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

U.S. Navy Prepared to Face Chinese Invasions in Pacific as Tensions Rise

  • The United States Navy has remained a formidable fighting force despite questions on its readiness
  • China, the greatest geopolitical rival of the 21st century, has built the largest Navy in the world and has threatened to use it to invade Taiwan, an important American ally
  • Admiral Samuel Paparo commands the US Pacific Fleet and is prepared for any order to come to aid Taiwan
  • China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gong warned that if Washington does not change course in its stance towards China, conflict and confrontation is inevitable
  • Nancy Pelosi visiting Taiwan in August was met with a stern response including military action from China’s People’s Liberation Army
  • The CIA assesses that by 2027 Xi Jinping may have ordered an invasion of Taiwan
  • If this happens, the President of the United States and Congress will make a decision regarding U.S. Navy involvement in thwarting invasion
  • U.S. Navy is ready according to Admiral Paparo however they are outnumbered by Chinese vessels but can deliver more precision-guided munitions than any other navy in the world if needed
  • Countries like Japan and Philippines have formed closer military ties with the U.S., and Britain, Australia, and America signed a landmark deal for jointly developing nuclear-powered attack submarines to patrol the Pacific.

U.S. Navy Shrinking As PRC Shipbuilding Soars: A Growing Crisis?

  • The PRC Navy has the largest number of ships in the world
  • US Navy is not keeping close and is currently shrinking, with 280 ships planned by 2027
  • China has increased rhetoric and potential aggression against Taiwan, so US needs to be ready with current forces
  • Mike Gallagher and Elaine Lauria have common cause about urgency to build bigger Navy
  • Zumwalt Destroyers and LCS have cost 55 billion dollars but resulted in structural defects and engine trouble, respectively
  • Adm. Mike Gilday says US Navy is not in crisis and can prevail against China if needed, but they are concerned about their trajectory
  • China has invested heavily in defense industrial infrastructure to produce multiple ships simultaneously, with 440 ships projected by 2030
  • US shipyards have been consolidated from 30 to 7 since Cold War ended
  • Huntington Ingalls Industries built new Ford-class aircraft carrier which took 6 years late and billions over budget
  • There is currently multi-year backlog repairing the ships in the fleet, reducing it from 7700 delay days to 3000.

Navys FY2024 Budget Request Exceeds $250 Billion, Potential for Unmanned Deployment, Mental Health Challenges and Conflict With China

  • The U.S Navy’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2024 is over a quarter of a trillion dollars
  • Admiral gilday mentions unmanned vessels being deployed in the future, one of them being the Orca extra large unmanned undersea vehicle with clandestine mine laying capabilities
  • Sailors have faced long deployments and this has had an effect on their mental health, leading to suicides in the last year alone
  • Current U.S defense posture is viewed as aggressive by China leading to conflict, however the Navy’s presence is meant to ensure that sea lanes remain open and free for all countries, not as a form of provocation.

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the United States Navy helped securevictory in two world wars and the ColdWar today the Navy remains a formidablefighting force but even officers withinthe service have questioned itsReadiness while the U.S spent 20 yearsfighting land Wars in Iraq andAfghanistan the Pentagon watched Chinaits greatest geopolitical rival of the21st century build the largest Navy inthe world China has threatened to usethat Navy to invade Taiwan an importantAmerican Ally as tensions with Chinacontinue to rise we wanted to know moreabout the current state of the U.S Navyand how it's trying to deter China whilepreparing for the possibility of Warthe story will continue in a momentthe Navy's always on alert one-third ofthe Navy is always deployed andoperating at all times the Navy'smustering right now about 300 ships andthere are about 100 ships at Sea rightnow all around the globe Admiral Samuelpaparo commands the U.S Pacific Fleetwhose 200 ships and 150 000 Sailors andcivilians make up 60 percent of theentire U.S Navywe met him last month on the aircraftcarrier USS Nimitz deployed near the U.Sterritory of Guam southeast of Taiwanand the People's Republic of China orPRC you've been operating as a navalofficer for 40 years how has operatingin the Western Pacific changed in theearly 2000s the PRC Navy mustered about37 vessels today they're mustering 350vesselsthis month China's new foreign ministerQin gong delivered a Stern warning tothe U.She said that if Washington does notchange course in its stance towardsChina conflict and confrontation isinevitablethis past