Saturday, May 25, 2013
Submarine that Neared Chilean Fleet Remains a Mystery
Chilean warships conducting naval exercises near Antofagasta detected a submarine from another country May 14 and tracked it until it left their operational area and moved sufficiently away. The Navy says it still doesn't know the origin of the submarine, but it ruled out Peru and Argentina -- the two most likely suspects. A Chilean lawmaker also said the sub did not belong to the U.S. Navy, as was once rumored. The mystery sub made sonar contact with the Armada's warships. Chile took the opportunity to boast of its submarine-detection skills, mentioning that frigates, submarines and aircraft were responsible for the deed. Defense analyst Eduardo Santos told Las Ultimas Noticias he believes the sub was detected by the new Thales 2087 towed array sonar, which was added to Chile's three Type 23 frigates about a year and a half ago. But the incident raises a couple of interesting questions: Was a foreign navy probing Chile's anti-submarine capabilities? Was it mere coincidence that the Navy was conducting full-scale exercises when the foreign sub approached? The mystery sub was found outside Chile's territorial 12-mile ocean limit, but apparently inside the 200-mile exclusive economic zone. It's a historically significant site, where the Peruvian ironclad Huascar was captured during the War of the Pacific. The Pacific Ocean's waters off Chile are particularly tricky for submarine warfare. Currents, varying temperatures and other factors can make for some good hiding places for subs.