2021 World Naval Operational News Highlights

The ten most significant naval news stories / trends / themes this year included:

  • China building new naval shipbuilding yards while the US Navy struggles with figuring out how to update the old shipyards it has so that they may efficiently handle the work assigned to them. When will the US Navy get serious about maintaining the fleet it has?
  • The ever-widening operating sphere of the Chinese Navy as it seeks naval bases in Africa on the Atlantic Ocean. How soon until we see Chinese naval bases in Central or South America?
  • China’s progress in obtaining the amphibious lift necessary to realistically attempt an invasion of Taiwan, through traditional amphibious ships and the utilization of civilian ferries and RORO ships. Why can’t the US Navy be as creative in its thinking as the Chinese Navy seems to be?
  • China creating its own reality at Sansha City in the South China Sea, from which it is governing the contested areas of the South China Sea as if they were Chinese territory. Clearly China believes that possession is 9/10’s of the law. Meanwhile, Western powers keep stepping up their South China Sea FONOPS. Is it all in vain?
  • France’s commitment to the stability of the Indo-Pacific through the naval forces it bases in the Indo-Pacific and the naval forces it rotates through the Indo-Pacific. When will the rest of the Western world acknowledge France’s contributions and treat them with the respect and partnership they deserve?
  • France’s commitment to replace the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle with a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Is this fleet architecture sustainable for the French Navy and is it meaningful geopolitically?
  • The AUKUS agreement and the commitment of Australia to a future nuclear attack submarine force. Will this come to fruition in time to meaningfully contribute to the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific?
  • The deployment of the UK Carrier Strike Group around the world to Asia. Is this operationally sustainable for the Royal Navy on a regular basis and is it meaningful geopolitically?
  • While the US Navy’s surface and undersea warfare communities begin to honestly execute on their vision for Unmanned Surface Vehicles and Unmanned Underwater Vehicles in its future fleet by actively identifying and working to address the challenges these vehicles will face, the US Navy’s air warfare community pays minimal attention to unmanned aerial vehicles in its Naval Aviation Vision 2030-2035. How can they be so blind as to the role UAV’s should be playing in naval aviation by then?
  • Japan’s government’s public support for Taiwan’s independence and it’s public signaling that it would come to the defense of Taiwan if it is attacked. Are the Japanese people in agreement with their government on this issue?