Is the Navy ready? How the U.S. is preparing amid a naval buildup in China | 60 Minutes

the United States Navy helped secure victory in two world wars and the Cold War today the Navy remains a formidable fighting force but even officers within the service have questioned its Readiness while the U.S spent 20 years fighting land Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the Pentagon watched China its greatest geopolitical rival of the 21st century build the largest Navy in the world China has threatened to use that Navy to invade Taiwan an important American Ally as tensions with China continue to rise we wanted to know more about the current state of the U.S Navy and how it’s trying to deter China while preparing for the possibility of War the story will continue in a moment the Navy’s always on alert one-third of the Navy is always deployed and operating at all times the Navy’s mustering right now about 300 ships and there are about 100 ships at Sea right now all around the globe Admiral Samuel paparo commands the U.S Pacific Fleet whose 200 ships and 150 000 Sailors and civilians make up 60 percent of the entire U.S Navy we met him last month on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz deployed near the U.

S territory of Guam southeast of Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China or PRC you’ve been operating as a naval officer for 40 years how has operating in the Western Pacific changed in the early 2000s the PRC Navy mustered about 37 vessels today they’re mustering 350 vessels this month China’s new foreign minister Qin gong delivered a Stern warning to the U.S he said that if Washington does not change course in its stance towards China conflict and confrontation is inevitable this past August when then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi became the most senior U.S political figure to visit Taiwan in 25 years China called it a blatant provocation people’s Liberation Army fired ballistic missiles into the sea around Taiwan and encircled the island with aircraft and warships so our Chinese warships now operating closer to Taiwan after Nancy Pelosi’s visit yes the best guess anyone has about China’s ultimate intentions for Taiwan comes from the CIA according to its intelligence assessment China’s president Xi Jinping has ordered the people’s Liberation Army to be prepared to take back the island by force by 2027.

And if China invades Taiwan what will the U.S Navy do it’s a decision of the president of the United States and a decision of the Congress it’s our duty to be ready for that but the bulk of the United States Navy will be deployed rapidly to the Western Pacific to come to the aid of Taiwan if the order comes to Aid Taiwan in thwarting that invasion is the U.

S Navy ready we’re ready yes uh I’ll never admit to being ready enough yes President Biden has declared four times including on 60 Minutes that the U.S military would defend Taiwan which is a democracy and the world’s leading producer of advanced microchips to reach the USS Nimitz we first traveled to America’s westernmost territory the island of Guam in the middle of the Pacific Guam was taken by Imperial Japan two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. U.S Marines recaptured it two and a half years later and the island about the size of Chicago became an indispensable strategic foothold in the Western Pacific as it remains today from Guam we boarded a Navy C2 Greyhound a Cold War era transport plane takes people in supplies back and forth from land to the carrier short flight to the ship and an even shorter Landing [Music] incredible first God Landing yes oh very nice certain operations before Admiral paparo Rose to lead the Pacific Fleet he flew Jets and graduated from the school known as Top Gun when you talk about ships what’s the most powerful in the U.S Navy it’s an aircraft carrier and its Air Wing is capable of 150 strike or air-to-air sorties per day with at its surge levels the ability to deliver 900 Precision guided Munitions every day and reloadable every night so even though China now has the largest Navy in the world they don’t have anything like this in terms of aircraft carriers they do not but they’re working towards it and they have they have two operational aircraft carriers right now that’s China’s two diesel fueled carriers to the US’s 11 nuclear-powered ones that can carry a total of about a thousand attack aircraft more than the Navies of Every Other Nation on Earth combined I’ll tell you this we are here to stay right in the South China Sea and in this part of the world and I think that’s the message that we really want to convey to not only China but the entire world we will sail wherever international law allows Lieutenant Commander David Ash flies in fa-18 briefed on China’s growing military threat and the progress that their Navy is making absolutely yeah absolutely we do and they are making great progress in a lot of key areas the Chinese the Chinese art from a military standpoint this video from Weapons Systems officer Lieutenant Commander Matthew Carlton shows his fa-18 strafing ground targets with a machine gun on a U.

