The United States Navy (USN) is exploring an unprecedented pact with Japan and other Asian countries to harness the capacity of their private shipyards to meet China‘s growing military challenge in the western Pacific region.
This initiative seeks to alleviate the overload of the national shipyards and establish a new phase of industrial collaboration in defense with its allies. The possible agreement would have strategic implications and significant economic effects.
Exploring an unprecedented pact
In an attempt to counter China’s growing military influence in the western Pacific region, the US Navy is considering a pact with key Asian countries. This proposal seeks to take advantage of the capacity of private shipyards in Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Singapore, thus marking an unprecedented industrial collaboration in defense matters.
Collaboration between the US Navy and its Asian allies would have strategic implications and significant economic effects. By tapping into the capacity of the region’s private shipyards, the United States could ease the strain on its own domestic shipyards and ensure more efficient maintenance and repair of its warships. In addition, this collaboration would strengthen security ties between the countries involved and would contribute to regional stability.
Repair of warships in Japanese shipyards
According to a Nikkei Asia report, the proposal includes the possibility of repairing Japan-based US warships at Japanese shipyards. Currently, these ships are repaired at US naval bases, but this new initiative would allow the workload to be distributed and alleviate the overload of the national shipyards.
This proposal focuses primarily on the repair of conventional warships, such as destroyers, frigates, and amphibious ships, excluding nuclear-powered ships.
Industrial and shipyard capacity of Japan
The proposal was presented by the US ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, who highlighted Japan’s “tremendous” industrial and shipyard capacity.
The Asian country has a long tradition in shipbuilding and was once the largest shipbuilder in the world. Harnessing this capability would allow the United States to improve the efficiency of its naval operations in the region and ease the workload on its own shipyards.
Presentation of the proposal
During a seminar organized in March by the Milken Institute, the US ambassador to Japan highlighted the importance of this proposal and its potential to strengthen the repair and maintenance capacity of US warships.
In addition to the strategic implications, cooperation in the field of defense could also have a positive economic impact on the countries involved, generating employment and stimulating the naval industry in the region.
China’s military challenge
The US concern lies in the growth of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLAN) fleet in recent decades. It is estimated that China could reach 440 warships by 2030, while the USN would have just 352 vessels in 2052, even after its most aggressive shipbuilding plan in 2023.
This disparity in naval power has led to the need to seek alternatives to strengthen US warships’ repair and maintenance capacity.
Need to strengthen repair capacity.
The lack of capacity in US shipyards has been a matter of concern, especially in the context of Australia’s nuclear submarine construction program under the Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) Compact. Reducing ship construction and repair times is crucial to ensure a quick and efficient response in the event of a conflict.
A simulation study concluded that the duration to repair heavily damaged destroyers could be up to 14 months. Given this situation, it is recommended that US shipyards increase their capacity and hire more workers before any conflict occurs.
Importance of repairability
Warship repair and maintenance capability have become a crucial element of military deterrence. The US’s inability to quickly replace damaged weapons platforms could make its adversaries more ambitious in their military campaigns.
Therefore, it is critical that the United States find ways to repair ships more quickly and efficiently, which would be achieved through collaboration with private shipyards in Asia.
In conclusion, the United States is seeking to establish an unprecedented pact with Japan and other Asian countries to harness the capacity of their private shipyards and strengthen its naval power in response to China’s growing challenge in the western Pacific region.
This defense-industrial collaboration would have strategic implications and significant economic effects for the countries involved. The ability to repair and maintain warships has become a key factor in military deterrence, and the United States seeks to find solutions to respond quickly and efficiently in the event of a conflict in the region.
The countries involved in the proposed pact are Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Singapore.
The US Navy is seeking alliances in Asia to meet China’s growing military challenge in the western Pacific region and strengthen its naval power.
Defense industrial collaboration would allow the United States to improve the efficiency of its naval operations in the region and strengthen security ties with its allies.
Industrial collaboration in defense would have significant economic effects, generating employment and stimulating the naval industry in the countries involved.
The United States is concerned about the growth of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLAN) fleet and the disparity in naval power between the two countries. Therefore, it seeks to strengthen its ability to repair and maintain warships.