Yellow Sea

By lex, on November 24th, 2010

Gee-Dub has been ordered from her forward deployed naval base in Yokosuka, Japan to the Yellow Sea, bringing with her 97,000 tons of diplomacy:

The Pentagon has dispatched the aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS George Washington to the Yellow Sea for naval exercises with South Korea following the exchange of artillery fire between the North and South.

The exercises are likely to anger China which in the past pressed Washington not to send its aircraft carriers to the sea.

“This exercise is defensive in nature,” the statement said. “While planned well before yesterday’s unprovoked artillery attack, it demonstrates the strength of the [South Korea]-U.S. alliance and our commitment to regional stability through deterrence…”

The dispatch of the carrier to the Yellow Sea was postponed during earlier anti-submarine warfare exercises amid complaints from Chinese military officials that a carrier in the sea threatened China because U.S. warplanes from the ship could reach targets in China.

Chinese Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu told state-run media in July that “if the United States truly wants to take into account the overall interests of the Sino-U.S. relationship, then it must on no account send its USS Washington to the Yellow Sea.” He called the area “sensitive.”

What’s “sensitive” is China’s client state acting like a psychopath, committing unprovoked attacks and murder upon South Korean sailors, marines and civilians.

When I was aboard the USS Independence in the winter of 1996, we operated in the Yellow Sea . The PRC were lobbing missiles into landing zones north and south of Taiwan, and it was thought that Something Had to be Done.

It’s a creepy place to fly out of, the water is freezing cold and thick fog banks can creep in almost without warning. Breaking out under the overcast at night, the pilot on final approach is greeted with the familiar sight picture of the aircraft carrier’s lights, but bedazzled and disoriented by scattered fleets of fishing boats hung with large, ball-shaped lanterns hung over the side that serve to attract fish, but that also turn the world upside down in a vertiginous way. The vista is one of a coal black heaven floating above a star spangled ocean. Nor does it help that the ship must make frequent course corrections to avoid sailing over some obdurate fisherman with his lines and nets out. It was a stressful place to operate from for many reasons, and the only comic relief was obtained when a Tomcat crew were forced to divert ashore in trashy weather to Kunsan AFB. Forced like all of us to wear uncomfortable “poopie suits” against exposure in the case of an overwater ejection, the crew had economized on discomfort by deciding to leave their flight suits behind and wear only their exposure suits. Once diverted ashore, they didn’t feel quite so clever, having to walk around the flightline looking like Gumby dolls.

So from us to China, we’d really prefer to not have to fly around on your front porch: Chain your dog.

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