Alerts Sound on Maritime Logistics: Several Experts See Seriously Lacking Sealift Capability

The oiler USNS John Lenthall travels alongside the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge during a replenishment on June 25. Lenthall is among 21 tankers and fleet oilers, but a report this spring from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment recommended that number be increased to 69 tankers and oilers (U.S. Navy/Petty Officer 1st Class Mike DiMestico).

The oiler USNS John Lenthall travels alongside the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge during a replenishment on June 25. Lenthall is among 21 tankers and fleet oilers, but a report this spring from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment recommended that number be increased to 69 tankers and oilers (U.S. Navy/Petty Officer 1st Class Mike DiMestico).

September 10, 2019 | Source: Seapower Magazine, seapowermagazine.org, Otto Kreisher, 29 August 2019

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are aggressively changing course and refocusing their resources and training to prepare the fleet and expeditionary forces for a “Great Power Competition” with China and Russia. But a growing number of Navy officers and defense analysts are warning that current and planned maritime logistics capabilities are seriously inadequate to sustain forward-deployed combat forces in an extended fight against such peer competitors.

This deficiency would be particularly severe in a high-intensity conflict against China, which is rapidly developing military capabilities specifically aimed at keeping U.S. forces far from their shores and able to threaten Pacific Ocean-based logistical support facilities, the critics warned. A fight against a resurgent Russia could be a repeat of the 1940s “battle of the Atlantic” with a small Military Sealift Command (MSC) force and an American merchant marine fleet — a fraction of the size of the World War II armada — trying to evade scores of sophisticated Russian submarines in a desperate effort to reinforce and supply U.S. forces in Europe.

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