The world’s longest nuclear submarine, the “Belgorod” with a displacement of nearly 30000 tons, was officially delivered to the Russian navy on August 8. Although Russia claims that it is a “research ship that can carry out all kinds of scientific investigation and rescue operations in remote waters”, the West has generally focused its attention on the six “Poseidon” strategic nuclear torpedoes it carries.
Yes, it is the “Poseidon” strategic nuclear torpedo, one of the Russian military’s strategic killers, which Russian President Putin tied with the “pioneer” hypersonic missile and the “salmat” intercontinental missile.
“Belgorod” can carry a large number of manned and unmanned submersibles.
The US “power” website described this as “the Russian navy has finally put one of its most frightening weapons into use”. The website of the American naval academy also admitted that although the strength of the Russian Navy fell sharply after the end of the cold war, its submarine force is still an urgent problem for the Pentagon. “In response to the submarine threat from Russia, the US Navy has reconstituted the US second fleet and established a theater anti submarine warfare command in the Atlantic Ocean.”
The state’s development and use of maritime power to achieve control over the sea is the traditional sense of sea power. The national impulse to develop and compete for sea power has greatly stimulated the competition and development of the Navy and its warship armaments. In a certain sense, the modern history of mankind is the history of the development of sea power, and the history of the changes in the marine situation around sea power. Whoever establishes a country with sea power and has the advantage of sea power will have the conditions for the rise of a country and become a world power.
After World War II, precision guidance and nuclear technology introduced naval ships and weapons into a missile nuclear era, bringing a new round of maritime arms race. Especially in the 1970s and 1990s, it was the white hot stage for the United States and the Soviet Union to fight against each other and seize sea power. In this period when the United States was weak and the Soviet Union was strong, what sea power strategy did the Soviet Union launch? How did the United States respond?
Wen | Zhang Wei
Editor | Tian Shuo outlook think tank
This article is an excerpt from “5000 years of ocean change”, published by Peking University Press in October 2021, with the original title of “modern sea power in the missile nuclear age”.
If you want to go, go your own way
In 1956, the complacent Sergey Gorshkov (1910-1988) was promoted to the post of commander in chief of the Soviet Navy. Gorshkov served as the commander-in-chief of the Soviet Navy for 30 years. His new idea of sea power mainly includes the following aspects:
1. Give priority to the development of submarines. Gorshkov believed that the Soviet Navy should follow its own path and not compete with the West for surface ships, which will inevitably cost a lot of money, but may not be able to gain an advantage. The development of submarines can achieve results with less money in the shortest time, posing a threat to the vast sea area. In particular, ballistic missile nuclear submarines can expand the scope of naval activities in the ocean, expand the scope of naval strikes, pose a threat to the depth of enemy territory, complete strategic tasks, and maintain a balance with the United States in nuclear strike power in the future.
To this end, the Soviet Navy decided to develop the 667 second-generation ballistic missile nuclear submarine. Its improved performance is higher. NATO is called the second generation y-class and the third generation D-class respectively. There are a total of 77 two-stage ballistic missile nuclear submarines, forming the powerful sea based strategic nuclear strike force of the Soviet Union.
2. Develop surface ships accordingly. Gorshkov opposed to raising surface ships to an inappropriate position, but also opposed the view that surface ships did nothing in the era of nuclear war. He believed that surface ships were still an important part of the Soviet Navy, and advocated the development of various types of surface ships according to the multi-purpose characteristics of the Navy and different needs. To this end, the Soviet Navy adopted the policy of paying attention to the development of aircraft carriers, a large number of missile cruisers and missile destroyers, paying attention to the development of landing ships, and developing logistics auxiliary ships accordingly.
The missile cruiser “Moscow” was photographed near the port of Tartus, Latakia Province, Syria on December 17, 2015. Figure Xinhua News Agency
In 1967, the first 25000 ton light aircraft carrier “Moscow” of the Soviet Navy came into service, marking the birth of the Soviet Navy’s shipborne aviation force. “Moscow” is a helicopter carrier, which is mainly used for anti submarine. The Soviet Union calls it an anti submarine cruiser. In 1968, another helicopter carrier of the same class, “Leningrad”, was also completed and launched.
