Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part XCVI
time moves faster than you think
Since August of last year, this picture keeps cropping up, and for good reason.
Images posted on the Chinese social media platform Weibo show five hulls of the Luyang III-class Type 052 destroyer under construction at the state-owned Dalian Shipyard in Liaoning province, northeast China
China is building at a wartime pace - more than just these five - for a reason. They have plans ... or at least want to be ready to execute a plan ... one long in the making.
While we're at it, let's bring up a picture of the People's Liberation Army Navy's first aircraft carrier Liaoning - without which they would be at least one if not two decades behind in building their carrier fleet.
While it is encouraging that in the last few years "official Washington" has reached the pivot point in seeing the PRC's plans - it is almost criminal the lack imagination and vision on our part seeing it, especially in the 1990s when was the point everyone should have seen the game was afoot.
Just two datapoints, both related to these two pics.
"The Long Game" was an old story by the time we started it in 2004. It has its roots a lot further back. I think the first tickle of the idea came to Ensign Salamander back in 1990 when he caught a bit of info in the local paper about something that dominated the skyline for anyone coming in or out of Mayport.
Go to the pic at the top and look at those cranes and then return here.
Know what the pic below is?
That's right - it was the original plan for "Goat Island" in the St. Johns River in northeast Florida. Today is is known as Blount Island.
There were big plans there in the 1960s and 70s;
...Offshore Power Systems (OPS) was formed on July 6, 1972 as a 50/50 joint venture between Tenneco Power Systems (who owned the Newport News shipyard) and Westinghouse Electric Corporation. It proposed to design, manufacture, and market complete nuclear power plants of a standardized design and integrated with specially designed floating platforms 5.
Each floating nuclear power station (FNPS) would contain two or more FNPPs within a protective breakwater. The individual plants were to be 1150 MWe Westinghouse four-loop PWRs with ice-condenser containments. They had once-through steam condenser cooling with no cooling towers. Electricity was to be transmitted at high-voltage (345 kV) through submerged cables beneath the sea bottom. A shore support facility would provide a staging area, a docking facility, office buildings, and parking.
At the time, the largest crane of its type in the world, just one, was at Blount Island - but the anti-nuclear movement in the 1970s killed OPS before any construction could be started.
That crane though...what was to be done with that? In 1990, in the heart of the Bush41 Presidency;
A REMNANT of a futuristic project that would have supplied cities with electricity from floating nuclear power plants is about to leave Florida. The world's largest crane, designed to build the nuclear systems, is being dismantled along the St. Johns River for shipment to China. The crane is being taken down by workers from the China State Shipbuilding Corp. at Blount Island. The Chinese reportedly paid $3 million for the 38-story crane, which cost $15 million when built for Offshore Power Systems.
Ensign Salamander - always suspecting the worse of all communist nations and enraged that we would do any business with them, was unpleased, but had a lot of PQS to do and was keeping a weather eye to that Iraq thing and hoped his betters knew what they were doing.
So began a bi-partisan decade of stupid acts.
Quick, go up to look at the PLAN carrier pic above again then come back.
Where did that start?
It was a mission like no other. In the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse, one businessman armed with cash and a casino cover story scooped the world to buy the unfinished hulk of a Ukrainian aircraft carrier that would become the centrepiece of the PLA Navy.
Speaking to the media for the first time, the Hong Kong-based businessman at the heart of the undertaking reveals in a two-part series the details of the little-known, behind-the-scenes odyssey to realise China's long-held dream of owning such a warship.
Xu Zengping disclosed that the militarily sensitive original engines of the carrier were intact when Ukraine sold the vessel in 1998. This is contrary to what Beijing told the world at the time.
Soon to be LCDR Salamander didn't like this either, but he was focused on that guy in Iraq who needed a good spanking for trying to kill Bush41, so he hoped his betters knew what they were doing. He had his suspicions because we were also selling MIRV technology to the PRC, but what did I know?
His betters didn't.
Karginov told the media: “The unfinished aircraft carrier Varyag was handed over to Ukraine and then sold to China to convert it into a casino. After China received the ship, it completed its construction and renamed it the Liaoning ship. The ship was originally supposed to become one of the main ships of the USSR.”
I'm not really mad at the PRC. I'm actually quite impressed with their leadership's long term vision, drive, and follow through.
Are we thinking as long-term? Is our defense nomenklatura focused on the Long Game ... or any game at all outside the Beltway?
Have we learned?