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India rubbishes reports of Navy submarine 'forced' to surface

India rubbishes reports that China's warships on anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden caught an Indian Navy submarine snooping on it in the international waters.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2009 20:54 IST

India on Wednesday rubbished reports that China's warships on anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden caught an Indian Navy submarine snooping on it in the international waters.

Vehemently denying that two Chinese Destroyers had "forced" an Indian submarine to surface, Navy officials here said the vessel "was not Indian" at all.

"None of our submarines surfaced in the Gulf of Aden region as reported in a section of the Chinese media," a Navy official said in New Delhi.

Chinese newspapers and websites had reported a couple of days ago that their warships sent to fight piracy in waters off Somalia were stalked by an Indian attack submarine and the two sides became locked in a tense stand-off for at least half-an-hour.

They also claimed that after rounds of manoeuvring during which both sides tried to test for weaknesses in other's sonar system, the two Chinese warships managed to force the Indian submarine to surface.

Indian Navy, however, said there was no such face-off with the Chinese Navy vessels. "This seems to be a psychological warfare indulged in by the Chinese Navy," an official said.

Asked if the Navy had any submarine currently deployed in the region, officials said they were operating submarines in a range of theatres and that deployment patterns could not be discussed.

Asked if India had tracked the Chinese warships while they sailed to the Gulf of Aden recently, the officials said they had the capability to do so and varied means were available at their disposal to do so.

"We can track it with maritime reconnaissance efforts, surface vessels and submarines. Our vessels are already operating all over the international waters and we also have a warship deployed in the Gulf of Aden," the official said.

India already has a warship deployed in the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy operations since November and they have already engaged the sea brigands on several occasions, deflecting their attack on several merchant vessels in the region and even neutralising a 'mother ship' of the pirates.

Chinese media had reported the "stand-off" between their warships and Indian submarine took place on January 15 in the waters near Bab Al-Mandab Strait, which separates Yemen and Djibouti, at the western end of the Gulf of Aden.

It said the Destroyers had picked up an unidentified submarine on their sonar and soon identified it as a 70-m-long vessel armed with 20 torpedoes. However, the Chinese Navy had not named any specific submarine class, but provided a file photo of a Kilo-class submarine "which fit the description."

The report also claimed the Chinese warships sent an anti-submarine helicopter to help track the submarine, which tried to jam the Chinese warships' sonar system.

But the destroyers eventually "cornered" the submarine and "forced" it to surface. At one point, the report claimed, the Chinese commander even ordered the helicopter to have its anti-submarine torpedoes ready.

Only last week, US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Robert F Willard had told the Indian media that he welcomed the Chinese naval deployment in the Gulf of Aden to fight the sea pirates, who were a menace impacting maritime trade in the region.

The US Admiral had said the Chinese ships transited through the Arabian Sea to the Gulf of Aden and was currently operating a three-ship task force for anti-piracy operations.

"We endorse that (Chinese anti-piracy efforts), as should India. There is an international effort to try and grapple with the issue of pirates in the Somali region and the Horn of Africa.

"And when China chose to engage in that activity, they did so alongside many other navies including the Russians, Koreans, Japanese navies, and certainly the Indian Navy and the other bulk of navies in the region," he had said.

First Published: Feb 04, 2009 20:46 IST