Robert E. McCoy Security, Weaker nations in the region need to form a military alliance, so that in unity they acquire the means to face down Beijing. Beijing is relentless in its pursuit of territory that it feels once was a part of the Middle Kingdom. A lack of coordination in resisting this irredentist activity is having consequences, for ignoring it merely delays – and worsens – the problem. For example, if the law-abiding nations of the world had taken effective action in the South China Sea when China reemphasized its Nine Dash Line claims some years ago, we would not be faced with the outposts China has established on islets in the area – some replete with landing strips and associated defensive equipment. While it is building ever more islands in the territory its claims within the South China Sea, China is not ignoring the East China Sea. Just recently, Beijing flew warplanes into both the Korean Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and the Japanese ADIZ there. China is escalating its forays into the seas around it, probing for reactions by others in the waters bearing its name. But not all Beijing’s incursions are military. Chinese fishing boats routinely violate South Korea’s waters – one fresh incident requiring Seoul’s coast guard to fire nearly 250 warning shots to move the intruding vessels out of the area. Beijing has even taken to threatening Taipei with invasion should American warships patrol the area and visit Taiwan in a show of support for that island nation. Ineffective responses In 2014, then-US president Obama stated that Senkaku Islands (known as the Diaoyus in China) are covered by the US-Japan Security Treaty, thus obligating Washington to ride to Tokyo’s rescue if Beijing makes any move to occupy the rocks by force. Read full article
Senior diplomats from China and Japan have exchanged views on a number of security issues at the 15th China-Japan Security Dialogue held in Tokyo.
Лодки проекта 877 оказались весьма успешными как в техническом, так и в экспортном плане. Субмарина, которая появилась у СССР и его союзников едва ли не случайно, стала легендой в глазах НАТО. За 35 лет было построено 53 лодки этого проекта, благодаря чему в трудный период после окончания холодной войны российские судостроители получали жизненно важные для них заказы, позволившие сохранить предприятия. Поскольку наряду с российскими операциями против «Исламского государства» (запрещенная в России организация — прим. пер.) нарастает напряженность в районе Южно-Китайского моря, способная вылиться в стычки противоборствующих флотов, мы можем увидеть лодки 877-го проекта в действии и в азиатских водах.
Kyle Mizokami Security, Asia Pakistan’s nuclear program goes back to the 1950s, during the early days of its rivalry with India. Pakistan is clearly developing a robust nuclear capability that can not only deter but fight a nuclear war. It is also dealing with internal security issues that could threaten the integrity of its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan and India are clearly in the midst of a nuclear arms race that could, in relative terms, lead to absurdly high nuclear stockpiles reminiscent of the Cold War. It is clear that an arms-control agreement for the subcontinent is desperately needed. Sandwiched between Iran, China, India and Afghanistan, Pakistan lives in a complicated neighborhood with a variety of security issues. One of the nine known states known to have nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and doctrine are continually evolving to match perceived threats. A nuclear power for decades, Pakistan is now attempting to construct a nuclear triad of its own, making its nuclear arsenal resilient and capable of devastating retaliatory strikes. Pakistan’s nuclear program goes back to the 1950s, during the early days of its rivalry with India. President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto famously said in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.” The program became a higher priority after the country’s 1971 defeat at the hands of India, which caused East Pakistan to break away and become Bangladesh. Experts believe the humiliating loss of territory, much more than reports that India was pursuing nuclear weapons, accelerated the Pakistani nuclear program. India tested its first bomb, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” in May 1974, putting the subcontinent on the road to nuclearization. Pakistan began the process of accumulating the necessary fuel for nuclear weapons, enriched uranium and plutonium. The country was particularly helped by one A. Q. Khan, a metallurgist working in the West who returned to his home country in 1975 with centrifuge designs and business contacts necessary to begin the enrichment process. Pakistan’s program was assisted by European countries and a clandestine equipment-acquisition program designed to do an end run on nonproliferation efforts. Outside countries eventually dropped out as the true purpose of the program became clear, but the clandestine effort continued. Read full article
Kyle Mizokami Security, America's Virginia-Class Submarine vs. Russia's Lethal Yasen: Who Wins? In terms of weapons the two sides are fairly evenly matched, although Severodvinsk has the antisubmarine version of the Klub missile, allowing the Russian ship to quickly engage enemy submarines with a missile-delivered lightweight torpedo, much like the retired American SUBROC system. The Virginia class is quieter and has a better sonar rig than its Russian opponent. In the world of submarine warfare, that’s an unbeatable combination. It can move and detect in ways that would give away Severodvinsk. One thing to be said for Severodvinsk is that it is more capable of quickly responding to a sudden target opportunity via her supersonic Klub ASW missiles. As for near term prospects, the usability of the Virginia’s sonar improves on a regular basis via software updates. Severodvinsk may not be able to update its sonar suite, and making the Russian submarines quieter may not be easily implemented. Overall, the edge has to be given to the Virginia class. The United States Navy’s submarine force emerged from the Cold War as the undisputed masters of the undersea realm. The elite, all-nuclear submarine force watched as its Soviet submarine force rivals rusted away pierside, the newly founded Russian Federation unable to maintain them. After more than twenty years of American submarine supremacy, a new challenger has arisen from the deep. Slightly familiar and almost two decades in the making, it’s an unusual challenge to U.S. naval superiority, but nevertheless one with a long, lethal pedigree. How does this new old upstart, Russia’s Yasen-class submarine, compare with the new backbone of the U.S. submarine force, the Virginia class? The Yasen (“Ash Tree”) class of submarines was conceived as early as the mid-1980s by the Malakhit Central Design Bureau, one of the Soviet Union’s three main submarine bureaus. Construction of the first submarine, Severodvinsk, began in 1993 in Russia at the Sevmash Shipyards, but lack of funding delayed completion for more than a decade. Severodvinsk was finally launched in 2010, and commissioned into the fleet in 2013. Read full article
Kyle Mizokami Security, Yes, this happenned. The heroic actions of the crew were essential to the submarine’s survival. Still, how did a submarine survive a high-speed collision with a mountain? In 1963, immediately after the loss of USS Thresher, the Navy instituted the SUBSAFE program. The goal of the program was to ensure that a submarine’s hull would retain pressure in the event of an accident and she would be able to surface. The Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Program made safe, resilient nuclear reactors an absolute top priority. In 2005, a U.S. Navy attack submarine collided head-on with an undersea mountain at more than thirty miles an hour. Despite the damage the ship sustained and the crew’s injuries, the USS San Francisco managed to limp to her home port of Guam on her own power. The incident was a testament to the design of the submarine and the training and professionalism of her crew. USS San Francisco is a Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine. Submarine builder Newport News Shipyard began construction on her in 1977, and she was commissioned on April 24, 1981. The submarine joined the U.S. Pacific Fleet and served there throughout her career. Like all Los Angeles subs, she displaced 6,900 tons submerged, was 362 feet long, and had a beam of 33 feet. A General Electric PWR S6G nuclear reactor provided 35 thousand shipboard horsepower, driving the submarine to a speedy 33 knots. A typical crew consisted of 129 officers and enlisted men. On January 8, 2005, the USS San Francisco was traveling at flank (full) speed—approximately 38 miles an hour at a depth of 525 feet. She was 360 miles southeast of Guam heading to Brisbane, Australia for a liberty stop. Navigation plotted the route based on undersea maps that were generally agreed to give the most complete view of the seabed. According to The New York Times, the captain went to lunch and the navigation officer, believing it was safe to do so, dived the sub from 400 to 525 feet and accelerated to flank speed. Read full article
Kyle Mizokami Security, U.S. nuclear testing ceased in 1992. In 2002, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that virtually every American that has lived since 1951 has been exposed to nuclear fallout, and that the cumulative effects of all nuclear testing by all nations could ultimately be responsible for up to eleven thousand deaths in the United States alone. The United States did indeed learn much about how to construct safe and reliable nuclear weapons, and their effects on human life and the environment. In doing so, however, it paid a terrible and tragic price. Nuclear weapons have a mysterious quality. Their power is measured in plainly visible blast pressure and thermal energy common to many weapons, but also invisible yet equally destructive radiation and electromagnetic pulse. Between 1945 and 1992, the United States conducted 1,032 nuclear tests seeking to get the measure of these enigmatic weapons. Many of these tests would be today be considered unnecessary, overly dangerous and just plain bizarre. These tests, undertaken on the atomic frontier, gathered much information about these weapons—enough to cease actual use testing—yet scarred the land and left many Americans with long-term health problems. The majority of U.S. nuclear tests occurred in the middle of the Western desert, at the Nevada Test Site. The NTS hosted 699 nuclear tests, utilizing both above-ground and later underground nuclear devices. The average yield for these tests was 8.6 kilotons. Atmospheric tests could be seen from nearby Las Vegas, sixty-five miles southeast of the Nevada Test site, and even became a tourist draw until the Limited Test Ban Treaty banned them in 1963. Today the craters and pockmarks from underground tests are still visible in satellite map imagery. The bulk of the remaining nuclear tests took place in Pacific, at the islands of Bikini, Enewetak, Johnson Island and Christmas Island. The second nuclear test, after 1945’s Trinity Test, took place at Bikini Atoll. The Pacific tests were notable not only for their stunning visuals, the most compelling imagery of nuclear weapons since Hiroshima, but also the forced relocation of native islanders. Others that were near tests were exposed to dangerous levels of radioactive fallout and forced to fleet. In 1954, the crew of the Japanese fishing boat Daigo Fukuryu Maru