Missile cruiser is the main assault force of the Soviet Navy, and it is also a large surface ship that is the focus of development. By 1968, its newly commissioned 1134 missile cruiser and the previous 58 cruiser had been able to carry cruise surface to surface missiles.
The destroyers of the Soviet Navy have developed a total of six models, gradually leading to the development of missiles and large-scale development. In the late 1970s, 1155 and 956 conventional power destroyers were planned to be built, and their full load displacement reached 8200 tons and 7300 tons respectively. These two classes of ships symbolize the trend of large-scale Soviet Navy destroyers. The full displacement of the 1144 nuclear missile cruiser, which was launched into service in the early 1980s, reached a record 25000 tons and loaded 400 missiles. This is the pinnacle of the construction and development of the Soviet missile cruiser, and it is also a landmark ship type whose competition for sea power between the Soviet Union and the United States has reached the pinnacle.
On August 14th, 1981, the Soviet helicopter aircraft carrier “Leningrad” entered the Baltic Sea to participate in military exercises. Figure Xinhua News Agency
3. Develop naval aviation. During Gorshkov’s period, the Soviet naval aviation was still based on shore, but with the birth of helicopter carriers, the status and role of naval aviation began to change, especially in the anti submarine battle. By the mid-1970s, the Soviet Navy had made a qualitative leap. The second-generation aircraft carrier “Kiev” was put into service, with a full displacement of more than 40000 tons. It could carry 33 carrier based aircraft, seize local air supremacy, and have strong anti submarine warfare capabilities.
The development of equipment made the Soviet Union and the United States more confident in the cold war. Gorshkov repeatedly announced that the Soviet Navy had “a firm determination to protect the national interests of the Soviet Union from imperialist aggression” anywhere in the world, and publicly warned the United States: “our fleet can not only smash the invaders’ attacks, but also give devastating blows in the ocean and deep into the enemy’s territory.” Obviously, with the growth of strength, the Soviet Navy has launched a global offensive strategy with the United States as its opponent, committed to the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, and the Warsaw Pact and NATO.
In 1970, the Soviet Navy conducted the “ocean I” exercise, involving 200 warships; In 1975, the Soviet Navy conducted the “ocean II” exercise, involving 120 warships. In these two global maritime military exercises, the Soviet Union’s fleets in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian Ocean, black sea, Mediterranean, Baltic and Arctic oceans took coordinated actions, with the United States as the main combat object for military confrontation in anti submarine, anti aircraft carrier, blockade, escort and amphibious landing.
The great achievements and confrontation ability of the Soviet Navy shocked the Americans on the other side of the ocean. They exclaimed, “the Soviet Navy is now commanded by an offensive Navy General. This man is determined to build a navy that can be competent for any maritime task.” Indeed, the development of the Soviet Navy not only enhanced the Soviet Union’s ability to confront the United States with sea power, but also had a significant impact on the international strategic pattern.
In 1976, when Gorshkov served as the commander-in-chief of the Soviet Navy for 20 years, a world-famous book – “national maritime power” came out. If the prosperity of the United States in the early 20th century benefited from Mahan’s sea power theory, the rise of the Soviet Union is closely related to Gorshkov’s “new theory of sea power”.
What is national maritime power? Gorshkov said, “the sum of the means of developing the oceans and the means of protecting national interests, when reasonably combined, is a country’s maritime power. It determines a country’s military and economic ability to use the oceans for its own purposes.” The national maritime power, first, is the economic factors related to the national development of marine means, including the fleet of transportation, fishing and scientific investigation, to ensure the ability to research and develop marine wealth; The second is the military factor related to the means of protecting national interests, that is, the Navy.
Gorshkov believes that the ocean is rich in industrial raw material resources and has huge potential energy; There are the most important and economic communication lines between countries on the sea; The ocean is a huge treasure house. The Soviet Union is not only a continental country, but also a coastal power. The sea is of great economic significance to the Soviet Union. In addition to the development of marine resources, marine transportation is also closely related to the economic development of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union has its transportation lines in the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean, especially the transportation lines of the Arctic Ocean and the coastal areas near the Arctic Ocean, which are of great economic significance to the Soviet Union. In order to defend the maritime interests of the Soviet Union, we must strengthen the country’s maritime power.
