US Pacific Fleet Smaller, Even as China's Military Grows

US Pacific Fleet Smaller, Even as China's Military Grows

US Pacific Fleet Smaller, Even as China's Military Grows

The U.S. Pacific Fleet is shrinking even as the U.S. and its allies are facing challenges posed by China's growing military power.

U.S. Navy officials say the more advanced ships of today make up for the decline in numbers. But the Navy has also had to lengthen deployments and postpone maintenance to maintain its presence with fewer ships.

Peter Jennings, an expert at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank, said the issue in peacetime is whether there are enough American vessels to reassure friends and allies.

"I think this is emerging as a serious long-term problem," he said.

The Pacific Fleet currently has 182 vessels, including combat ships like aircraft carriers as well as auxiliary and logistics vessels, said spokesman Cmdr. Clay Doss. That compares to 192 nearly two decades ago.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy has more than 300 surface ships, submarines, amphibious ships and patrol craft, according to the Pentagon's Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Strategy report released in August.

This all comes as China has grown more aggressive in asserting claims to islands also claimed by U.S. allies, including the Philippines in the South China Sea and Japan in the East China Sea.

 

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