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Underwater Tensions: Australian Naval Divers Injured Amidst Sonar Pulses Traced to Chinese Warship

  • Politics
  • Saturday, 18 November 2023 04:11

"Underwater Confrontation: Australian Naval Divers Sustain Injuries Amidst Sonar Incidents with Chinese Warship

In a recent incident, Australian naval divers experienced minor injuries believed to be the aftermath of sonar pulses emanating from a Chinese warship. The encounter unfolded in international waters on Tuesday, involving HMAS Toowoomba and a People’s Liberation Army-Navy destroyer.

Defence Minister Richard Marles, acting as the prime minister during Anthony Albanese's absence at the APEC summit in San Francisco, released a statement on Saturday characterizing the event as an "unsafe and unprofessional interaction." Emphasizing Australia's expectation for all countries, including China, to operate their militaries professionally and safely, Marles detailed the circumstances leading to the injuries.

According to Marles, HMAS Toowoomba had paused to clear fishing nets entangled around its propellers. The PLA-N destroyer was informed of ongoing diving operations, with a clear request to keep a safe distance. Despite acknowledging the communication, the Chinese vessel approached closer. Subsequently, it was detected operating its hull-mounted sonar in a manner that jeopardized the safety of the Australian divers, prompting them to exit the water. Medical assessments revealed minor injuries likely caused by exposure to the sonar pulses.

Expressing "serious concerns," the Australian government communicated with its Chinese counterpart about the incident. HMAS Toowoomba, positioned inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone on its way to a scheduled port visit, was engaged in operations supporting United Nations sanctions enforcement."

"In conclusion, the recent underwater clash between Australian naval divers and a Chinese warship has underscored the fragility of maritime interactions in contested waters. The incident, labeled as 'unsafe and unprofessional' by Defence Minister Richard Marles, highlights the importance of maintaining clear communication and adherence to safety protocols in international waters.

As tensions escalate, the Australian government's expression of 'serious concerns' to China reflects the gravity of the situation. The diplomatic fallout from this incident adds to the complexities of regional dynamics, especially as HMAS Toowoomba was operating inside Japan's exclusive economic zone in support of United Nations sanctions enforcement.

This episode serves as a stark reminder of the delicate balance required in naval operations and the potential risks involved in geopolitical hotspots. The international community will be closely watching how both nations navigate the aftermath, as the incident raises broader questions about the norms and expectations governing maritime behavior in an increasingly contested global landscape."