The United States is proud of its storied history of aircraft carriers. Ever since WWII, these carriers have played a critical role in offensive and defensive operations by the US Navy. I wrote a few months back in an article about the fact that no country in the world can even come close to our carrier dominance and, with us being able to project that type of force, it definitely makes any potential adversary think twice about their prospects for success. We are so confident in the firepower that our aircraft carriers can project that we design entire task forces around them to protect them and help them do their jobs. The question is: are we putting too many eggs in one basket when it comes to our confidence in aircraft carrier survivability in the event of war?
The Navy just recently boasted about all the carrier groups that were deployed around the world at the same time; the most in history in fact, with the number being six. There are 4 carriers currently operating in the pacific, including the tension-filled South China Sea area and two more currently supporting overlapping operations in the Middle East. It certainly is an achievement to be proud of militarily, but the USA needs to be cautious with its approach too as large vessels like aircraft carriers become more vulnerable every day to new weapon technologies and innovative tactics that can sink even the largest ships.
There is no better example of this than the bombing of the USS Cole in October of 2000. Just a very small boat loaded with explosives was able to pull up alongside the ship undetected and detonate such a powerful blast that it almost sunk the 7000 ton war machine. It demanded the full efforts of the crew, shore personnel and other US Navy ships that responded to keep it from ending up at the bottom of the harbor in Aden, Yemen. It also took over 3 years to repair the damage and get the ship back into service. If this can happen to an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, it theoretically can happen to a multi-billion dollar aircraft carrier too.
One of the reasons that potential adversaries like China and Russia may not be building many new carriers is that they may feel they are too vulnerable these days. For many years, Chinese submarines were the brunt of a lot of jokes because of how loud they were and easy to detect. That is no longer the case with the newer diesel electric motors they are being refitted with. Recent US Navy tests of a carrier task force’s ability to defend against a Swedish diesel electric submarine did not go well for the defenders on more than one occasion. Let’s also not forget that military strategists are becoming increasingly concerned with powerful, long range ballistic anti-ship missiles such as the Chinese Dong Feng-21 (CSS-5) too, which is thought to have a tactical range of up to 1000 nautical miles.
The Navy got away from using battleships for a reason because smaller, less expensive ships could now perform the same roles; maybe it’s time to rethink putting so much emphasis on the importance of aircraft carriers in US Naval strategy too.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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