S weapons range near Guam thank you the pilots on the Nimitz also conduct air-to-air combat or dog fighting drills daily Progressive has China become in the air aggressive and just some examples include unsafe unprofessional intercepts where they move within single digits of feet of other aircraft flashing the weapons that they have on Boards of the air crew of the other aircraft operating in international airspace maneuvering their aircraft in such a way that denies the ability to turn in One Direction if they’re safe and professional then there’s no problem everybody has the right to fly and sail wherever international law dictates but the Chinese are pushing that they are pushing it China’s increasingly aggressive moves in the Western Pacific encroaching on territory illegal fishing and building bases in the middle of the South China Sea have pushed Nations like Japan and the Philippines to forge closer military ties to the U.S and this past week Britain the U.S and Australia signed a landmark deal to jointly develop nuclear-powered attack submarines to patrol the Pacific this is how China and Taiwan appear on most Maps this is how the Chinese Communist Party sees the Western Pacific including the South and East China Seas from Beijing Taiwan is the fulcrum in what China’s leaders call the first island chain a constellation of U.S allies that stretches across its entire Coast control of Taiwan is the Strategic key to unlocking direct access to the Pacific and the Sea lanes were about 50 percent of the world’s Commerce gets transported China has accused the United States of trying to contain them what do you say to China I would say do you need to be contained are you expanding are you an expansionist power to a very great extent the United States was the champion for China’s rise and in no way are we seeking to contain China what we are seeking for them to play by the rules China’s Navy a branch of the people’s Liberation Army is now the world’s largest China is also using its 9 000 mile Coastline to rewrite the rules of fighting at Sea as these images from Chinese State media show its military has invested heavily in long-range precision-guided weapons like the df-21 and df-26 that can be used to Target ships China’s people’s Liberation Army rocket Force calls them carrier killers and has practiced shooting them at mock-ups of American ships in the desert that look a lot like the Nimitz since the United States has been operating in the Western Pacific China’s backyard they’ve been developing missiles to attack our assets haven’t they specific missiles absolutely yes first I’ll say the United States is also a Western Pacific Nation so it’s not it’s not China’s backyard it’s you know it is a free and open indo-pacific that encompasses numerous partners and treaty allies and yes we have seen them greatly enhance their power projection capability how much do you worry about the pla rocket Force I worry you know I’d be a fool to not worry about of course I worry about the LA rocket force of course I work every single day to develop the tactics and the techniques and the procedures to counter it and to continue to develop the systems that can also defend against them about how far are we from mainland China 1500 nautical miles they can hit us yes they can if they’ve got the targeting in place they could hit this aircraft carrier if I don’t want to be hit there’s something I can do about it U.S Navy planners aren’t just plotting how to evade China’s rocket Force but also how they could effectively fight back from the vicinity of Guam none of the aircraft on this ship has the range to approach Taiwan without refueling in the air ships like the U.

S Destroyer Wayne e Meyer part of the Nimitz strike group would need to sail much closer towards China to fire their missiles at any Force invading Taiwan one Naval scholar we spoke to likened it to a boxing match in which a fighter in this case China has much longer arms than their potential opponent the U.S I’ll give you a lot of examples where a shorter fighter was able to Prevail over a long Farm Fighter by being on their toes by maneuvering and we can also stick and move while we’re developing those those longer range weapons there is another area of modern Naval Warfare where the U.S had a head start and retains a deep advantage over China I just noticed out of the corner of my eye this is a 688 class the Los Angeles class attack submarine this is the most capable submarine on the planets you know with the exception of the Virginia class our newer class of submarines the exact number is classified but our best estimate is that there are about a dozen nuclear-powered fast attack submarines patrolling the Pacific at any time they are difficult to detect and track something China is trying to solve how much more advanced is U.S submarine technology than Chinese capability a Generation generation and by generation I think 10 or 20 years but broadly I don’t really talk in depth about submarine capabilities it’s the silent service since Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan China’s military leaders have themselves been mostly silent and ignored efforts by the U.S military to keep the lines of communication open even when a Chinese spy balloon reached American airspace and was shot down by the U.

S if the U.S and Chinese militaries can’t communicate over a Chinese spy balloon then what’s going to happen when there’s a real crisis in the South China Sea or with Taiwan we’ll hope that they’ll answer the phone else we’ll do our very best assessment based on the things that they say in open source and based on their behavior to Divine their intentions and will act accordingly doesn’t that mutuation even more dangerous if U.S and Chinese militaries are not talking yes several sources within the Pentagon tell 60 Minutes that if China invaded Taiwan it could very well kick off in outer space with both sides targeting the other satellites that enable Precision guided Weaponry cyber attacks on American cities and the sabotage of ports on the west coast of the U.S Mainland could follow one recent non-classified war game had the U.S prevailing but losing 20 ships including two carriers does that sound about right that is a plausible outcome I can imagine a more pessimistic outcome and I can imagine a more optimistic outcome we should be clear-eyed about the costs that were potentially incurring there are about 5 000 Americans on board the Nimitz the ship is nearly half a century old given the Navy’s current needs in the Pacific and because there’s fuel left in its nuclear reactors the carrier’s life at Sea is going to be extended is it your hope that the power of the U.

