With the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union ceased to be a threat to U.S. interests. As a result, antisubmarine warfare (ASW) equipment was removed from U.S. Coast Guard cutters. At the time, the logic appeared sound: With the fall of the communist menace, long patrols along the U.S. coastline hunting for Soviet submarines would no longer be required. Yet even as the Cold War faded into the history books, a new competitor was emerging.
Following economic reforms enacted in 1991, China began an upward trend that has continued largely unabated in three important areas: diplomatic influence, economic growth, and military expansion. Today, the geopolitical intentions of China’s Communist Party leaders remain murky at best. With its alarming—and illegal—actions in the South and East China Seas, including the construction of military bases on artificial islands and aggressive behaviors toward its neighbors, China has displayed a willingness to violate international law and strong-arm countries into actions favorable to its own interests.1
1. Jane Perez, “Tribunal Rejects Beijing’s Claims in South China Sea,” The New York Times, 12 July 2016.
2. Li Jinming and Li Dexia, “The Dotted Line on the Chinese Map of the South China Sea: A Note,” Ocean Development & International Law 34, no. 3/4 (July 2003):, 287–95.
3. “Recent Developments Surrounding the South China Sea,” The Associated Press, 26 April 2020.
4. Erin Hale, “In Shadow of Coronavirus, China Steps up Manoeuvres Near Taiwan,” Aljazeera, 22 April 2020.
5. Rick Joe, “Pondering China’s Future Nuclear Submarine Production,” The Diplomat, 23 January 2019.
6. Lewis Page, “First True Submarine Captured from American Drug Smugglers,” The Register, 6 July 2010.
7. Michael G. Walling, Bloodstained Sea: The U.S. Coast Guard in the Battle of the Atlantic, 1941–1944 (International Marine/McGraw Hill, 2004).
8. “1941: Coast Guard Aviation Anti- Submarine Operations,” Coast Guard Aviation Association.
9. Chuck Hill, “Bring Back the Coast Guard ASW Mission,” Chuck Hill’s CG Blog, 31 January 2011; and Tyler Rogoway, “Coast Guard Cutters Once Carried Harpoon Anti-Ship Missiles and They Could Again,” The Warzone, 24 October 2019.
10. David B. Larter, “Fixing First Four Littoral Combat Ships Not Worth It, U.S. Navy Says,” DefenseNews, 12 February 2020.
11. Caitlin Doornbos, “Coast Guard Planning to Base Three Fast-Response Cutters on Guam, Commandant Says,” Stars and Stripes, 22 October 2019.