“An SSBN on the surface is all but unheard of,” said Carl Schuster, an ex-US Navy captain and former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center. “This may suggest a hull or engineering problem that requires a major shipyard to investigate and fix.”
The Taiwan Strait is just 110 millas (180 kilómetros) across at its narrowest point. It has become one of the world’s military hotspots as China puts increasing pressure on self-governed Taiwan, which Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to bring under Beijing’s control. En respuesta, supporters of the government in Taipei, incluidos los Estados Unidos, have stepped up their military presence in the region.
Esta semana, the commander of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, headquartered in Japan, said more US and partner aircraft carriers are needed in the western Pacific.
Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, speaking on board the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson after large-scale naval exercises involving the US, Japón, Australia, Canada and Germany, said aircraft carriers make a big statement of deterrence.
“When we think about how we might fight
, … four aircraft carriers is a good number
, but six
, seven or eight would be better
,” Thomas dijo, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
mientras tanto, porcelana — which already boasts the world’s largest navy by number of ships — is continuing to churn out new naval vessels.
En noviembre, its fourth Type
, the Anshan
, joined the People’s Liberation Army Navy
) fleet and a fifth is expected to do so by year’s end
, Naval News reported. The Type 55s are considered to be among the world’s most modern and powerful surface combat ships
And with more ships comes more potential for a mishap
, como el US Congressional Research Service wrote last year in a report on the South and East China Seas
Stepped-up US and Chinese military ship and aircraft operations in the South China Sea “could increase the risk of a miscalculation or inadvertent action that could cause an accident or lead to an incident that in turn could escalate into a crisis or conflict,” el informe dijo.
Y en 2018, that’s almost what happened when a Chinese destroyer sailed dangerously close to a US guided missile destroyer in the South China Sea
— in what the US Navy described as an
” The two ships came within
45 yardas (41 metros) of each other
, according to US Navy reports
But Taiwan and its supporters are not standing still
. Taipei last month started construction on the first of a planned eight indigenously built submarines
Australia, a vocal supporter of Taiwan and critic of Beijing’s increasing military pressure around the region
, said earlier this year it plans to build a fleet of nuclear-powered subs
Japan in October launched the second boat in its new class of diesel-electric submarines. The first in the Taigei class is expected to be commissioned in March.
The potential for collisions at sea was brought into focus in October
, cuando a US Navy sub, USS Connecticut, struck what the US Pacific Fleet said was an undersea mountain in the South China Sea
. The Connecticut
, a nuclear-powered fast attack sub
, limped on the surface back to the US naval base on the Pacific island of Guam after that incident
Y en 2017, a spate of US Navy accidents in Asia raised similar concerns
While there has been no indication the alleged Chinese sub spotted Monday suffered an accident, “it is an interesting mystery,” said Schuster, who also noted the PLA could have simply been showing its muscle in the strait, as the US and its partner navies have done recently.
CNN has reached out to Chinese Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.