Deadly Chinese submarines spotted stalking Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth
CHINESE nuclear submarines have been spotted stalking the Royal Navy’s £3.2bn flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The heavily-armed underwater vessels were reportedly found by anti-submarine operators abroad frigates protecting the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier and her task force.
Specialists on board Portsmouth-based Type 23 HMS Kent and her sister ship HMS Richmond honed in on two 7,000-tonne Shang-class submarines – which are armed with cruise missiles – as the carrier strike group left the South China Sea.
The Daily Express reported that in addition to the pair of prowling submarines, a third underwater Chinese boat had been identified by a Royal Navy Astute-class submarine, which was patrolling ahead of the British task group.
The situation comes as tensions between Beijing and London continue to simmer over the hotly-contested waters of the South China Sea.
China sees the huge stretch of water as its territory – a claim firmly rejected by political chiefs in the west.
A naval source told the Express: ‘China is growing its sub force at speed, and we must not underestimate them, but they do not have the combat experience that US and UK submarine squadrons developed as a result of Cold War operations in the deep dark spaces of the Atlantic.
‘Beijing is using technology to locate our positions, but are deploying submarines to reinforce their wider intent to move towards super-power status and dominate trade and security across the Pacific - contrary to international law.’
Speaking during a debate between defence experts, staged by the Henry Jackson Society, Commander Tom Sharpe said the Chinese would seek to ‘cause mischief’.
‘They have lots of options, all of which do lend themselves to the risk of miscalculation,’ he said, adding: ‘We’re very used as a county and a navy, to dealing with that heightened level of miscalculation and I expect the interactions to be entirely professional, entirely cordial, with both sides gathering as much information as they can from the other and then being on their way.’
China currently operates six new Type 093 class second-generation submarines and with a crew of 85 aboard them, can remain at sea for 80 days with the capability to deliver supersonic ship-killing missiles.
Beijing has trumped the Royal Navy and US Navy with a total of 66 submarines, as it looks to flex its military muscles across areas where President Xi Jinping insisted his country will dominate trade and reunify the island of Taiwan with mainland China.
The UK carrier strike group is due to return to Portsmouth later this year.