Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dumb vs. Dumber; Satellite Imaging on Modern Navies in the “Axis of Evil” Age.

Today, if one were to look at the navies of the world today, one would see that the theories of naval strategists like Mahan and Gorshkov remain true today. That the power a country can project abroad is an example of how strong a country is, and what it’s intentions are. Today it is important to remember this, for once again the navies of the world are expanding and in a state of fluctuation.
The causes for this are many. With the breakup of the Soviet Union many new threats emerged which were unforeseen. This included the fact that to maintain stability and prevent the threat of an accidental nuclear attack that Russia had to sell much of it’s surplus military hardware around the globe. This occurred at a time when China , India , and North Korea were building up their military forces, and when NATO goals and objectives became in question as a result. Tensions in the Persian Gulf, the Muslim world, and in the Pacific, Africa and Latin America also would play a role as well, creating a multipolar world.
Today, with America conducting a global “war on terror” as well as the aforementioned reasons the strengths and uses of naval power come into play once more. As I have viewed the navies of the world today it has never been more apparent that some sort of arms race is once again brewing as was 100 years ago. The only difference today is that as the result of advanced technology and information dissemination it is more difficult for a military to maintain it’s strength and easier for an average person to determine whether any military force poses any threat to their livelihood. One excellent example of this is the use of Satellite Imaging. As the result of Satellite Imaging an average person can view locations in other countries, including military installations. Fred Jane would envy this technological innovation. Many countries realize this, and how they react to this is an excellent example of their strategic thinking.
Of course censorship occurs with many countries. The worst example is the Netherlands, which censors all military installations on most Satellite Images. Other countries use High-Resolution Jamming (HRJ) on most or parts of their facilities. Some use it over most of their facilities like Israel, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Turkey, Mexico, Algeria, Oman, Nigeria, Finland, and Brunei. Other countries use HRJ on some or parts of their bases, examples including Vladivostok, New London, Ningbo , Wilhelmshaven , St-Nazaire , Faslane, Busan. The third method is image manipulation, the technique of planting images in Satellite Images. This technique is most frequently used by America , but a few other countries use it as well, though not as often. Despite this, the censoring says just as much about these countries as their forces do. I have even included facilities for inactive warships (boneyards), museum ships, and some wrecks, as they count as strategic reserve and affect the morale of any force. Remember, ships seriously damaged like the Yorktown CV and Wilhelm Bauer SS of WWII were reactivated after emergency overhauls as effective fleet units, so surplus ships must not be counted out.
In categorizing these countries I have stuck to certain guidelines. One thing prevalent today is that despite alliance groups some countries pursue actions contrary to that which they state they will do. This is something I have noticed with many NAM and NATO countries, as well as some countries that have made “alliances” with America . Such a term is “Axis of Evil.” While not an official Axis the countries of Iran and North Korea share common antagonists, as does Syria and other NAM countries like Venezuela and Libya . Therefore here that term is used to denote those countries who are facing direct American aggression under that label, and who are making sure their militaries are prepared to meet an American threat.
When classifying ships I am basing this on the actual function of the ship, not it’s official designation. For instance, many ships rated as Frigates have the armament of Corvettes, some Missile Frigates the armament of Destroyers, and so on. For those who are not familiar with Naval abbreviations I am listing them here. Aircraft carriers (CV), Helicopter Carriers (LHA/D), Battleships (BB), Battlecruisers (CB), Missile Cruisers (CG), Heavy Cruisers (CA), Light Cruisers (CL), Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSB), Guided Missile Submarine (SSG), Submarine (SS/K), Missile Destroyers (DDG), Destroyers (DD), Missile Frigates (FFG), Frigates and Large Corvettes (FF), Small Corvettes, Patrol Craft, and small support ships (PT), Amphibious Assault Craft (LPD/ST), and Amphibious and Logistical Support Ships (LS). A (N) following this designation denotes a nuclear powered ship, as a (G) denotes a missile ship.
When discussing Iran’s naval forces I will focus on the Naval forces in the Persian Gulf. Iran’s Caspian Sea forces are of little relevance, as Iran possesses sufficient force to hold it’s own against a seaborne attack there. The Caspian Naval facility at Noshar is blocked by HRJ and the force at Anzali is only a small Coast Defense Force (CDF) which does not deter the strength of Iran’s Forces in the Persian Gulf. In the Gulf, Iran is the dominant indigenous Naval power, possessing not only strong warships but being the only country in the Persian Gulf to possess the capability to manufacture Major warships. This is clearly seen at Bandar Abbas. Bandar Abbas is the principal base of Iran’s Navy. Here, Iran has based it’s three active Alvand class FFG, it’s three Tariq class and Ghadir class SSK which possess Stealth technology, and it’s Amphibious forces, consisting of the four Hengam Class LST, two Bandar Abbas class, and the Kharg LS. In addition to this the shipbuilding facilities for Iran’s Defense Industries Organization is located at Bandar Abbas, where the Ghadir SSK’s are in production and the new FFG Mowj was recently completed at. Also many of Iran’s Corvettes and Patrol Craft are located there, as are the remains of the FFG Sahand which have been raised. Immediately west one sees facilities for Amphibious assault ships and vehicles. Further west one will see the new Sina FF's and other LS and PT's under construction. The location of Bandar Abbas is a very important strategic position. Created in 1621 to support Iranian Naval forces and trade in the conflict with Spain and Portugal over Hormuz and control over the Gulf, Bandar Abbas now allows Iran to maintain a strong presence at the entry to the Persian Gulf and to concentrate force greater than any indigenous power. The latter scenario is unlikely, but should Iran be attacked by a foreign power Iran ’s Naval forces concentrated there Iran ’s fleet there would be able to handle foreign ships potentially as strong as Cruisers. Should any Naval air assault take place or a Carrier Battle group attack Iran would have to coordinate it’s Air and Missile Forces to repel such an attack. Iran’s military would be best served in this manner by creating a Soviet style Strategic Rocket Force to operate alongside it’s Navy and Air Force, giving greater focus to this vital weapon for defensive purposes.
Should the ships at Bandar Abbas have to conduct operations or move to a more appropriate position for defense there are plenty of bases nearby. Qeshm Island possesses such naval facilities, as does Chah Bahar. Chah Bahar is important as it provides Iran with the means to base it’s ships on the Indian Ocean, should this be required. Right now Iran keeps many of it’s PT’s stationed at those bases, to give it’s Navy the necessary experience in maintaining base facilities.
Iran’s secondary base is at Bushehr. There the facilities are more defensive, as Iran has nuclear facilities at Bushehr. In addition to being able to base active ships and keeping many PT craft stationed there Bushehr holds many former Iranian ships, including former Destroyers. Though old these ships could be either reactivated or recycled into newer units. Additionally, Iran’s Navy operates bases nearby at Kharg Island and at Khorramshar. Kharg Island is maintained as Qeshm and Chah Bahar are, enough to keep Iran’s Naval personnel active, and wrecks caused by Iran’s Navy are not salved there as a warning and obstacle. Overall, Iran’s Naval forces in the Persian Gulf act as an effective Coast defense and Gulf Denial force.
