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China Knows America Doesn't Have Enough Warships

Michael Peck

Security, Asia


The Navy is in trouble.

Key point: Washington and Beijing both know that the Navy is too overstretched and that is a problem.

Good news for American critics who warn that the U.S. Navy is overstretched.

China agrees with you.

Fang Xiaozhi, a researcher at the BRI Institute of Strategy and International Security, at Fudan University in Shanghai, says that the U.S. Navy has too few ships to meet its worldwide commitments. And more important, it doesn’t have enough vessels to defeat China in the Western Pacific.

“Although it possesses the world’s largest naval force, it has to carry out onerous combat and war preparedness missions on the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and in the Middle East as its interests are spreading all over the world, and the missions are of complicated and diverse types for that matter,” Fang wrote in China Military Online, an official site of the Chinese armed forces.

“For instance, the U.S. 7th Fleet had constant collisions in the past two years due to excessive missions, which exhausted the front-line officers and soldiers and resulted in poor management. Besides, many American vessels have various malfunctions and a high failure rate because of consistent overwork.”

Fang is echoing American experts who have warned for years that the U.S. Navy is badly overworked and underprepared. Ships are deployed at sea when they should be undergoing maintenance in port, and crews are inadequately trained and overtired, especially in the Pacific fleet. These problems were painfully – and publicly – revealed in 2017, when Navy destroyers collided with merchant ships on two occasions.

In particular, the August 2017 collision of the destroyer USS John S. McCain with a tanker off Singapore, which killed seven Navy sailors, raises questions about the competence in basic seamanship of sailors and their commanders. Investigators found staggering deficiencies in the McCain’s training, morale, leadership and shiphandling skills.

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