China’s maritime power cause for action and alarm – Asia Times

China's maritime power cause for action and alarm - Asia Times

The People’s Liberation Army Navy is today, and has been for several decades, larger than the US Navy with over 370 boats now in payment. What’s more, in a few years, if it continues its present building level, it will attain around 450 ships, making it larger than the US Navy and the Chinese Maritime Self- Defense Force combined.

However, Western observers frequently make the case that the US and Japan’s navies are more technologically advanced and thus more deadly, especially those who do n’t want to support larger defense and shipbuilding budgets.

Although accurate, this assertion constantly ignores the fact that, when combined, the technical prowess of the navies expected to avoid Chinese aggression are likely to be overshadowed very quickly in any possible conflict.

A study I published in October 2023 raised disturbing questions about the declining traditional barrier power of the US navy.

The study, which sought to develop a tangible model of marine presence, found that even when British ships received higher platform scores than their primary Chinese counterparts, such as a score of 1. 0 for an American Burke-class destroyer versus a score of.75 for a PLAN Luyang III&nbsp, warship, the Chinese also came out ahead due to the larger size of their navy, the size of their industrial base, and their proximity to the battlespace. &nbsp,

Following my arithmetic around. &nbsp,

The US Navy currently has 73&nbsp, Burke- group destroyers&nbsp, with about two- thirds of them assigned to the Pacific ships, &nbsp, and is building two fresh ships a time, thus&nbsp, creating an&nbsp, cumulative score of&nbsp, 50. China currently has approximately 50 guided missile&nbsp, destroyers but&nbsp, is laying down six new keels per year at their Jiangnan and Dalian shipyards. Within the next five years, China will have produced a force of 80 modern destroyers, which combined to produce an overall score of 60, surpassing the United States.

Additionally, the Chinese shipbuilding base gives it a tremendous industrial advantage&nbsp, and amplifies its score. It can both build and repair ships more quickly than the United States. If a US ship is damaged in a battle, there is n’t a robust ship repair capacity that can bring it back to life, and the shipbuilding industry cannot quickly grow to support new ship construction. A ship that is damaged during combat will not be able to return to the battlefield in a timely manner.

The USS Nimitz ( CVN 68 ) in dry dock at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard/ Photo: Puget Sound Shipyard / Public Domain / Thiep Van Nguyen II

Finally, China would &nbsp, have &nbsp, another mathematical advantage in that it is&nbsp, fighting in its own backyard. Currently, the areas of competition where China is&nbsp, asserting&nbsp, illegal territorial claims that are at odds with America ‘s&nbsp, friends and allies are within the first island chain, especially around the island nations of the Philippines and Japan, with whom&nbsp, the United States has mutual defense treaties, and Taiwan, with which the United States has a long- standing security relationship.

If a ship is damaged in battle in these waters, it would need to transit to American bases in Guam, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, or the American west coast. &nbsp, Damaged Chinese naval vessels would need to simply pull into a nearby port or one of China’s 19 major shipyards.

Some recent voices have suggested that the United States should plan to improve the shipbuilding and ship repair capabilities at our bases in Europe and other countries, such as South Korea and Japan, in Asia or even at key shipyards in Europe.

No one could question the loyalty of key allies who have consistently fought alongside US forces over the past seventy years, but it should be acknowledged that the majority of this industrial capacity is buried among the missile threat rings of many Chinese missiles and aircraft.

Perhaps the US should make more use of the island-continent nation’s well-placed geographically by leveraging its most recent AUKUS agreement with Australia. &nbsp,

The United States should also look into building up repair capacity in the Freely Associated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau, which it recently established with a new Compact of Free Association. These islands, some of which lie just outside of the Chinese threat perimeter, possess some superb&nbsp, harbors and airfields but require investment to modernize their repair capacity.

In summary, the US is currently at a disadvantage in terms of industrial capacity in comparison to China. &nbsp, China&nbsp, already leads the world in sea power in the aggregate. However, there are potential avenues for it to regain its local naval dominance in the western Pacific, both through additional industrial investment at home and among its allies. &nbsp,

A” Ships Act” that is comparable to the 2022″ Chips Act,” which should have as its goals the modernization and expansion of the nation’s ship-building and repair capacity, should be pursued by the US Congress quickly and enthusiastically.

The country should be able to attract foreign shipbuilding leaders to American shipyards as part of this effort. Additionally, it ought to make an effort to better utilize the foreign yard repair capacity, perhaps by developing advanced surface-to-air defensive missile systems to protect those sites.

The threat is proximate and real, and time is late. Shipyard investments must be the top priority for the nation.

Dr Jerry Hendrix ( PhD ) is a senior fellow at the Sagamore Institute and a retired&nbsp, US&nbsp, Navy captain.