Gorshkov believed that with the rapid development of science and technology, as ballistic missile submarines and offensive aircraft carriers joined the battle sequence, especially the application of nuclear energy in the Navy, the Navy’s weapons and equipment have been improved, and the threat range of the sea direction and the Navy’s operational range have been greatly increased, thus greatly expanding the depth of maritime defense and the scope of naval attack. The sea has become a place for the application of various military science and technology, and a launching site for various weapons, especially missile weapons. Therefore, the basic point of the strategic concept of the Soviet Navy is to pay attention to the role of the sea battlefield in the war, give full play to the great power and unique mode of action of ballistic missile submarines, and use the water layer as a cover, so that such submarines have obvious mobility and concealment in the war. In terms of the development of aircraft carriers, there were still many disputes within the Soviet government. It was not until the early 1980s that the Soviet government decided to build a larger conventional powered aircraft carrier, that is, the later “Kuznetsov” aircraft carrier.
In terms of operational theory, Gorshkov’s outstanding contribution is to change the traditional “Navy to Navy operation” mode, and put forward the strategic policy of the Soviet Navy of “giving priority to the opposite side”, that is, to conduct sudden nuclear attack on the shore targets of the United States from the sea with submarine launched ballistic missiles, including landing, naval gun to shore, shipborne aviation and other opposite side attacks. He believes that the emergence of missiles that can carry nuclear warheads has made the large-scale naval battle against naval forces in the past no longer decisive. What plays a decisive role is the assault of missile weapons on enemy territory. The opposite shore nuclear assault of submarine launched ballistic missiles can destroy the political, economic and military centers of the other side and the assembly areas of strategic forces and weapons, and destroy its war potential.
In 1977, in response to the construction of the Ohio class strategic nuclear submarine of the United States, the Soviet Union also began to build the 941 fourth generation (NATO called Taifeng class) ballistic missile nuclear submarine. The first ship was commissioned in December 1981, with a total of six built. With a total length of 172.8 meters, a width of 23.3 meters and an underwater displacement of 26500 tons, this class of submarine can be called the world’s largest submarine, and has become an important pillar of the Soviet Navy’s strategic policy of “focusing on the opposite bank”. Gorshkov’s theory is quite unique. It is not only the operational thought of the Soviet Navy in the nuclear age, but also a strategic thought. It is a sea power theory with Soviet characteristics under modern conditions.
Obviously, the maritime hegemony between the United States and the Soviet Union in the nuclear era still shows the essence of the traditional sea power, but it is more manifested in the cold war with nuclear deterrence as the core.
The United States is tit for tat and reaffirms its maritime control
In 1981, at the age of 38, John Lyman Jr. became the youngest Secretary of the navy in the history of the United States Navy. He was an active promoter of the Reagan Administration’s hard line of “revitalizing armaments” and comprehensively containing the Soviet Union. He made the U.S. Navy regain its global maritime advantage over the Soviet Union and promoted Mahan’s sea power theory to a new stage.
When Lehmann stepped on the stage of history, the United States had not recovered from the trauma of the Vietnam War, and its advantage in competing for hegemony with the Soviet Union was declining, which gave the Soviet Union the opportunity to rise and expand globally.
During this period, the Soviet Navy entered the Atlantic Ocean, drove into the Pacific Ocean, deployed in the Indian Ocean, sought to establish military bases in West Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Latin America and other places, and constantly displayed its muscles. Its step-by-step momentum made “Uncle Sam” panic. In 1981, Reagan came to power, determined to revitalize armaments, took deterrence, forward defense and alliance unity as the three pillars of U.S. military strategy, and gave top priority to naval construction in order to curb the global expansion of the Soviet Union. It was against this background that Lehmann was promoted to the new secretary of the United States Navy.