Coast Defense is a greater focus of Syria’s Navy. Tartus , Syria ’s main Naval base, houses Syria ’s two FF and it’s LS and PT. Though effective these ships are too few in number for anything other than Coast Defense and combined operations. Syria’s other bases have even fewer ships and are maintained, like Iran ’s, to keep it’s personnel active.
North Korea’s Naval forces are a curiosity in itself. In terms of surface forces North Korea only has 3 FFG, 2 of which are effective, and many FF, LS, and PT ships which would adequately protect the coast of any country, but which would have trouble concentrating against South Korean Naval Forces, which though somewhat equal are better concentrated. This is shown as more surface forces are on North Korea ’s West coast than on it’s East. The North Korean SSK force is another story. At present North Korea operates 27 Project 633 class SSK and has over 50 SSK of varying types. This makes the North Korean submarine forces the fourth largest in the world. By having a submarine force of disproportion to it’s surface forces North Korea is using it’s SSK’s for several purposes. The first purpose is to overwhelm the submarine forces of South Korea and it’s immediate allies. The second is to have effective offensive units which are difficult to detect and capable of successfully menacing any attacking force. Were North Korea to increase it’s surface forces it would have a more deadly Navy which could be used as a Sea Denial force rather than a large Coast Defense force. One last interesting find must be mentioned here. When looking at Pyongyang one will see the American PT Pueblo, which was captured in 1968 and is on display. This is a very interesting trophy and provocation for North Korea.
These forces face the greatest aggression from the American Navy. Though not the largest or containing the best weaponry, the American Navy is the largest dispersed and concentrated Naval force in the World today. The American Navy is concentrated heavily on both coasts of the 48 contiguous states that form the heart of America , yet more active ships are concentrated on the East Coast bases at Groton , Portsmouth , Norfolk , and Mayport than at Bremerton , Bangor , Everett , San Diego , and Pearl Harbor . Despite the HRJ over parts of Groton one can still see america ’s new SSN’s being built there, including the Hawaii . Naval Monuments abound as well, as the Nautilus and the conning tower of the Flasher are preserved at Groton . Much the same goes for Portsmouth , where one can see many American SSN’s at base as well as the preserved Albacore and conning tower of the Squalus/Sailfish. The bases at Norfolk are another matter. Here one will see several American CVN, LHA/D, SSBN, SSN, CG, DDG, FFG, LPD, and LS in varying states, be they active, or in refit, including the most powerful CVN in the world. Though some of the images of the ships may be doctored, the offensive and defensive capabilities of many of the ships are not well hidden, particularly the Carriers, Amphibious Ships, and Submarines. In addition Norfolk maintains the facilities to repair these ships and one even sees the Battleship Wisconsin preserved as a museum in Norfolk . To the east one sees the Little Creek base, where Amphibious Ships prepare for missions. To the north one gets a good view of the Naval facilities at Newport News . Here one will see the CVN George H W Bush and the SSN North Carolina rapidly nearing completion, as well as the CVN Carl Vinson and SSN Texas undergoing maintenance there. In addition one will see some ex Navy ships, including an image of the Guadalcanal , despite the fact that that ship was sunk as a target. Overall, the Norfolk/Newport News Naval facilities possess excellent defensive and offensive capabilities, strong enough to handle most opposing forces.
In addition the American Navy has prominent bases at Mayport and Philadelphia on it’s east coast. The former has the Naval Air station at Jacksonville nearby as extra defense, but only one CV is presently located there, the John F Kennedy, has been decommissioned recently as it is not functioning properly and not rated to carry aircraft. One also sees a large number of CG, DDG, and FFG at Mayport as well. North at Philadelphia ones sees an impressive number of Naval vessels, yet most of them are inactive. The only active one noticeable is the LH Inchon, seen alongside many inactive ships, most of them CGN, CG, DDG, DD, FFG, FF, SSK, and LS, as well as many historic ships. Most glaring are images of the CV America, which was sunk as a target in May 2005, and the CA Des Moines , which was sent to Brownsville , TX to be scrapped. One will also see the old CA Olympia and SS Becuna preserved as museum ships, as is the BB New Jersey across the river from them in Camden , NJ. There are facilities at King’s Bay, GA for america’s SSBN, yet at this time many SSBN based there are seen at Norfolk.
One also gets a good view of the shipbuilding capabilities of the American Navy along the east coast. In addition to Groton and Newport News one can look at areas like Bath , ME , where one will see DDG being built. If one takes a close look one will notice the design flaws and vulnerabilities in the construction of those ships, which are inherent in the other CG, DDG, and FFG currently in service in the ameircan Navy, and why many countries are willing to risk a fight with these ships. When viewing Pascagoula , MS one will see DDG and the new LHD Makin Island under construction, as well as the new LPD Mesa Verde fitting out, flaws and all. In New Orleans construction on the LPD’s New York , San Diego , and Anchorage is progressing, the first mentioned being built out of steel from the World Trade Center . Notice the flaws and the fact that these ships are rapidly built but not readily in commission, a sign of a lack of funds. Let us not forget facilities where surplus ships are stored, like Newport where the CV’s Forrestal and Saratoga are kept, Brownsville, where Naval ships are scrapped, the current inventory including a WWI era BB, Baltimore, where scrapping takes place, and Port Arthur, TX, where many ships are kept as surplus.
Naval ships preserved as museum ships are frequent along eastern America . This includes many WWII era SS, DD, and FF scattered up and down the coast. Some are clustered together, like in Boston, where one can see the Old sail Frigate Constitution alongside the DD Cassin Young, and in Buffalo, where one can see the CLG Little Rock, DD The Sullivans, and SS Croaker in addition to the sail of the SSN Boston. In Fall River one can see the BB Massachusetts, DDG Joseph Kennedy, SS Lionfish, and other PT. IN New York City one can view the CV Intrepid and SSG Growler. Baltimore has the sail Frigate Constellation and the SS Torsk, as well as the Coast Guard Cutter Taney. Charleston has the CV Yorktown, DD Laffey, SS Clamagore, and the sail and hull parts of the SSBN Lewis and Clark. Mobile has the BB Alabama and the SS Drum, and other parts have singleton ships, notably the CA Salem at Quincy, the DD Barry and the conning tower of the SS Balao at Washington, DC, the BB North Carolina at Wilmngton, the DD Kidd at Baton Rouge . Texas is full of Museum ships, as seen by the CV Lexington at Corpus Christi, the BB Texas at San Jacinto, the SS Cavalla and FF Stewart at Galveston. Such an amount of preservation shows both historical interest and a militant obsession. These ships also serve as “type ships” for other Navies that operate similar ships, ie if those ships have an encounter with an American warship the American Navy will know their weaknesses and use them to their advantage.
The West coast of America has no lack of Naval facilities. San Diego is the main Naval base on the west coast, located near the Mexican border. Here, like Norfolk but on a somewhat smaller scale, one will see many CVN and LHA/D based here, as well as many CG, DDG, SSN, LPD/ST, and FFG based there, all in varying states. As at Norfolk satellite manipulation is used and this includes one glaring error, omitting the CV museum ship Midway, which is mistakenly placed at Alameda , just near the CV museum ship Hornet. And just like Norfolk San Diego has maintenance capabilities for those ships and a powerful offensive/defensive ship inventory, though on a smaller scale. North in the San Francisco Bay Area one will see quite a few Naval facilities, though not for active ships. Benicia houses many inactive Naval vessels, including the BB Iowa and many CG, DDG, LPD, and FFG. Mare Island still holds the Tripoli in reserve, and one can see the SS Pampanito in San Francisco as a museum ship.
