China is churning out naval vessels at a rapid rate, but the ships in the Chinese navy may be paper tigers, the commander of the U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces suggested Sunday.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy commissioned a 4,000-ton Type 054 Jiangkai II-class guided-missile frigate in February of last year. The Xiangtan, named after Mao Zedong’s hometown, was seen by observers as a message to the U.S.
The frigate was reportedly sent out on a seven-month deployment just six weeks after it was commissioned, a time frame considered to be impossible in the U.S., where extensive testing is required before a ship can be deployed, reports Business Insider.
Vice Admiral Tom Rowden identified quality as a major defining difference between the Chinese and American navies in a recent interview with Defense News.
“Two gray ships riding on the sea go by. They’ve got a bunch of flags flying and a bunch of sailors up on deck. One of them couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag and the other one will rock anything that it comes up against,” Rowden explained.
While he did not specify which ship belonged to which navy, Rowden’s message was clear.
Rowden oversees the preparation and training of U.S. warships.
The vice admiral stressed that he could “commission a guided-missile destroyer and steam it out of the harbor and take it on a world cruise,” but he is unwilling to do that because it puts “the center of the universe” at risk.
He explained the necessity of testing, stating, “I want those men and women on that ship to be 100 percent confident in the ship and confident in the execution of any mission leadership may give them.”
“What are the Chinese thinking? I don’t know,” Rowden added, ” I find it kind of interesting they feel they have to do that. To what end? I don’t know.”
China has been working to modernize its naval forces. The flagship achievement has been the development the Liaoning-led carrier fleet into a blue-water fighting force.
The U.S. and China are at odds with one another in the maritime sphere, especially the highly-contested South China Sea, where each sees the other as a threat and the primary source of regional tension.
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