Chinese Nuclear Subs in the Indian Ocean

An extended deployment has sent a powerful message to the Indian Navy.

The deployment of a Chinese nuclear submarine – presumably a Type 093 Shang-class – as part of the anti-piracy patrol of two ships and a supply vessel operating off the Gulf of Aden has set alarm bells ringing loudly in the Indian Navy. The implications of such a strategically significant move are simply enormous, as analysts try to decipher the real reason behind deploying such a platform in the region.

Submarines are not appropriate platforms for dealing with pirates or with piracy. The Somali pirates are known to use small craft known as skiffs individually or as part of swarm tactics to attack ships, returning to larger mother ships nearby. This gives them large operating ranges. Such highly manoeuvrable crafts can hardly be chased by relatively slow moving submarines or torpedoed from underwater, making submarines quite superfluous to anti-piracy operations. Apart from this, in a region where the incidence of piracy has declined to negligible levels, such that other navies are scaling back their presence, China is actually increasing its patrol strength.

China has been conducting independent counter-piracy deployments, mainly in the Gulf of Aden area, since 2008 as part of its Military Operations Other than War (MOOTW) and ostensibly for the common good. Since such patrols require coordination, the Chinese have been cooperating closely with the Indian, Japanese and South Korean navies, although they operate independently.

Full article: Chinese Nuclear Subs in the Indian Ocean (The Diplomat)

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