Chinese Sonar Pulses 'Likely' Injured Australian Navy Divers
Australian Defense Minister Calls Out China's Actions at Sea
Australian navy divers were "likely" injured by sonar pulses emitted by a Chinese warship this week, according to the country's defense minister. The incident occurred within Japan's exclusive economic zone, where the HMAS Toowoomba, a long-range frigate, was supporting United Nations sanctions enforcement efforts.
Defense Minister Richard Marles accused Beijing of "unsafe and unprofessional" conduct at sea. He stated that the divers had entered the water to clear fishing nets from the ship's propeller when the Chinese destroyer approached.
Despite acknowledging communication from the Toowoomba, the Chinese vessel approached at a closer range and operated its hull-mounted sonar in a manner that posed a risk to the safety of the Australian divers.
As a result, the divers were forced to exit the water and sustained minor injuries that doctors believe were likely linked to the sonar pulses. Marles condemned the conduct, emphasizing the need for all countries, including China, to operate their militaries in a professional and safe manner.
China and Australia have been working to repair their trading relationship after years of strained ties. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese recently visited Beijing, describing the progress as "unquestionably very positive." However, tensions persist in the realm of security as Australia aligns itself more closely with the United States to counter China's growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
The incident involving the injured divers highlights the challenges that remain in the relationship between China and Australia. It serves as a reminder that security concerns continue to be a point of contention, despite efforts to improve economic cooperation.
The Diving Medical Advisory Committee, an independent London-based organization, may conduct an investigation into the incident. The committee specializes in providing expert advice on diving-related medical issues and could shed further light on the effects of the sonar pulses on the Australian divers.
This incident underscores the importance of safe and professional conduct in maritime operations.
It also raises questions about the use of sonar technology and its potential impact on divers and marine life. As tensions persist in the region, it is crucial for all countries to prioritize the safety of personnel and adhere to international norms and regulations to avoid further incidents that could escalate into larger conflicts.