Person of Interest
The United States has been the world’s leading maritime power for decades. However, the U.S. Navy could find itself in China’s wake if current trends continue, analysts say.
Washington and Beijing are now locked in great power competition.
“The biggest challenge for U.S. national security leaders over the next 30 years is the speed and sustainability of the [People’s Republic of China] national effort to deploy a global navy,” said retired Capt. James Fanell, who previously served as head of intelligence for the Pacific Fleet.
The modernization of the Chinese navy, also known as the PLA Navy, has been underway since the 1990s, and its fleet has greatly expanded.
In its annual report on China published last year, the Defense Department stated that its Asian rival has more than 300 surface combatants, submarines, amphibious ships, patrol craft and other specialized vessels.
In 2019, China had a 335-ship fleet, about 55 percent larger than in 2005, according to a recent Congressional Research Service report titled, “China’s Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities — Background and Issues for Congress.”