A slide from the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence shared online reveals a startling disparity in shipbuilding capacity between the U.S. and China. It shows that China’s shipbuilding capacity is more than 200 times greater than that of the U.S., raising concerns about the U.S. Navy’s ability to compete with Chinese fleets and sustain its forces in future conflicts.
- The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence shared a slide showing the vast discrepancy in shipbuilding capacity between China and the U.S. According to the slide, China’s shipyards have a capacity of around 23,250,000 million tons, more than 200 times greater than the U.S.’s capacity of less than 100,000 tons.
- The slide also provides data on the respective sizes of the U.S. and Chinese naval forces, projecting substantial growth in China’s navy by 2035. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is already the largest globally and is expected to continue growing.
- The slide’s data and projections are based on public sources and aim to provide context and trends on China’s shipbuilding capacity rather than a deep dive into China’s commercial shipbuilding industry. However, the state-run nature of China’s shipbuilding industry, with ship producers handling both military and commercial projects, contributes to the large gap.
- Discrepancies in battle force figures between the slide and other official U.S. military data highlight the complexity of comparing naval inventories, which change regularly due to decommissioning and new acquisitions. Moreover, accurate accounting of China’s naval forces would have to include the PLAN and some ships from its Coast Guard and other maritime security agencies.
- The U.S. military and naval experts have been highlighting the growing gap between the U.S. Navy and the PLAN for years. The U.S. Navy’s limited shipyard capacity poses a threat, and the ability to sustain ships is critical, especially considering that China’s shipyards can accommodate an aircraft carrier in more than 50 dry docks.