Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Libyan crises prompts a first for Chinese Navy

The Wall Street Journal reports that China has used the Libyan crisis to showcase its ability to project naval power. It also sent chartered ships and aircraft to evacuate 30,000 Chinese nationals stuck in Libya.

China has sent one of its most modern warships to protect vessels extracting thousands of its citizens from Libya, in the Asian power’s first naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea and its first deployment of military hardware in a civilian evacuation mission.

The Chinese navy diverted the Xuzhou, a 4,000 ton missile frigate, from anti-piracy patrols off the coast of Somalia and dispatched it to the Libyan coast on Thursday, according to a statement on the Chinese Defense Ministry’s web site.
Meanwhile no less than ten retired British senior officers have asked, “where are the carriers?” according to the BBC.
Ten retired senior military officers have written to the prime minister to voice their concerns over the loss of the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal ... A former field marshal, three generals and six admirals say the loss of Ark Royal and its fleet of Harrier jets has damaged Britain's defence capabilities ... They say Britain can no longer mount amphibious operations without putting troops' lives at "considerable risk".
Apparently the former officers criticized the British government for not having an aircraft carrier to cover a possible operation which we guess evacuation of British citizens if things escalate. However a defence spokesman replied, ‘why should we when the Americans are not?’ The British can’t field a carrier because they have nothing to field. Now this poses are pertinent question. Where are the U.S. carriers?

CVN Enterprise: North Arabian Sea
CVN Vinson: North Arabian Sea
CVN Lincoln: Singapore
CVN Washington: Japan
CVN Stennis: San Diego
CVN Truman: Norfolk
CVN Reagan: Eastern Pacific
CVN Bush: Western Atlantic

No carrier group in the Mediterranean. The Nimitz, Roosevelt and Eisenhower, are in overhaul. The Stennis, Truman, Reagan and Bush are undergoing training and preparing to deploy or are recently returned and awaiting an overhaul. So what would former President Carter do, or Reagan or GWB for that matter. While we're speculating perhaps we should ask what will Obama do? Finally, after some negative media from former defence personnel the Enterprise has been dispatched.

Back to China, we note that this is the Asian power’s first naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea!