“Back in the day” is a famous catch phrase, but sometimes it can be a good starting point. Last week it was announced that China is deploying an ocean floor surveillance network to track submarines that are transiting the South China Sea. For those of us who remember things like the Cold War, this is a mighty familiar idea that worked. During the 1950s, the United States developed and used a similar system known as SOSUS. It was the Sound Surveillance System, which started off in the Bahamas, and eventually spread throughout the Atlantic Ocean. This system proved to be a highly useful and viable way to track submarine movements throughout the Atlantic. In fact, it allowed us to track much of the Soviet Navy as it would poke around and patrol in our direction. (If you’ve read Tom Clancy, you are probably already familiar with this system, so I won’t go get into great detail, even if many of the workings are now declassified.) There is little doubt that from “Back in the Day” the Chinese Navy, or People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), have now come up with a pretty good “old” working idea. The real point of today is that, assuming their system works as well as our old one, then this could be a real headache for those who are going to have to deal with it in the future. I’m also pretty sure that our allies in Japan, the Philippines, and around the rest of the Pacific Rim, can’t be too happy about this new development. To me, this is a good indicator that China is finally getting very serious about its Navy, and their capability to engage in effective Anti-Submarine Warfare or (ASW). ~ Michael S. Pauley
Michael S. Pauley is a Navy brat and an old soldier who served in all three components of the United States Army. Living in Lexington, South Carolina, Michael is now a practicing attorney and member of the United States Naval Institute and the American Legion, Post 154, Tybee Island, Georgia.