Chinese Submarine Launched Missile Off California Coast-Unproven!

Summary of eRumor:

This is a forwarded email about a mysterious contrail that appeared in the skies over the Southern California on November 8, 2010.  The email alleges that the large smoke plume came from a ballistic missile that was launched from a Chinese Navy Jin class nuclear submarine from an area just north of Catalina Island about 35 miles from the shores of Los Angeles, CA.

The Truth:

There was a mysterious plume that appeared in the early evening skies over Southern California  near Los Angeles on November 8, 2010.   The news drew national attention when experts speculated the contrail could have been caused by an airplane or a ballistic missile.   CBS News reported two days later that military and civilian experts had determined this to be from the contrail of a jet aircraft cruising over the area at high altitude.    Click for CBS Story.

Rumors began circulating on the Internet during the weekend of November 13th. alleging that the mysterious contrail was from a missile launched from a Chinese Jin class nuclear submarine that had snuck into our coastal waters and that the news media along with the Pentagon were covering up the story.  These forwarded emails contained text from an article by Washington D.C. based investigative journalist Wayne Madsen along with photos that appeared on a page from the web site of nationally syndicated radio host Alex Jones based out of Austin, TX.   The article said the “Chinese decided to demonstrate to the United States its capabilities on the eve of the G-20 Summit in Seoul and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Tokyo, where President Obama is scheduled to attend during his ten-day trip to Asia.” has not found any evidence to support their claims.

The plume, captured on video by CBS news helicopter cameraman Gil Leyvas was televised on November 8th and sparked a national fury of inquires after a slow response from the Pentagon that needed time to examine the footage and other materials. That evening a spokesperson from the United States Navy told reporters “that there was no Navy activity in that region.”  Meanwhile reporters sought the advice of the other experts.  One such expert was former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Ellsworth who speculated that the video could have been a test firing of a U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine as a show of strength to Asia from President Obama.     Click for story and video.

A little over twenty-fours hours after the incident, a November 10th. CBS News article said that the Pentagon had yet to identify the object in the sky but confirmed that no U.S. Missiles had been launched that Monday.  The article also said that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the organization that monitors this sort of activity in the skies, had been contacted by CBS and confirmed that no missile launches had taken place globally.

Popular Science Channel host Dr.Michio Kaku said that at first he thought the images were those of a missile but after he had time to reexamine the video he said that he was not thoroughly convinced but he was leaning toward the belief that this was a jet aircraft cruising over Southern California. Dr. Kaku is also a professor of physics at City University in New York.     Kaku was interviewed by ABC News on November 10th. offering his reasons why he did not think that this was a launched missile.  He said that launched missiles increase their speed, travel East to West and do not alter course.   He told reporters that the object in the sky had not changed its speed but was altering course and was travelling in the wrong direction.  He also said that the contrails expansion at the bottom of the frame had given it an optical illusion of a water launch and since missiles go up into the higher atmosphere other nations would have reported a sighting on their radar.

Video from Dr. Michio KaKu’s YouTube page explaining the contrail

updated 11/15/10

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Subject: Pentagon and its embedded media covering up Chinese show of force off LA

November 10, 2010 — Pentagon and its embedded media covering up Chinese show of force off LA China flexed its military muscle Monday evening in the skies west of Los Angeles when a Chinese Navy Jin class ballistic missile nuclear submarine, deployed secretly from its underground home base on the south coast of Hainan island, launched an intercontinental ballistic missile from international waters off the southern California coast. WMR’s intelligence sources in Asia, including Japan, say the belief by the military commands in Asia and the intelligence services is that the Chinese decided to demonstrate to the United States its capabilities on the eve of the G-20 Summit in Seoul and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Tokyo, where President Obama is scheduled to attend during his ten-day trip to Asia.

The reported Chinese missile test off Los Angeles came as a double blow to Obama. The day after the missile firing, China’s leading credit rating agency, Dagong Global Credit Rating, downgraded sovereign debt rating of the United States to A-plus from AA. The missile demonstration coupled with the downgrading of the United States financial grade represents a military and financial show of force by Beijing to Washington.

The Pentagon spin machine, backed by the media reporters who regularly cover the Defense Department, as well as officials of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and the U.S. Northern Command, is now spinning various conspiracy theories, including describing the missile plume videotaped by KCBS news helicopter cameraman Gil Leyvas at around 5:00 pm Pacific Standard Time, during the height of evening rush hour, as the condensation trail from a jet aircraft. Other Pentagon-inspired cover stories are that the missile was actually an amateur rocket or an optical illusion.

Experts agree that this was a ballistic missile being fired off of Los Angeles. Pentagon insists it was a jet aircraft or model rocket.

There are no records of a plane in the area having taken off from Los Angeles International Airport or from other airports in the region. The Navy and Air Force have said that they were not conducting any missile tests from submarines, ships, or Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Navy has also ruled out an accidental firing from one of its own submarines.
Missile experts, including those from Jane’s in London, say the plume was definitely from a missile, possibly launched from a submarine. WMR has learned that the missile was likely a JL-2 ICBM, which has a range of 7,000 miles, and was fired in a northwesterly direction over the Pacific and away from U.S. territory from a Jin class submarine. The Jin class can carry up to twelve such missiles.

Navy sources have revealed that the missile may have impacted on Chinese territory and that the National Security Agency (NSA) likely posseses intercepts of Chinese telemtry signals during the missile firing and subsequent testing operations.

Japanese and other Asian intelligence agencies believe that a Chinese Jin-class SSBN submarine conducted missile “show of force” in skies west of Los Angeles.

Asian intelligence sources believe the submarine transited from its base on Hainan through South Pacific waters, where U.S. anti-submarine warfare detection capabilities are not as effective as they are in the northern and mid-Pacific, and then transited north to waters off of Los Angeles. The Pentagon, which has spent billions on ballistic missile defense systems, a pet project of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is clearly embarrassed over the Chinese show of strength.

Likely route of Jin-class submarine from Hainan base.
The White House also wants to donwplay the missile story before Presidnet Obama meets with his Chinese counterpart in Seoul and Tokyo. According to Japanese intelligence sources, Beijing has been angry over United States and allied naval exercises in the South China and Yellow Seas, in what China considers its sphere of influence, and the missile firing within the view of people in Southern California was a demonstration that China’s navy can also play in waters off the American coast.

For the U.S. Navy, the Chinese show of force is a huge embarassment, especially for the Navy’s Pacific Command in Pearl Harbor, where Japan’s December 7, 1941 attack on the fleet at Pearl Harbor remains a sore subject.
In 2002, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice reportedly scolded visiting Chinese General Xiong Guankai, the deputy chief of staff for intelligence of the People’s Liberation Army, for remarks he allegedly made in 1995 that China would use nuclear weapons on Los Angeles. Xiong denied he made any such comments but the “spin” on the story helped convince Congress to sink billions of additional dollars into ballistic missile defense, sometimes referred to at “Star Wars II.”