Respected Naval blogger CdrSalamander has a short post on the US Naval Institute blog warning that “The Pacific Will Pivot With or Without You.” It is really a quick look at a longer Reuters report, “China’s vast fleet Is now tipping the balance in the Pacific.” At the center of the stories is the chart above, showing how fast the Chinese have begun to build. The message is simple.
We are in a naval arms race with the most prolific shipbuilding nation in the world.
The new reality is that China is building up their navy at a rate about twice as fast as the US, not just in numbers but in overall tonnage. That appears to mean, in about 30 years, the Chinese Navy could be twice as large as that of the US. Hopefully there will continue to be mitigating factors, but since any conflict is likely to be in the Western Pacific, the Chinese also have an enormous geographical advantage.
It is time for the Coast Guard to step up their game as an armed force, with real arms and actual missions for a major war that the service has planned, practiced, and equipped for.
Coupled with falling escort and SSN numbers. At least some have started to point towards the lack of lethality in the surface fleet. The obsession with aviation is coming home to roost…….
Apparently an aircraft carrier with flat deck and catapults is expected in 2022. https://www.businessinsider.com/dod-chinas-constructing-a-new-more-capable-third-aircraft-carrier-2019-5
A long range cutter, 5 inch gun, CIWS, RAM launcher, Mk. 46 torpedoes, 2 helicopters, full sensors? Fitted for, not with, ASCMs?
Twenty seven Chinese Navy surface ships were launched in 2018, incl’d 20 combatants, would expect larger fleet than USN not far off, thou equivalent carrier fleet further in the future.
3x Type 055 class cruisers ~13,000t; 180m; 20m; 112 VLS cells, first of the new class the Nanchang started sea trials August, said 8 to be in build
3x Type 052D Class destroyers, ~7,500t; 157m; 17m; 64 VLS cells, latest variant of Type 052, total now 15 ‘D’- Luyang III.
1x Type 054A class frigate ~>4,000t: 134m; 16.5m; 34 VLS cells , said to be last of 30, new frigate class expected in 2019
10x Type 056 corvettes, ~1,500t of the improved Type 056A with VDS from 2015, carr 2 x dual YJ-83 sub-sonic AShM, four shipyards building, to date 54 in class.
1x Type 081A ~1,000t, mine countermeasure class, 9th.
2x Type 071 LPD, 25,000t; 210m; 28m,amphibious transport dock, 7th.
1x Type 815A class Sigint/Spy ship; ~6,100t, 9th
1x Type 903A Replenishment ship, ~23,000t, 9th
2x Type 910A Weapon testing ships, ~6,000t, to join two Type 909 / Type 909A for surface equipment testing, radars, missile systems and two existing Type 910s for submarine weapon system testing.
2x Type 927 ~6,000t, equivalent to USN T-AGOS class, use very powerful long range low frequency active towed-array sensor system (SURTASS) equipment to track submarines. Looks like a copy of the USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23) with its SWATH hull.
1x Ocean Tugboat ~6,000t, 2nd of 3?
Chinese also building new shipyard at Huludao, home to BSHIC, China’s only shipyard that constructs nuclear submarines, to enable high similar rate build of SSNs and SSBNs boats as their surface ships.
Google satellite pics show impressive numbers for the new facility, main assembly hall 288m/950′ long / 135m/440′ wide, internal railway with 7.34 m gauge rail lines for SSBN configuration? one single 13.55 m gauge rail line for SSBNs. Full write up at theDiplomat.com article “Pondering China’s Future Nuclear Submarine Production” January 23, 2019.
Head of the Chinese Navy is a submariner. They have recognized and are trying hard to address weakness in ASW. Probably fixed ASW sensor systems associated with all their newly built South China Sea artificial islands.
Actually I don’t think it would take much to convert the NSC and OPC to useful escort vessels. They are already expected to fly MH-60 helicopters. Do they have facilities for supporting them, torpedoes, sonobuoys, etc–not clear. Would need a towed array sonar like used on the LCS ASW mission module. Replace Phalanx on the NSC and Mk38 on the OPC with SeaRAM.
We could do a lot more including replacing the 57mm with 5″ Mk45 mod4.
Did a back of the envelop estimate of how we might equip an OPC for war. https://chuckhillscgblog.net/2016/09/29/what-might-a-wartime-opc-weapons-fit-look-like/
Looks like HII has also done some studies on how the NSC might be modified.
Also looked at alternative weapon systems here. https://chuckhillscgblog.net/2012/05/04/alternate-weapons-for-new-large-cutters/
One thing I think could sell that to DOD is creating a white/gold crew model for use an manning. The white crew is of course the CG, with the gold being the Navy Reserves. An NSC could be fitted (with Navy funding) for ASW with a hull sonar and torpedoes, and space for towed array, and 16 VLS cells.
The NSC then does normal coast guard duties. But reserve Navy crews can be boarded to operate the full Frigate weapon systems including replacing the CG helicopters with USN SH-60’s for ASW.
So the Navy gets an experienced ship and crew from the CG and in time of conflict adds to that ship gaining a Frigate in the process for less cost compared to a USN Frigate.
Since the “war” component is Navy, this gets around political opposition to heavy armed CG vessels.
I think there is a good opportunity for synergy between the Navy reserve and the Coast Guard for mobilization in the case of a major conflict. Bringing aboard a Navy MH-60R detachment would be logica,l since it would require much longer to bring Coast Guard aviators up to speed in ASW and modify CG aircraft. As for other systems including weapons and sensors the peacetime crews need to include at least one watch of Coast Guardsmen who know how to use and maintain each system, but in wartime these systems will see much more use and we will need the ability to man most of them 24/7 so will need to augment the crew. Augmentation might come from Navy Reservists, but since every LCS is going to have two crews, there is also the possibility of using members of the LCSs’ second crews since it is unlikely they will continue to swap crews in war time.
The USCG will be needed to provide rescue and firefighting capability to accompany a navy battlefleet.
I wrote it before; the wartime contingency plan for the USCG should be to repaint the red stripe into a cross with a horizontal bar. Some decoys wouldn’t hurt either, but the red cross is appropriate.
The USCG is not going to fill the gap with the PLAN. The issue described in the article will require a national effort and willingness to show China we can sustain/beat them in an arms race. That will be ugly-expensive.
No, it will not be enough, but properly equipping the NSCs and OPCs is the cheapest way to add 36 warships to the fleet.
Another more detailed analysis of Chinese warship construction. https://chinapower.csis.org/china-naval-modernization/?fbclid=IwAR1hjTswphZBwHv0fM2EqprINLcOfHdxQ4vLQwnhxMRxV4j19pO_SuRD9Bo
Another warning. https://seapowermagazine.org/former-intel-director-warns-of-widening-gap-between-chinese-u-s/