August when then Speaker ofthe House Nancy Pelosi became the mostsenior U.S political figure to visitTaiwan in 25 years China called it ablatant provocationpeople's Liberation Army fired ballisticmissiles into the sea around Taiwan andencircled the island with aircraft andwarships so our Chinese warships nowoperating closer to Taiwan after NancyPelosi's visit yesthe best guess anyone has about China'sultimate intentions for Taiwan comesfrom the CIA according to itsintelligence assessment China'spresident Xi Jinping has ordered thepeople's Liberation Army to be preparedto take back the island by force by2027. and if China invades Taiwan whatwill the U.S Navy do it's a decision ofthe president of the United States and adecision of the Congress it's our dutyto be ready for that but the bulk of theUnited States Navy will be deployedrapidly to the Western Pacific to cometo the aid of Taiwan if the order comesto Aid Taiwan in thwarting that invasionis the U.S Navy ready we're ready yesuh I'll never admit to being readyenough yes President Biden has declaredfour times including on 60 Minutes thatthe U.S military would defend Taiwanwhich is a democracy and the world'sleading producer of advanced microchipsto reach the USS Nimitz we firsttraveled to America's westernmostterritory the island of Guam in themiddle of the PacificGuam was taken by Imperial Japan twodays after the attack on Pearl Harbor in1941. U.S Marines recaptured it two anda half years later and the island aboutthe size of Chicago became anindispensable strategic foothold in theWestern Pacific as it remains todayfrom Guam we boarded a Navy C2 Greyhounda Cold War era transport plane takespeople in supplies back and forth fromland to the carriershort flight to the shipand an even shorter Landing[Music]incredible first God Landing yes oh verynice certain operations before Admiralpaparo Rose to lead the Pacific Fleet heflew Jets and graduated from the schoolknown as Top Gun when you talk aboutships what's the most powerful in theU.S Navy it's an aircraft carrier andits Air Wing is capable of 150 strike orair-to-air sorties per day with at itssurge levels the ability to deliver 900Precision guided Munitions every day andreloadable every night so even thoughChina now has the largest Navy in theworldthey don't have anything like this interms of aircraft carriers they do notbut they're working towards it and theyhave they have two operational aircraftcarriers right now that's China's twodiesel fueled carriers to the US's 11nuclear-powered ones that can carry atotal of about a thousand attackaircraft more than the Navies of EveryOther Nation on Earth combined I'll tellyou this we are here to stay right inthe South China Sea and in this part ofthe world and I think that's the messagethat we really want to convey to notonly China but the entire world we willsail wherever international law allowsLieutenant Commander David Ash flies infa-18briefed on China's growing militarythreat and the progress that their Navyis making absolutelyyeah absolutely we do and they aremaking great progress in a lot of keyareas the Chinese the Chinese art from amilitary standpointthis video from Weapons Systems officerLieutenant Commander Matthew Carltonshows his fa-18 strafing ground targetswith a machine gun on a U.S weaponsrange near Guamthank youthe pilots on the Nimitz also conductair-to-air combat or dog fighting drillsdailyProgressive has China become in the airaggressive and just some examplesinclude unsafe unprofessional interceptswhere they move within single digits offeet of other aircraft flashing theweapons that they have on Boards of theair crew of the other aircraft operatingin international airspace maneuveringtheir aircraft in such a way that deniesthe ability to turn in One Direction ifthey're safe and professional thenthere's no problem everybody has theright to fly and sail whereverinternational law dictates but theChinese are pushing that they arepushing it China's increasinglyaggressive moves in the Western Pacificencroaching on territory illegal fishingand building bases in the middle of theSouth China Sea have pushed Nations likeJapan and the Philippines to forgecloser military ties to the U.Sand this past week Britain the U.S andAustralia signed a landmark deal tojointly develop nuclear-powered attacksubmarines to patrol the Pacificthis is how China and Taiwan appear onmost Maps this is how the ChineseCommunist Party sees the Western Pacificincluding the South and East China Seasfrom Beijing Taiwan is the fulcrum inwhat China's leaders call the firstisland chain a constellation of U.Sallies that stretches across its entireCoastcontrol of Taiwan is the Strategic keyto unlocking direct access to thePacific and the Sea lanes were about 50percent of the world's Commerce getstransported China has accused the UnitedStates of trying to contain them what doyou say to ChinaI would say do you need to be containedare you expanding are you anexpansionist powerto a very great extent the United Stateswas the championfor