US Navy Needs to Expand Faster to Counter China, says its Chief
The U.S. Navy needs to expand its fleet at a faster pace to maintain its already formidable superiority over the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in Asia, said Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson.
"Some of these global powers, China, Russia, they've been growing, China in particular," said Adm. Richardson at the Changi Naval Base in Singapore.
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"They're maturing in every dimension of power (and) at some point you turn to the sea to expand and continue to prosper."
The answer to China's and Russia's naval expansion is a bigger U.S. Navy fleet, and the navy needs this bigger fleet by the 2020s.
"We need a bigger fleet, and we also need a different fleet, one that will be able to fight in new ways," noted Adm. Richardson.
"My sense is that we're on the dawn of something very substantial in terms of naval warfare. Something as substantial as the transition from sail to steam, as the transition from wood to ironclad, as substantial as the advent of nuclear propulsion in terms of what it means for naval power."
Adm. Richardson is adamant the U.S. Navy must maintain its superiority over the PLAN and the Russian Navy.
"We need to act urgently to achieve that greater naval power as quickly as we can. We're going to be targeting something in the mid-2020s. Exponential types of growth, rather than lineal types of growth, which would achieve this level of power decades beyond the 2020s."
Last month, China launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier -- CNS Shandong (CV-17) -- amid unresolved tensions over the South China Sea and mounting danger arising from North Korea's stubborn refusal to abandon its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development programs.
Adm. Richardson is more worried about the South China Sea, which China continues to illegally claim as its own despite a ruling on July 12, 2016 by the Permanent Court of Arbitration declaring illegal China's claim to own practically all of the South China Sea.
He urged the U.S. Congress and the White House to move faster on modernizing the Navy.
Authoritative navy sources cited by American media supported Adm. Richardson's statements and said those "who are challenging our interests are advancing at rates that are much faster than ours. To remain competitive, we must act now -- we need a larger, better fleet in the 2020s, not the 2040s."
U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to expand the navy to 350 ships from 290.
"It's not just about numbers and platforms. It's also about what those platforms can do and then again how they all work together," said Adm. Richardson.