The Puget Sound area also holds many facilities for the American Navy, which are spread out over a vast area for defensive purposes. In Everett one will see the CVN Abraham Lincoln based there with supporting CG, DDG, and FFG. To the southwest at Bangor one will see facilities for america’s SSBN forces. Viewing southeast from Bangor one will see the Naval facilities at Bremerton. Like Philadelphia Bremerton has a mix of active and decommissioned ships, though with more active that decommissioned. There one will see several active SSBN’s and SSN’s, including the SSN jimmy carter in drydock. One will also see the decommissioned CV’s Ranger, Independence, and Constellation, the decommissioned Long Beach and two other CGN’s, the Triton and other decommissioned SSN’s as well as an image of the CG Valley Forge, which was recently sunk as a target. Another curiosity at Bremerton is the DD Turner Joy, preserved as a museum ship in regards to the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Overall, the Puget Sound facilities are a very strong defensive position, but like San Diego in their offensive capabilities. As curiosities the following museum ships on the West Coast must be mentioned, the SS Blueback at Portland, the SS Batfish at Muskogee, and the SS Marlin and a PT and LS at Omaha, NE
The American Navy’s remaining facilities throughout the Pacific of any consequence are not on the mainland but at Peril Harbor, HI and Guam. The Pearl Harbor base, site of the infamous 1941 attack, is arguably the most important of these facilities. Here one will see many CG, DDG, SSN, and FFG located here, almost to compensate for their lack at other West Coast bases, and like their counterparts on the East Coast of varying quality. As a reminder of the attack and america’s role in WWII many memorials and museum ships are located here. This includes the preserved wrecks of the BB’s Arizona and Utah, as well as the BB Missouri and the SS Bowfin preserved as museum ships. These ships serve as reminders of WWII and, in a less obvious manner than the East Coast museum ships, a militant encouragement, historical artifact, and type ship. Just as noticeable is the boneyard in the upper northwest corner of Pearl Harbor, where one will see several CG, DD/G, FF/G, LPD and LS in storage. Overall, Pearl Harbor is configured as an offensive and maintenance base, but like in 1941 not a good defensive position.
The facility at Guam has very few ships there, only a handful of SSN and FFG are located there. One will notice the SSN San Francisco located in a drydock, still showing damage from it’s undersea “accident”, showing that Guam has good maintenance facilities, though it is not a strong offensive/defensive base.
The only foreign Naval bases America has overseas of any consequence are at Yokosuka, Japan and Mina Salman, Bahrain, the rest are simply weigh stations or joint bases as part of a defensive pact. This includes Guantanamo Bay, which despite it’s location has minimal protection. At first appearance Yokosuka appears to be a strong offensive base. There one will see the CV Kitty Hawk, the two CG Shiloh and Cowpens, two DDG, a LPD, a FFG and an occasional LS. This may seem impressive, except for the fact that the Kitty Hawk, like the Kennedy, is in poor shape, has trouble operating, and is soon to be decommissioned. The other ships are in varying conditions and have to operate away from the American mainland, which can lead to morale problems. Mina Salman has an even smaller American presence there. At present, despite there being three American Carrier Battle Groups within the vicinity and the French Charles de Gaulle Carrier Battle Group there as well, one will only spot a lone American CG there. Possibly the American forces there do not stay at Mina Salman for long, for fear of a possible attack.
Overall, america’s forces are strong when along the American homeland, overseas they are of negligible strength and vulnerable to attack. I have already discussed how countries like Iran and North Korea can use their Naval forces to defend themselves, I will now discuss the other Navies of consequence of the World.
At present there are quite a few countries who’s Navies rival america’s in size and power. The three most glaring are of Russia, China, and India. Those countries have a common bond in the Shanghai Cooperative Organization. Though not using full scale military operations as NATO, the SCO has formidable forces, some of which share common features, and is expanding by the day.
Russia, though not as large as it was some 15 years ago, still has a navy that is a match for any in the world, even america’s. This becomes apparent as one looks at the main Russian Naval bases for it’s Northern Fleet. At Murmansk, HQ of the Russian Northern Fleet one will see Russia’s most powerful warships. Russia’s only CV, the Admiral Kuznetzov, the second most powerful CV in the world, is seen in dock, close to facilities painted to match it’s deck to confuse aerial images. Just south one will see a sunken Russian sub, which type is anyone’s guess. To the east of the Admiral Kuznetzov one will begin to view some Russian ships SSBN and SSN in refit, including the SSBN Tula, as one comes closer to the Severomorsk Naval base. At Severomorsk one will see some of the most powerful ships in the Russian Navy and the World. This includes the CBG Pytor Veilky which is the Flagship of the Russian Navy. Though it and it’s class ships are sometimes referred to as a CG by some analysts the Pytor Veliky has twice the armament of the Marshal Ustinov, a Moskva class CG seen next to the Pytor Veliky at Severomorsk, and four times the armament of an American Ticonderoga class CG, making it the most powerful surface warship in the World, and is roughly the same size as many BB and CB from the WWII era, so this designation is appropriate. As well as these two overwhelmingly powerful ships one will sees several DDG, LS, and FFG, as well as the K-21 SS Museum ship. Though spread out Murmansk, like Norfolk, is one of the most powerful Naval bases in the World.
Southeast of Murmansk is the Severodvinsk Naval base. Here, despite jamming of part of the base, is the home of the most powerful SSBN’s in the World, the Project 955 and 941 classes. Here one will see the Project 955 SSBN’s Yuri Dolgoruky which has recently been commissioned and the Alexander Nevsky under construction nearby. One will also see three Project 941 class SSBN’s one in refit and the other two very active. Not only are they the largest submarines in existence but by being able to fire two Ballistic Missiles simultaneously they are the most powerful SSBN’s in the World. In addition one will see many other SSBN, SSN, and SSK, including the new Sankt-Peterburg, which is one of the most advanced SSK’s in the World and is one of three submarines classes to incorporate stealth technology, the other two being the aforementioned Iranian Ghadir class and the Swedish Gotland class, as well as some SSGN and SSN being dismantled. In addition the CBG’s Admiral Lazarev and Admiral Nakhimov are at Severodvinsk, as is the ex CV Admiral Gorshkov, which is being converted into a flush decked CV for the Indian navy. Overall, Severodvinsk is a very strong offensive/defensive base, as it houses and builds the most powerful SSBN’s in the World.
In the area North of Murmansk is the Polyarnyy naval base, where many of Russia’s SSBN, SSGN, SSN, and SSK, as well as some FFG, are located. Even further northeast throughout the Kola Peninsula, particularly at Zapadnaya Litsa, one will see even more SSBN, SSGN, SSN, and SSK in varying states. This includes the remaining Project 941 class SSBN’s, the three Project 705 SSN’s, as well as Project 667 SSBN’s, Project 949 SSGN’s Project 971, 671 SSN’s which are active. This makes Polyarnyy, Zapadnaya Litsa, and the Kola Peninsula area one of the most formidable submarine/naval facilities in the World, as a combination of it’s size and functions.
