The United States Navy faces serious limitations in its naval production due to a weak industrial base and budget cuts; therefore, he is faced with having to rework his strategy. It needs to work smarter to counter China, said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday at the Heritage Foundation during a briefing on August 25.
China’s navy is now the largest in the world. The plan to build Chinese warships continues. Reports show that he is currently building six destroyers at a time. On the other hand, getting the US fleet to build three destroyers a year is just a wish according to Gilday. Currently, the United States produces between one and two destroyers per year.
“We have an industrial capacity which is limited. In other words, we can only take a certain number of ships off the production line per year. My goal would be to optimize those production lines for destroyers, for frigates, for amphibious ships, for light amphibious ships, for supply ships,” Gilday said.
“We have to signal to the industry that we have to get to three destroyers a year, instead of 1.5, that we have to maintain two submarines a year. And so part of that is on us to give them a set clear of—a clear point of purpose so they can plan for a workforce and infrastructure that will be able to meet the demand.But again, no industry is going to make those kinds of investments unless than we give them a higher degree of confidence.
The backlog of new projects to “restore, renovate or replace” facilities at the four Navy-run public shipyards has grown by $1.5 billion over the past five years, according to a report by the General Accountability Office (GAO ) of last May. . It has a backlog of $1.8 billion (pdf) in deferred maintenance on its existing surface ships. This is without counting (pdf) the expected costs for the maintenance of new classes such as the Virginia-class attack submarines and the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines, or the new aircraft carriers of the Ford class. The drydocks that house the decommissioned Los Angeles-class submarines will be obsolete within the next 10 to 15 years.
Nearly $1 billion has been spent upgrading the Ingalls Shipbuilding yard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, which builds the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and other warships, including the USS Lyndon B. Johnson of the Zumwalt class.
The Navy’s new Constellation-class frigates are ramping up production starting this year. The Navy has serious problems that it must correct.
“We noted that the programs presented an imbalance between the capabilities the Navy was seeking to acquire and the resources planned to deliver the programs. As a result of these conditions, the Navy’s shipbuilding programs routinely faced growing costs and delays before ships were accepted into the fleet. Additionally, we found that cost growth contributed to the erosion of the Navy’s purchasing power over the 10-year period, with ship costs exceeding estimates by more than $11 billion during that period,” the GAO said in an April report (pdf).
“In July 2017, we found that quality, completeness and reliability issues persisted when ships were returned to the Navy fleet.”
The US Navy plans (pdf) to deploy more than 150 artificial intelligence-controlled unmanned ships by the 2040s, according to its 2022 Sailing Plan. Gilday said the Navy hopes to have 373 manned ships by 2045. It also plans to place hypersonic missiles on the Zumwalt-class stealth destroyers which so far have been a mission-seeking platform from 2025. Gilday noted that the Navy also plans to place lasers or microwave beam weapons on its warships to counter enemy hypersonic missiles that are too fast to be intercepted by conventional defenses such as Phalanx or SM-2 missiles.
The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Preble recently became one of the first ships in the fleet equipped with the HELIOS laser defense system being tested. Unlike conventional ammunition, energy weapons have unlimited magazine capacity and cost less.
It could take at least 20 years to achieve the mix of manned and unmanned ships the Navy hopes to achieve, but it could be too little, too late to stop China from taking Taiwan. Some estimates suggest that Xi Jinping could move to Taiwan by the 2024 elections.
China’s exercises around Taiwan last month showed that its ability to blockade Taiwan and threaten Japan is increasing. The United States has enjoyed naval supremacy since World War II, but recent developments have made the United States Navy look like an outsider. Gilday noted that the current US fleet is too small and spread across too few platforms to effectively confront the Chinese. It needed to be distributed more efficiently “from the bottom of the sea to space,” Gilday said.
“There are a lot of lessons to be learned from Russia-Ukraine and among them you have to approach an opponent differently than you traditionally would in the past,” Gilday said. “We supplied them with Javelin missiles, so you just have to think of better ways to solve the problem faster.”
These shortcomings mean the Navy must compensate by focusing more on the fleet assets it deploys to the Western Pacific. This requires focusing more on artificial intelligence and unmanned platforms, and focusing on interoperability with allied fleets.
The emphasis on stealth and electronic warfare is crucial in a fight with China, given that the Chinese Navy has covered the South China Sea with sensors, radars and jamming equipment.
“We had to think about deception, concealment, maneuvering, stealth and how we apply these technologies,” Gilday said. “We’ve had to think about the decision advantage, and we have a project underway that we believe will put us in a position to actually move information to the tactical edge faster than ever before.”
Retired Vice Admiral Joe Sestak, a former deputy chief of naval operations and Democratic congressman, addressed a similar point in an article published by the Texas National Security Review.
“The key to speed in contemporary warfare lies in the transformative capabilities of cyberspace, both offensive and defensive. Growing sensor awareness is also crucial, especially for faster and safer collection of data on targets that need to be located, tracked and attacked. But because military operations in the traditional domains of warfare – air, land and sea – depend on data networks in cyberspace, it has become the control domain of warfare,” Sestak wrote.
“The ability to access, exploit, use, abuse, damage, render useless, or simply obtain information from combat data networks and networked systems whenever necessary is what actually allows immediate sanctuary for one’s forces while denying it to an adversary. …
“Failure to command this new realm of cyber warfare could ultimately mean irrelevance to naval force structure, at least against an even competitor.”
Information is power, and how your force is deployed and knowing where your enemy is becomes the key to victory.
Russia and Ukraine have also shown the value of international coalitions in the face of aggression. Gilday hopes to increase cooperation with America’s allies such as India, Japan, Australia, UK, etc. as a force multiplier.
He fears that the next attack on Pearl Harbor will come from space or cyberspace, and the Navy is working to meet that challenge. But in the event of a fire war, the Navy’s shipyard capability could be its downfall.
The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Epoch Times.