accidentally sailed through fallout from the nearby fifteen-megaton Castle Bravo test. Contaminated with nuclear fallout, one crew member died, and the rest were sickened by radiation. The first test of a thermonuclear, or fusion, bomb took place on November 1952 at Enewetak Island. Nicknamed Ivy Mike, the huge eighty-two-ton device was more of a building than a usable nuclear device. The device registered a yield of 10.4 megatons, or the equivalent of 10,400,000 tons of TNT. (Hiroshima, by contrast, was roughly eighteen thousand tons of TNT.) Ivy Mike was the biggest test by far, creating a fireball 1.8 miles wide and a mushroom cloud that rose to an altitude of 135,000 feet. One of the strangest atmospheric tests occurred in 1962 at the NTS, with the testing of the Davy Crockett battlefield nuclear weapon. Davy Crockett was a cartoonish-looking recoilless rifle that lobbed a nuclear warhead with an explosive yield of just ten to twenty tons of TNT. The test, code-named Little Feller I, took place on July 17, 1962, with attorney general and presidential adviser Robert. F. Kennedy in attendance. Although hard to believe, Davy Crockett was issued at the battalion level in both Germany and North Korea. Also in 1962, as part of a series of high-altitude nuclear experiments, a Thor rocket carried a W49 thermonuclear warhead approximately 250 miles into the exoatmosphere. The test, known as Starfish Prime, had an explosive yield of 1.4 megatons, or 1,400,000 tons of TNT, and resulted in a large amount of electromagnetic pulse being released over the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The test, conducted off Johnston Island, sent a man-made electrical surge as far Hawaii, more than eight hundred miles away. The surge knocked out three hundred streetlights and a telephone exchange, and caused burglar alarms to go off and garage doors to open by themselves. Nuclear tests weren’t just restricted to the Pacific Ocean and Nevada. In October 1964, as part of Operation Whetstone, the U.S. government detonated a 5.3-kiloton device just twenty-eight miles southwest of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The test, nicknamed Salmon, was an experiment designed to determine if nuclear tests could be detected by seismometer. This was followed up in 1966 with the Sterling test, which had a yield of 380 tons. In 1967, as part of a misguided attempt to use nuclear weapons for peaceful purposes, the United States detonated a nuclear device near Farmington, New Mexico. Project Gasbuggy was an early attempt at nuclear “fracking,” detonating a twenty-nine-kiloton nuke 4,227 feet underground just to see if the explosion would fracture surrounding rock and expose natural-gas reserves. The experiment was unsuccessful. Two similar tests, Rulison and Rio Blanco, took place in nearby Colorado. Although Rulison was a success in that it uncovered usable gas reserves, the gas was contaminated with radiation, leaving it unsuitable for practical commercial use. A handful of nuclear tests were conducted in Alaska, or more specifically the Aleutian island of Amchitka. The first test, in October 1965, was designed to test nuclear detection techniques and had a yield of eighty kilotons. A second test occurred four years later, and had a yield of one megaton, or one thousand kilotons. The third and largest test, Cannikin, was a test of the Spartan antiballistic-missile warhead and had a yield of less than five megatons. During the early years of nuclear testing it was anticipated that nuclear weapons would be used on the battlefield, and that the Army and Marine Corps had better get used to operating on a “nuclear battlefield.” During the 1952 Big Shot test, 1,700 ground troops took shelter in trenches just seven thousand yards from the thirty-three-kiloton explosion. After the test, the troops conducted a simulated assault that took them to within 160 meters of ground zero. This test and others like them led to increases in leukemia, prostate and nasal cancers among those that participated. U.S. nuclear testing ceased in 1992. In 2002, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that virtually every American that has lived since 1951 has been exposed to nuclear fallout, and that the cumulative effects of all nuclear testing by all nations could ultimately be responsible for up to eleven thousand deaths in the United States alone. The United States did indeed learn much about how to construct safe and reliable nuclear weapons, and their effects on human life and the environment. In doing so, however, it paid a terrible and tragic price. Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009, he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This first appeared in March and is being reposted due to reader interest. Image: Creative Commons.
Kyle Mizokami Security, A grotesque show of might, nothing like Tsar Bomba was ever used again. On arguably the opposite end of the testing spectrum, the Soviet Union sought to extract some peaceful use of nuclear weapons. The bluntly titled Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy program saw 124 nuclear weapons detonated for “peaceful purposes,” including prospecting for oil and gas, damming and rerouting waterways, facilitating coal mining, creating lakes and underground natural-gas storage, and even creating an underground toxic-waste repository. The program was largely a failure; unsurprisingly, radioactive contamination was a frequent problem. The Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb in 1949, just four years after the United States. Like the United States, the USSR conducted an aggressive testing schedule throughout the Cold War, ultimately conducting 715 nuclear tests over a period of forty-one years. Also like its rival—and to an even greater extent—the Soviet Union suffered nuclear contamination of its hinterland and unnecessary health risks to its people. Moscow was also responsible for testing of the large thermonuclear device ever built: the infamous “Tsar Bomba.” The majority of Soviet nuclear tests were carried out at the Semipalatinsk Test Site (STS) in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. Like the Nevada desert, the Central Asian steppes functioned as a remote test site where atmospheric bomb tests could be conducted far from densely populated areas. 456 atomic and thermonuclear devices were tested at Semipalatinsk, many of them atmospheric tests. Semipalatinsk was selected by former head of the NKVD Lavrenti Beria, who described the area as “uninhabited” and an ideal spot to test nuclear weapons. In fact the area surrounding the site was home to nearly seven hundred thousand people, many of whom lived in small rural villages. On August 29, 1949, the Soviet Union’s first atomic bomb, RDS-1, was detonated at STS. RDS-1 was a plutonium-based implosion device based on the Nagasaki bomb, from which secrets had been stolen. The bomb had an explosive yield of twenty-two kilotons, larger than the bombs detonated at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in part due to a larger amount of plutonium. Radioactive fallout rained down on unsuspecting villagers in the region, a pattern that would continue for decades. Like the U.S. military, the Soviet military also folded military exercises into their nuclear tests. The first such exercise was the Totskoye military exercise, in September 1954. This was the first test outside of Semipalatinsk and the first in European Russia, and involved forty-four thousand Soviet ground forces, including some stationed just 1.5 miles from ground zero. A Soviet Tu-4 “Bull” bomber dropped a forty-kiloton RDS-3 gravity bomb, which detonated at an altitude of one thousand feet. Within forty minutes of the explosion, troops were conducting maneuvers less than a mile from ground zero. Many contracted radiation sickness and developed radiation-linked diseases, such as cancer and leukemia, later in their lives. The majority of Soviet nuclear testing took place at STS, but nearly a third of all tests were exploded at the Mityushikha Bay Nuclear Testing Range on the island of Novaya Zemlya. An island the size of Maine in the Barents Sea, Novaya Zemlya was truly a desolate land mass. 244 bombs were tested at Mityushikha Bay, including the infamous “Tsar Bomba,” a gigantic fifty-megaton bomb that dwarfed the largest American test, the fifteen-megaton Castle Bravo. It is impossible to describe Tsar Bomba without superlatives. Detonated by the Soviet Union on October 30, 1961, the 59,525-pound bomb was released from a modified Tu-95 “Bear” bomber. Tsar Bomba was so powerful that the Bear’s aircrew were given only a fifty-fifty chance of survival. The thermal radiation could induce third-degree burns against unexposed flesh at sixty-two miles, and the flash of light was visible at over six hundred miles. Wooden houses were demolished at distances of over one hundred miles, and the blast wave shattered windows at 560 miles. Tsar Bomba created a mushroom cloud forty miles high and fifty-nine miles wide. A grotesque show of might, nothing like Tsar Bomba was ever used again. On arguably the opposite end of the testing spectrum, the Soviet Union sought to extract some peaceful use of nuclear weapons. The bluntly titled Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy program saw 124 nuclear weapons detonated for “peaceful purposes,” including prospecting for oil and gas, damming and rerouting waterways, facilitating coal mining, creating lakes and underground natural-gas storage, and even creating an underground toxic-waste repository. The program was largely a failure; unsurprisingly, radioactive contamination was a frequent problem. Overall, Moscow conducted 219 atmospheric, water and space tests. Like the United States, the Soviet Union was bound by the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 to restrict testing henceforth underground. Another 496 tests were conducted underground. Like the United States, the Soviet Union’s military and civilian population also suffered from nuclear testing. Military personnel were exposed during incidents such as the Totskoye test. In 1992, it was estimated that approximately sixty thousand people living in Kazakhstan near the STS test site had died of radiation-induced cancers. Although much of the radiation in the area has since died away, birth defects resulting from chromosomal abnormalities continue to show up in children born three generations after radiation exposure. The Soviet Union tested its last nuclear weapon on October 24, 1990, two years before the United States. Far from being a magnanimous gesture toward world peace, the Soviet Union was actually mere months from total dissolution. During the 1990s, Russian and Kazakh news media claimed a test had been prepared for May 1991, but the .3-kiloton device was abandoned in a tunnel four hundred feet underground. It was allegedly destroyed in 1995 by an eight-hundred-pound explosive charge. The former Soviet republics have not acted to resume testing. All but Russia have renounced nuclear arms and turned over any inherited arsenals for disposal. Russia has shown little interest in further tests, instead concentrating on a new generation of delivery vehicles including the Bulava submarine-launched missile, Topol-MR mobile missile and Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile. The unofficial testing moratorium between the United States and Russia continues to hold—for now. Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009, he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. Image: Creative Commons. This first appeared in March and is being reposted due to reader interest.