Though big on prestige the Russian Naval forces in the Baltic are not as large as they are in the Pacific. As to be expected Saint Petersburg, though not the HQ, still houses facilities for Russia’s Navy. Here one will see approximately 10 Sovremenny and Udaloy class DDG, much like the ones seen at Severomorsk, and Krivak class FFG. The Sovremenny and Udaloy class DDG are more powerful and better constructed than any American and most western DDG’s save for the Dutch De Zeven Provincen and German Sachsen class DDG’s and are sometimes classified as CG’s due to their armament, making them among the most formidable surface ships in the World. Here one will also see the new SSK Kronstadt under construction and the old Cruiser Aurora preserved as a Museum in front of the Nakhimov school for Naval cadets. The real muscle of the Baltic Fleet is located at Kaliningrad, mainly the Baltiysk naval facility. At Kaliningrad on will see the new FFG’s of the Neustrashimy class fitting out and under construction, as well as the B-413 SSK Museum ship in central Kaliningrad. At the Baltiysk base one will see a large amount of DDG, FFG, FF, PT, and LS concentrated at this facility. Overall the Russian Baltic Fleet is an excellent Coast Defense force, as it is stronger than any other Fleet in the Baltic. As an offensive force, it is limited due to it’s geographic location.
The Russian Pacific Fleet is a very interesting view. As a result of HRJ Vladivostok, the HQ of the Russian Pacific Fleet, is not completely visible, leaving only a few PT to be viewed. The facilities at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky are another matter. Here is the largest concentration of submarines in the Pacific in any single facility, and larger than most nations in the region. Here one will see many SSBN, SSGN, SSN, and SSK in operational states. In addition, Russia has a few DDG, FFG, FF, and PT based at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. This makes Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky a very strong offensive facility and, because it is located at a remote area, a strong defensive facility as well.
The Russian Black Sea Fleet is even more interesting. In addition to facilities at Novorossiysk Russia also maintains a Naval base at Sevastopol, Ukraine, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet has it’s HQ. At Sevastopol Russia has based the CG Moskva and several DDG, FFG, SSK, LS, and PT, which is stronger than any other Naval concentration in the Black Sea, including the Ukraine, which only has less than a dozen FFG, FF, PT, and SSK in it’s navy. Novorossiysk has only a few FF and PT currently based there, and the Russian CL Mikhail Kutuzov is there as a Museum Ship. Like the Baltic Fleet, the Black Sea Fleet is an excellent Coast Defense Force but geographically limited offensive force. The Caspian Flotilla at Astrakhan is even more limited, having only a few FF and PT, as none of the other nations pose a threat there.
Overall, the addition of the Russian Navy to any alliance is a formidable one. Despite what many have said over the past decade it is still one of the most technologically advanced and best deployed in the World. In addition, it has influenced both allies and enemies. I shall now turn to one of it’s allies next, China.
The Naval forces of the People’s Republic of China are one of the most rapidly expanding in the World. Where only some two decades ago it was limited to Coast Defense today it has the ships and facilities to dominate any area. This becomes apparent when one looks at the Naval facilities China has. An excellent example is China’s North Sea Fleet. When one looks at the Naval facilities at Dalian one would assume it was the HQ of the North Sea Fleet, yet it is not, instead home to some of China’s most powerful warships. Here one will see the former Russian CV Varyag being fitted out for service as China’s first CV. One will also see two of China’s new DDG fitting out and under construction near the new CV. When viewing Chinese DDG one notices a strong similarity to their Russian counterparts, as they are as heavily armed and built. Southwest of those warships one will see a Han SSN and a Song class and one other SSK. To the Southwest at Lushun one will see a large assortment of DDG, FFG LS, SSK, and PT stationed there, all berthed in secure locations and strong enough to handle any attacker. Overall, Dalian/Lushun is a strong offensive/defensive base.
Further west at Huludao, despite HRJ, one will have an excellent view of China’s new SSN under construction. Once completed, this ship will in all probability be based at Qingdao, the HQ of the North Sea Fleet.
When one views Qingdao one sees one of the most powerful Naval bases in the World spread out over a vast area. In central Qingdao one will see many SSK, FF, LS, and PT, including a museum housing some of China’s early Warships. Moving east of Central Qingdao one will see the base for China’s Xia SSBN and China’s new SSN and SSK. West of Central Qingdao one will see several new DDG, FFG, and LS at their homeports. All of these ships make Qingdao the most formidable base of China’s most formidable Fleet, making it an excellent offensive/defensive force. However, it’s location and inventory suggests that it is stationed to face South Korea, Japan, or their American allies to possibly back North Korea or Russia. One other curiosity must be mentioned here. In Tianjin, one will see the former Russian CV Kiev as a museum ship. Despite it’s present state the ship is so well kept it could be reactivated for active service easily.
The two other Fleets in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, the East Sea Fleet and the South Sea Fleet are just as impressive, though not as large and more scrappy. This is evident by the HRJ over Ningbo, Fujian, and Zhoushan. When one views Shanghai one will see spread out throughout the city many DDG either based there, fitting out, or under construction. In addition one will see an assortment of FFG, LS, and PT there. Though powerful, an accurate assessment of the East sea Fleet can’t be done here.
The same can not be said of the South Sea Fleet. When viewing Zhanjiang, the HQ of the South Sea Fleet, one will see a large assortment of DDG, FFG, LS, and PT stationed there, strong enough to mount offensive operations and to defend against any attacker. Guangzhou and Shantou have facilities which base DDG, FFG, FF, LS. And PT but also build and maintain those ships, so not only do they have strong offensive/defensive capabilities but are able to maintain the ships based there.
The rest of the South Sea Fleet consists of FF, LS, and PT as seen at bases like Beihai, Haikou, and other facilities in the area. In addition the former Russian CV Minsk is in the area north of Hong Kong. Reportedly, the ship is being kept as a museum but may have been sold to the Chinese government for possible conversion to a flush deck CV, as Russia is doing for India with the former CV Admiral Gorshkov, which may have been acquired in the first place. Overall, the South Sea Fleet, though not as strong as the North Sea Fleet, is a strong offensive, defensive force.
Overall, China’s Navy is one of the most powerful in the World, and is growing by the day. Not only is it strong enough to repulse any invader it is strong enough to act on it’s own or to bring constructive aid to any ally. Therefore, China must be considered when dealing with any World power.
Developing even more rapidly than Russia or China in terms of Naval power is India. Like China it has grown very rapidly over the past two decades. However, it has stayed a relatively neutral course, which has allowed India to acquire not only Naval material from Russia and China but also from America, Britain, Germany, and other countries. This becomes apparent when viewing India’s Naval forces.
The largest Naval facility in India is located at Mumbai. Mumbai is the HQ of the Western Fleet and houses and builds India’s most powerful warships. Here one will see the CV Viraat, and many DDG, FFG, SSK, FF, and PT based here in a state of combat readiness. Many of these ships bear resemblances to their Russian and Chinese counterparts, but incorporate some western and indigenous innovations, making India’s Warships particularly deadly. One will also see the Kolkata class DDG and Shivalik class FFG under construction. Mumbai also has India’s first CV, the Vikrant, as a Museum ship. Overall, the forces based at Mumbai are of an excellent offensive/defensive combination. West of Mumbai one will see the ship scrapyard at Alang Beach. Here, many Naval vessels from around the World have been sent here to be scrapped. The conditions in which the ships are scrapped are primitive and unsecure conditions. At present the major Warships at Alang include the ex Brazilian CV Minas Gerais and a former Russian Kara class CG. These ships form a good source of potential material and information on ship design, for unlike American scrapyards the scrapping is long and gradual, allowing time for potential customers to obtain these ships.
The eastern Fleet HQ at Visakhapatnam, though not as large, is every bit as powerful. Here is based at least two dozen DDG, FFG, SSK, LS, FF, and PT, in combat readiness. Here one will even have an excellent view of the LPD Shardul, which has recently been commissioned, and the SSK Kursura which is kept as a Museum ship. The Shardul is seen here waiting to be transferred to the new Karwar base in southern India. To the northeast at Kolkata one will see the LPD’s Kesari and Airavat fitting out, as well as another LPD of the Shardul class under construction and several PT fitting out and under construction as well. Overall, India’s Eastern Fleet is as formidable as the Western one.
The Southern Fleet is another story. At Kochi, the HQ, one will see a single DDG and a few FFG, FF, and PT. At the Kochi shipyards one can barely see the new CV which construction has begun on. The base at Karwar is only being opened and no ships are based there. When operational India plans to base it’s LPD’s there, including the Jalashva which was recently acquired from America, possibly to bribe India into supporting American actions in Asia but most likely to analyze American methods. Overall, the Southern Fleet is effective for Coast defense but not yet strong for offensive operations.
Overall India, and Russia and China, have excellent Navies which are formidable individually or together. With American acts more menacing in Asia the possibility of them facing America, be it in support of Iran or North Korea, is a real one, and these countries are ones to be reckoned with.
The remaining Naval powers in Asia who are either Non-Aligned or on the fence on American affairs remains to be discussed here. Of the remainder the four most powerful are Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Malaysia. Though they are of consequence, these countries lack the means to produce ships more powerful than a PT, which is a glaring flaw in naval strategy. Thailand possesses one of the more formidable small Navies in Asia. Though officially the Thai CV Chakri Narubet spends most of it’s time at the Sattahip base is was not seen there when I viewed it. Nevertheless, Sattahip is formidable in itself, currently basing some 10 FFG and an assortment of PT and LS. The Thai Naval base at Bangkok houses several LS as well as a few FFG and PT. Nearby one will see the Thai Naval Academy and the FF Maeklung preserved as a Museum ship. Though not strong offensively Thailand’s Navy is an excellent force defensively and to operate with as an ally.
Indonesia’s Navy is just as big as Thailand’s and relatively as strong. A view of Surabaya will confirm this, as one will see 15 FFG of Dutch, German, British, and American origin, as well as an assortment of PT and LS. Partly as a result of the conflicts over East Timor Indonesia has deployed it’s main Naval forces there from Jakarta. The base at Jakarta only has a few LS and PT there. Since Indonesia is spread over several islands this Fleet is well suited to Coast defense, though if properly concentrated it could, like Thailand, be one to operate with as an ally.
The Navy of Pakistan, though small, is strong and well concentrated. At the Naval base at Karachi one will view 7 FFG, 1 DDG, and a small assortment of SSK and several PT. This is an excellent force defensively and to operate with but not strong enough to operate offensively. Malaysia’s Navy is much the same, though smaller. At the Royal Malaysian Navy HQ at Lumut one will see six FFG and FF, two Dutch built SSK, and a small assortment of PT’s. At present Malaysia’s Fleet is expanding, partly as a result of it’s neighbor Singapore and due to regional tensions. At present Malaysia’s Navy is an excellent Coast Defense Force but not one to ally with offensively.
The Fleets of the Arab Nations, like the Asian nations discussed so far, that are on the fence with American policy, but when viewing their forces it becomes apparent they have no aggressive attitudes to Iran or other nations America has issues with. Like the four Navies previously discussed they are of consequence but lack the means to build ships more powerful than a PT. That these countries have few issues with Iran but some with america becomes apparent when one views the Navy of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Naval base at Jeddah houses most of that countries Naval forces, and one will see some 6 French built FFG and some LS, as well as some PT’s. The base at al-Jubayl on the Persian Gulf has only some PT’s there, so clearly Saudi Arabia is not intimidated by Iran and are to protect Saudi Coastal territory. The Egyptian Naval forces are just as impressive, including 8 FFG from America, Spain, and China, 2 FF from America, and 7 Chinese SSK, as well as an assortment of PT’s. Like Saudi Arabia Egypt’s Navy is good for Coast Defense, and has similar offensive capabilities.
The same can not be said for Libya and Morocco. The Libyan Naval base at Tripoli contains only 2 Russian built FFG, 1 Russian SSK, and a small assortment of PT and LS. Enough to protect Libyan Coastal positions but not enough to operate offensively or with other Fleets. Morocco’s Navy is somewhat stronger. At Casablanca one will see Morocco’s 4 French and Spanish FFG’s and assorted LS and PT craft. Though somewhat larger than Libya’s force and just as suited to Coast Defense it too is limited as an offensive and joint operation force. Overall, the Naval forces of the Arab nations are capable of protection but their offensive capabilities are relative to their location.
The main problem with categorizing the Arab nations is they are spread out over two continents, Asia and Africa. While Asia has countries with impressive Naval assets the same is not true for Africa, for sub-Saharan Africa has only two Navies of consequence, Nigeria and South Africa. No African nation is capable of making Warships more powerful than a PT, leaving them all at a major disadvantage. HRJ makes an assessment of Nigeria’s Navy difficult, however this is not the case with South Africa. When one views the Simons Town Naval base one will see South Africa’s 3 new German built FFG, as well as several PT and LS in the harbor, as the rest of South Africa’s Fleet is active and expanding, though South Africa, like the rest of Africa, is dependent on imports for major Warships. The quality alone of these ships shows that South Africa has excellent offensive/defensive capabilities.
The Naval forces of South America are somewhat more formidable than Africa and the Arab nations. Many have bucked American policy and have the means to protect themselves, though only Brazil has the capability to manufacture major Warships. The Nations of the Caribbean are only Coast Defense forces, some with marginal capability, so they are not discussed here. Right now the most embattled South American nation is Venezuela. When one views the Naval base at Puerto Cabello one will see the main Venezuelan Navy in varying states. There one will see 4 of Venezuela’s Italian built FFG’s in readiness, the rest are in refit. The same is true for the LS and PT’s there, most are active but the rest in refit. Should Venezuela be attacked these ships, if they can get out of their berths, could prove formidable in individual actions.
The most powerful of the South American Navies is Brazil. This becomes clear when one views Rio de Janeiro, where most of Brazil’s Navy is based. There one will have a clear view of the CV Sao Paulo, formerly the French Foch, and 9 FFG’s, 2 Ceara class LPD’s, and the occasional SSK and PT, as well as a new DDG under construction. In addition, the FFG Bauru and SSK Riachuelo are preserved at Rio. It should go without saying that this is a strong offensive/defensive force. The second strongest Fleet in South america is Argentina. At Puerto Belgrano one will see 6 DDG , 5 FFG, mostly German built ones, and an assortment of LS and PT berthed there. Though lacking the CV support Brazil has Puerto Belgrano still has a strong surface fleet, giving the forces there an excellent offensive/defensive combination. The other major Naval base at Mar del Plata, though not as strong, contains at present 1 DDG, 3 FFG and a small assortment of PT’s. Overall, Argentina’s Navy, though lacking the CV force Brazil has, is just as formidable and one to be reckoned with.
The other two major South American Naval powers are Peru and Chile. Though somewhat smaller they are just as formidable. This becomes apparent when one views the Peruvian naval forces at Lima. Most prominent is the CLG Almirante Grau, the former Dutch De Ruyter, which despite being over 60 years old is still in excellent condition. The remainder of the Peruvian naval forces at Lima include the DD Ferre, 4 FFG’s, 8 SSK’s, 3 LS, 3 FF and an assortment of PT’s. Overall, Peru’s Navy is excellent offensively and defensively. Chile’s Navy is just as strong. At Santiago one will see 2 DDG’s and 3 FFG’s, all British built at the naval base there. The Naval base at Talcahuano is nearly as well protected, presently having 2 FFG and 4 SSK’s based there. In addition, one will see the 19th century warship Huascar preserved as a Museum ship. Like Peru, Chile’s Navy has good offensive/defensive capabilities. The remainder of South America’s Navies are only capable of Coast Defense forces. Uruguay is an excellent example, as the Naval base at Montevideo shows only 3 FFG and a small number of PT’s. One interesting view of Montevideo is that the location of the Graf Spee, scuttled there in 1939, is not shown to discourage people from diving on it, as more people have died on that wreck than all other shipwrecks combined.
When viewing the naval forces of Europe one must sort the Navies by the political actions of the countries, not just alliances. Some nato members, like France, Spain, Germany, and Norway though home to American bases, have gone against American and nato actions. The countries of the former Yugoslavia are another matter. Croatia is the only of those countries to maintain a Navy, though only a small Coast Defense force. This is apparent at Split, where one will see the FF Kralj Dmitar Zvonimir and a few small LS and PT. The Naval forces of Serbia and Montenegro are another matter. At Kotor Bay one sees the remnants of the Naval forces of that country. At present the 4 FFG’s, the SSK Drava and a smaller SSK, and a small assortment of PT’s are located there. Though not active and in dispute it provides excellent naval hardware for countries looking to enlarge their forces. It would also be a shame if the Drava and other of the ships were scrapped, as they were indigenously built.
Of the European countries which clash with American/nato aims France is the most powerful. Many might not realize this when viewing French Naval bases because many French Warships are often at sea. The Naval base at Toulon is an excellent example of this. Homeport of the Charles de Gaulle, that CVN is not currently in the harbor, but one will see the old CV Clemenceau in Toulon, for use as spare parts and as a reserve, much like the SSK’s nearby. Here is located other powerful French warships, including the two Suffern DDG’s, the FREMM FFG, several La Fayette FFG’s, 2 Rubis SSN’s, and an assortment of FFG’s and LS. Toulon also has the facilities to build and repair major warships, making Toulon an excellent maintenance base as well as a strong offensive/defensive base.
On the Atlantic the French Naval forces based throughout Bretagne are even more impressive. At Brest, where the CVH Jeanne d’Arc is based but not currently berthed at, one will see a very well protected base. There France has the De Grasse and several other DDG’s, FFG’s, and PT’s based throughout the area, as well as a lone SSBN. In addition the LHD Tonnerre is seen under construction. At Lorient, south of Brest, one will see the new Horizon class DDG under construction, as well as a few DDG and FFG assembled there. Of interest is the wreck of the Imperial German BB Thuringen off the beach at Lorient, which was sunk as a target in the 1920’s and still can bee seen. Overall, the Bretagne naval facilities are excellent maintenance and offensive/defensive forces.
The submarine base at Cherbourg, though subject to HRJ, still shows the 3 SSBN at base there, as well as the Redoutable, the first French SSBN preserved as a Museum ship. That SSBN, and the CG Colbert at Bordeaux, are the only Naval Museum ships France offers. Cherbourg has only minimal capabilities, as does the French overseas bases. Noumea, Papeete, Dakar are the only overseas French Naval bases of any consequence, and there one will see a few FFG, LS, and PT’s, enough to maintain the bases but not strong enough offensively/defensively.
Overall, the French Navy is still formidable, as it is active and continues to produce and maintain modern warships which can be deployed around the World. Like Russia, China, America, and India France has the numerical as well as technological advantage in naval forces. This makes the French Navy one which must be reckoned with in any conflict.
Though not as large as France the Spanish Navy remains modern and formidable, though not with the reach that France has. At Rota one will see many of Spain’s most important Warships, including the CV Principe de Asturias, the 2 Galicia LPD’s, and an assortment of FFG’s and LS. One reason for this is that there is a nato base there, though the only foreign warships that tend to bee seen there are often obsolete. At Cartagena Spain has based it’s entire SSK force along with a few FFG and PT’s. In addition, one will see the naval Academy nearby and the Peral, the first submarine that could fire torpedoes, preserved as a Museum ship. Ferrol possesses not only facilities where Spain’s FFG’s LS, and PT’s are based but one also sees several Bazan class FFG’s and their Norwegian Nansen variants under construction, and also Bazan Shipyards where many of Spain’s modern Warships are built and where construction on the new CV Juan Carlos I has commenced. Though large enough to act effectively defensively and in joint operations Spain’s naval offensive capabilities are presently limited, though only for the time being.
Though HRJ over many German naval instillations deprives us of an overall estimate of German naval power, that which is visible at German Naval bases is impressive enough. At Kiel one will see at least 6 Type 212 SSK’s, which are built there, and a small assortment of PT’s based there. The LS Frankfurt-am-Main is also based there, and like the Iranian Kharg can supply ships and transport troops for amphibious assaults. The base at Rostock has several Gepard class PT’s and a few LS stationed there. All these Warships are modern, and the Type 212 SSK’s are excellent combat vessels which are exported worldwide. Submarines are prestigious today as they were six decades ago, and Submarines preserved as Museum ships like the U-995 north of Kiel and the Wilhelm Bauer at Bremerhaven preserve this proud heritage. Even if one can’t get a total glimpse of Germany’s Naval forces the quality of the technology it produces makes Germany’s Navy one that must be entered into any Global Naval equation.
Though not as large Norway’s Navy still has an impressive Navy. At the Norwegian naval HQ at Haakonsveren one will see three Oslo class FFG’s, two SSK’s, and over a dozen PT craft based there. Unfortunately, the rest of Norway’s Naval bases suffer from HRJ, though the wreck of the German Battleship Tirpitz, sunk at Tromso in November 1944, is still visible. From what is seen Norway’s forces are effective for Coast defense, though the effectiveness of Norway’s Navy will be seen as Norway’s navy acquires new warships like the Nansen FFG’s from Spain.
The remainder of Europe’s Naval forces are mostly for Coast Defense and because of nato tend to combine for joint operations. This is true of some Baltic countires like Latvia, and Lithuania and countries like Romaina, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece. The Latvian Naval force at Riga is only a few PT’s, and the Lithuanian Naval base at Klaipeda shows only 1 FF and a few PT’s. In each case both Latvia and Lithuania only have enough ships for Coast Defense. Romania’s Naval base at Constanta shows 9 FFG’s in varying states, the SSK Delfinul, and an assortment of PT’s. Were it not for the condition of some of the ships Romania would have an excellent offensive/defensive force, but it is limited to Coast Defense and Joint Operations because of the state of it’s Warships. Bulgaria’s Navy is even weaker, as Varna has a few PT’s currently based there, only enough for Coast Defense. Though Turkey uses HRJ over most of it’s Naval bases, it’s Naval facilities at Izmir and Izmit show many modern FF and PT based there, showing that Turkey, like Germany, is capable of maintaining modern Warships.
The Greek Navy is more interesting. When viewing the Salamis Naval base one will see 1 DDG, 5 FFG, 5 SSK, and an assortment of LS and PT’s based there. In addition the DD Velos is preserved there as a museum Ship. At Souda one will see a lone DDG, an occasional FFG, and an assortment of PT’s, as Souda is clearly not as important as Salamis to the Greeks. Overall, the Greek Navy is powerful for Coast Defense and Joint Operations, but how it would handle lone offensive operations remains to be seen.
Out of the remaining European countries four have gone hand in glove with American aims. They are Poland, Portugal, Italy, and the uk and the British commonwealth. Of those four Poland, though having the smallest Naval forces, makes frequent use of them. At Gdynia one will see the Orzel SSK, 1 DDG, and several other FFG, FF, SSK, LS, and PT stationed there. As we can see and has been demonstrated, Poland’s navy is an effective Coast Defense Force and can deploy as a Joint Operations force, but it’s use as an offensive force is limited. The same can be said of Portugal. The Naval base at Lisbon is home to 2 FFG, 3 SSK, and an assortment of FF, LS, and PT craft. This small force is good for Coast Defense and Joint Operations but limited offensively.
Italy’s Navy has been expanding recently, and is one reason for the sudden arms buildup in Europe recently. Though insisting the buildup is defensive italy continues with it as more neighboring countries expand because of it, in other words behaving like a punk ass bitch. When viewing taranto this becomes apparent. Here one will see the CV Giuseppe Garibaldi, the LPD San Marco, and several DDG, SSK, and FFG. In addition the CVH Vittorio Veneto, which Italy said it would decommission and sell for scrap, is still in Taranto. Needless to say taranto has capable offensive/defensive, as well as maintenance, capabilities. The base at la spezia is even more formidable. Here the new CV Conte di Cavour is based, along with the Audace DDG, 6 FFG, 5 SSK, and an assortment of LS and PT, as well as the sailing ship Amerigo Vespuci. This roster makes La Spezia more formidable than Taranto, both in quantity and quality of ships. The naval base at brindisi is home to the Italian Navy’s amphibious forces, and here one will see the LPD’s San Giorgio and San Giusto based here along with some PT’s. All three of these bases are on the west coast of Italy, the remaining Italian bases on the islands and East coast only have a few PT’s there to keep them in operation. Overall, Italy’s expanding Navy is a formidable offensive/defensive force and like France and Spain, one that can prove decisive in any Joint Operation.
The Naval forces of the united kingdom and the british commonwealth are listed with Europe as the uk is European, but the sovereign of the uk is also head of state for the british commonwealth countries, so countries like Australia, Canada, and new Zealand can be ordered around by the british sovereign, who is commander in chief of all british commonwealth forces. One must take this into consideration when assessing these nations.
To begin with, the naval forces of the United Kingdom are here first. Even if the uk were not part of the british commonwealth it would still have formidable forces at it’s disposal. This becomes apparent when viewing the Naval base at Portsmouth. Here the CV’s Invincible and Ark Royal are based, alongside 8 DDG, 3 FFG, and an assortment of PT’s. In addition the decommissioned LPD’s Intrepid and Fearless, the LS Sir Bedevere, and several former DDG and FFG throughout Portsmouth. In addition the Victory, the BB Warrior, the World’s first Battleship, the Monitor M-33, and the SS Alliance are preserved as Museum ships. Not only is Portsmouth a formidable offensive/defensive base but one that encourages it’s Naval forces to action, much as American bases do.
The same is true of the Plymouth Naval base. Here one will see the LHD Ocean, the SSBN Victorious, all 7 Trafalgar class SSN, 3 FFG, the LPD’s Albion and Bulwark, and an assortment of LS and PT craft. In view is the SSN Conquerer, preserved as a Museum ship. Like Portsmouth, Plymouth has excellent offensive/defensive capabilities. Other British bases are not as large. At Liverpool one will see a lone FFG, though the FFG Plymouth and SSK Onyx are preserved there, along with the wreck of a WWII German U-Boat. At Clydebank one will see some PT’s under construction. Also the number of Museum ships is large, as the CL Belfast at London, and the DD Cavalier and SS Ocelot at Chatam demonstrate.
Overall, the uk Naval forces are formidable and one to be reckoned with. Not only is the british Navy strong offensively/defensively but all british Naval ships are built in the uk, making Britain as formidable as France, America, Russia, China, and India. Though not as large as 100 years ago british sea power must not be unconsidered.
The Australian Navy is the next most powerful Navy in the british commonwealth. Like the uk it can manufacture it’s own warships, but Australia has at times imported it’s Warships. The strength of the Australian Navy becomes apparent when viewing it’s two main bases at Sydney and Perth. At Sydney one will see 5 FFG and an assortment of LS. Interestingly image manipulation is used to obscure some of the ships. To the west of the Naval base at Sydney one will see the DD Vampire, SSK Onslow, and PT Krait preserved as Museum ships. Though not as large as Portsmouth Sydney has excellent facilities for Coast Defense and Joint Operations, but limited offensive capabilities.
The same is true of Perth. Here one will see 2 FFG’s 4 Collins Class SSK, and several LS. A decommissioned Oberon class SSK is also visible here, as is the SSK Ovens, preserved as a Museum ship. In other words a smaller version of Sydney. The remaining Naval bases only have enough ships to keep them active. At Darwin one will see a lone FFG and a few PT’s. Cairns has a few PT’s and LS based there. At Melbourne one will see a lone Anzac FFG under construction and the PT Castlemaine preserved as a Museum ship. Like America and Britain Australia has quite a few Naval ships preserved as Museums, but most of them are SSK’s like the Otama preserved at Hastings. Overall, Australia’s Navy is formidable defensively and Jointly, but it is it’s Joint status that gives the Australian navy it’s offensive strength.
Canada’s Naval forces are somewhat smaller than Australia’s, and like Australia Canada can manufacture it’s own Warships but at times imports.. At Halifax one will see a lone DDG, 4 FFG, 1 SSK, and 6 PT’s. In addition there are kept 2 FFG’s and 4 SSK’s which are decommissioned at Halifax. This force, like that at Sydney or Perth, is good defensively and Jointly, but limited offensively. The same is true of Esquimalt. There one will see 2 DDG, 4 FFG, 1 SSK, and an assortment of LS and PT’s. Though similar in strength to Halifax it has the same capabilities, good defensively and jointly but limited offensively.
The remaining british commonwealth nations have forces which are good only for Coast Defense, much like New Zealand which only has 2 FFG’s visible at the Auckland naval base, and are dependant on the commonwealth for protection. Overall, the Naval forces of the British Commonwealth can operate separately but combined they make a formidable force which must be considered, be they separate or as a single unit. This makes the commonwealth unique and can be a strength or weakness.
In Asian nations which tend to follow American policy are just as formidable as their European counterparts, particularly Japan, South Korea, Taiwan. The rest are either curiosities or Coast Defense forces. Either way they are forces which can prove influential.
The most powerful of these nations is Japan. This is one reason for the American naval concentration at Yokosuka, which is almost a WWII holdover. When viewing Yokosuka and other Japanese Naval bases it becomes apparent that Japan has a large and powerful naval force. In addition Japan can once again produce major warships to match those of other nations. At Yokosuka the LHD Kunisaki is in clear view. Though rated by some as a LPD the Kunisaki is Japan’s first step to reestablishing a Carrier force. Nearby are 4 DDG and 2 FFG nearby. Spread throughout Yokosuka are some 5 other DDG and 5 SSK, themselves formidable to handle any attacker, including the American forces based there should hostilities ever flare up. Just as noticeable is how western design, combined with local improvements, feature in Japanese Naval design. Also visible is the BB Mikasa, preserved as a Museum ship. Overall, Yokosuka’s naval forces pose an excellent offensive/defensive combination.
The Naval base at Kure is just as formidable, and lacks a large American presence. There is visible the LHD Shimokita, and a large assortment of DDG, FFG, SSK, LS, and PT which are based throughout Kure. When viewing Kure one sees a Naval base with excellent offensive/defensive capabilities, but unencumbered by a large American naval presence. Sasebo has a smaller complement based there, with some 20 plus DDG, FFG, LS, and PT currently based there. Maizuru currently has 2 DDG and a small assortment of PT’s based there. These last two are maintained well as support bases, Sasebo having good Coast Defense and Joint Operations facilities but dependent on the rest of Japan’s forces for offensive operations.
It should go without saying that Japan’s Navy is one of the most formidable in Asia and the World. Japan has the second largest DDG force in the World and is constantly building new and powerful Warships. Though America and other nations keep an eye on Japan since WWII the changing political and military situation has allowed Japan to maintain a Naval force which must be taken into consideration in any power equation.
South Korea’s Navy, though not as large as Japan’s, has many modern and powerful warships. These ships form the nucleus of South Korea’s navy as it expands from Coast Defense Force to a powerful offensive/defensive force. IN addition South Korea is beginning to build it’s own major Warships. Already, one will see this as one examines South Korea’s Navy.
Chinhae is home to many of South Korea’s best warships. There one will see 3 DDG, 3 FFG, 7 SSK, 8 FF, 8 LS, and a large assortment of PT’s. Many of these ships are modern and form an excellent offensive/defensive force. At Busan one will see 2 DDG and an assortment of PT’s, as well as the Hanjin Shipbuilding facilities, though HRJ obscures South Korea’s new LHD Dokpo which is fitting out there. Though too small to conduct major offensive operations Busan has excellent maintenance facilities and sufficient forces for Coast Defense.
The remainder of South Korea’s Naval Bases are small but maintain excellent facilities. At Pyeongtaek one will see 4 FFG and an assortment of PT’s. Jeju has a lone DDG and an assortment of PT’s based there. Mokpo has a handful of FF and PT’s based there. These bases are excellent for Coast defense but must link up with a larger force for effective offensive operations.
Overall, South Korea has a navy that is expanding to meet challenges from North Korea, discussed earlier, and the changing political situation. In regional disputes it must always be taken into consideration.
Taiwan’s Fleet, though sizeable, is another matter. Many of it’s ships are aging, some 60 years old, and Taiwan is dependent on imports for Warships. This becomes apparent when viewing Suao. There one will see 3 american Gearing class DDG’s which are WWII DD’s with guided missiles, and as vulnerable as the DD’s Iran had taken out of service. These ships are effective for Coast Defense but not offensive operations. The same type of ships are based at Kaohsiung, five in numeric, alongside some LS and PT. At Keelung one will see 2 more of these DDG as well as an assortment of FF, LS, and PT. Makung hosts 5 FFG and an assortment of LS and PT. Hardly enough to conduct offensive operations, but enough to protect Taiwan’s Coast.
Despite the hype generated about Taiwan’s Navy it clearly is not a major one, only a large Coast Defense force. Were China to attack Taiwan it would be successful, but would only suffer heavy casualties if Taiwan were supported by another power like america, yet many do not realize this.
Singapore’s Navy is a curiosity, as it is well armed for it’s small size. Singapore has enough PT forces to protect it’s harbor, but it also possesses two types of Warships designed for offensive use. The first are it’s 4 Swedish built SSK’s which are frequently in action. The other are Singapore’s 4 British built LPD’s. The latter are suited for offensive operations, and are probably intended to be used offensively if Indonesia or Malaysia were to invade Singapore. Singapore’s Navy is definetly one for Coast Defense, but in an unusual way.
The remaining pacific Nations that support america only have enough for Coast defense. This is true of the Philippines, which only has 2 FFG and an assortment of LS and PT visible at the Cavite Naval base, hardly enough to act Jointly or Offensively. The Naval forces of the Marshall Islands are a curiosity, consisting of a few PT’s, and the only interesting Naval Vessel in sight is the wreck of the WWII German CA Prinz Eugen. Needless to say, this is not much of a Naval force.
That leaves the Arab nations that back american policy hand in glove. They are the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar. Out of them, only the UAE can manufacture Naval vessels, but only PT and LS craft, while the rest are dependent on imports. At Abu Dhabi one will see some 5 PT and 2 LS vessels, all built there, only enough for Coast Defense. Bahrain’s Navy is slightly more impressive. At the Mina Salman Naval base the FFG Sabha, the former american Jack Williams, is visible next to 6 FF and a small assortment of PT Craft. As Bahrain is still disputed over by Iran this force is designed for Coast Defense, but to make Iran comitt more of it’s forces in any attack as well.
Kuwait’s Navy is just as much a curiosity of a Coast defense force. At the Naval base there one will see the FF Al Sanbouk, Qarq, and an assortment of PT and LS. Qatar’s Naval HQ at Doha only has 5 PT’s based there at present, only enough to protect Qatar’s coast. Overall, the Naves of those Arab nations are of little consequence.
Today Naval power is as important as ever in how Nations conduct their affairs. How they will be used by those Nations is another matter. With politics and technology constantly changing future conflicts will see who is dumb and dumber.