While America’s nuclear submarine fleet is unmatched, the United States is not the only country with advanced underwater warfare capabilities. During the Cold War, NATO’s ability to fight the Soviet Union’s formidable submarine fleet benefited from the contribution of submarines operated by Britain and other NATO allies. In the coming years, something similar will become a reality in the Pacific, where expansionist China has worked steadily to create a large and modern submarine force against the US and allies controlling the critical underwater domain.
When the United States and allies in the Pacific begin to build the collaborative framework needed to maintain their mutual superiority in the undersea war over China, the American submarine fleet will soon begin an inevitable decline in numbers. The forefront of the Cold War era of the US Navy Angel-Class submarines are getting older, and the American fleet of 52 nuclear attack submarines will soon begin to shrink to a minimum of around 42 ships in 2027-2028 before power begins to once again grow in size.
Upcoming depreciation of the US Navy’s submarine fleet is not news – Congressional Research Services have warned about it every year since 1995. To reduce the decline, the US Navy is now building a new one Virginia-class submarine attacks as quickly as possible, and also plans to refuel and extend the service life of several Angelclass-ship. But at this point, these and other steps can only do so much. A decrease in strength will still occur: As Ronald O’Rourke, a famous naval analyst for Congressional Research Service, said, this reduction in strength is now “put in the cake.”
Naturally, the decline in the number of submarines can create a situation of conventional barrier which has weakened for a decade against China. Chinese strategists are aware of the impending setback and have mentioned it in at least one of their own naval journals. But the downturn also offers opportunities for US allies and partners who are ready to overcome slack by temporarily increasing their own underwater warfare capabilities. With the start of the setback that is now almost upon us, it is increasingly clear that the important choice is Pacific countries that are of the same mind to help fill the gap and, in the process, become more equitable partners in advancing Pacific security towards expansionists. China.
This is a real opportunity for the right navy.
The remaining part of this shortcoming offers Asian countries their greatest opportunity in decades to align themselves with American technical prowess, which has the potential to increase American knowledge, skills and resources, as did Britain during the Cold War. By offering more of their own submarines to operate together with the US Navy’s underwater fleet, Japan can not only compensate for the decline in the number of US submarines, but also set the stage for Japan’s broader role in regional collaborative security efforts in the coming years .
Demonstrating a deep commitment to a peaceful and prosperous Pacific, governed by the rule of law, was the role played by Japan, in particular, and O’Rourke, who was often underestimated for his hard work, identified Japan’s role. opportunity to help overcome America’s deficiencies that loomed on an underwater platform.
O’Rourke’s observations failed to garner much public attention, coming in early June, at the end of two and a half hours House Armed Services hearing committee. But O’Rourke took the last few minutes of the trial to focus on Japan’s potential to bring down a much larger submarine fleet, noting, “I have tried to explore the world for the Western naval force structure that has not yet been realized, and the number one opportunity I have identification is the attack power of Japanese submarines. “
Japan builds one attack submarine a year, and with the aim of a 22-size submarine force, Japan only retires each submarine after 22 years of service. As O’Rourke mentioned, if Japan “merely made the decision to defend their submarines for 30 years – more like our own service – they could grow the strength of their submarines from 22 to 30 without building one more ship than there was. . they are already planning to build. ”
The time could not be better. If Japan recalibrates from their current 22 submarine destination to 30 ships immediately, O’Rourke continues, “They will reach 30 within one year when we are at the minimum of our own underwater valley attack.” Growing the Japanese sub-fleet by eight will make an important contribution to offset the decline in US submarines and strengthen Japan’s contribution to allied security in the Indo-Pacific.
Japanese Quiet Competencies:
This relatively painless effort to grow the Japanese submarine fleet to 30 ships offers Japan the opportunity to achieve a major boost for the country’s international standing. Rational American defense leaders have pondered closer relations, and at the House Armed Forces Committee meeting, retired Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead echoed O’Rourke, saying, “It’s time we change the nature of our alliance with Japan,” and, “they have very good things and they are very, very capable operators.”
In the underwater domain, the power of Japanese submarines is very respected throughout Asia, and even American anti-submarine war operators can struggle to track the modern Japanese fleet of super quiet non-nuclear submarines. Utilizing this competency by expanding the power of Japanese submarines will send a far better message to the region than to constantly wringing hands by those who are too eager to paint the US Navy as a force that is spent and broken.
Of course, Japan might need to change its operational procedures and maintenance strategies to keep submarines operating for 30 years and grow their sub-fleet by nearly 40 percent. But Japan should have had a slight problem finding the additional six hundred sailors (plus some additional coastal support personnel) needed to place eight more submarines on the field. Japan has maintained two training vessels, and, as a maritime-minded country that carefully tends to train personnel and maintain ships, finding sailors to support this prestigious opportunity for Japan to demonstrate its commitment to a free and open Pacific is very possible. And the distressed US Navy must welcome any additional Japanese submarines, especially if deeper US-Japanese cooperation in the underwater region leads to greater Japanese appreciation for the shared mindset that will be needed in the coming years to effectively against the Chinese navy’s increasing capabilities.