They are building a lot of these.
They are building a lot of these.
Earlier I noted that the Chinese seemed to be building an incredible number of warships. Found this chart of surface warships launched in 2019. I have been unable to find the original source, the style appears to be from http://www.military-today.com/, but in any case, it appears to be correct.
16 Type 056 corvettes, 8 Type 052D destroyers, two type 055 destroyer/cruisers, a Type 071 LPD, and a Type 075 LHD. 28 surface warships total. It is possible some of the Type 056s are intended for export or for the China Coast Guard.
By way of comparison, over the last five years, 2015 through 2019, as nearly as I can tell, the US Navy commissioned 15 Littoral Combat Ships, five Burke class destroyers, two Zumwalt class destroyers, two LPDs, no big deck amphibs (LHD or LHA), and one aircraft carrier. That is 25 surface warships total. The conclusion is a bit startling.
The Chinese launched more surface warships in 2019, than the US Navy commissioned in the last five years.
The LCS program is coming to an end, but there are still 16 to be commissioned. Generally the program has funded four per year, The FFG(X) program is expected to replace the LCS program in the Navy budget with one FFG funded in the first year followed by two frigates in each year to a total of 20. Combined with the LCS this should give the Navy 55 “small surface combatants.” The Chinese have about 50 frigates but this number is likely to decline as older ships are decommissioned, as their current frigate program, the Type 054A, is nearing completion.
The USN’s Zumwalt class destroyer program will end with three ships when the Lyndon B. Johnson is commissioned in the near future.
The Burke class DDG program was expected to continue building twelve ships over the next five years, but there has been a recent report that DOD would like to cut five ships to make room in the budget for development of more unmanned systems. Also suggested is that Ticonderoga class cruisers be retired early and that the first four LCS be decommissioned.
It is comforting to assume that Chinese systems and their training are inferior. We had similar assumptions about the Japanese before WWII. It is extremely dangerous to assume your own superiority. Plus while the US Forces spread all over the world, the Chinese are concentrated in their own theater of interest.
We did discuss this earlier, “Comparison, the Chinese Navy of 2030 and USN.”
The Chinese have begun building large surface combatants (destroyers and/or cruisers) at rate faster than that of the US (The US generally commissions two per year). The number the Chinese are expected to have commissioned in 2019 and 2020, as many as twelve, is staggering. Their first very large aircraft carrier equipped with catapults and arresting gear is expected to be commissioned in 2022, only three years after their first (smaller) domestically built aircraft carrier (The US builds one every five years). They seem to have begun building large amphibious warfare landing ships at about the same rate as the US. In addition they have built types with no counterpart in the US Navy including 60 Type 022 missile armed fast attack craft and Type 056 corvettes, 64 ordered to date, with about 8 built per year. They also have about 60 conventionally powered submarines and about 54 frigates while the US has neither type currently.
The US Naval Institute Proceedings has a post by Commander William Woityra, U.S. Coast Guard
China’s failure to enforce treaties and sanctions and lack of corporate accountability should serve as a warning for the international community when it comes to Chinese participation in international agreements and instruments. Of recent interest is their 2018 signature of the Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean. The signatory parties committed to curbing high seas commercial fishing in the Arctic until the ecosystem is better understood, no sooner than 2034. Beijing’s participation in the negotiations, and signing of the fisheries moratorium, helps bolster its long-term narrative of China’s identity as a “near-Arctic state” with a legitimate right to involve itself in decisions about the future of the region.
Lately I have come to suspect that China’s lax attitude toward Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) Fishing is not due to poor enforcement or even corruption, but that it is actually state policy and a part of a strategy to impoverish third world countries dependent on fishing, so that, encouraged by bribery, they will turn to China for loans for poor investment, that will default and ultimately allow the Chinese to take over their assets. Overfishing is perhaps an element in a new form of economic colonialism.
The US Naval Institute reports on a Center for Strategic and International Studies panel discussion (video above, it is three and a half hours long).
gCaptain publishes a Reuters report that the “US is ‘Deeply Concerned’ About Chinese Tankers Going Dark.”
Chinese tankers are reportly turning off their AIS to avoid US tracking.
Real Clear Defense has an article which first appeared in the Australian think tank Lowy Institute‘s publication “The Interpreter,” advocating greater cooperation between the Coast Guards of Australia, India, Japan, and the US.
“The so-called Quad group of Indo-Pacific maritime democracies – Australia, India, Japan, and the United States – is a valuable grouping, although it is still under utilized in many ways. One of the most effective ways that these countries could work together to enhance maritime security in the Indo-Pacific would be through coordinating the work of their coast guard agencies.”
While India in particular, is adverse to committing to a military alliance, these nations share a commitment to a rules based international system.
Quadrilateral cooperation through the countries’ coast guards could provide an answer to this political problem. As principally law-enforcement agencies, coast guards can provide many practical benefits in building a stable and secure maritime domain, without the overtones of a military alliance.
Using ship-riders, this sort of cooperation could go beyond capacity building and uphold the norms of international behavior. It might lead to the kind of standing maritime security task force I advocated earlier. When coast guards are in conflict, having multiple coast guards on scene could insure that instead of a “he said, she said” situation, we could have a “he said, we say” situation that would show a united front against bullying.
Given Bertholf and Stratton‘s stay in the Western Pacific and Walnut and Joseph Gerczak‘s support of Samoa, which was coordinated with Australia and New Zealand, it appears we may already be moving in this direction.