Friday, June 19, 2015

China's Quantity Option

China's warships getting much better, quality-wise. They haven't abandoned quantity. Indeed, they've adopted my hopes for Modularized Auxiliary Cruisers.

China will be better prepared for mobilization of national naval resources:

China's government has passed new guidelines requiring civilian shipbuilders to ensure their vessels can be used by the military in the event of conflict, state-run media said on Thursday.

The regulations require five categories of vessels including container ships to be modified to "serve national defense needs," the state-run China Daily newspaper said.

Eight years ago I first proposed using container ships as auxiliary cruisers.

And here's my article that the United States Naval Institute sat on for a year before rejecting it:

Our Navy defends our nation within the incompatible and unforgiving boundaries formed by the tyrannies of distance and numbers. We struggle to build enough ships both capable of deploying globally and powerful enough for fighting first-rate opponents. Operating within a network-centric Navy, auxiliary cruisers could once again play a valuable role in projecting naval power. Using modular systems installed on civilian hulls, auxiliary cruisers could handle many peacetime roles; free scarce warships for more demanding environments; add combat power within a networked force; and promote the global maritime partnership.

Our Navy is surely superior to any conceivable combination of potential foes, alarmism notwithstanding. Yet as a global power, our sea power cannot be narrowly defined by our superb warships able to win conventional sea-control campaigns. We have many objectives at sea. Modularized Auxiliary Cruisers could provide the numbers we need to achieve our maritime objectives. The tyranny of numbers matters to the United States Navy.

I wonder what else is included in this order? In my 2005 scenario for China invading Taiwan, I relied on the use of civilian ships to enable the Chinese invasion:

Civilian merchant ships on scheduled arrivals will be loaded with supplies, weapons, and light infantry battalions and will sail into Taiwanese ports on both coasts. ...

Warships, amphibious warfare, and drafted commercial ships loaded with troops put to sea and aircraft take off. ...

The PLANs amphibious warfare ships will be used to lift the Chinese marines to the Pescadores Islands to seize that position as a staging area for helicopters and air cushion vehicles to shuttle follow-up forces to Taiwan itself. This will also have the effect of nullifying the anti-ship missiles based there.

With light infantry already unloaded from civilian shipping in Taiwan's harbors, the invasion force will sail in to reinforce them. Obsolete warships, either converted into troop ships or just emptied of most ammunition and crammed with troops, will make a high speed dash for the ports. Merchant ships taken into the service of the PLAN will begin lifting 9 divisions of infantry from widely spread ports. Roll on/roll off ships will carry heavy armor and artillery to unload in the ports. From the Pescadores, additional forces will be sent against the beaches of Taiwan with the amphibious warfare assets and air cushion vehicles to spread the Taiwanese out. [emphasis added]

News on these guidelines will be on my radar screen.

Pity we couldn't leverage our use of modules for Littoral Combat Ships to stockpile modules for use on Western container ships.


The Technical Standards for New Civilian Ships to Implement National Defense Requirements cover five categories of vessels - container, roll-on/roll-off, multipurpose, bulk carrier and break bulk. They establish specifications and design requirements that will mean vessels can serve national defense needs if they are mobilized, the society said in a statement.

So there you go. The roll-on/roll-off (RO/RO) is particularly relevant for moving heavy equipment into captured ports and unloading quickly.