Kyle Mizokami Security, One of the most infamous missiles of the modern era, the Scud short-range ballistic missile was developed as a nuclear asset for Soviet commanders during the Cold War. Today, more than six decades later, the Scud’s DNA has been scattered worldwide, found in ballistic missiles from North Korea to Iran. The lumbering Scud is more visible than ever, with dozens fired in the ongoing Yemeni civil war. The Scud missile is a direct product of captured wartime German missile technology. Soviet experiments with the Nazi-developed V-2 missile led to a ten-year development effort that culminated in the R-11M missile paraded through Red Square in November 1957. The R-11M was a liquid-fueled missile that rode on a tracked transporter erector launcher not dissimilar to North Korea’s Pukkuksong-2 tracked launcher. The R-11M could launch a conventional high-explosive warhead up to 167 miles and a heavier nuclear warhead up to ninety-three miles. The R-11M was eventually nicknamed “Scud” by NATO, and as subsequent versions emerged became known as Scud-A. The Scud-A’s short range made it a tactical nuclear delivery system. The missile had poor accuracy, with a circular error probable—or the distance within which half of a missile’s warheads will fall—of 1.8 miles. This, and the primitive state of early nuclear-weapons development, meant that the Scud, despite being a tactical system, was still equipped with large warheads with a yield of twenty to a hundred kilotons. The basic Scud design was updated several times during the Cold War. The R-17, also known as the Scud-B, was introduced in 1965. Scud-B moved to an 8×8 wheeled tracked erector launcher and a nuclear-payload range increase to from ninety-three to 167 miles. A new inertial guidance system shrank the -B model’s accuracy down to .6 miles, and while the new missile was by no means a “precision-guided weapon,” it was still exponentially more accurate. Military analyst Steven Zaloga puts the total number of Scuds of all types at about ten thousand, with five thousand to six thousand remaining by 1997. Total launch-vehicle production was estimated at eight hundred. The Scud is out of production, and no longer in service with the Russian military. The end of the Cold War did not mean the end of the Scud. The missiles had first been used in conflict during the Iran-Iraq War, when Iranian Scuds, purchased from Libya, were used against Iraqi cities. Iraq, unable to hit back at distant Iranian cities with its own Scuds, began a program to develop longer-range missiles. This resulted in the Al Hussein, a ballistic missile with a range of up to four hundred miles. Hundreds of Iranian Scuds and Iraqi Al Husseins were launched during the war, primarily at civilian targets, with Iraq alone firing 516 Scud-Bs and Al Hussein missiles at Iranian territory. Iraq again used Al Hussein missiles again in 1991, launching an estimated ninety-three of them against Israel and Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War. While the Iraq of Saddam Hussein no longer exists, Iran has continued developing ballistic missiles. The Nuclear Threat Initiative believes Iran has at least two hundred to three hundred Scud-type missiles, with twelve to eighteen mobile launchers, and twenty-five to a hundred Shahab-3 missiles identical to the North Korean Nodong medium-range ballistic missile, with six launchers. The Nodong, as we’ll cover later, is also a descendant of the Scud. NTI, which provided the numbers, warns, however, that those numbers reflect missiles imported from abroad and “do not account for Iranian domestic production.” Meanwhile, Iran has managed to increase the range of the Shahab-3, resulting in the thousand-mile-capable Ghadr-1. The Ghadr-1 is also stage one of Iran’s Safir space launch vehicle. Recent Iranian progress in solid-fuel missiles has led the country to discontinue further development of Scud-based weapons, but Scuds were undoubtedly instrumental in giving regimes such as Iran a reliable platform for early research and development. Another major user and developer of the Scud platform is North Korea. Pyongyang received two Scud-Bs from Egypt sometime between 1976 and 1981. The country’s budding missile-research enterprise went to work and by 1986 had developed a homemade copy, the Hwasong-5, with a 10 to 15 percent increase in range and payload. A requirement to hit U.S. bases in Japan sent North Korean rocket scientists back to the drawing board, and by 1994 they had developed what became known as the Nodong. Nodong has a range of 932 miles, or enough to strike as far as Okinawa. Nodong is not an accurate missile: it has a circular error probable of 1.26 miles. Nodong technology was exported to Iran to create the Shahab-3. Nodongs were also used as the basis for the Taepodong-1 intermediate-range ballistic missile (no longer in service) and a combination of Nodong and Scud engines power the Unha-3 space launch vehicle. Several Scud-based missiles have been launched during the ongoing Yemeni civil war. The missiles, taken from Yemeni Army stocks, were allegedly sold to the country by North Korea. These missiles have been launched at targets that include the Saudi capital of Riyadh as well as Mecca. A solid estimate of the number of ballistic missiles that have been fired in the conflict is hard to come by. One clue lies in a statement made earlier this year by Raytheon, manufacturer of the Patriot missile, claiming that since “January of 2015, Patriot has intercepted more than 100 ballistic missiles in combat operations around the world.” The Scud missile, while never firing a shot in anger in the Cold War it was designed for, ironically went on to become a major military threat of the post–Cold War era. The missile has since spawned more dangerous missiles—and even worse, missile research programs—in the hands of rogue states. While the Scud itself will eventually go away, its legacy will continue to haunt the world for decades to come. Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. Image: Military personnel examine a Scud missile shot down in the desert during Operation Desert Storm. Wikimedia Commons/Public domain
Kyle Mizokami Security, The Second World War marked the end of the Age of Battleships. Aircraft carriers, with their flexible, long range striking power made battlewagons obsolete in a matter of months. American battleships, once expected to fight a decisive battle in the Pacific that would halt the Japanese Empire, were instead relegated to providing artillery support for island-hopping campaigns. Yet after the war America’s battleships would return, again and again, to do the one thing only battleships could do: bring the biggest guns around to bear on the enemy. The U.S. Navy ended World War II with twenty-three battleships of all types. By 1947, the Navy had shrunk to peacetime levels that preserved half of the number of wartime aircraft carriers but cut the number of battleships on active duty to just four. Of the four remaining ships, all were members of the latest—and last—run of battleships, the Iowa class: Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri and Wisconsin. By the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, only one battleship, Missouri, remained on active duty. On June 25, 1950, the forces of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, backed by the Soviet Union, invaded pro-American South Korea. The invasion triggered an intervention by the United States, and USS Missouri was sent to provide support for American forces. Although Missouri did not directly participate in the amphibious landing at Inchon, it did support the landing by bombarding nearby Samcheok, South Korea, in order to convince North Korean forces the invasion would take place there instead. Afterwards, Missouri traveled to the port of Busan, where it became the flagship of Vice Adm. A. D. Struble, Commander, Seventh Fleet. Missouri continued to support the UN offensive into North Korea along the peninsula’s east coast, conducting bombardment missions in late October 1950 in the Chongjin, Tanchon and Wonsan areas. Afterwards, it used its vast number of antiaircraft guns, consisting of twenty five-inch guns, eighty forty-millimeter guns and forty-nine twenty-millimeter guns, to protect U.S. carriers from air attack. In December, after the Chinese entry into the war, Missouri provided naval gunfire cover for the U.S. Army’s X Corps, which, along with the First Marine Division, was evacuated by sea from Hunguam. The Chinese intervention, and the realization that the Korean conflict would not be a short war, prompted the Navy to reactivate the remaining three Iowa-class battleships. New Jersey was activated on November 21, 1950; Wisconsin on March 3, 1950; and Iowa itself was reactivated on August 25, 1951. For the remainder of the war, the four battleships served in the naval gunfire support role, providing direct artillery support for ground troops, bombardment of specific enemy targets, and harassment and interdiction fire against enemy supply lines. Although the range of their sixteen-inch guns limited the battleships to targets within twenty miles of the Korean coastline, operating from both coasts that still put a quarter of the country under their guns. The Korean War ended in 1953, but the U.S. Navy, fearing a return to hostilities, did not immediately send its battleships back to mothballs. Missouri was decommissioned in 1955, followed by New Jersey in 1957, and finally Ohio and Wisconsin in 1958. In 1967, faced with rising tactical aircraft losses in the Vietnam War, the United States recommissioned USS New Jersey to provide firepower that didn’t risk losing pilots. By September 30, 1968, New Jersey was back in action, shelling North Vietnamese Army forces near the North/South Vietnam Demilitarized Zone. The battleship shelled coastal targets located by spotter aircraft from the aircraft carrier USS America, and supported the First and Third Marine Divisions. New Jersey’s Vietnam service would prove short, however, as the ship was decommissioned again the following year. The 1980 election of President Ronald Reagan, who had run on the promise of a six-hundred-ship U.S. Navy, proved an opportunity to reactivate the four Iowa-class battleships yet again. All four Iowa-class battleships were upgraded with new combat systems, deleting many of the smaller five-inch guns, in order to accommodate sixteen Harpoon antiship missiles, thirty-two Tomahawk cruise missiles, and four Phalanx CIWS close-in weapon systems. Each ship retained its nine sixteen-inch guns—the new, modern Navy had no naval guns over five inches in diameter, and the big guns of the battleships would prove invaluable in the event of an amphibious landing. The first ship to be reactivated—for the third time—was New Jersey. Returned to service in December 1982, within nine months it was back in action, supporting U.S. Marines acting as peacekeepers in Beirut, Lebanon. The 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut killed 241 peacekeepers. In retaliation New Jersey conducted two naval fire missions against Druze and Syrian forces in the region believed responsible for the attack. In 1987, Missouri and Iowa participated in Operation Earnest Will, the escorting of reflagged Kuwaiti tankers to protect them from Iranian attacks. The battleships also conducted Cold War–oriented missions. In 1986, New Jersey became the first American battleship to enter the Sea of Okhotsk, considered the Soviet Union’s backyard and a bastion for the Soviet Navy’s ballistic-missile submarines. By the late 1980s the Soviet Union was visibly on the decline, and starting in 1989 the Navy made plans to retire the battleships yet again. On August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded and occupied Kuwait, and in response a massive American sea, air and land force was sent to defend Saudi Arabia. While Iowa and New Jersey were in the process of being decommissioned, Missouri and Wisconsin were deployed to the Persian Gulf. During Operation Desert Storm, the campaign to liberate Kuwait, both battleships fired Tomahawk missiles at Iraqi targets and bombarded Iraqi ground forces. As the Missouri did during the Korean War, both battlewagons conducted naval fire missions to convince Iraqi forces an amphibious assault was imminent, tying up thousands of Iraqi Army forces that were forced to defend the coastline. By 1992, all four battleships were again deactivated, and today they are museum ships in Hawaii, California, Virginia and New Jersey. Although there are frequent calls to return them to service, that seems unlikely: although their big guns are still useful, the ships require nearly two thousand crew each, making them expensive to operate. While theoretically possible to modernize and automate them, no serious study has been performed in how to adopt them to modern warfare. The four legendary ships Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri and Wisconsin will likely remain museums as long as they are afloat. Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. Image: USS Iowa in 1984. Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Navy
