Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hope and a Big Change

China may gain a naval base in Namibia:

While Walvis Bay enjoys a 138-year history with the Royal Navy, it could soon be home to a powerful Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy surface squadron.

In Jan. 2015, The Namibian reported the existence of a "confidential letter from Namibia's ambassador to China, Ringo Abed, to Namibia's foreign minister stat[ing] that 'a [Chinese] delegation will visit Namibia ... for discussions ... on the way forward regarding plans for the proposed naval base in Walvis Bay'.” According to the letter, a Chinese delegation, including technical staff and naval architects, will meet with Namibian officials sometime after March 21, 2015 to discuss a field feasibility study for the base. Beijing has told Namibian diplomats that a "Chinese naval presence will deter any would-be illegal trawlers and smugglers.”

Well that's interesting.

Supertanker traffic from the Middle East to points west of the Cape of Good Hope would be vulnerable to Chinese interdiction.

For a while, anyway, until Western air and naval forces could destroy them.

And it would pale in comparison to our ability to choke off China's oil imports (and trade in general).

But if China assumes a short war where they grab an objective nearby and then dare us to take it back--backed by the threat of Chinese nuclear weapons--then the Cape of Good Hope capability doesn't have to survive very long.

The author notes that we really don't have the ships to patrol the South Atlantic (and Britain's ability is thin). On the west side of the region, SOUTHCOM is already hard pressed with non-military tasks. And AFRICOM does not have significant forces.

Perhaps Modularized Auxiliary Cruisers could fill the gap in the South Atlantic.