Friday, November 18, 2005

U.S. Navy's slow retreat

Here is some good news for the Chinese from their friends in the Senate.
$9.1 billion to permit construction of four new ships, less than half the total of 10 to 12 new vessels the Navy and independent consultants say is needed to sustain today’s fleet. The total includes $336.7 million to accelerate construction of a new aircraft carrier, CVN-78, that will be built at Northrop Grumman’s Newport News shipyard, as well as a new amphibious assault ship and a new destroyer.
If you want to be optimistic, in the long run you can get on average 30 years out of a Navy ship, but as those who work with the 38 year old Kennedy, they cost a lot to maintain. Fairly soon, being that many are going inside 30, we will be at 120 ships.

Where does that lead us to? Let's assume all 120 are deployable battle force ships (that will never happen). I'm an optimist. Right now, we only have 280 battle force ships (remember the 600 ship Navy we almost had in the 1980s? That is LONG gone). Those numbers include aircraft carriers, submarines, and patrol craft. As of today, 148 ships are underway - 98 of those are on deployment, AKA overseas worldwide.

Using finger and toe math, let's compare.

---------------Now-----Frist's Navy
On deployment:--98------42

That is deployed to the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and the Med. Ponder.

The long term trend is clear. Power, especially naval power, abhors a vacuum. We will soon only have a Regional Power Navy on this path. Hope was the LCS would give us some numbers. But hope isn't a plan. 20 years comes fast. If China keeps up its rate, from a regional conflict situation, for the first time in almost 90 years we will have someone close to having a peer power basis on the open sea. Hey, the PLAN doesn't have to match us 1 for 1, all they have to do is make the Taiwan situation seem painful enough to make it not worthwhile. You are not going to bully China in 2025 with the fleet we are building. By the time the rump 2ND, 3RD, 5TH, and 6TH fleets run over to help the 7TH fleet; the truth on the ground will have changed to the point it won't matter. Not with 120 ships.

Remember, we have to cover the world's oceans if we want to be a Global Naval Power. China only has to worry about WESTPAC and the SLOC to its oil. With Central Asia's oil coming online in the next decade, even the SLOC past the Malacca Straits may be a pass if needed. OK, you wargamers, can you defend Taiwan and defend OUR SLOC from Middle East oil with 120 warships ready to sail? What do you do when Japan tells you to go home?

Self fulfilling prophecy sometimes. We take our dominance of the ocean for granted at our own peril. Keep building billion dollar plus "Destroyers" and Gator Freighters with solid titanium pipes. Keep coming up with A-12s, C-130Js and other wonders. You will ask your children to go to sea with almost nothing.

Think you can win with a few highest quality, very expensive weapons against a motivated enemy fighting with a more numerous, though slightly inferior weapons? Talk to Obersturmbannfurher Joachim Peiper. If he was still around, he might have an opinion on that.

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