S Navy the force posture of the U.S Navy will deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan it’s not my hope it’s my duty in conjunction with allies and partners to deliver intolerable costs to anybody that would upend the order in violation of the nation’s security or in violation of the nation’s interests which is if you want peace prepare for war as China’s president XI prepares for a state visit in Russia tomorrow to strengthen that Alliance we look at critical questions about the state of the U.S Navy and its Readiness when we come back 60 Minutes has spent months talking to current and former naval officers military strategists and politicians about the state of the U.S Navy one common thread in our reporting is unease both about the size of the U.S Fleet and its Readiness to fight the Navy ships are being retired faster than they’re getting replaced while the Navy of the People’s Republic of China or PRC grows larger and more lethal by the year we ask the commander of the U.

S Pacific Fleet Admiral Samuel paparo about this on our visit to the USS Nimitz the oldest aircraft carrier in the Navy the story will continue in a moment we call it the decade of concern we’ve seen a tenfold increase in the size of the PRC Navy technically speaking the Chinese now have the largest Navy in the world in terms of number of ships correct do the numbers matter yes as the saying goes quantity has a quality all its own at some point are they going to reach numbers that we can’t Prevail over I’m not comfortable with the trajectory if you look at a map at the indo-pacific one thing becomes clear there’s a lot of water on that map and so ours has to be a maritime strategy Republican Mike Gallagher and Democrat Elaine Lauria serve together on the house armed services Committee in the last Congress what is it about the U.S Navy that has allowed the two of you to find common cause I think we share a sense of the urgency of the moment we see increasing threats from China in particular in the indo-pacific we feel like we’re not moving fast enough to build a bigger Navy Congressman Gallagher is a marine veteran who represents Green Bay Wisconsin he chairs the new house committee on China he’s concerned that under the Navy’s current plan the fleet will shrink to 280 ships by 2027 the same year the CIA says China has set for having the capability to take Taiwan by force so we will be weakest when our enemy is potentially strongest China’s increased rhetoric and potential aggression against Taiwan we’re gonna have to be ready to respond today with the forces we have today former congresswoman Elaine Lauria represented Virginia Beach until this past January an Annapolis graduate Lauria had a 20-year Naval career before being elected to congress what would you say the state of the U.S Navy is today I think the Navy has not received the attention and resources that it needs over two decades I mean I served on six different ships every single one of those ships was either built during or a product of the fleet that was built in the Cold War both Mike Gallagher and Elaine Lauria have lobbied for government money for the shipyards in or near their districts but they say this is less about jobs and more about National Security if we don’t get this right all of these other things we’re doing in Congress ultimately that might not matter if you think about what a coherent Grand strategy of vis-a-vis China would be hard power would be the most important part of that and the Navy would be the most important component of your hard power Investments over the last two decades the Navy spent 55 billion dollars on two Investments that did not pan out the first was a class of Destroyers known as the Zumwalt the futuristic fighting ships were supposed to revolutionize Naval Warfare 32 were ordered but only three were ever launched the cost of each ship by one estimate was upwards of 8 billion dollars making them the three most expensive destroyers ever put to see another example is the littoral combat ship or LCS designed to be a fast all-purpose warship for shallow Waters 30 billion dollars later the program ran aground after structural defects and engine trouble within the Navy the LCS earned the unfortunate nickname little crappy ship the Navy’s last few decades have been described as a Lost Generation of shipbuilding is that overly dramatic I don’t think so we’re still struggling to build chips on time on budget and that’s something we absolutely need to fix going forward this past week we spoke with Admiral Mike gilday at the Pentagon he is the chief of Naval operations and is responsible for building maintaining and equipping the entire U.S Navy is the Navy in crisis no the Navy’s not in crisis the Navy is out on point every single day is it being outpaced by China no our Navy is still in a position to Prevail but um that’s not blind confidence we are concerned with the trajectory that China’s on with China’s Behavior but we are in a good position right now if we did ever get into a fight against them how would you describe what China has been able to do militarily over the last 20 years the most alarming thing is the growth of not only their conventional forces but also their strategic nuclear forces there’s cyber capability there’s space capability and how they’re using that to force other nations navies out of certain areas in the South China Sea instead of recognizing international law they want to control where those goods flow and how what lessons did the U.S Navy learn from some of the shipbuilding mistakes of the last 20 years I think one of the things that we learned was that we need to have a design well in place before we begin bending metal and so we’re going back to the past to what we did in the 80s and the 90s the Navy has the lead there is a tendency among the great powers to look at each other’s Naval buildups with deep suspicion Toshi yoshihara of the center for strategic and budgetary assessments may know more than any scholar in the west about China’s Navy China will have about 440 ships by 2030 and that’s according to the Pentagon why is China able to build more warships more quickly than the US China has clearly invested in this defense industrial infrastructure to produce these ships which allows them to produce multiple ships simultaneously essentially outbuilding many of the western navies combined China’s Navy piggybacks on a booming commercial shipbuilding industry kept afloat by generous State subsidies inexpensive materials and cheap labor in the United States it’s a different story after the Cold War ended the shipbuilding industry Consolidated and many of the Yards where ships were both built and maintained closed down what do you see when you see China’s shipbuilding program it’s very robust do we have enough shipyards no I wish that we had more commercial shipyards over my career we’ve gone from more than 30 shipyards down to about seven that we rely upon on a day-to-day basis to build ships one of those yards is run by Huntington Ingalls Industries which built the state-of-the-art new Ford class aircraft carrier after controlled explosions in 2021 to prove it could withstand combat the Ford got closer to deployment six years late and billions of dollars over budget the Navy’s not just struggling to build new ships on time according to the government accountability office or GAO there’s a multi-year backlog repairing the ships in the fleet our maintenance backlog is one of the primary things that I’m working on to correct so just three years ago we had 7 700 delay days that is extra days in a shipyard by ships when they weren’t operational we have cut that down to three thousand we are not satisfied maintenance delays mean sailors can’t come home because the ship that’s supposed to replace them is not ready it means longer deployments it means away from your family more that’s a big strain on the workforce the more ships that we can have available to send at Sea alleviates many of those problems that you pointed out Sailors joined the Navy to see the world and so it’s my job to make sure that those maintenance delays go to zero and we can get those ships to see as quickly as possible in the last year alone at least 10 Sailors assigned to ships undergoing maintenance or working at maintenance facilities have died by Suicide it is a problem that we’re taking very very seriously and down to every leader in our Navy everybody has a responsibility to look out for each other to take care of each other there is no wrong door to knock on when you need help Admiral gilday says the U.