In 1982, the second year after his promotion, Lehmann launched the “maritime strategy” for the U.S. Navy. Without lengthy speeches, Lehmann only summarized his maritime strategy with eight principles:
1. The maritime strategy originates from and is subordinate to the general national security strategy stipulated by the president;
2. The maritime mission is: to control various international crises, play a role in the deterrence war, prevent the enemy from using the sea to attack us in case of deterrence failure, ensure that the United States and its allies use the sea unimpeded, use the sea to push the battlefield to the enemy side and end the war under conditions favorable to us;
3. Maritime missions require maritime superiority, and must be able to have a navy and Marine Corps that can defeat the enemy militarily;
4. Maritime advantages require a rigorous maritime strategy;
5. Maritime strategies must be based on a realistic assessment of threats;
6. Maritime strategy must be a global theory;
7. The maritime strategy must completely integrate the forces of the United States and the countries of the free world into a whole;
8. Maritime strategy must be a frontier strategy.
This is a program, the core of which is “maritime advantage”. The so-called maritime advantage means that the US Navy must have an absolute advantage over the navies of any country in the world. This absolute advantage, of course, is mainly aimed at the Soviet Union, which is close to it. Lehmann wants to “PK” with Gorshkov. This “PK” occurs not only in the field of practice, but also in the field of theory. He wants to use the “maritime advantage” theory “PK” Gorshkov’s “national maritime power” theory to make theoretical preparations for the United States to regain control of the sea.
For this reason, Lehmann lobbied to Congress: “the United States must have the sea power that Alfred Mahan insisted is essential for the survival of a maritime country.” He believes that since the 1970s, the United States has been in a potentially hostile marine environment. Soviet missile nuclear submarines can cruise in the depths of the ocean not far from the United States, and residents living within 240 kilometers of the coast in the United States may be attacked by Soviet missile nuclear submarines at any time. Therefore, the United States must “set the right course and rebuild its maritime strategy”, and the United States “must have a certain maritime advantage. We must be able and visible to have the ability to firmly control the access roads to areas of major interests. This is not a strategic issue that can be debated, but a national goal, that is, an absolutely necessary security issue”.
To this end, Lyman invited President Reagan to attend the re-entry ceremony of the battleship “New Jersey” held at Long Beach naval base, and prepared such a speech for the president:
“The Soviet Union has always been a land power. In fact, in terms of minerals and energy, it has the ability to be self-sufficient. Its territory connects Europe and Asia, but it has established a strong ocean going Navy. There is no reason to prove that this is a legitimate defense need. This Navy will be used in offensive warfare, aimed at cutting off the supply lines of the free world, so that the Western allies cannot get support from the sea… The United States should be a As a maritime power, it relies on the sea to import extremely important strategic materials for it to a large extent. More than 90% of our trade with other continents is transported by ship. Whether we can freely use the sea is a major event related to the fate of our country. Therefore, our navy must ensure the unimpeded route of the United States in all oceans. It is more arduous than the task of closing those maritime routes on strategic routes. Maritime advantage is essential for us. We must be able to control the air, surface and underwater areas in an effective way in an emergency, so as to ensure that we can use the world’s oceans. “
The USS “New Jersey” sailed in Lebanese waters on January 13, 1984.
Immediately, the U.S. Navy under Lyman took curbing the expansion of the Soviet Union as the first priority. He set about strengthening the construction of military bases on the island of Diego Garcia in the northern Indian Ocean in order to quickly support possible incidents in the Persian Gulf; He sent U.S. Marines to Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, to prevent the Soviet Union from further infiltrating the Middle East; He suppressed the military coup of Cuba by the pro Soviet forces of Grenada, a small island country in the Caribbean, and indirectly attacked the Soviet Union and Cuba; He wants to ensure the right of the U.S. Navy to sail freely on the world’s oceans, ensure that the U.S. Navy can safely implement global mobility, and become one of the “three pillars” of the U.S. military strategy.
Obviously, Lehmann’s maritime strategy makes full use of the mobility of the sea and the mobility of naval forces, which not only greatly improves the position of the use of naval forces in military strategy, but also becomes the “five colored stone” for the U.S. military to regroup after the Vietnam War, and plays an important role in the revitalization of global maritime power, regaining maritime control and world hegemony for the United States.
600 ships plan
Lehmann’s “maritime strategy” is a theory, which must guide practice. Thus, the “plan of 600 ships in active service” (hereinafter referred to as the “600 ships plan”) came into being.
