Accusations of Australian Navy Divers Injured by Chinese Sonar PulsesNovember 19, 2023
Australia accused China’s navy of using sonar pulses in international waters after an incident near Japan that harmed Australian divers. According to the Australian Defense Minister, Richard Marles, the actions of the Chinese warship were described as “unsafe and unprofessional.” The warship approached an Australian frigate while divers were clearing fishing nets from its propellers and emitted hazardous sonar pulses, which forced the divers to exit the water. The divers sustained minor injuries likely caused by the sonar. High levels of underwater sound, such as sonar pulses, can cause dizziness, hearing damage, or other injuries to divers. The incident occurred in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, where the Australian frigate was involved in operations supporting UN sanctions enforcement. The incident has added to existing tensions between Australia and China as both nations work to improve relations. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese acknowledged “significant progress” in bettering his country’s relations with China during a recent visit to Beijing. Australian Sen. James Paterson stated that China’s actions were contradictory to their claim of wanting a better relationship with Australia, as they put the safety of Australian personnel at risk.