Kyle Mizokami Security, Despite their success, Stalin disliked aircraft carriers and preferred battleships instead. At a September 1945 meeting of the Soviet leadership, Stalin overruled a proposal to build aircraft carriers and instead directed the Soviet Navy to complete construction of the battleship Sovetskaya Rossiya. The battleship had been laid down in 1940 and was still less than one percent complete by war’s end. He also directed the Navy to build two “Project 24” 75,000 ton battleships, and seven “Project 82” (Stalingrad-class) battlecruisers displacing 36,500 tons and equipped with nine twelve-inch guns. Stalin approved only two light carriers, a useless number considering the superiority of the American and British fleets. At the end of the Second World War, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin stood undisputed as the most powerful man in Eurasia. His Red Army had crushed Nazi Germany, repelling an invasion and going on to capture Berlin after a grueling, four year campaign. Stalin’s Red Army was arguably more powerful than the American, British, French and western European armies combined. Still, that was not enough. Stalin had long craved a strong navy that would extend Soviet influence far from Europe and Asia, and do it in a big way. The Soviet leader wanted battleships, and a lot of them. A fleet that simply was never meant to be, it existed largely on paper and even included some highly advanced ships that were flat-out hoaxes. The Idea: During World War II the Soviet Navy was a distant third in priorities. It was the Red Army that had fought the grueling ground battles and campaigns that defeated Germany. Supporting it was a Red Air Force optimized, like the Luftwaffe, on tactical battlefield support of ground forces. The Navy, on the other hand had played a very limited role, providing convoy protection for Lend-Lease equipment from the U.S and support for land operations and harassment of the German military in the Baltic and Black Sea regions. Still, by mid-1945 it was clear to Stalin that with Germany gone, his most powerful rivals—the United States and United Kingdom—lay across the water and out of his armies’ reach. So was Japan, which the USSR had been shut out of occupying, and many of the former European colonies that were ripe for revolution. Powerful army or not, if Stalin wanted to remain a major military power, he was going to need a powerful navy. Why Battleships?: By the end of World War II it was clear that battleships were obsolete. Aircraft carriers had replaced them as the dominant naval platform, a fact made painfully clear to the Empire of Japan during literally dozens of sea battles in the Pacific Theater of Operations. After the war, the Western Allies mostly divested themselves of battleships, preserving their fleets of carriers instead. Despite their success, Stalin disliked aircraft carriers and preferred battleships instead. At a September 1945 meeting of the Soviet leadership, Stalin overruled a proposal to build aircraft carriers and instead directed the Soviet Navy to complete construction of the battleship Sovetskaya Rossiya. The battleship had been laid down in 1940 and was still less than one percent complete by war’s end. He also directed the Navy to build two “Project 24” 75,000 ton battleships, and seven “Project 82” (Stalingrad-class) battlecruisers displacing 36,500 tons and equipped with nine twelve-inch guns. Stalin approved only two light carriers, a useless number considering the superiority of the American and British fleets. A Bad Plan: The plan was doomed to failure. The Soviet Union never had much large-shipbuilding capacity, and developing such capability had been delayed by the Great Patriotic War. Furthermore, the war had done great damage to the country’s industrial capacity, which needed replacing. There were only so many resources to go around, and gradually the Soviet Union scaled back plans for a grand surface fleet. The 75,000 battleships were never constructed, and only two of the seven battlecruisers began construction—none were ever actually completed. The death of Stalin in 1953 ended the dream of a large fleet of battleships. Meanwhile, reports of a new class of Soviet super-battleships were percolating in the West. Several periodicals, including allegedly Jane’s Fighting Ships, spread the rumor of seven new super-battleships, nicknamed K-1000, under construction in Siberian shipyards. The seven super ships: Strana Sovetov, Sovetskaya Byelorossia, Krasnaya Bessarabiya, Krasnaya Sibir, Sovietskaya Konstitutsia, Lenin, and Sovetskiy Soyuz were said to be between 36,000 and 55,000 tons—ironically smaller than the ships Stalin had actually approved. They were variously reported as having a top speed of between 25 and 33 knots, and carried a battery of between nine to twelve 16-inch guns and twelve 18-inch guns. They were also supposed to have guided missiles as armament. The problem: they were a hoax. The rumor had spread in the Western press, but the Soviet Union, once it learned of them encouraged the rumors. Some of the names were retreads of the earlier, cancelled Sovetsky Soyuz class. The ships were just plausible enough to sound real, although the Soviet Union had not developed guided missiles capable of being fitted on ships. The rumors were advantageous to Moscow—if the NATO countries believed a fleet of super-battleships were on the way they would have to figure out a means to beat them, siphoning resources away from the ground forces that protected Western Europe. As predominantly land power, the Soviet Union was fated to spend most of its resources on land forces. Sea power by necessity came in at third place. While the USSR did manage to field four Kirov-class battlecruisers in the 1980s, it never came anywhere near to realizing Stalin’s great red fleet. Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This first appeared late last year and is being reposted due to reader interest.
Kyle Mizokami Security, On May 24, southwest of Iceland, Bismarck and Prinz Eugen tangled with the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the aging battlecruiser HMS Hood. Trading armored protection for speed, Hood’s designers had left it dangerously exposed to enemy fire. Hits from the German task force ignited an ammunition fire that raged out of control on Hood. Within ten minutes a titanic explosion shook the Denmark Strait as the fire reached the aft magazine. Hood broke in half and sank, taking 1,418 men with it. Bismarck, despite its stunning victory, had not emerged from the battle unscathed. Hit three times by Prince of Wales, it lost some of its fuel supply to seawater contamination, sustained damage to its propulsion, and suffered a nine-degree list to port. Its captain, desperate to get away from the site of the battle and a slowly coalescing Royal Navy force eager for revenge, refused to slow down to allow damage control to effect repairs. On May 23, 1941, the Battleship Bismarck was on a roll. The largest and most powerful ship in the German Navy, the mighty Bismarck had broken out into the Atlantic Ocean, sunk a Royal Navy battlecruiser, badly damaged a battleship and was poised to add its guns to a naval blockade that threatened to strangle Great Britain. Ninety-six hours later, heavily damaged, the battleship was on the bottom of the North Atlantic. Bismarck’s swift reversal of fortune was the result of a heroic effort by the Royal Navy to hunt down and destroy the battlewagon, and avenge the more than 1,400 Royal Navy personnel killed in the Denmark Strait. The German battleship Bismarck was the the pride of the Kriegsmarine, Nazi Germany’s naval service. Construction began in 1936, and the ship was commissioned in April 1940. It and its sister ship, Tirpitz, were 821 feet long and displaced fifty thousand tons, making them by far the largest warships ever built by Germany. Despite its size, twelve Wagner steam boilers made it capable of a fast thirty knots. Like any battlewagon, Bismarck’s firepower lay in its main gun batteries. Bismarck had eight fifteen-inch guns in four large turrets, each capable of hurling a 1,800-pound armor-piercing, capped projectile 21.75 miles. This gave it the ability to penetrate 16.5 inches of armor at eleven miles. The relatively small size of Germany’s World War II navy made it incapable of taking on the British and French navies head-on. Instead, the Kriegsmarine was given a much more limited role, of shepherding invasion fleets and cutting off the flow of commerce to Great Britain. On May 18, 1941, Bismarck and its escort, the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, embarked on Operation Rheinübung, a campaign to sink Allied shipping in the North Atlantic and knock Britain out of the war. On May 24, southwest of Iceland, Bismarck and Prinz Eugen tangled with the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the aging battlecruiser HMS Hood. Trading armored protection for speed, Hood’s designers had left it dangerously exposed to enemy fire. Hits from the German task force ignited an ammunition fire that raged out of control on Hood. Within ten minutes a titanic explosion shook the Denmark Strait as the fire reached the aft magazine. Hood broke in half and sank, taking 1,418 men with it. Bismarck, despite its stunning victory, had not emerged from the battle unscathed. Hit three times by Prince of Wales, it lost some of its fuel supply to seawater contamination, sustained damage to its propulsion, and suffered a nine-degree list to port. Its captain, desperate to get away from the site of the battle and a slowly coalescing Royal Navy force eager for revenge, refused to slow down to allow damage control to effect repairs. Bismarck’s captain was correct. The Royal Navy was assembling a large force to sink it, and indeed had ordered every ship in the area to join in the search to find it. The much larger Royal Navy was able to assemble a force of six battleships and battlecruisers, two aircraft carriers, thirteen cruisers, and twenty-one destroyers to hunt Bismarck. Unfortunately, many of the larger ships were of World War I vintage, and could not catch up with the wounded, but still fast Bismarck. Although Bismarck outclassed nearly all the heavy capital ships that chased it, naval aviation was another matter. The German task force’s location was betrayed by oil leaking from the battleship and the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious was sent to slow it down. An air strike by six Fairey Fulmar carrier-based fighters and nine Fairey Swordfish carrier torpedo bombers managed a single hit on Bismarck. The torpedo explosion did minor damage, but the evasive maneuvers conducted by Bismarck’s captain to evade the torpedo attack caused even more damage, slowing the mighty battleship to sixteen knots. Although it was eventually able to get back up to twenty-eight knots, the temporary loss of its speed advantage allowed a Royal Navy task force, Force H, to catch up to it. Established to