S Navy’s main advantage over China is America’s Sailors his goal is to modernize the U.S Fleet and have those Sailors serving alongside hundreds of unmanned vessels by 2045.

I think unmanned is the future and so I think that some 40 percent of our Fleet in the future I believe is going to be unmanned are these like underwater drones some of them are highly capable capable of delivering minds and perhaps other types of weapons Admiral gilday is talking about the Orca an extra law large unmanned undersea vehicle can you say what it will do or is that classified well uh at a minimum it’ll have a clandestine mine laying capability so it’ll be done in a way that is very secretive but very effective but the GAO reports that it’s already a quarter of a billion dollars over budget and three years behind schedule uh that particular platform is behind schedule it’s the first of a Kind when it delivers I see a very high return on investment from that particular platform because because it will be among the most lethal and stealthy Platforms in the Arsenal of the U.S military the Navy’s total budget request for fiscal year 2024 is over a quarter of a trillion dollars an 11 billion dollar increase from last year the focus is on China the U.S defense posture is viewed as aggressive by the Chinese the foreign minister just said look stop the containment this may lead to conflict perhaps a Chinese Minister doesn’t like the fact that the U.

S Navy is operating in collaboration with dozens of navies around the world to ensure that the maritime Commons remains free and open for all nations the Chinese I want to dictate those terms and so they don’t like our presence but our presence is not intended to be provocative it’s intended to assure and to reassure allies and partners around the world that those sea Lanes do remain open the global economy literally floats on seawater how similar similar actual Top Gun Top Gun graduates compare the movie to the real thing at 60 minutes foreign

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