Outclassed Chinese Navy Defies Outnumbered 7th Fleet
The nuclear-powered USS George Washington Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in the Philippines in October 2012. The carrier is part of the permanently deployed U.S. 7th Fleet based in Japan, near disputed waters in the East and South China seas. (NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
December 20, 2013
| Security
| Asia and the Pacific
As a recent near-collision between a Chinese ship and an American missile cruiser in the South China Sea demonstrates, a naval miscalculation in the region could be quite risky. The incident also made clear how few U.S. combat ships would be able to respond to a naval flare-up in the East or South China seas, giving the outclassed and older Chinese fleet more confidence in its abilities.China just completed a fleet modernization program and has a new aircraft carrier in service,  along with a surface combatant fleet of 75 ships. The only U.S. aircraft carrier permanently assigned to the area is currently in port. The closest U.S. task force is based in Japan, but it has just nine permanently assigned surface combatants aside from carrier escorts. Following this month's incident, the U.S. Navy assuredly will assign more warships to the region to enhance its numbers.
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