take the place of the surrendered French Navy in the western Mediterranean, Force H was based at Gibraltar. It consisted of the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, the battlecruiser Renown and a light cruiser. But Force H had to find it first. British intelligence had decoded some of the Kriegsmarine’s message traffic, which stated that the Bismarck was going to Brest for repairs. Reports from the French resistance that the Luftwaffe was assembling at Brest to provide an air umbrella for the battleship corroborated the report. So did a sighting of the battleship by a U.S. Navy Catalina seaplane that put it a day away from the French port. All of this happened very quickly throughout the morning of May 26. At 9 p.m. on the twenty-sixth, an initial air strike of Fairey Swordfish torpedo planes was aborted after the strike force mistakenly attacked the light cruiser HMS Sheffield. The bungled attack proved beneficial, however, in that the new torpedo detonators failed to work properly. Had the Swordfishes found their mark, the attack would have been for nothing. The new detonators were swapped out for the older, reliable ones, and a second attack was launched. The second Swordfish attack correctly located Bismarck. A single torpedo found its target, jamming the ship’s rudder. The mighty battleship was reduced to sailing in circles in the North Atlantic, unable to straighten out and continue onward to Brest. To make matters worse, a combined force of Royal Navy and Polish destroyers made repeated torpedo runs on the ship, exhausting the crew. Bismarck’s crew proved unable to repair the rudder. At twenty minutes to midnight, Bismarck’s captain radioed German forces in France: “Ship unmaneuverable. We will fight to the last shell. Long live the Führer.” The next day, May 27, the Royal Navy moved in for the kill. At 8:47 a.m., the battleships HMS Rodney and HMS King George V opened fire on the wounded German battleship, striking it several times. Bismarck returned fire, but its inability to steer and list made accurate return fire nearly impossible. One of Bismarck’s shells landed just sixty feet from Rodney’s bridge, drenching it with water, but the German battleship was unable to damage its assailants in any meaningful way. Eventually Rodney and King George V defanged the their German counterpart. Turrets A and B were destroyed within the first hour and twenty minutes of the battle, while Turret D was put out of action when a shell exploded inside one of the main gun barrels. The last turret, C, ceased fire ten minutes later, at 9:31 a.m. Bismarck’s main guns were totally out of action. Still, the fifty-thousand-ton battleship refused to sink. King George V blasted away at a range of 1.5 miles with all ten guns, point-blank range for battleships. The heavy cruisers Norfolk and Dorsetshire joined in the battle. The ship’s superstructure was turned into scrap, and the ship was burning from many fires. Hundreds of crew lay dead or dying, and a pillar of black smoke followed it. By 10 a.m., Rodney had expended 380 sixteen-inch shells on Bismarck, and King George V 339 rounds of fourteen-inch shells. The secondary 5.5- to 6-inch guns of both battleships, plus the guns of the two heavy cruisers, expended a total of 2,156 shells on the battleship, plus numerous torpedo attacks. While not every shell hit many did, especially after the Bismarck was unable to return fire. At 10:39 a.m., after two more rounds of torpedo attacks by air and sea, Bismarck finally sank. Its list gradually increased to twenty degrees, then to the point where its port secondary guns were almost submerged. Finally, it capsized to port and sank. Although hundreds of men made it to the water, a U-boat scare sent the Royal Navy ships collecting survivors heading for safety. Of the 2,200 officers and enlisted personnel that manned Bismarck, only 116 survived. Bismarck’s sinking was an excellent example of combined arms at sea working together to take down a more powerful opponent. No single element of the Royal Navy present at the battle was strong enough to defeat Bismarck singlehandedly, but together a force of aging aircraft carriers and torpedo bombers, twenty-to-thirty-year-old battleships, and more than a dozen scrappy cruisers and destroyers were able to ensure that the mighty German battleship would never reach refuge in France. Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This first appeared last December and is being reprinted due to reader interest.
Kyle Mizokami Security, The destruction of Yamato was inevitable even as far back as the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was clear that the age of the aircraft carrier had already superseded the battleship, but the insistence of battleship-minded general officers to cling to obsolete military technology undermined Japan’s conduct of the war and sent thousands of Japanese sailors needlessly to their deaths. The story of the Yamato is a warning to all armed forces that the march of war technology is merciless and unsentimental. In early 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy made a difficult decision: it would sacrifice the largest, most powerful battleships ever built to protect Okinawa, the gateway to Japan’s Home Islands. The decision sealed the fate of the battleship Yamato and its crew, but ironically did nothing to actually protect the island from Allied invasion. The battleship Yamato was among the largest and most powerful battleships of all time. Yamato has reached nearly mythical status, a perfect example of Japan’s fascination with doomed, futile heroics. Built in 1937 at the Kure Naval Arsenal near Hiroshima, it was constructed in secrecy to avoid alarming the United States. Japan had recently withdrawn from the Washington Naval Treaty, which limited battleship tonnages, and was free to build them as large as it wanted. And what ships it built. 839 feet at the waterline and weighing seventy thousand tons fully loaded, Yamato was the largest ship of the war, eclipsed only by postwar American aircraft carriers. It and its sister, Musashi, were armed with nine eighteen-inch naval guns, mounted in turrets of three; six 155-millimeter secondary naval guns; twenty-four five-inch guns; 162 twenty-five-millimeter antiaircraft guns; and four 13.2-millimeter heavy machine guns. All of this firepower was meant to sink enemy battleships—more than one at a time if necessary. The extremely large number of antiaircraft guns, added during a refit, were meant to keep the ship afloat in the face of American air power until it could close within striking range of enemy ships. Unfortunately for Yamato and its crew, it was obsolete by the time it was launched in 1941. The ability of fast aircraft carriers to engage enemy ships at the range of their embarked dive and torpedo bombers meant a carrier could attack a battleship at ranges of two hundred miles or more, long before it entered the range of a battleship’s guns. Battleships were “out-sticked,” to use a modern term. By early 1945, Japan’s strategic situation was grim. Japanese conquests in the Pacific had been steadily rolled back since the Allied landings on Guadalcanal in August 1942. The Philippines, Solomons, Gilberts and Carolines had all been lost and the enemy was now literally at the gates. Okinawa, the largest island in the Ryukyu island chain was the last bastion before the Home Islands itself. The island was just 160 miles from the the mainland city of Kagoshima, coincidentally the birthplace of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The invasion of Okinawa began on April 1, 1945. In response, the Japanese Navy activated Operation Ten-Go. Yamato, escorted by the cruiser Yahagi (commanded by the famous Tameichi Hara) and eight destroyers, would sail to Okinawa and disrupt the Allied invasion force. Yamato would then beach, becoming coastal artillery. It was a humiliating end for a battleship capable of twenty-seven knots, but the lack of fuel and other military resources made for truly desperate times. Yamato and its task force, designated the Surface Special Attack Force, departed Tokuyama, Japan on April 6, proceeding due south to transit the Bungo Strait. American forces had already been alerted to the Ten-Go operation, thanks to cracked Japanese military codes, and two American submarines were waiting to intercept the flotilla. Yamato and its escorts were duly observed by the submarines, but the subs were unable attack due to the task force’s high rate of speed and zigzagging tactics. The sighting report was pushed up the chain of command. Allied naval forces in and around Okinawa were the obvious target, and the massive fleet braced itself accordingly. Six older battleships from the Gunfire and Covering Support Group, or Task Force 54, under Rear Admiral Morton Deyo, prepared to defend the invasion force, but were pulled away in favor of an air attack. At 0800 hours on April 7, scout planes from Admiral Mitscher’s Fast Carrier Force, or Task Force 58, located Yamato, still only halfway to Okinawa. Mitscher launched a massive strike force of 280 fighters, bombers and torpedo planes, and the fight was on. For two hours, the Surface Special Attack Force was subjected to a merciless aerial bombardment. The air wings of eleven fleet carriers joined in the attack—so many planes were in the air above Yamato that the fear of midair collision was real. The naval aviators were in such a hurry to score the first hit on the allegedly unsinkable ship plans for a coordinated attack collapsed into a free-for-all. Yamato took two hits during this attack, two bombs and one torpedo, and air attacks claimed two escorting destroyers. A second aerial armada consisting of one hundred aircraft pressed the attack. As the Yamato started to go down, U.S. naval aviators changed tactics. Noticing the ship was listing badly, one squadron changed its torpedo running depth from ten feet—where it would collide with the main armor belt—to twenty feet, where it would detonate against the exposed lower hull. Aboard Yamato, the listing eventually grew to more than twenty degrees, and the captain made the difficult decision to flood the starboard outer engine room, drowning three hundred men at their stations, in an attempt to trim out the ship. Yamato had taken ten torpedo and seven bomb hits, and was hurting badly. Despite counterflooding, the ship continued to list, and once it reached thirty five degrees the order was given to abandon ship. The captain and many of the bridge crew tied themselves to their stations and went down with their ship, while the rest attempted to escape. At 14:23, it happened. Yamato’s forward internal magazines detonated in a spectacular fireball. It was like a tactical nuclear weapon going off. Later, a navigation officer on one of Japan’s surviving destroyers calculated that the “pillar of fire reached a height of 2,000 meters, that the mushroom-shaped cloud rose to a height of 6,000 meters.” The flash from the explosion that was Yamato’s death knell was seen as far away as Kagoshima on the Japanese mainland. The explosion also reportedly destroyed several American airplanes observing the sinking. When it was all over, the Surface Special Attack Force had been almost completely destroyed. Yamato, the cruiser Yahagi and three destroyers were sunk. Several other escorts had been seriously damaged. Gone with the great battleship were 2,498 of its 2,700-person crew. The destruction of Yamato was inevitable even as far back as the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was clear that the age of the aircraft carrier had already superseded the battleship, but the insistence of battleship-minded general officers to cling to obsolete military technology undermined Japan’s conduct of the war and sent thousands of Japanese sailors needlessly to their deaths. The story of the Yamato is a warning to all armed forces that the march of war technology is merciless and unsentimental. Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This appeared last year and is being reposted due to reader interest.
