Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Gross Survey of  The Sea Power of the English Speaking Nations



Namazu, Giant Catfish former Japanese demigod, maritime analyst

Greetings English speaking bipeds. I hope that you followed my presentations of the various naval threats around the world presently drawing so much energy and resources from the English speaking Navies, NATO and EU forces , and allied forces such as those of Japan and the Philippines. To over simplify a week's worth of posts, such navies are engaged around the world in hot spots that severely stress all those navies which were required to cough up a "peace dividend' (budget cut) sometime after the Berlin wall fell. The combined naval forces of the freedom loving world are much smaller and anemically financially supported today than they were at the height of the Cold War. Now decades later Russia and China have emerged as crony capitalist thug states engaged in Cold War type tactics to secure new maritime territories at the expense of sovereign neighbors. The Russian navy is rebuilding back into a blue water force, and the Chinese Navy is dominant in the East and South China Seas, and also gearing up to become a global force. 

 At the height of the Cold War the center piece around which the English speaking and allied navies once formed was usually an American carrier Task Force. The total U.S. Navy fleet numbered over 400 ships near the height of the Cold War and was moving towards 600 ships. Today the U.S. Navy is at a strength of about 275 war ships and still shrinking. The rest of the English speaking naval forces have shrunk proportionately even more. Among the  allies of the English speaking nations only   the Japanese and Philippine naval forces are growing, and that is on an emergency basis because the dreaded Dragon, China, is already swimming in their waters and devouring their maritime exclusive economic zones. Freedom is losing ground. One suggestion that I made last week for correcting this situation and holding the line once again for freedom was the formation of an English speaking naval union. To further that discussion along over the next few posts I'd like to take you through a bit of an inventory of English Speaking Naval power presently available. Today we'll start with a gross survey of some key potential contributors other than the United States.


It should be kept in mind, regardless of which nation we examine here, that our purpose at the moment is only a gross survey of available naval power which is in fact only one component of sea power. We are only trying to give the reader a gross survey of relative readily available naval combatant strength. Many national Coast Guards are not armed services so for the purpose of this survey we do not include Coast Guard services. when we examine individual nations in depth later we will examine their coast guards.

Great Britain maintains an impressive navy by world standards that is modernizing in the direction of becoming an expeditionary force. All totaled the nation maintains:

77 warships\
19 Auxiliaries
35,000 Regular uniformed personnel including Royal Marines, and 2,500 Volunteer Reserve personnell

 The 77 war ships include Great Britain's nuclear propelled submarine ballistic missile carriers, which probably constitutes the entire nuclear deterrent force of Britain. There are thought to be four of these submarines at present and not long ago we brought you the news that Britain may shrink this number eliminating 24/7 at sea deployment of her nuclear deterrent force. Currently Britain is operating one big deck carrier mostly as a helicopter carrier. When the last of the British harrier jets are retired soon Britain will have no fixed wing aircraft aboard ships. The budget debate seems unsettled on construction of two new aircraft carriers and a new fixed wing carrier based aircraft. Other in place expeditionary force unique vessels include 2 amphibious assault ships and two dedicated helicopter carriers.Other combatant craft of note include 5 destroyers and 13 frigates. The Royal Navy also has 8 mine counter measures ships. Mine counter measure ships are in relative short supply in the American navy and they lost one, the USS Guardian, in a grounding a few weeks ago. Though not yet struck from the naval list she is slated to be cut up on the reef. While the U.S. Navy is weak in mine sweeping capability in comparison to its global commitments, the overall English speaking and allied naval mine countermeasures inventory is in pretty good shape since these are small inexpensive ships that can also be pressed into service for a variety of coastal patrol roles small nations like Belgium which participate in large naval coalitions like NATO often contribute these kinds of vessels in numbers. These are also a type of craft that lends itself to "craft of opportunity \" programs. Often large wooden commercial fishing craft may be pressed into service with bolt on mine sweeping equipment. Readily available stockpiles of mine sweeping equipment and a good mine sweeping school system can rapidly expand this type of force. Another type of smaller combatant not seen very often today is the dedicated coastal sub chaser. This is another apparent "shortage"  that shouldn't cause too much concern since it also lends itself to a "craft of opportunity " type expansion.
We'll discuss "craft of opportunity rapid naval expansion programs when we examine total sea power. Again right now we are concentrated on an inventory of readily available and currently operating naval combatants.

 Not counting the United States, Australia is the second largest English speaking navy and is the one headquartered nearest to the biggest naval trouble maker on the planet at the moment, China.

 Australia has currently:
 51 commissioned naval combatant ships
16,000 uniformed personnel

 These war ships include some conventional submarines, The fleet is a nice mix of surface combatant's including considerable expeditionary capability and long range, long on scene duration surface war ships as presently seen deployed in counter piracy operations off of Somalia. We will provide a detailed look at this fleet in future postings. The Australian navy is manned by 16,000 regular military personnel.


Australia's nearest neighbor New Zealand has a very small naval force.

New Zealand has:

11 Warships
1,000 personnel in uniform

 New Zealand's navy is basically a home guard force with some larger craft that the nation contributes to ANZUS and other allied operations on occasion


 South Africa sits atop one of the World's most important passages between oceans and on a continent full of troubles which often need interventions by African states, requiring sea lift and naval forcible entry capabilities that other African states simply don't have. There is also a periodic need for naval humanitarian assistance, and a constant need for counter piracy patrols. South Africa has some modern ships and a very professional navy personnel roster but recent budget cuts have forced the Government to announce that it can only dispatch two ships at a time and can probably not participate in counter piracy patrols. 

