Recently, the Department of Defense stated, “The [People’s Republic of China] has the largest navy in the world, with an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines including over 130 major surface combatants.”
A quick look at China vs USA: Naval stats
In contrast, the U.S. Navy has around 300 ships in its overall battle force. The Chinese navy has grown 55% in the last 15 years. While the US Navy has only grown by two ships in the same time. The US has 12 aircraft carriers. Although China only has 2, that number could triple in a few years. The US has far more advanced carriers, but they are not invincible. China is developing new military technologies at an alarming rate. Additionally, they are pumping out ships that could advance by leaps and bounds with each new breakthrough. If this trend continues, China may be the new naval superpower sooner rather than later.
What is next?
Although Virginia has frequently been in the news for its lawmakers attempts to limit gun rights, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) is focusing on building our Navy. Specifically, ensuring it is ready for any conflicts ahead. Wittman serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee. Additionally, he serves as the ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee. We asked the Congressman about his plans and he emphasized the importance of taking care of our military. Wittman continued by recalling the many times he spoke about this issue in the past. He also recently made the following statement:
Wittman statement on updated Navy shipbuilding plan.
I am encouraged to see Secretary Esper show his stalwart commitment to expanding and modernizing our fleet under the Battle Force 2045 plan. It is clear that any major conflict with China is going to be in the Pacific theatre and our Naval fleet is going to be the tip of the spear. Our fleet must be able to distribute lethality, adapt in a complex environment, and have the survivability necessary to engage in a high-end conflict—many aspects of this are highlighted in this Battle Force 2045 plan.
For example, I am extremely pleased to see the Department calling for a larger and more capable submarine force, with Secretary Esper going as far as to say we must begin working towards a 3-per year build rate as soon as possible. This echoes what I have been saying for years—our attack submarines are our greatest asymmetrical advantage and we must exploit this strength to its utmost.
Additionally, I am thrilled to see more of my public assessments echoed in this plan, particularly the focus on increasing our strategic sealift and integrating the Marine Corps’ new force design into our future Navy. If we are going to fight and win, these will be critical to our success.
However, while I am encouraged by many of the elements outlined by Secretary Esper, I have concerns about the reorganization of our carrier force structure and the emphasis on unmanned and optionally manned platforms. I look forward to exploring these concerns further through discussions with Secretary Esper and Secretary Braithwaite.
Finally, I am pleased to see the Department develop this plan through budget-constrained realities, and I look forward to seeing the Navy’s overall shipbuilding account increased to meet the national defense strategy. This increase will get us to matching the average percentage spent on new ships during President Reagan’s naval buildup in the 1980s and will put us squarely on the right track to finally delivering the Navy we need.
I look forward to working with the Navy and the Secretary of Defense to put us on the path to retaining naval superiority for decades to come.
Keeping the watch.
The importance of naval supremacy was evident in World War II. However, the advancements in technology makes the matter for more complicated. Although, we have many partner nations, the dispersion will make command and control extremely difficult. China now has two fully-functioning aircraft carriers at their disposal. They have also publicly displayed a consorted effort to increase the training, and employment of their marines. As a result, the US Marines have done away with tanks. Now opting to focus on taking small islands in the south China Seas. Subsequently, defending them with missiles. The Marines are also investing in long range precision fire. However, we still see the same difficulty maintaining a communications network under duress.
Similarly, submarines that carry nuclear payloads are extremely dependent on the ability to communicate with their commands. A strong infrastructure, and communication redundancies are crucial. However, all of this will cost an almost unfathomable amount of time, and taxpayer money. We must be as vigilant against fraud, waste, and abuse as were are against enemy surveillance.
How do you think we should move forward? Should we build more ships or update the ones we have? Sound off in the comments below!