Kyle Mizokami Security, The creation of SUBSAFE lead directly to tougher—and safer—submarines. (Another U.S. Navy submarine, Scorpion, was lost in 1968 but there is no conclusive explanation for the sinking.) In 2005, the USS San Francisco collided with a seamount at maximum speed—an estimated thirty miles an hour at a depth of 525 feet. SUBSAFE’s careful watch over submarine design and manufacture is credited with ensuring the San Francisco not only failed to sink, but that only one sailor died and the ship could even make it back to Guam on its own power. Although the loss of Thresher to eternal patrol was a painful one, the reforms undertaken by the Navy ensured the 129 lives lost would not be in vain. In the United States Navy, submarines lost at sea are said to be on “eternal patrol.” One such submarine was USS Thresher. Meant to be the first in a new generation of fast nuclear-attack submarines, today it rests in more than eight thousand feet of water, along with its crew. Thresher is one of two American submarines lost since the end of World War II. In the mid-1950s, the U.S. Navy was still pushing nuclear propulsion out to the submarine fleet. USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine, had just been commissioned in 1954, and nine classes of submarines were created, including the Sailfish, Barbel, Skate and Skipjack classes, before the Navy felt it had a design worthy of mass production. Preceding classes of nuclear submarines were built in small batches, but Thresher would be the first class to build more than five. Altogether fourteen Threshers would be built. The Threshers were designed to be fast, deep-diving nuclear attack submarines. They were the second class, after the pioneering Skipjack class, designed with the new streamlined hull still in use today. They were the first submarines to use high strength HY-80 steel alloy, which was used through the 1980s on the Los Angeles class. The submarines were just 278 feet long, with a beam of thirty-one feet. They weighed 4,369 tons submerged, making them about 30 percent larger than the Skipjacks. Their S5W pressurized water reactor drove two steam turbines, which turned a single propeller to a combined thirty-thousand-shaft horsepower. This gave them a surface speed of twenty knots, and thirty knots submerged. This was a noticeable improvement over the underwater speed of the older Skate class, which could manage only twenty-two knots underwater. The ship primary sensor was a BQQ-2 bow-mounted sonar, the first bow-mounted sonar in any American attack submarine. This necessitated moving the four torpedo tubes amidships, an arrangement that is carried on to this day in the Virginia-class subs. The submarines could carry Mark 37 homing torpedoes, Mark 57 deep-water mines, Mark 60 CAPTOR mines and the SUBROC antisubmarine weapon. The Thresher would be a powerful addition to the U.S. Navy’s submarine fleet. On April 9th, 1963, USS Thresher was conducting dive tests 220 miles east of Cape Cod. Though it had been in service for two years, the U.S. Navy was still attempting to determine the true strength of its hull. At the time of the incident it was reportedly at a test depth of 1,300 feet, with the submarine rescue ship USS Skylark waiting above. Onboard were its standard complement of sixteen officers and ninety-six enlisted, plus seventeen civilian contractors on board to observe the tests. At 9:13 a.m., fifteen minutes after reaching test depth, Thresher reported to Skylark, “Experiencing minor difficulties. Have positive up angle. Am attempting to blow [ballast tanks]. Will keep you informed.” Two more garbled messages followed, then a sound “like air rushing into an air tank.” Thresher was never heard from again. Its hull was found at the bottom of the ocean, under a mile and a half of water, ruptured into six pieces. What sank Thresher? The best available theory is the extensive use of silver brazing on piping throughout the ship. An estimated three thousand silver-brazed joints were present on the ship, and the theory goes that up to four hundred of them had been improperly made. Experts believe that a pipe carrying seawater experienced joint failure in the aft engine spaces, shorting out one of the main electrical bus boards and causing a loss of power. But a loss of electrical power was only half of the problem. According to Navy testimony provided in 2003 to the House Science Committee, the crew was unable to access vital equipment to stop the flooding. As the submarine took on water, the ballast tanks failed to operate. Investigators believe restrictions on the air system and excessive moisture in the air system led to a buildup of ice in the ballast valves, preventing them from being blown and counteracting the effects of the flooding. The U.S. Navy immediately moved to prevent such as tragedy from happening again. Less than two months later it created SUBSAFE, a program designed to ensure the structural integrity of submarine hulls at pressure and, if an emergency occurred, ensure that the submarine could safely surface. It established submarine design requirements and certified construction procedures “as specific as cataloging the source of alloy for each piece of equipment that is SUBSAFE approved.” The creation of SUBSAFE lead directly to tougher—and safer—submarines. (Another U.S. Navy submarine, Scorpion, was lost in 1968 but there is no conclusive explanation for the sinking.) In 2005, the USS San Francisco collided with a seamount at maximum speed—an estimated thirty miles an hour at a depth of 525 feet. SUBSAFE’s careful watch over submarine design and manufacture is credited with ensuring the San Francisco not only failed to sink, but that only one sailor died and the ship could even make it back to Guam on its own power. Although the loss of Thresher to eternal patrol was a painful one, the reforms undertaken by the Navy ensured the 129 lives lost would not be in vain. Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This first appeared last year and is being reposted due to reader.
The National Interest, США. Российская подлодка-невидимка, с которой не хочет воевать ни одна страна в мире (особенно Америка)
Лодки проекта 877 оказались весьма успешными как в техническом, так и в экспортном плане. Субмарина, которая появилась у СССР и его союзников едва ли не случайно, стала легендой в глазах НАТО. За 35 лет было построено 53 лодки этого проекта, благодаря чему в трудный период после окончания холодной войны российские судостроители получали жизненно важные для них заказы, позволившие сохранить предприятия. Поскольку наряду с российскими операциями против «Исламского государства» (запрещенная в России организация — прим. пер.) нарастает напряженность в районе Южно-Китайского моря, способная вылиться в стычки противоборствующих флотов, мы можем увидеть лодки 877-го проекта в действии и в азиатских водах.