In the 1960s and 1970s, in order to win the Vietnam War, the United States paid a huge cost of human and material resources, and even slowed down the pace of naval development. In the early 1980s, the U.S. Navy had only more than 470 ships, and nearly 10% of its staffing was vacant, making many ships unable to deploy. Lehmann believes that 600 ships are the minimum number of troops to strive for maritime advantage. It includes 15 aircraft carrier battle groups, 4 battleship surface battle groups, 100 attack submarines, more than 30 ballistic missile nuclear submarines, and a sufficient number of transport assault echelons. He was determined to realize this idea by the late 1980s and early 1990s, so as to gain greater maritime advantage over the Soviet Union and control the outcome of the war.
During this period, the U.S. Navy achieved considerable development. In terms of quantity, in the middle and late 1980s, the active military strength of the Navy increased from 553000 in 1982 to 593000, and all kinds of personnel reached 100% full strength; Naval military expenditure soared from about $37.9 billion in 1979 to $100.2 billion in 1988; The number of ships increased from 479 in 1980 to 570 in 1988, and the number of aircraft carriers increased from 13 (3 nuclear powered) to 14 (5 nuclear powered). Three battleships sealed after World War II were modernized and refitted and put into active service.
The improvement in the quality of the navy is even more remarkable. In March, 1982, the US Navy eliminated all strategic nuclear submarines carrying Polaris ballistic missiles; In 1983, it began to build a new Ohio class nuclear submarine carrying Trident II ballistic missiles. Ohio class nuclear submarine is the fourth generation of U.S. strategic nuclear submarine. In 1988, the United States already had 37 strategic missile nuclear submarines. In addition, strategic missile nuclear submarines have the characteristics of strong survivability and second strike capability, and their status in the United States’ “Trinity” strategic weapons continues to improve.
From 1981 to 1985, the combat readiness of the U.S. Navy aviation corps increased by 42%. The carrier based aviation corps was equipped with F-14 fighters and f/a-18 fighters, and the SH-60 new anti submarine helicopter was put into operation and put into use. In order to improve the level of electronic warfare, each carrier aircraft wing is equipped with E-2C and EA-6B aircraft, and the electronic warfare equipment of aircraft carriers has also been upgraded. Aegis air defense system, Tomahawk cruise missile and missile vertical launch system, which are known as the three technological revolutions of maritime weapon system, began to be widely equipped with surface combat ships and attack submarines of the US Navy.
In the 600 ship plan, the US Navy proposed two “optimization forms”, namely, the optimization of aircraft carrier formation and nuclear powered attack submarines. The reason is: the aircraft carrier formation integrates surface ships, supporting submarines and carrier based aviation as a collaborative whole, and the combat capabilities of any other form of fleet cannot be compared with it. It is the most suitable “optimized form” for the US Navy to implement ocean front offensive operations; Nuclear powered attack submarines have many advantages, such as good concealment, strong mobility, long activity time, and wide range of operational uses. They can not only carry out war of attrition, sea control and blockade warfare, but also are the best weapons against enemy submarines. After being equipped with Tomahawk missiles, they also have nuclear attack capability, constitute the main body of underwater fleets, complement each other with the surface formation of aircraft carriers, and are another “optimized form”.
The U.S. Navy is also committed to building a “assault force”, that is, the land expeditionary force. The US Navy believes that the land expeditionary force is another important ocean going offensive force besides the aircraft carrier formation. It has the ability to “finally solve the battle on land”, which is difficult for other naval forces such as aircraft carriers. Especially in low-intensity war, it is often used at critical moments and places, and has become the most important “assault force”.
After 10 years of efforts, the U.S. Navy has basically achieved the plan of 600 ships, reaching the highest level since the Second World War, and achieving the goal of having greater “maritime advantage”. Among them, the Nimitz class aircraft carrier can be called the world’s largest super nuclear powered aircraft carrier and has become the backbone of the U.S. Navy’s maritime formation. So that every time a crisis occurs, successive presidents will habitually ask, “where is our aircraft carrier?”
The plan of 600 ships, together with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the decline of its navy in the early 1990s, finally enabled the U.S. Navy to regain its position as the world’s maritime hegemon.
How can a huge fleet be deployed globally?
After the 1980s, according to Lehmann’s maritime strategy, the U.S. Navy took the Soviet Navy as its imaginary enemy, constantly adjusted its maritime deployment, and implemented the Navy’s global maritime military presence. Among them, the most important strategic sea areas are the “two oceans” – the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. The main forces are the Atlantic Fleet and the Pacific Fleet.
