SURTASS: How Japan, US 'wolfpacks' can now seek Chinese submarines in the Ocean

Updated: Mar 11, 2020, 09:19 PM(IST)

Japan last month launched a surveillance ship - the third Hibiki-class for its Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). The ship named Aki is due to be commissioned next year. According to reports, the ship has an advanced surveillance system designed to look into China's increased submarine activities.

Japan had sent a naval destroyer to the Middle East in February

Japan has been trying to ramp up its naval defense for sometime.

In February, Japan had sent a naval destroyer to the Middle East for a rare overseas mission to ensure the safety of its ships amid lingering tension between Iran and the US. 


Operation Sentinel

Japan had earlier decided not to take part in the US-led Operation Sentinel to protect shipping routes in the region.

The naval destroyer joined two Japanese surveillance patrol airplanes in West Asia.



According to reports, the main function of the Aki warship is to gather "undersea acoustic data" from foreign submarines, which mainly means China.

The ship deployed with surveillance towed-array sensor system (SURTASS) can easily detect undersea activities.

SURTASS is also deployed on US ships in the area making the Japan, US sea alliance a potent force against China.



According to a US Defense Department report, "in April 2018, President Xi Jinping oversaw the PLAN’s fleet review of approximately 50 ships and submarines, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, and more than 75 aircraft, which took place just south of Hainan Island in the South China Sea." 

"Modernization of China’s submarine force remains a high priority for the PLAN. The PLAN currently operates four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), six nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSN), and 50 conventionally powered attack submarines (SS)," the report said.


China is the top ship-producing nation in the world

"The PLAN is augmenting its littoral warfare capabilities, especially in the South China Sea and East China Sea, with high-rate production of the JIANGDAO-class corvettes (FFL) (Type 056)," the report claimed.

"More than 40 of these corvettes entered service by the end of 2018, and more than a dozen more are currently under construction or outfitting," the Defense Department report said.

The report also explicitly stated that China is the top ship-producing nation in the world by tonnage, increasing its shipbuilding capacity and capability for all naval classes, including submarines and surface combatants as well as
lift and amphibious ships.


The struggle in the South China Sea

On the struggle in the South China Sea, the US Department report said: "China and Japan have overlapping claims to both the continental shelves and the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) in the East China Sea."

"Japan maintains that an equidistant line from each country involved should separate the EEZs, while China claims an extended continental shelf beyond the equidistant line to the Okinawa Trench."

"Japan has accused China of breaching a principled consensus reached in 2008 that both sides would respect an equidistant median line in the East China Sea for resource development while conducting joint development of oil and natural gas field in a delineated area spanning the line near the northern end," the report stated.


China conducted oil and gas drilling in East China Sea

"Japan is concerned that China has conducted oil and gas drilling on the Chinese side of the median line of the East China Sea since 2013. China continues to contest Japan’s administration of the nearby Senkaku Islands," the report pointed out.


US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty

"China also deploys the land-attack CSS-5 Mod 4 and the ground-launched CJ-10 LACM, placing targets on Okinawa and the main Japanese islands at risk," the report added while ominously stating that China continues to use maritime law
enforcement ships and aircraft to patrol near the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands.

The United States does not take a position on the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands but recognizes Japan’s administration of the islands and continues to reaffirm that the islands fall within the scope of Article 5 of the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty, the repor said.

China uses maritime law enforcement ships and aircraft to patrol near the islands.


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