Carrier Group Went "Battle-Ready" Vs Chinese Sub, Destroyer
In the Taiwan Straits, according to a report by the Kyodo News Service.
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.
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.”
But the reality is that the Kitty Hawk would not only be within range of land-based Chinese aviation in the Straits, but operating in confined waters against a quiet diesel-electric. It would be very vulnerable in that situation. We don't know what threats were actually perceived, but it's reasonable to infer that the Kitty Hawk group took matters seriously enough to increase their alert status, if the the Kyodo News story is accurate.
In any confrontation with the PROC, it's probable the Straits of Taiwan will be closed, which would would be tantamount to a blockade on China. Practically all shipping and oil tankers bound for either the ports of Hong Kong or Shanhai pass within a fairly close distance of the Straits. The Chinese might ambush and destroy a single carrier, but the USN could blockade China with devastating results. Since the Chinese increasingly depend on overseas trade and energy for their well-being, this confrontation was either an accident or brinksmanship. Which of the two it was is hard to say. It's probably in China's interest to keep the US guessing which.