The Atlantic Fleet Command is located in Norfolk on the east coast of the United States. Its jurisdiction covers the entire Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean Sea and some waters in the Middle East from the north pole to the South Pole. Its main task is to control these waters and all important maritime traffic routes. The Atlantic Fleet covers most of Europe, and Europe is the main strategic deployment area of the United States during the cold war. Therefore, the Atlantic Fleet is also a maritime combat force assigned to the NATO allied command. Its main combat forces are two special task forces – the 6th fleet and the 2nd fleet.
Deployed in the Mediterranean, the 6th fleet is the main combat force of NATO southern Europe command. It has the ability to provide strike and air defense advantages, anti submarine and close air support for the entire southern wing of NATO. It is also the main maritime force for the United States to support its allies and allies in the Middle East. During the cold war, the United States believed that the Middle East was greatly threatened by the Soviet Union, which had a fleet in the Black Sea and deployed a squadron in the Mediterranean. In order to deal with this threat, the 6th fleet of the US Navy requires to deploy an aircraft carrier battle group in the Mediterranean in peacetime. In wartime, there will be three or four aircraft carrier battle groups, as well as battleship surface battle groups and two maritime transport ships. Historically, the 6th fleet has participated in the U.S. invasion of Lebanon in 1958, the “prairie fire” air raid on Libya in 1986, the Gulf War in 1991, and the Kosovo war in 1999.
The second fleet is the main force of NATO in the Atlantic, responsible for the combat tasks in the North Atlantic, East Atlantic, Iceland and the Norwegian Sea, responsible for the defense tasks of the entire northern wing of NATO, including the throat points of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, as well as various maritime tasks in the Caribbean Sea, the southern Atlantic Ocean and many traffic routes in West Africa. In wartime, the second fleet requires 4-5 aircraft carrier battle groups, 1 battleship surface battle group and 3 maritime transport ship groups. Historically, the second fleet has participated in the U.S. maritime blockade against Cuba in 1962, the invasion of Panama in 1989, the maritime blockade against Colombia in 1990, and the Haiti crisis in 1993.
After World War II, the Pacific Fleet has been the main military force deployed by the United States in East Asia and the Pacific region to maintain a forward military presence. During the cold war, the United States established a security system based on bilateral military alliances against the Soviet Union in this region, forming an arc (also known as Crescent) Maritime deployment along the West Bank of the Pacific Ocean. After the 1980s, with the Asia Pacific region becoming a new growth point of the global economy, especially the rapid development after China’s reform and opening up, the geopolitical interests of the United States have become more prominent. The Pacific Fleet Command is located in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, with a vast sea area from the west coast of the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. Its main combat forces are two special task forces, the 7th Fleet and the 3rd fleet, and the Middle East force of the central command. After the 1990s, the central command and the Fifth Fleet under independent command were established, and the peacetime tasks of the Pacific Fleet were further concentrated in the Asia Pacific region.
The 7th Fleet is the frontier fleet of the United States in the Western Pacific region. Its headquarters are located in Yokosuka, Japan. Its main activities include Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, important Straits in Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean. At ordinary times, the United States deploys an aircraft carrier battle group for the 7th Fleet in the Western Pacific; In wartime, the 7th Fleet will have five aircraft carrier battle groups, two battleship surface battle groups and four maritime transport groups. In the Middle East region, in peacetime, the Middle East forces of the United States central command and the forces of the 7th Fleet work together in these waters; In wartime, the United States plans to deploy two aircraft carrier battle groups, one battleship surface battle group and one maritime transport group of the seventh fleet in the Indian Ocean, Southwest Africa, the Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia.
On July 30, 2015, tourists visited the battleship Missouri in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, USA. Figure Xinhua News Agency
The Third Fleet was first built during World War II and participated in the operations against Tokyo, port Wu and Hokkaido. It once took the famous battleship “Missouri” as its flagship. After World War II, it was reorganized into the Reserve Fleet. Reorganized in 1973, the headquarters was located on amphibious ships, and its home port was San Diego on the east coast of the Pacific Ocean. The main activities of the third fleet are in the eastern Pacific and the northern Pacific, and the Bering Sea, Alaska, Aleutian Islands and some parts of the Arctic are its important defense areas. To carry out tasks in this vast sea area, there must be at least two aircraft carrier battle groups and one maritime transport fleet. In wartime, a considerable part of the activity areas of the third fleet and the seventh fleet overlap. Sometimes the defense areas of the two fleets are interchanged, and sometimes the two fleets support each other.