South Africa has:

11 modern capable combatants ,
 6, 104 regular uniformed personnel

South Africa is one English speaking Navy that is sorely needed in its region. Every other English speaking navy except India that comes to the aid of an African nation comes with a lot of historical baggage from the colonial era that often isn't helpful. Responsible African states have demonstrated the willingness to lead in maintaining peace and order in Africa, but are often consigned to the role of contributing forces behind foreign to the continent powers due to lack of resources, often the most important being naval power. The nation most capable of expanding an existing at least potentially viable naval presence to fill this needed leadership role is South Africa. The South African government has been concentrating inwardly of late and the Navy has fallen into neglect. Wake up South Africa, some of your neighbors houses are on fire. 

 Never underestimate this navy or its value to freedom in the world. It is hard to get a handle on the ship count or capabilities of the Indianan Navy which the editors around here call the "the Tigers". The Navy was built up in the late 20th century using a vendor/doner of opportunity system of ship acquisitions. While India is a democracy , in fact the world's largest, it was pretty much non aligned during the Cold War and has never received the attention and cooperation from the rest of the World's  English speaking democracies and naval powers that it should. Great Britain and the United States should be pulling out all of the stops to help make India's on going build up and modernization program as inter-operable with NATO naval systems as possible. India's present mix of ships includes one aircraft carrier that they have demonstrated that they are skilled in using, they plan to build two more. They also have successfully launched missiles from submerged submarines. This is a skilled, professional, dedicated navy hampered temporarily by possession of too many legacy systems obtained in isolation from American / British/other NATO suppliers. India understands sea power and wants to develop its own shipbuilding. The rest of the English speaking sea powers need to respect and encourage that but push it in the direction of interoperability without making demands for formal alignment. 

  This Navy is capable of policing the Indian Ocean, even if they will never turn on the same dime withe any coalition of English speaking powers or navies, they are the navy of a proven democratic, law abiding nation. Their power in the Indian ocean frees the United States, Australia, and Great Britain from much of the peace keepers role. We should be pushing India's naval growth from behind and be prepared to follow their lead and come to their aid on request not to expect them to follow us in the region. If they can get a firm grip on the region, the region is in good reliable hands freeing other democratic naval forces to come to the aid of democracies like the Philippines and Japan now staring down the gun barrels of thug states.

INDIA has:

100+ ships of mixed quality but improving weekly and rapidly towards their national near term goal of 150 modern combatant ships including three aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines including submerged launch missile carriers. 

58,000 uniformed personnel and 

181 Air craft.

If South Africa could live up to its naval potential with a two ocean largely coastal force capable of area denial at the cape and amphibious operations, both combat and humanitarian on either coast of Sub Sahara Africa and a contribution to anti piracy operations, India could police the rest of the Indian  Ocean with very little other real daily help. But with Australian forces nearby and some U.S. basing in Australia and a continued U.S. presence at Diego Garcia all in close communication with India in the lead, India would present a game changing deterrent to aggressors in the region without breaking their national budget. It is amazing that India is willing to spend what it does on its Navy, but as long as it is willing the rest of the English speaking naval powers ought to encourage the growing naval power of India, a force for peace and order in the world. With more ships and more manpower than Great Britain and quality that is rapidly catching up. The Indian Navy's people power, the ability of skilled offices and petty officers to rapidly assimilate technological change and use it to advantage may well be second to none.  Their long history of acquisition by opportunity has made rapid learning and adaptation part of the Indian naval culture. Their naval history goes back to the 17th century under Warrior King Chhatrapati Shivaji Raje Bhosale giving them an national history in naval endeavor independent of any colonial model, yet they have adapted every British naval tradition of real use as has nearly every naval power on earth today.  With common operational language, some common laws and traditions, a dedication to democracy and peace this is  arising navy ready and able to take a real leadership role in the World, not just as an augmenting force under somebody else's defense umbrella. However the English speaking world needs to be extending the coverage of that umbrella on India's terms in exchange for real leadership in the Indian ocean. In the English speaking world only the United States Navy and the Indian Navy profile like real stand alone naval forces against the largest foreseeable aggressors. Who the hell wants to stand alone? English speaking bipeds unite! 

Beyond Navies:
 There are more than 56 nations in the world that are democracies with English as at least one official language. But when we look for real transoceanic naval capabilities as demonstrated above they are few and far between. However the wide distribution of English speaking nations means wide availability of naval bases from which English speaking navies may operate in times of emergency. many of these nations  that don't have real navies do have armed coast guards, merchant shipping, ship building and repair facilities, and the makings of rapid build up craft of opportunity anti submarine and patrol craft. In short the many of the wide spread English speaking democracies that don't have navies are not incapable of coastal self defense, or a likely drain on allied naval resources. They can be important contributors of other aspects of sea power. More on these nations, coast guards and other aspects of sea power later.

 This is a very rough estimation but it looks like the English Speaking Community of Nations other than the United States can muster up roughly 269 modern, capable war ships and major auxiliaries.

Only a few are of poor quality. The United States can muster up about 275 first class combatants including the world's largest group of big deck air craft carriers and their Escorts. If these fleets were organized for rapid combination and joint action the English speaking world on February 6, 2013 could muster up a combined naval force of roughly 544 vessels of good to unsurpassed quality. Unfortunately "sometimes quantity has a quality all its own". There are some places in the world where that entire force would be outnumbered by thug state combinations. While such a combined force could probably defeat a larger poorer quality force, it wouldn't emerge nearly so large, then what? Fortunately in those trouble spots there are some non English speaking democratic naval forces of considerable size and competency. But it ought to be clear to anyone who can count that the English speaking democracies have passed a critical point in maintaining standing forces for immediate response and line holding for follow on reserves and build ups. Only India is actually building up, rest of the community is shrinking naval budgets in the face of naval threats. Its time for reassessment.

More in the near future,


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