back to article South China waters are red, Brit warships are blue, HMS Sutherland's sailing there

A British warship has set sail for the South China Sea, paving the way for aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to do the same thing in three years’ time. HMS Sutherland, a Type 23 frigate, will sail through the disputed region on her way home from Australia, as much to fly the flag in foreign climes as to carry out a dry run …

Ha ha! Can the Chinese wait 3 years. You can't make this shit up...

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FAIL

More to the point

Can the Chinese obey International Law? Ever?

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Re: More to the point

They obey international law as well as the USA does.

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Black Helicopters

Queen Lizzie:

Fear our helicopters!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Queen Lizzie:

From the photo, those helicopters do look pretty big - can't imagine you can get more than two on that ship :-)

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Trollface

"the Global Times demanded that the RN should "behave modestly""

How does HMS Sutherland, a Type 23 frigate behave immodestly?

Just asking like.....

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What they meant was "don't send a type 45 - the unreliable fuckers are so noisy they'll damage the hearing of our hydrophone operators".

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It means no mooning at passing ships.

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Anonymous Coward

Ensure you cover up your poop.

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Anonymous Coward

How does [...] a Type 23 frigate behave immodestly?

Paint it magenta and install two enormous radomes on either side, at the stern.

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Coat

Well, they could have sent HMS Beaver...

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Drive casually...

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Coat

Hold a democratic election, that seems to scare the crap out of the PRC.

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Demcratic elections also scare the shit out of the UK and US political establishment !

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Pirate

"the Global Times demanded that the RN should "behave modestly""

How does HMS Sutherland, a Type 23 frigate behave immodestly?

It means that Seaman Stains and Roger the Cabin Boy will remain beneath the deck

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Looking forward to the UK government and media responses when China reciprocates by sailing their ships in the international waters around the UK. Particularly if they have actual aircraft on their aircraft carriers.

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You mean like the Russians do?

I believe the usual form is for one of ours to shadow their's at a safe distance whilst politicians and journalists spout nonsense. I expect China will do the same. The upshot being everyone gets to make their point and the world continues to turn.

That said building your own islands to claim is...a novel approach. It makes the whole Graham Island thing look almost normal. PTerry would be proud.

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@cynic Novel isn't the word I would use (unless it's in the fiction section). The various treaties governing this are quite clear. You can't manufacture sovernity by manufacturing islands. Of course there is the option of killing everyone who disagrees which China is gearing up for. Historically that has worked.

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The Chinese have been sailing in European waters for years and it generates the usual hysteria in the Dail Fail.

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re: You can't manufacture sovernity by manufacturing islands

Indeed not - damn foreign trick.

Instead you seize an island half a world away, kick out the natives and then claim a 200mi exclusion zone around it. If you do this in every Ocean you rule the waves.

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Re: re: You can't manufacture sovernity by manufacturing islands

'then claim a 200mi exclusion zone around it.'

You don't get a 200NM exclusion zone, you get a 200NM economic exclusion zone which other countries vessels are free to pass through, stop, turn around, and do most things in apart from the exploration and use of marine resources which they'd have to ask for a licence for. Inside 12NM foreign warships can only transit in the most expeditious manner and not dick around turning radars on or checking weapons systems as it's an act of war.

There was a 200NM exclusion zone during the Falklands Conflict, but that was to let anyone who might have an interest in watching how a NATO task group goes about conducting a war that the UK wouldn't be carrying out ID checks beyond, it's not ours kill it.

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Re: re: You can't manufacture sovernity by manufacturing islands

...There was a 200NM exclusion zone during the Falklands Conflict, but that was to let anyone who might have an interest in watching how a NATO task group goes about conducting a war (know) that the UK wouldn't be carrying out ID checks beyond, it's not ours kill it....

Actually, it was primarily about warning Argentine forces to keep their distance. Note that the Argentines were also specifically told that the UK reserved the right to attack Argentine units OUTSIDE the 200 mile zone if in the opinion of the Royal Navy these constituted an operational threat - and indeed we did attack the General Belgrano just outside the 200 mile zone, because it was part of a pincer movement being planned with the Veinticinco de Mayo to attack the Task Force*.

* We knew this because GCHQ was breaking their codes and reading their orders. But of course we couldn't admit to this during the war, which would have caused the Argentines to change their communication processes. The net result was that anti-war activists claim to this day that the Belgrano was never a threat, and was sunk by a war-hungry unprovoked British attack...

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Re: re: You can't manufacture sovernity by manufacturing islands

Well, by and large, the Brit's never kicked the natives out - Diego Garcia / Chagos islands excepted.

Britain got to rule the waves by finding unoccupied islands, or pinching occupied ones, and keeping the population (need someone to work in the dockyards).

But it was all within the bounds of what passed for international law at the time (again, Diego Garcia possibly excepted).

And assuming your comment was actually a not-so-subtle reference to the Falklands, nope, no population kicked out by the Brits, just the illegal Argentinian* military occupation forces (twice).

*Not strictly correct for the 1832 event, since the Argentinian Republic hadn't been declared at that point.

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Re: re: You can't manufacture sovernity by manufacturing islands

'Actually, it was primarily about warning Argentine forces to keep their distance.'

I think shooting at them made that pretty clear anyway, and if you tell them you reserve the right to attack them outside 200NM it basically means you could attack them anywhere. The actually not a whale sub-surface contact that was attacked, where it turned out post-war there hadn't been an Argentine submarine does show that some people were happy to take the risk of going inside 200NM to have a look see though.

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The point of these FONOPs is exactly to state that the waters around these artificial islands *ARE* international waters and not territorial waters of the PRC. The Hague confirmed the Philippines' contention that piling sand on a rock doesn't make it an island or give it territorial rights. The various naval pass-throughs in the area are meant to pointedly ignore the squatters' claims China seems to be making for large swaths of the SCS.

