Sneaking subs into waters off the west coast — its happened before

By Wayne Madsen

The firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile by a Chinese Jin-class submarine off the coast of southern California last Monday at the height of evening rush hour in Los Angeles was not the first time the U.S. Navy's anti-submarine warfare sensors in the Pacific have failed.

In 1981, a Soviet Victor-class nuclear submarine successfully evaded the Navy's Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) network of underwater hydrophones, Towed Array Sensor System (TASS) ships, and P-3  sonobuoy-equipped aircraft and popped up off the Oregon coast alongside a Soviet fishing fishing trawler.

While serving as the Operations Officer at the Navy's SOSUS station at Coos Head, Oregon, this editor received a phone call from the Coast Guard station in Brookings, Oregon reporting that some local fishermen sighted a Soviet submarine alongside a fishing trawler flying the Soviet flag some 30 miles off Brookings.

The incident resulted in the sending of a "Bravo" visual sighting on a Navy-Wide Formatted Message Reporting System (RAINFORM) message to the Commander Oceanographic System Pacific (COMOCEANSYSPAC) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Since the clear majority of Soviet submarine contact reports were SOSUS RED messages, meaning they submarine had been detected by the SOSUS acoustic arrays, the sending of a BRAVO visual sighting message to the Navy's top commands in Pearl Harbor created a political storm.

The Navy's higher-ups immediately began to question the veracity of the Oregon fishermen and the Coast Guard in an effort to limit the damage. The reaction by the Navy was similar to the cover story now being issued by the Pentagon that the missile plume witnessed some 35 miles off the California coast was actually from a US Airways flight from Honolulu to Phoenix, a model rocket, or an optical illusion.


In 1981, a Victor-III Soviet nuclear attack submarine, armed with torpedos and anti-ship missiles, popped up previously undetected some 30 miles off the Oregon coast. The submarine had undergone significant noise-reduction modifications, with its turbine and propeller cavitation being quieted to avoid detection by U.S. Navy acoustic sensors in the Pacific. The Navy, embarrassed, covered up the incident.

The Navy, clearly embarrassed over the undetected presence of a Chinese Jin-class SSBN submarine off the coast of Los Angeles, is, some 40 years after the Victor-III incident, continuing its age-old tradition of covering up when it screws up. Aiding and abetting the Pentagon are a group of recently-minted "experts" from NASA, the Discovery Channel Rupert Murdoch's array of claptrap publications, Pentagon-funded web sites and think tanks, and other "usual suspects" in the conspiracy theory proffering business.

The Pentagon, shown to have wasted billions of dollars on a useless ballistic missile defense system, is working overtime with the media and on the Internet to cover up the latest debacle. However, even some reporters who cover the Pentagon full-time are beginning to question the Pentagon's version of events last Monday night over the skies west of Los Angeles.

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. He has written

for several renowned papers and blogs.

Madsen is a regular contributor on Russia Today. He has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and MS-NBC. Madsen has taken on Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity on their television shows.  He has been invited to testifty as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government.

As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He subsequently worked for the National Security Agency, the Naval Data Automation Command, Department of State, RCA Corporation, and Computer Sciences Corporation.

Madsen is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Association for Intelligence Officers (AFIO), and the National Press Club. He is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.

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