How to Make Sure the U.S. Navy Can Beat China in a War: Diesel Submarines?

How to Make Sure the U.S. Navy Can Beat China in a War: Diesel Submarines?

James Holmes

Security, Asia

A good question for the U.S. Navy.

Key point: While not a perfect solution, they are cheaper than submarines which use nuclear propulsion.

What madman would propose adding diesel submarines to the U.S. Navy’s all-nuclear silent service?

There are a few. The topic came up at an early March hearing before the U.S. House Seapower and Force Projection Subcommittee. Representatives from three teams that have compiled competing “Future Fleet Architecture” studies convened to debate their visions with the committee. Published by the Navy Staff itself, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, and the MITRE Corporation, the studies explore everything from overall ship numbers to the types of hulls comprising the future fleet to the mix between manned and unmanned platforms.

Navy potentates will now evaluate and compare the studies. The end product will be an official navy statement about force-structure questions, useful to Congress as lawmakers determine how many—and which—ships, planes, and armaments to fund. One consensus, however, already unites the protagonists to this debate: the U.S. Navy needs more of just about everything. The navy estimates it needs 355 vessels to fulfill its missions in increasingly contested settings, principally around the margins of Eurasia. That portends about a 30 percent boost to the force.

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