The USS Carl Vinson-led aircraft carrier strike group has been sent to waters in the Western Pacific near the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Command and media reports said Sunday ahead of the anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s founder. Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris directed the Carl Vinson strike group to sail north and report to the waters after departing Singapore on Saturday. Media reports quoted anonymous U.S. officials as saying the move was in response to recent North Korean provocations.
Standing 34m high and weighing 22,000 tons, the British navy’s Her Majesty’s Ship OCEAN was an unexpected change to the skyline of Beirut port this weekend. HMS OCEAN Commanding Officer Captain Pedre, British Ambassador Hugo Shorter, and Defense attaché Chris Gunning met Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji and Minister of Defense YaaqoubSarraf. Rear Admiral Burton met with LAF Navy Commander Admiral MajedAlwan.Shorter announced further support to the Lebanese army’s Rangers Regiment of further equipment to help build their ‘off road’ and ‘all-weather’ capabilities. He added that the essence of the UK’s approach is this: “protecting the co-existence at the heart of the Lebanese model requires a strong state”. Addressing his guests, Shorter said: “We are proud of our partnership with your country, through its institutions. And as a demonstration of our strong belief in the importance of Lebanese sovereignty, we have so far invested $100m in the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces since 2011”. “And I am pleased to announce the delivery of further equipment worth $65,000 for Lebanese Rangers of further equipment to help build their ‘off road’ and ‘all-weather’ capabilities”, he added.
The United States have decided to flex its muscles in the South China Sea to reassure regional allies and send a clear message to China, whose claims on the area appear more and more explicit.
Two Americans Carrier Strike Group (CSG), each composed of a aircraft carriers and other warships of large size, started last Saturday a series of military exercises in the territorial waters of the Philippines, a key ally in the dispute for the control of the South Asian seas.
The drill involved the nuclear-powered aircraft carriers Ronald Reagan and John C. Stennis, 12,000 sailors, 140 aircraft and six battleships, a few days from the judgment that an international court is preparing to issue about the Chinese claims on the disputed sea stretches. The message is clear: the US does not intend to leave field to the Chinese opponent and regional allies, from the Philippines, will not be left alone in the face of Beijing’s pressures.
The American ships began to carry out air defense, maritime surveillance and long-range attack maneuvers, showcasing their firepower not far from the disputed waters, in which China continues its constructive activities of artificial atolls for civilian and military purposes.
The intent of the drills, in the formal language of the navy information bulletins, would be to promote the freedom of navigation and overflight in the waters and on the skies of the area. The statements that come from commands better clarify the purpose of the drill: ” (This) has been a great opportunity for us to train on how we would operate multiple Carrier Strike Sroups in a contested environment” explained Admiral John Alexander .
By Philippine, military mobilization is the clear demonstration that the US is determined to give credence to their ” ironclad commitment”, reiterated on several occasions, in favor Asian ally. ” e welcome the strong cooperation and partnership we have with our friends and allies … in light of (the dispute) where our legitimate rights have been overstepped” said Peter Galvez, spokesman of the Philippine Department of Defense.
The reference is to the decision, expected in a few weeks, in which the Court of Permanent Arbitration of The Hague will speak about the legitimacy of the Beijing claims on the the South China Sea waters, one of the most important navigable areas of the world, from economic and strategic points of view, on which also overlook Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan and on which the interests of China, US and Japan gather.
The ruling will likely be favorable to the Philippines, which addressed to the international court to counter Chinese expansion. China, for its part, has decided to ignore the court, to which does not recognize any jurisdiction over the matter, and did not take part in the proceedings.
Not only civil infrastructure for China in Africa. As reported on February 25 by Reuter, the Asian giant has begun the construction of a naval base on the coast of Djibouti whose function, officially, it will be to support humanitarian, peacekeeping and escort missions in the area of Eastern Africa. China would become the third country, with France and the United States, to have a naval military base in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, in a strategic position from a military point of view and from that of the control of commercial routes. Apart from the gear there, is the overall mechanism that matters. China wants to gradually expand its sphere of influence on the international stage, by setting up a network of civilian and military infrastructure that could support operations on a plan that would soon be called global.
The new base, which should be born in Obock, on the northern coast of Djibouti, will be at a distance of 7700 km from Beijing and will be the first naval installation outside the national borders. The initiative demonstrates how China is gradually wearing the shoes of the great power as its strategic vision is evolving toward a future in which it will exercise its global leadership.
China for many years has been maintaining an international presence in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden and is part of the UN mission against piracy, launched in 2008. Since then, the Chinese warships docked in the ports of Djibouti over 50 times and the new installation would respond, in the first instance, the objective of ensuring a more organized berth and supply point. But China’s interests go far beyond the anti-piracy operations. Today, the new base could serve as the main joint in the chain of logistical support for peacekeeping operations under the UN flag in Africa. Tomorrow, it could become a bridgehead for any Chinese intervention in the continent, in defense of its national strategic interests. Meanwhile, it will strengthen the Chinese influence on the Indian Ocean, allowing Beijing to organize missions of maritime patrol aircraft directly from the African coast.
Over the past few years, China’s activism abroad mainly concerned the creation of civil and commercial infrastructures, on the basis of bilateral cooperation and development agreements. The military component has always existed, but has long remained concealed. Today this approach is changing and Beijing is increasingly determined to publicize the deployment of its fleet beyond the domestic sea, proving less reticence to openly take on an international role, even militarily.
The naval base in Djibouti will not be a simple supply landing, but will offer Chinese navy extensive logistical capabilities. With it, it will increase the Chinese presence on the ground, it will be possible to operate, presumably, a complete maintenance of ships, will be increased the ability to transport and storage ammunition and spare parts, will be built facilities for the crews and infrastructure for the aeronautics.
The Chinese expansion in the Indian Ocean does not depend, of course, only on the future of Djibouti. Chinese ships arrive regularly in many ports scattered between Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Oman, Yemen and Seychelles and, for the foreseeable future, Beijing is considering whether to make new agreements with Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia to further strengthen and differentiate its logistic options. To create integrated logistics hub for the Navy, in these countries, won’t be easy, however, for reasons which are, from time to time, political, of security or related to excessive competition.
Beyond the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean, the Beijing’s navy has extended the range of its raids in the last years, visiting the United States and several European countries, Africa and Latin America. The Chinese ships have passed through the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal and have doubled Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, then to go into the Black Sea, the North Sea and the Bering. While the naval mission reached the limits of the navigable waters of the globe, it increases the need for more reliable landings for refueling and logistics. A requirement to become increasingly important in the coming years.
For now, the Chinese navy continues to rely heavily on support ships, to operate supplies on the high seas when needed or to replenish stocks of weapons and other materials. In this field, Chinese investments have increased massively, and this year the navy has launched two new vessels Type 903A, for refueling at sea. It was also launched the construction of the new Type 901 in Guangzhou shipyards. The ship, once completed, will be capable of transporting 45,000 tons, a value never achieved before.
Compared to the United States, China is still in its first steps towards the realization of a global logistics network for its navy. American supremacy is not only based on the number of ships, but also about the wide availability of friendly ports in which to dock for refueling and maintenance works. China, to continue to grow on the seas and cement his new status as a global power, will have to concentrate its efforts in the strengthening of supply capacity at sea and in the progressive realization of a network of safe moorings.
The sea, for Beijing, is still too large.