Winger Amanaki Lotoahea scored the only try of the game as Japan secured the 2017 Asia Rugby Championship with a 16-0 victory in Hong Kong on Saturday after…
The Prime Minister’s Residence Tokyo, Japan DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ASO: (As interpreted.) I’m delighted to welcome to Vice President Pence to Japan in April when some cherry blossoms are still remaining. Perhaps it reminded you of the big celebration of the Cherry Blossom Festival, which was held in Washington last month. So I hope you can still have some good impression about the cherry blossom. Vice President Pence in his governor days in the state of Indiana visited Japan many times over and attracted many Japanese businesses to Indiana. He had really always worked very hard to strength Japan-U.S. relationship. Very soon after my visit to the United States where I had a very useful meeting with our dear, longstanding friend of Japan in February, I am very proud to say today that the Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue was kicked off, opening up a new page for our bilateral relations. I feel very proud about it. Security and economy are two wheels supporting Japan-U.S. alliance for the stability of the Asian Pacific region, economic prosperity is indispensable. At the dialogue today, from the perspective of further deepening win-win economic relations between Japan and the United States, Vice President Pence and I were able to have a good discussion. Going forward in the dialogue we concurred to discuss three pillars, namely common strategy on trade and investment rule and issues; cooperation in economic and structural policy area; sectoral cooperation. Those three pillars will be discussed. As for the common strategy for trade and investment rules and issues, at the Japan-U.S. summit meeting held a while ago, two leaders confirmed that they are fully committed to strengthening economic relationship bilaterally, as well as in the region based on the free and fair trade rules. And based on this common recognition, Japan and U.S. relationship will further be strengthened. And under our bilateral leadership we will build high-level trade and investment standards and spread that to the Asian Pacific region, that is free and fair trade rules. To rectify unfair trading practices in the region, Japan and the United States agree to further our mutual cooperation. Being mindful of WTO’s dispute settlement procedures, Japan will push for Japan-U.S. authorities to work ever more closely, including the minister of foreign affairs dispute settlement section, as well as general counsel office, which was newly formed within METI. On the cooperation on economic and structural policy area, Japan and the U.S. will actively use three-pronged approach of fiscal monetary and structural policy agreed at G7. And we’ll discuss the ways to lead a balanced and strong growth. Views will be exchanged on international economic and financial developments, and we’ll work closely. On sectoral cooperation, infrastructure such as high-speed rail and energy various themes where Japan-U.S. could cooperate will be taken up. And Japan-U.S. economic relationship will be deepened, a multi-faceted front along with these three pillars, Japan-U.S. economic relations will leap forward significantly. And Japan and U.S. together will lead strongly economic growth of the Asian Pacific region, as well as the rest of the world. Also Vice President Pence and I agreed to hold the second economic dialogue meeting by the end of this year at a mutually convenient time. To further deepen Japan-U.S. win-win economic relations and to build a new history of our bilateral relations going forward, Vice President Pence and I will continue to have constructive dialogue. As far as looking at the Japan-U.S. relationship, we started with a friction, but for the very first time, no longer it’s a friction. But it’s based on the cooperation now. This is a very important juncture where we are opening a new page. Thank you so much. Vice President Pence, please. VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Konnichiwa and hello. To Deputy Prime Minister Aso, thank you. Thank you for your great hospitality and your friendship and the kindness that you've shown us in the effort that begins today. I thank you for your tireless work to strengthen the bond between your nation and mine. It is an honor to be back in Japan. On my very first visit to the Asian Pacific as Vice President of the United States, I had to come to Japan. I bring greetings from the President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. And earlier today on the President’s behalf, I had the honor to meet with Prime Minister Abe to reaffirm the abiding friendship and the enduring alliance between Japan and the United States. The United States-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of peace, prosperity, and freedom in the Asia Pacific. And under President Trump, America is committed to strengthening our alliance and deepening our friendship for the benefit of our people and for the benefit of the world. Already our bond is growing stronger. Prime Minister Abe was one of the very first world leaders who President Trump hosted at the White House. They continued their meeting at the Southern White House, and I can attest personally that they have forged a good, personal relationship which is already benefitting both of our nations. Their relationship truly demonstrates the extraordinary respect that President Trump has for our critically important ally Japan. Today as we have for more than half a century, the United States and Japan stand united in defense of democracy and the rule of law, not only in this region, but all across the world. Tomorrow I will speak from the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan at Yokosuka Naval Base, a tangible sign of our unity with Japan and the United States’ unyielding commitment to peace and security in the Asia Pacific. Under President Trump, the United States will continue to work with Japan and with all our allies in the region, including South Korea to confront the most ominous threat posing this region of the world, the regime in North Korea. And let me be clear, our commitment is unwavering and our resolve could not be stronger. As President Trump told Prime Minister Abe at the Southern White House so I say on his behalf today to all the people of Japan, in these challenging times, we are with you 100 percent. In the face of provocations across the Sea of Japan, the people of this country should know that we stand with you in the defense of your security and prosperity now and always. Now the United States will continue to work with Japan, our allies across the region, and China to bring economic and diplomatic pressure to bear until North Korea abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. But all options are on the table. Nevertheless, President Trump and I have great confidence that together with Japan and our allies in the region, we will protect the peace and security of this part of the world and achieve our shared goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. Now security is the foundation of our prosperity. But promoting prosperity is actually the main reason that I had the privilege of meeting today with your deputy prime minister. At the direction of President Trump and Prime Minister Abe, today Deputy Prime Minister Aso and I have the great privilege to formally launch the U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue. This dialogue presents the United States and Japan with an opportunity to deepen our bilateral economic ties and to foster jobs, prosperity, and growth on both sides of the Atlantic [sic]. We're building on a strong foundation. But as the Prime Minister said, our economies have been intertwined for generations, and this is a new day and a new chapter in relations between the United States and Japan. Every day, though, our nations already exchange goods and services that improve people’s lives and help businesses on both sides of the Pacific succeed. Japan is the United States’ fourth largest goods trading partner and our fourth largest goods export market. And Japan is one of America’s leading investors. Japanese foreign direct investment in the United States now totals more than $400 billion, the second-most of any nation. I saw that firsthand back in my old job when I was governor of Indiana, how trade and investment between our countries can be beneficial to us all. In 2013 and again in 2015, I led a group of Indiana businesses and community leaders here to Japan to foster closer economic ties, create jobs, and spur opportunity and growth. Today the U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue seeks the very same objectives for both of our countries in full. It signifies President Trump’s commitment to strengthening our economic relationship with Japan using a bilateral approach. Today’s meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Aso was an opportunity for us to broadly discuss how we view the dialogue structure and goals. The Prime Minister and I agreed that the dialogue will focus on three key policy pillars, as he just discussed. The first is a “common strategy on trade and investment rules and issues.” Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States seeks stronger and more balanced bilateral trade relationships with every country, including Japan. Our goal is simple: We seek trade that is free and we seek trade that is fair. This requires breaking down barriers, leveling the playing field so that American companies and exporters can enjoy high levels of market access. The second pillar involves economic and structural policies with a specific focus on fiscal and monetary issues. President Trump believes that both the United States and Japan can enact pro-growth and fiscally sustainable monetary and budgetary policies, a key to both of our long-term economic success. The final pillar is what we call sectoral cooperation. The President and I are confident that we can find new ways to expand our economic ties with Japan in different sectors and different industries. American and Japanese businesses have much to offer each other. By working together, we can ensure that our two nations’ economic leadership grows even stronger in the years ahead to the benefit of all of our people. This is an important day for the partnership between the United States and Japan, and I’m deeply humbled to be a part of it. The U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue will provide us with a new forum to address the economic issues that are crucial to our long-term success. The relevant U.S. agencies -- the Department of Commerce, the Department of Treasury, and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office will lead discussions for each of these three pillars, focusing on concrete economic results in the near term and reporting back to my office. The Deputy Prime Minister and I look forward to receiving input on the progress and accomplishment from these agencies over the coming months, and we have agreed to meet again by the end of the year to discuss the progress in each area. President Trump and I are confident that working with Prime Minister Abe and Deputy Prime Minister Aso, we will open a new chapter of opportunity and agreement for both our people. The President is working tirelessly to create forward momentum to deepen our bilateral economic partnership with Japan. And today’s announcement is a reflection of that. President Trump and I are grateful that Prime Minister Abe and Deputy Prime Minister Aso share our goal of a mutually beneficial economic relationship, and we look forward to working with them through the U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue to achieve our vision of an equal partnership that creates jobs and prosperity and growth in the United States and in Japan on an equal basis. We have before us a historic opportunity, and today I say with confidence based on our first discussions we will seize this opportunity. We will take this moment to strengthen the ties of commerce and friendship that exist between our people. And I believe we will usher in a new era of prosperity for ourselves and for future generations. There is a closeness between our people that is best described with a Japanese word, and it does not have a corollary in the English language. But I learned it a while ago. As governor of Indiana, I had the opportunity to understand and appreciate the more than 250 Japanese companies that had decided to make Indiana home. The word is kizuna, and it is a reflection of a close relationship -- a relationship of understanding and of mutual respect. And I can't help but feel today that we're renewing that relationship on that foundation as we initiate this important U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue. So thank you again, Mr. Deputy Prime Minister, for hosting me here today. I look forward to this work with great anticipation. Q (As interpreted.) I have both questions to Mr. Aso and Vice President Pence. Trump administration declared they would withdraw from TPP. And within Japan great attention is drawn to what is going to be the U.S. trade policy going forward. Mr. Lighthizer, USTR nominee, said that in the agricultural area trading and negotiation Japan will be the first to target. So what will be the trade negotiation going forward between Japan and U.S.? What is the outlook? Are you looking for concluding Japan-U.S. FTA in the end? DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ASO: Thank you, now can I answer your question first? Well, at the Economic Dialogue this time as the common strategy on trade and investment rules and issues, free and fair rule-based trade and investment is an indispensable value and action principle for realizing the growth and prosperity not only for Japan and the United States but for the rest of the global economy, as well. And on this course, once again Vice President Pence and I were able to confirm this. And based on that, having a good understanding about the situations underway in the Asian Pacific, it’s important that Japan-U.S. should lead the rulemaking process in the region. I think it’s very important, and we've been discussing that concretely -- not only to strengthen trade and investment flow bilaterally, but also Japan-U.S. can play pivotal role in spreading high-level, fair rules over Asia and the Pacific region. We like to strengthen economic aspect of Japan-U.S. alliance, and we've been discussing that. And looking at the Japan-U.S. economic relationship, it used to be described as being an economic fiction. We started with the word fiction. And fiction used to be the symbol of our bilateral relationship, but no longer. We are now in the era of cooperation between our two countries. It’s not a matter of which sides say what to the other side. From the big picture and strategic point of view, we would like to seek the best shape and forum of bilateral framework and define its significance and have a good constructive discussion. And I think we were able to mark a first step toward that. Thank you. VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, thank you for your comments, Mr. Deputy Prime Minister. And in response to the question