China's riseand in no way are we seeking to containChina what we are seekingfor them to play by the rules China'sNavy a branch of the people's LiberationArmy is now the world's largest China isalso using its 9 000 mile Coastline torewrite the rules of fighting at Sea asthese images from Chinese State mediashowits military has invested heavily inlong-range precision-guided weapons likethe df-21 and df-26 that can be used toTarget shipsChina's people's Liberation Army rocketForce calls them carrier killers and haspracticed shooting them at mock-ups ofAmerican ships in the desert that look alot like the Nimitz since the UnitedStates has been operating in the WesternPacific China's backyard they've beendeveloping missiles to attack our assetshaven't they specific missilesabsolutely yes first I'll saythe United States is also a WesternPacific Nationso it's not it's not China's backyardit's you know it is a free and openindo-pacific that encompasses numerouspartners and treaty allies and yes wehave seen them greatly enhance theirpower projection capability how much doyou worry about the pla rocket Force Iworry you know I'd be a fool to notworry about of course I worry about theLA rocket force of course I work everysingle day to develop the tactics andthe techniques and the procedures tocounter it and to continue to developthe systems that can also defend againstthem about how far are we from mainlandChina 1500 nautical miles they can hitus yes they canif they've got the targeting in placethey could hit this aircraft carrier ifI don't want to be hit there's somethingI can do about it U.S Navy plannersaren't just plotting how to evadeChina's rocket Force but also how theycould effectively fight backfrom the vicinity of Guam none of theaircraft on this ship has the range toapproach Taiwan without refueling in theairships like the U.S Destroyer Wayne eMeyer part of the Nimitz strike groupwould need to sail much closer towardsChina to fire their missiles at anyForce invading Taiwanone Naval scholar we spoke to likened itto a boxing match in which a fighter inthis case Chinahas much longer arms than theirpotential opponent the U.SI'll give you a lot of examples where ashorter fighter was able to Prevail overa long Farm Fighter by being on theirtoes by maneuvering and we can alsostick and move while we're developingthose those longer range weapons thereis another area of modern Naval Warfarewhere the U.S had a head start andretains a deep advantage over China Ijust noticed out of the corner of my eyethis is a 688 class the Los Angelesclass attack submarine this is the mostcapable submarine on the planets youknow with the exception of the Virginiaclass our newer class of submarines theexact number is classified but our bestestimate is that there are about a dozennuclear-powered fast attack submarinespatrolling the Pacific at any time theyare difficult to detect and tracksomething China is trying to solve howmuch more advanced is U.S submarinetechnology than Chinese capability aGeneration generation and by generationI think 10 or 20 years but broadly Idon't really talk in depth aboutsubmarine capabilities it's the silentservicesince Nancy Pelosi's visit to TaiwanChina's military leaders have themselvesbeen mostly silent and ignored effortsby the U.S military to keep the lines ofcommunication open even when a Chinesespy balloon reached American airspaceand was shot down by the U.S if the U.Sand Chinese militaries can't communicateover a Chinese spy balloon then what'sgoing to happen when there's a realcrisis in the South China Sea or withTaiwan we'll hope that they'll answerthe phoneelsewe'll do our very best assessment basedon the things that they say in opensource and based on their behavior toDivine their intentions and will actaccordingly doesn't thatmutuation even more dangerous if U.S andChinese militaries are not talking yesseveral sources within the Pentagon tell60 Minutes that if China invaded Taiwanit could very well kick off in outerspace with both sides targeting theother satellites that enable Precisionguided Weaponry cyber attacks onAmerican cities and the sabotage ofports on the west coast of the U.SMainland could followone recent non-classified war game hadthe U.S prevailing but losing 20 shipsincluding two carriersdoes that sound about right that is aplausible outcomeI can imagine a more pessimistic outcomeand I can imagine a more optimisticoutcome we should be clear-eyed aboutthe costs that were potentiallyincurringthere are about 5 000 Americans on boardthe Nimitz the ship is nearly half acentury old given the Navy's currentneeds in the Pacific and because there'sfuel left in its nuclear reactors thecarrier's life at Sea is going to beextended is it your hope that the powerof the U.S Navy the force posture of theU.S Navy will deter a Chinese invasionof Taiwan it's not my hope it's my dutyin conjunction with allies and partnersto deliver intolerable costs to anybodythat would upend the order in violationof the nation's security or in violationof