HMS Queen Elizabeth sent a Chinese submarine to join the first patrol
A Chinese attack submarine that was stalking the British Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier has been ‘downed’ after being spotted by HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The tense encounter comes as the mighty £3.2 billion warship sets sail with its battle group on its maiden mission to the Far East in the summer of 2021.
Dramatic footage, first revealed today, shows the Russian-built boat being caught lurking under the waves, trying to obscure the state-of-the-art aircraft carrier.
But the Kilo-class submarine was quickly dispatched by Queen Elizabeth’s battle group, with one sailor declaring: ‘We defeated them by a draw; 1-0 Queen Elizabeth.
The Kilo-class submarine was first hit by the frigate HMS Richmond, which was guarding Queen Elizabeth, as the massive 65,000-ton ship sailed through the South China Sea.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is tailed by a Russian-built Kilo-class Chinese submarine
A BBC documentary crew was on board the HMS Queen Elizabeth during the tense encounter
The tense encounter was captured by the BBC in the documentary The Warship: Tour of Duty, with the clash to be aired on Sunday’s episode.
In the darkness, a submarine-hunting helicopter was called in to search for the boat hiding in the waves to the south of the task group.
The team, flying in a Merlin helicopter, dropped a series of high-tech ‘sonar buoys’ – highly sensitive sonar devices used to hunt down enemy submarines.
‘If there’s a submarine down there, we’ll find it,’ said one of Merlin’s crew, with the navy pilot later announcing: ‘We’ve identified a ship how far away. force 20 nautical miles south.’
Discovered by the British team, the Chinese submarine withdrew from the task group.
‘If this were a different scenario, a conflict situation, it would have proved that we had discovered something, in ample time. [and] protect the main body of the aircraft carrier.
‘You could then have initiated a weapon chain against the detected submarine to neutralize the threat.
‘So we beat them to a draw; 1-0 Queen Elizabeth.’
Admiral Lord Alan West, former head of the Royal Navy, said the encounter was ‘extremely dramatic’ and demonstrates Britain’s fearsome reputation as one of the navies that hunt submarines. ‘best in the world.
“A carrier strike group – if it has the assets to support it – would be incredibly powerful,” the retired officer told MailOnline.
The carrier strike group worked together to locate and warn of the underwater threat
‘It’s very difficult to get any of that to cause damage. But the battle group is capable of causing damage and chaos to the enemy within 200 miles.
‘We are very good at keeping areas clean. We are probably the best anti-submarine warfare navy in the world. The waters in the South China Sea are difficult to find a submarine. Impressive that the carrier strike group found it.’
The encounter comes after months of tension from Beijing over the carrier group’s mission to disputed waters in the South China Sea.
The vast expanse of sea has been claimed by China’s communist government in a move that has alarmed neighboring countries in the region, including Japan and the Philippines.
Britain’s political and military heavyweights insist the British fleet’s mission to the region is to defend ‘freedom of navigation’.
However, China’s Defense Attaché, Major General Su Guanghui, issued a chilling warning before the deployment, saying: ‘If the US and UK join hands to challenge or violate China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, China, that would be a hostile act.’
HMS Queen Elizabeth, pictured in the Irish Sea has arrived in the Far East on its first operational deployment
There, she was followed by a Russian-built Kilo-class submarine operated by the Chinese navy (file photo)
Speaking to MailOnline ahead of the latest episode of the HMS Queen Elizabeth documentary, Lord West suggested China’s threats were a sign of weakness, adding: ‘The more such people threaten something, that just shows how scared they are of it. .’
During the carrier mission, it was reported that several Chinese submarines were spotted, including two 7,000-ton Shang-class ships, armed with cruise missiles.
Experts in the operations room of HMS Kent and HMS Richmond located the ships, who worked together in ‘scanning patterns’ to track nuclear-powered attack submarines.
Commodore Steve Moorhouse, commanding officer of the British Carrier Strike Group, described it as a “cat-and-mouse game”.
Cdre Moorhouse told Sky News: “In some cases, we are confident that we know where their submarines are. ‘So we literally kept the submarine where it was using our frigates and helicopters, then we could move the carrier around it, push literally put it aside, so that we can continue our journey safely.’
He added that adversaries are keen to spy on the carrier, saying: ‘If you as a country might want to cause mischief, harm or disrupt – I think you’ve definitely sat up and see what Queen Elizabeth is.’
The Warship: Tour of Duty airs on BBC Two and iPlayer on Sundays at 9pm.