let me say with great respect to those who worked on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the past, the TPP is a thing of the past for the United States of America. The Trump administration has made a decision and taken steps to formally withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and that will be our policy going forward. But today I think gives evidence to the fact that the United States of America is determined to reach out to our partners here in the Asian Pacific and around the world to at least begin to explore the possibility of expanded economic opportunities, including trade, on a bilateral basis. President Trump truly does believe that it’s in the interests of the United States of America to negotiate trade agreements on a bilateral basis. That creates a framework within which countries can better assess whether the deal itself is -- what we call a win-win arrangement. But today I think what the Deputy Prime Minister has said so eloquently is that today we're beginning a process of an economic dialogue, the end of which may result in bilateral trade negotiations in the future. But we're beginning that conversation today, beginning to identify areas that we can enhance and strengthen the economic interaction between our two nations. And at some point in the future, there may be a decision made between our nations to take what we have learned in this dialogue and commence formal negotiations for a free-trade agreement. But I’ll leave that to the future, but tell you that these discussions are very much a reflection of the President’s view that negotiating at arms’ length on a bilateral basis with nations is the best path forward for the United States, the best path forward for the nations with whom we enter into such agreements, and I think in the days ahead you’ll continue to see the United States work on a bilateral basis with countries around the world to expand jobs and opportunity for our people and the prosperity of the world at large. Q Thank you very much. Vice President Pence, you've said that the United States will increase diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea. Today we heard Prime Minister Abe say that while he agrees with that, and we shouldn’t have dialogue for dialogue’s sake, Japan also places paramount importance on the need to seek a diplomatic effort to achieve a peaceful resolution to the crisis. My question is: What exactly must North Korea do? What are the conditions for beginning that dialogue? And what form should that dialogue take? And for Deputy Prime Minister Aso, President Trump during his campaign often called on Japan to share more of the burden for common defense and pay more for U.S. security presence here in Japan. What specifically is Japan prepared to do to respond to President Trump’s call? (Speaks Japanese.) VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Thank you, Josh. Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has been the longstanding policy of the United States of America, of South Korea, of Japan, of China, and it’s been the longstanding policy of nations across the world. For more than a generation, we've seen the very failure of dialogue writ large. First we remember the agreed framework of the 1990s, then we remember the six-party talks. And with good-faith efforts by nations around the world again and again, North Korea met those efforts and resolution with broken promises and more provocations. That's why we've said the era of strategic patience is over. And President Trump has made it very clear: The policy of the United States of America will be to reach out to our allies in the region here in Japan where I just had a productive conversation with Prime Minister Abe on this topic. Yesterday, in South Korea, where I met with officials in the National Assembly and acting President Hwang. President Trump recently met with President Xi, and the President of China reaffirmed China’s commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. It is our belief that by bringing together the family of nations with diplomatic and economic pressure, we have a chance -- we have a chance -- to achieve our objective of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. Now all options are on the table, and there they will remain. But President Trump and I and our administration believes the most productive pathway forward is dialogue among the family of nations that can isolate and pressure North Korea into abandoning permanently and dismantling its nuclear weapons program and its ballistic missile program. As Prime Minister Abe said today in our brief conversation, dialogue for the sake of dialogue is valueless. It is necessary for us to exercise pressure, and the United States of America believes the time has come for the international community to use both diplomatic and economic pressure to bring North Korea to a place that it has avoided successfully now for more than a generation. And we will not rest and we will not relent until we achieve the objective of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ASO: Washington Post, my English hearing is still good enough. But if I may say in Japanese. (As interpreted.) Well, economic dialogue, TPP -- whether the TPP can be made as a foundation for a dialogue going forward, is that what you said? Sorry. Then my English hearing is absolutely wrong. Would you mind repeating the question again? Q Minister Aso, President Trump during his campaign often called on Japan to share more of the burden for common defense and pay more money for U.S. security presence here in Japan. What is Japan willing to do to respond to President Trump’s calls for a better deal for the United States in the U.S.-Japan security relationship? DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ASO: I think I got a picture. Response in Japanese is okay, right? (As interpreted.) Now, responding to your question, let’s look at Japanese defense. Just the other day -- Mr. James Mattis, Defense Secretary, came to Japan, at which occasion I had an opportunity to talk with him. At least look at Okinawa’s host nation’s support -- host nation’s support came up as a topic. And he said that Japan is behaving like a textbook case -- 75 percent is paid to the Okinawa host nation; ROK -- 40 percent; 30 percent Germany; and 20 percent Italy. That is a burden share. And I think whole picture was understood by General Mattis. And also just lately when the Abe Cabinet was formed, look at the defense expenditure -- how it is being allocated. The navy is the crucial area where more budget allocation has been done, followed by air and the land. And I think this is the most appropriate allocation of the defense budget. So at least -- ever since inclusive by General Mattis and other military personnel of the United States with regard to the Japanese defense or discontent, at least no message has been given to us from the United States as far as I know. So we will continue to make mutual effort and try to share the information as much as possible going forward, and particularly look at the East China Sea and Korean Peninsula and Sea of Japan. Certain fictions might arise. So information exchange is particularly important -- intelligence sharing and the information sharing has to continue in appropriate manner most of all because of the situation we are in. END
Craig Mark, Kyoritsu Women's University Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe managed to be the first foreign leader to visit then president-elect Donald Trump last November. He was already embarking on his activist personal diplomacy to counter the bellicose rhetoric Trump occasionally aimed at Japan during his election campaign, accusing the country of unfair trade practices and currency manipulation, and threatening tariffs against imports. Trump even implied an end to the US-Japan alliance, stating that Japan, along with other US allies, should develop its own nuclear weapons. But Abe's first official meeting with President Trump last week - the second world leader after British Prime Minister Theresa May - has already achieved Japan's most fundamental diplomatic goal: ensuring the continuity its security alliance with America. The trip follows a successful preliminary visit to Japan the previous week by the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and a similarly positive phone call between Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Mattis praised the country's financial contribution to the hosting of US bases in Japan (around 75%, with most bases in Okinawa) as a "model of cost-sharing". And he issued a statement that the US would continue to defend Japan's claims over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea (claimed as the Daioyus by China), under the US-Japan Security Treaty. Maintaining the status quo Reassured by his firm endorsement of the value of Japan's contribution to the expense of the alliance, the first stage of Abe's trip to the US produced exactly what was hoped for. In a joint press conference following talks after Abe's arrival in Washington DC, Trump said: We are committed to the security of Japan and all areas under its administrative control and to further strengthening our crucial alliance. The bond between our two nations and the friendship between our two peoples runs very, very deep. This administration is committed to bringing those ties even closer. A joint statement released afterwards confirmed the US remains committed to defending Japan's claims over the Senkaku Islands under Article 5 of the US-Japan Security Treaty, including use of conventional and nuclear military capabilities, if necessary. The controversial relocation of the main US military air base on Okinawa will also continue. While maintaining rights to international freedom of flight and navigation in the East China Sea, Abe and Trump also hoped any actions that would escalate tensions in the South China Sea could be avoided. But, in the first such encounter under the Trump administration, the US Navy has already reported an "unsafe interaction" between one of its reconnaissance aircraft and a Chinese aircraft during a patrol over the South China Sea. And this is despite Trump having followed up his greeting letter to Xi Jinping, where he expressed hope they can work productively together, with his first phone call to the Chinese leader. During the call, he reiterated the USA's long-held adherence to the "One China" policy after all. The problem of trade Before and during the visit, ignoring criticism from opposition parties in Japan, Abe remained uncritical of Trump's controversial - and possibly unconstitutional - immigration ban. Abe is hardly in any position to criticise it, given Japan's own paltry record of accepting refugees. Despite a record number of over 10,000 applications, Japan only accepted 28 refugees in 2016. North Korea's first missile launch test of the year, held in the middle of Abe's US visit, also gave the two leaders an immediate opportunity to display the ongoing strength of the alliance. In a joint news conference, Abe condemned the test as "absolutely intolerable", while Trump declared "the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100%." While the defence relationship may have been secured, trade remains the main area of contention. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Japan strongly supported is now likely to be doomed, due to Trump's condemnation of multilateral trade pacts. Abe hopes Trump's hostile campaign rhetoric against Japan over trade can also be mollified. Appealing to Trump's populist economic nationalism, Abe brought along a plan called the US-Japan Growth and Employment Initiative. Projected to be worth around US$450 billion, it pledges potential investment by Japanese corporations in the US - in infrastructure, energy, and robots. The package, which promises the creation of more than 700,000 jobs in America over ten years, could be incorporated into a potential bilateral trade deal with Japan. At their Washington meeting, Abe and Trump agreed to commence talks on a bilateral trade agreement, in place of the TPP. A new US-Japan economic dialogue group is to be established toward that end, to be led by US Vice President Mike Pence and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who also held their first separate meeting in Washington. As with the TPP though, concluding a bilateral trade treaty is likely to be long, complex, fraught process, particularly over agriculture. Work and play After the formal Washington meetings, Abe flew to Florida with Trump on Air Force One, accompanied by first ladies Melania Trump and Akie Abe, to the president's extravagantly luxurious Mar-a-Largo resort, to play golf for the weekend. The White House stated the cost of Abe's visit to the resort, including golfing fees, would be paid for by Trump as a personal gift. This is a further sign of the apparently warm personal ties that Abe has managed to cultivate; Trump has already accepted an invitation to visit Japan later this year. If Abe returns with US trade relations relatively intact, as well as the military alliance, he will have taken advantage of the erratic and turbulent first weeks of the Trump administration to secure favourable strategic and economic relations. His government is likely to be supported by the Trump administration, as it was by president Barack Obama's, to continue increasing defence spending, and pursuing further constitutional change. In return, Abe is likely to encourage the US to challenge China's recent domination of the South China Sea, and compete with the expansion of Chinese influence into the Indian Ocean region, through its planned massive "One Belt, One Road" land and sea transport infrastructure project. Abe's US visit could, in fact, eventually turn out to have been an important step in reviving his long-held ambition for a "security diamond" between Japan, the US, India and Australia, which he proposed during his first term as prime minister in 2006-2007. These four states may now be more willing to revive this idea for a strategic alliance, but if it does proceed, this could threaten a Cold War-style hegemonic confrontation in the Asia-Pacific region. And it could have potentially catastrophic consequences if armed conflict breaks out over territorial disputes. Abe is one of the most energetic practitioners of diplomacy among modern Japanese prime ministers. By flattering Trump's ego, he has proved adept at handling Trump's inexperience in foreign policy. He has managed to successfully challenge one of Trump's strongest held attitudes, publicly expressed as long ago as 1987, that the US is being exploited by its allies in providing for their military protection. Abe has demonstrated to other world leaders how to approach President Donald Trump: pay the price to strike a deal that panders to corporate interests and geostrategic nationalism of both sides. This first official US visit has thus potentially become Abe's most far-reaching diplomatic achievement so far. That is, if the notoriously temperamental, inconsistent and contradictory Trump can be counted on to stick to his deals. Craig Mark, Professor, Kyoritsu Women's University This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. 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