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Re: re: You can't manufacture sovernity by manufacturing islands

I would recommend that anyone interested read The Silent Listener by D. J. Thorp. He was in charge of the intercepting being done by the task force and it's a very good book.

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Re: re: You can't manufacture sovernity by manufacturing islands

Surely you can't be referring to Diego Garcia by any chance? Nice to know that the Chinks have some handy examples to copy?

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Anonymous Coward

"We hope other countries won't begin stirring up trouble", [he said] ...

... "as we have shown ourselves perfectly capable of doing that without help" :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Bwahahahahahaha

Seriously. Why?

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Re: Bwahahahahahaha

It was standard practise in the Cold War.

China makes an outrageous claim to a whole bunch of international waters with zero justification. You can either accept this, or not. But if you don't accept it officially, but act as if it's worked, then that encourages them to do it again.

However, if you refuse to accept it, and ostentatiously wander around with your military units (but otherwise minding your own business) you are trying to normalise the status of the area as interantional waters still. Which they are, by all current international rules.

it's actually a way of avoiding escalation. It pisses China off, but by continually doing it, and making it normal, you're saying that this is escalatory behaviour, this is just what we do. Then they won't think they're being provoked if it happens at times of heightened tension.

Their other choice is to shoot at you. But if they do that, then they're probably planning a war at some point anyway. At least you now know. It's pretty clear China are taking the piss here. The question is whether they wish to claim all the natural resources in the area, and fight for them with the surrounding countries - or if they're just getting extra bargaining chips.

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Re: Bwahahahahahaha

Hey, it worked for Hilter and Stalin.

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Cake and eat it

We get all cross when the Russians want to sail down the English Channel

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Re: Cake and eat it

I don't .....

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Re: Cake and eat it

"We get all cross when the Russians want to sail down the English Channel."

That happens regularly. The UK Government says nothing about it. The Sun might, but I don't see how that's relevant.

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MJI
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Re: Cake and eat it

No we don't, the Sun does, the Mail does, I don't

That Russian ship is to be honest a bit knackered.

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Re: Cake and eat it

The difference is that vessels travelling south-west through the Channel like that Russian carrier group are in UK territorial waters - they have the right to do this via various UN conventions, but it is our water. Most of the South China Sea is international waters despite China's spate of island building.

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Re: Cake and eat it

I can't remember the last time our government complained about Russian ships sailing through the Channel. There have been plenty of complaints about Russian aircraft either violating NATO countries' airspace (mainly us, Norway and the Baltic States) or flying around without transponders - but I don't think the Russian ships have been that badly behaved.

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Battle Group

So... this will be a British carrier with half-US planes, escorted by 4-6 US cruisers and frigates and probably a US attack sub as well?

Rule Britannia indeed.

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MJI
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Re: Battle Group

Why a US attack sub when ours are better?

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Re: Battle Group

Why a US attack sub when ours are better?

The Astute class might be better, but there's only three of them, and only one in current active service AFAIK.

The three remaining Trafalgar class are old, and unreliable.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Battle Group

"So... this will be a British carrier with half-US planes, escorted by 4-6 US cruisers and frigates and probably a US attack sub as well?"

I name this ship HMS Bait

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So we're sending a lightly armed ship with minimal self defence capability into hostile foreign waters with no airborne cover: no AEW, no ASW, no fighter cover

The ship itself won't |(by then) have any anti-ship missiles, will have outdated air defence systems, and - other than the embarked helicopter - no anti-sub defences.

If the Chinese decide to play hard, there's very little that Sutherland can do

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"If the Chinese decide to play hard, there's very little that Sutherland can do"

Agreed although the diplomatic fallout would be internationally huge.

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They'll just blame it on Elliot Carver

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'If the Chinese decide to play hard, there's very little that Sutherland can do'

By which you mean declare an act of war against a nuclear armed permanent member of the UN Security Council?

Also Harpoon retirement has been postponed: http://www.janes.com/article/74044/dsei-2017-uk-defers-harpoon-retirement

Sea Wolf may be old, but it's still perfectly capable of shooting things down and the AAW radars have been updated considerably in recent years.

And she has her own torpedo launch system as well as the helicopter.

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Anonymous Coward

Time flies...

The T23s were originally ASW frigates. Not sure what they're equipped with these days but I started my career working on various bits of their kit. I can't believe they're already being retired! One of us must be getting old...

On their own, like most Naval vessels, they're not a great deal of use. This is about making a point, not a military deployment.

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x 7,

This is a normal Navy, doing what normal navies do. We're not expecting China to start a war over it, hence just sending one ship. We're saying to them that we have the right under international law to sail here, and this is just normal. They'll complain, but they know this, and we know they know this.

Now sending a huge battle group is a bit more provocative. In fact, you'd expect to send a more vulnerable ship first, to make a precedent to send the battle group. The point being that this is just normal international waters, and we're as free to use it as you are. The problem being, China are claiming different, so we need to make the point, but not surprise them.

The US, Australians and Japanese are also doing these freedom of the sea sailings. As the article states, I imagine we've been asked to join the fun as a favour, and given the yanks are lending us a squadron of marine F35s for our carrier work-ups - that's not unreasonable.

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The UK ambassador to Beijing has probably blocked out that afternoon in his diary and arranged for his shoes to be polished in time to be summoned to the Chinese Foreign Ministry for the requisite dressing down and cup of tea treatment.

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Surely he won't get tea?

They might even deny him Ferrero Rocher...

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Don't mention

HMS Amethyst/Yangtze Incident. 1949

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amethyst_Incident

Do mention...

Simon

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_(cat)

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