads the U.S. Pacific Command, is in Beijing this week to discuss what he has called China’s “perplexing” refusals, its worrisome weapons programs and U.S.-China military ties.

He told reporters Tuesday that U.S. warships will cross through the Taiwan Strait whenever they choose to.

“We don’t need China’s permission to go through the Taiwan Strait,” Keating said, stressing that it is international waters. “We will exercise our free right of passage whenever and wherever we choose.”

China has expressed its “grave concern” to the U.S. over the Kitty Hawk’s transit through the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing claims Taiwan as its own, vowing to attack the self-ruled island if it moves to formalize its de facto independence.

The U.S., Taiwan’s chief security benefactor, is legally obligated to help defend the island in the face of Chinese saber-rattling.

In 2006, a Chinese attack sub stalked the Kitty Hawk without being detected until it surfaced within firing range of the group.

Last November’s incident, however, could have been unintentional as the Shenzhen was also headed to Tokyo for an historic port call there, just as the Kitty Hawk was denied Hong Kong entry.

Destroyers are known to travel with a submarine escort.

The confrontation ended without incident as all vessels continued on course toward Japan by Nov. 24.