The purpose of global maritime deployment is to help the U.S. Navy perform tasks, implement maritime control, force projection and deal with crises.
The sea is different from the land. It cannot be occupied, and it is more difficult to draw a picture as a prison. Since Mahan put forward the view of controlling the sea and seizing sea power, the U.S. Navy has always been regarded as the golden rule. However, there are different understandings of how to control the sea and seize the sea power in different times. Mahan emphasized that the naval ship to ship surface decisive battle should be used to obtain maritime control and sea domination; During the first World War, the emergence of submarines made people realize that controlling the sea and seizing sea power should not only control the surface of the water, but also control the underwater; The extensive use of aircraft carriers in World War II made people further realize that there is no sea power without air power. After the war, the US Navy has been dominating the world’s oceans with its strong maritime combat strength.
After the 1970s, the maritime hegemony of the United States was challenged by the Soviet Union, and it was found that controlling the sea was not so simple, which gradually strengthened the concept of controlling Strait waterways and ensuring free navigation. Although the United States is the initiator of claiming more maritime rights and interests, it has not acceded to the United Nations Convention on the law of the sea.
In 1979 and 1983, before and after the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the law of the sea, in order to prevent it from expanding the maritime rights and interests of coastal countries, the president of the United States twice issued a marine policy statement, declaring that freedom of navigation is a national interest that the United States must safeguard. In 1979, the United States began to formulate the “free navigation plan” (fon) to strive for the maximization of the global maritime military use rights; In 1983, the Reagan Administration said in its “presidential statement” that “the United States will exercise and safeguard its freedom and rights of navigation and aviation worldwide” and “will not acquiesce in the unilateral acts of other countries that attempt to restrict the international community’s rights and freedoms of navigation, aviation and other uses of the high seas”.
Based on this policy, the U.S. Navy further proposed to control 16 sea throat routes in the world in 1986. These 16 channels range from Greenland Iceland English Channel in the north, to the channel south of Africa in the south, close to Florida Strait and Panama Canal, and as far as Makassar in Southeast Asia, including Panama Canal, Korean Strait, Sunda Strait, Malacca Strait, Gibraltar Strait, Suez Canal, etc., and cover the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean and Arctic Ocean. They are the most strategic maritime channels in the world. These routes are not only global trade routes, but also military supply routes and strategic routes from sea to land. The U.S. Navy believes that as long as a small number of troops are used to control several important Straits with the cooperation of the Allied navies, the purpose of ocean control can be effectively achieved.
In December, 1988, the United States officially launched the “free navigation plan”, which clearly stated that “the interests of the United States are geographically and economically related to all the oceans of the world. The security and Commerce of the United States mainly depend on internationally recognized legal rights and free navigation and air flight”, And reiterated its national policy: “the United States will work to protect and expand the rights and freedoms of navigation and air flight guaranteed by international law to every country. One of the ways for the United States to protect these maritime rights is through the United States’ free navigation program.
The plan includes statements of diplomatic and military action. The latter thwarted the declarations of countries that violated international law by exercising our right to navigation and air flight, and thus demonstrated the determination of the United States to protect freedom of navigation. The State Council and the Ministry of national defense will work together to implement this plan. ” Among them, the military action in the charge of the Department of defense is specifically implemented by the U.S. Navy, which is called “operation freedom of navigation”. Through these actions, the U.S. government declares its position of not recognizing the “excessive maritime claims” of coastal states. In order to maximize its maritime rights and interests, the United States has not acceded to the United Nations Convention on the law of the sea so far.
Obviously, “freedom of navigation” is the national ocean policy of the United States, which includes the basic values and hegemonic ideas of the United States. It is an issue in the field of international politics, a geopolitical game, and not a legal issue in essence. Therefore, the emphasis on freedom of navigation at sea and the control of key Straits and strategic maritime channels are the basic principles adhered to by the U.S. Navy in accordance with its national policy, and there can never be any concessions.
To be clear, the United States will never give in to sea power, that is, today’s maritime control.