the nation's interestswhich is if you want peace prepare forwaras China's president XI prepares for astate visit in Russia tomorrow tostrengthen that Alliance we look atcritical questions about the state ofthe U.S Navy and its Readiness when wecome back60 Minutes has spent months talking tocurrent and former naval officersmilitary strategists and politiciansabout the state of the U.S Navy onecommon thread in our reporting is uneaseboth about the size of the U.S Fleet andits Readiness to fight the Navy shipsare being retired faster than they'regetting replaced while the Navy of thePeople's Republic of China or PRC growslarger and more lethal by the year weask the commander of the U.S PacificFleet Admiral Samuel paparo about thison our visit to the USS Nimitz theoldest aircraft carrier in the Navythe story will continue in a momentwe call it the decade of concern we'veseen a tenfold increase in the size ofthe PRC Navy technically speaking theChinese now have the largest Navy in theworld in terms of number of shipscorrect do the numbers matter yes as thesaying goes quantity has a quality allits own at some pointare they going to reach numbers that wecan't Prevail over I'm not comfortablewith the trajectory if you look at a mapat the indo-pacific one thing becomesclear there's a lot of water on that mapand so ours has to be a maritimestrategy Republican Mike Gallagher andDemocrat Elaine Lauria serve together onthe house armed services Committee inthe last Congress what is it about theU.S Navy that has allowed the two of youto find common cause I think we share asense of the urgency of the moment wesee increasing threats from China inparticular in the indo-pacific we feellike we're not moving fast enough tobuild a bigger Navy CongressmanGallagher is a marine veteran whorepresents Green Bay Wisconsin he chairsthe new house committee on China he'sconcerned that under the Navy's currentplan the fleet will shrink to 280 shipsby 2027 the same year the CIA says Chinahas set for having the capability totake Taiwan by force so we will beweakest when our enemy is potentiallystrongest China's increased rhetoric andpotential aggression against Taiwanwe're gonna have to be ready to respondtoday with the forces we have todayformer congresswoman Elaine Lauriarepresented Virginia Beach until thispast January an Annapolis graduateLauria had a 20-year Naval career beforebeing elected to congress what would yousay the state of the U.S Navy is todayI think the Navy has not received theattention and resources that it needsover two decades I mean I served on sixdifferent ships every single one ofthose ships was either built during or aproduct of the fleet that was built inthe Cold War both Mike Gallagher andElaine Lauria have lobbied forgovernment money for the shipyards in ornear their districts but they say thisis less about jobs and more aboutNational Security if we don't get thisright all of these other things we'redoing in Congress ultimately that mightnot matter if you think about what acoherent Grand strategy of vis-a-visChina would be hard power would be themost important part of that and the Navywould be the most important component ofyour hard power Investmentsover the last two decades the Navy spent55 billion dollars on two Investmentsthat did not pan out the first was aclass of Destroyers known as the Zumwaltthe futuristic fighting ships weresupposed to revolutionize Naval Warfare32 were ordered but only three were everlaunched the cost of each ship by oneestimate was upwards of 8 billiondollars making them the three mostexpensive destroyers ever put to seeanother example is the littoral combatship or LCS designed to be a fastall-purpose warship for shallow Waters30 billion dollars later the program ranaground after structural defects andengine trouble within the Navy the LCSearned the unfortunate nickname littlecrappy shipthe Navy's last few decades have beendescribed as a Lost Generation ofshipbuilding is that overly dramaticI don't think so we're still strugglingto build chips on time on budget andthat's something we absolutely need tofix going forward this past week wespoke with Admiral Mike gilday at thePentagon he is the chief of Navaloperations and is responsible forbuilding maintaining and equipping theentire U.S Navy is the Navy in crisis nothe Navy's not in crisis the Navy is outon point every single day is it beingoutpaced by China noour Navy is still in a position toPrevail butum that's not blind confidence we areconcerned with the trajectory thatChina's on with China's Behavior but weare in a good position right now if wedid ever get into a fight against themhow would you describe what China hasbeen able to do militarily over the last20 years the most alarming thing is thegrowth of not only their conventionalforces but also their strategic nuclearforces there's cyber capability there'sspace capability and how they're usingthat to force other nations navies outof certain areas in the South China Seainstead of recognizing international lawthey want to control where those goodsflow and how what lessons did the U.SNavy learn from some of the shipbuildingmistakes of the last 20 years I thinkone of the things that we learned wasthat we need to have a design well inplace before we begin bending metal andso we're going back to the past to whatwe did in the 80s and the 90s the Navyhas the lead there is a tendency amongthe great powers to look at each other'sNaval buildups with deep suspicion Toshiyoshihara of the center for strategicand budgetary assessments may know morethan any scholar in the west aboutChina's Navy China will have about 440ships by 2030 and that's according tothe Pentagon why is China able to buildmore warships more quickly than the USChina has clearly invested in thisdefense industrial infrastructure toproduce these ships which allows them toproduce multiple ships simultaneouslyessentially outbuilding many of thewestern navies combined China's Navypiggybacks on a booming commercialshipbuilding industry kept afloat bygenerous State subsidies inexpensivematerials and cheap labor in the UnitedStates it's a different storyafter the Cold War ended theshipbuilding industry Consolidated andmany of the Yards where ships were bothbuilt and maintained closed down what doyou see when you see China'sshipbuilding program it's very robust dowe have enough shipyards no I wish thatwe had more commercial shipyards over mycareer we've gone from more than 30shipyards down to about seven that werely upon on a day-to-day basis to buildships one of those yards is run byHuntington Ingalls Industries whichbuilt the state-of-the-art new Fordclass aircraft carrierafter controlled explosions in 2021 toprove it could withstand combat the Fordgot closer to deployment six years lateand billions of dollars over budgetthe Navy's not just struggling to buildnew ships on time according to thegovernment accountability office or GAOthere's a multi-year backlog repairingthe ships in the fleet our maintenancebacklog is one of the primary thingsthat I'm working on to correct so justthree years ago we had 7 700 delay daysthat is extra days in a shipyard byships when they weren't operational wehave cut that down to three thousand weare not satisfied maintenance delaysmean sailors can't come home because theship that's supposed to replace them isnot ready it means longer deployments itmeans away from your family more that'sa big strain on the workforce the moreships that we can have available to sendat Sea alleviates many of those problemsthat you pointed out Sailors joined theNavy to see the world and so it's my jobto make sure that those maintenancedelays go to zero and we can get thoseships to see as quickly as possible inthe last year alone at least 10 Sailorsassigned to ships undergoing maintenanceor working at maintenance facilitieshave died by Suicide it is a problemthat we're taking very very seriouslyand down to every leader in our Navyeverybody has a responsibility to lookout for each other to take care of eachother there is no wrong door to knock onwhen you need help Admiral gilday saysthe U.S Navy's main advantage over Chinais America's Sailors his goal is tomodernize the U.S Fleet and have thoseSailors serving alongside hundreds ofunmanned vessels by 2045. I thinkunmanned is the future and so I thinkthat some 40 percent of our Fleet in thefuture I believe is going to be unmannedare these like underwater drones some ofthem are highly capable capable ofdelivering minds and perhaps other typesof weapons Admiral gilday is talkingabout the Orca an extra law largeunmanned undersea vehicle can you saywhat it will do or is that classifiedwell uh at a minimum it'll have aclandestine mine laying capability soit'll be done in a way that is verysecretive but very effective but the GAOreports that it's already a quarter of abillion dollars over budget and threeyears behind schedule uh that particularplatform is behind schedule it's thefirst of a Kind when it delivers I see avery high return on investment from thatparticular platform because because itwill be among the most lethal andstealthy Platforms in the Arsenal of theU.S militarythe Navy's total budget request forfiscal year 2024 is over a quarter of atrillion dollars an 11 billion dollarincrease from last year the focus is onChina the U.S defense posture is viewedas aggressive by the Chinese the foreignminister just said look stop thecontainment this may lead to conflictperhaps a Chinese Minister doesn't likethe fact that the U.S Navy is operatingin collaboration with dozens of naviesaround the world to ensure that themaritime Commons remains free and openfor all nations the Chinese I want todictate those terms and so they don'tlike our presence but our presence isnot intended to be provocative it'sintended to assure and to reassureallies and partners around the worldthat those sea Lanes do remain open theglobal economy literally floats onseawaterhow similarsimilar actual Top Gun Top Gun graduatescompare the movie to the real thing at60 minutes overtime.comforeign