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The US is not keeping pace with China in the construction of warships, warns the Secretary of the Navy

2023-02-22T22:26:23.987Z


US Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said the Chinese Navy has significant advantages over its US counterpart.


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(CNN) -- 

China's Navy has significant advantages over its US counterpart, including a larger fleet and greater shipbuilding capacity, as Beijing seeks to project its power across the oceans, the chief of China said Tuesday. the United States Navy.


In a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, US Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro asserted that China "systematically attempts to violate the maritime sovereignty and economic well-being of other nations, including our allies in the South China Sea and elsewhere".

"Now they have a bigger fleet, so they are deploying that fleet globally," he said, adding that Washington must upgrade the US fleet in response to that.

"We need a bigger Navy, we need more ships in the future, more modern ships in the future, in particular that can deal with that threat," he said.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy could have up to 400 ships in the coming years, up from 340 today.

Meanwhile, the US fleet numbers fewer than 300 vessels.

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Chinese navy members stand on the deck of a navy ship at a military port on May 18, 2022, in Zhoushan, China.

Credit: VCG/Getty Images/File

According to the US Navy's 2022 Navigation Plan, released last summer, the Pentagon's goal is to have 350 manned ships by 2045, far less than the number forecast for China's fleet.

Before that goal is reached, however, the US fleet is expected to shrink as older ships retire, according to a November report from the US Congressional Budget Office.

A PLA Navy Great Wall 236 submarine takes part in a naval parade on April 23, 2019. Credit: Mark Schiefelbein/AFP/Getty Images/File

Del Toro's claims

Del Toro said Tuesday that US shipyards cannot match the production of the Chinese.

As with fleet size, it's all about numbers.

"They have 13 shipyards, in some cases their shipyard has more capacity; one shipyard has more capacity than all our shipyards put together. That is a real threat," he said.

Del Toro did not give a breakdown of those shipyards, but Chinese and Western reports say China has six major shipyards and two smaller ones that build warships.

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In the United States, seven shipyards produce large, drafty vessels for the Navy and Coast Guard, according to an October report by Brent Sadler of the National Defense Center.

But regardless of the number of shipyards, they need workers, and del Toro says China has a numerical advantage in this regard, largely because it is free of the restrictions, regulations and economic pressures that affect labor in the United States. .

One of the big problems in the United States is finding a skilled labor force.

"When the unemployment rate is less than 4%, it is very difficult to find workers for a restaurant or for a shipyard," said the head of the Navy.

He also asserted that China can do things that the United States cannot.

"They are a communist country, they have no rules to live by," he said.

"They use slave labor to build their ships, it's not the way we should do business, but that's what we're dealing with, so it presents a significant advantage," he said.

CNN contacted the Chinese Foreign Ministry for its reaction to del Toro's allegations.

The US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey replenishes at sea with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson on October 11, 2018. Credit: US Navy/Reuters/File

Advantages for the US

Del Toro did not provide hard data to substantiate the slave labor charge, and analysts expressed doubt that Beijing would resort to such a tactic.

"China has a large labor pool and it would not make sense to use slave labor in a high-tech sector vital to its national security," said Blake Herzinger, a non-resident researcher and defense policy expert in Indo- Pacific from the American Enterprise Institute.

Herzinger said comments like the one from the Navy chief are indicative of a pattern in which US attention is misplaced, to the detriment of US capabilities.

"This seems sadly commonplace, for the Navy leadership to throw stones at real or imagined flaws in Chinese shipbuilding instead of taking into account the US's failures over two decades to conceptualize, design and build ships. for their own navy," Herzinger said.

According to a November report by the US Congressional Research Service, the US Navy has taken steps to address differences with China, including shifting more of its fleet to the Pacific and using newer, more capable in function in the region.

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And del Toro said Tuesday that the US retains a big advantage over China: "our people."

"In many ways, our shipbuilders are better, which is why we have a Navy that is more modern, more capable, and more deadly than they are," he said.

US military personnel are also doing better, del Toro said.

"They train their people to fight, we train our people to think," he said.

"There is a fundamental difference in the way we train our Marines and our Sailors and our Soldiers and our Airmen and our Space Force in this country that gives us an inherent advantage over anything the Chinese can come up with."

-- Nectar Gan contributed to this report.

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Source: cnnespanol

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