A year ago, we would not have predicted the ongoing war in Ukraine would still be . . . ongoing. We would have predicted, however, that tensions in the Indo-Pacific would continue to climb. This month’s focus on international navies brings those two challenges—and others—to the fore. In “The International Commanders Respond,” more than 20 international navy chiefs accepted our annual invitation to write about how global threats are impacting their nations’ navies and coast guards. The Commander of the Finnish Navy, Rear Admiral Jori Harju, responds, “The war in Ukraine has shown the importance of situational awareness, . . . defense cooperation, interoperability, and high readiness. . . . Finland is now a member of NATO.”
The Commander of the Ukrainian Navy, Vice Admiral Oleksiy Neizhpapa, provides some lessons from the ongoing war in "The Ukrainian Navy and the Fight for Democracy.” “[O]ne principle of naval power from . . . Alfred Thayer Mahan should be recalled: We must defend our own coast starting from the coast of the enemy.” The Ukrainian Navy has done that remarkably well.
Meetings between Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and the former and current speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives certainly sharpened disagreements between the United States and China. In “Growing and Going to Sea,” retired Captain Jim Fanell, an expert on the PLA Navy, writes “Although the largest navy on the planet did not commission as many ships, . . . it continued to outproduce the U.S. Navy in total numbers of ships, tonnage, and supersonic antiship cruise missiles.”
Retired Indian Navy Rear Admiral Sudarshan Shrikhande offers his expertise on the Indian Ocean region again this year in “Cooperation and Conflict in the Indo-Pacific.” Making the point that Russia–Ukraine and China–Taiwan are linked in several ways, Shrikhande points out, “The concern in much of the Indian Ocean region . . . is that, geostrategically, China is quite likely to emerge from the crisis relatively stronger than an exhausted Russia. Western countries may emerge somewhat . . . depleted from helping Ukraine, and that may suit China, too.”
On the NATO front, in addition to Finland and Sweden joining the alliance, Russia’s aggression has increased the pace of naval modernization, integration, and interoperability. In “NATO Navies in Review,” Eric Wertheim, the author of our monthly Combat Fleets column, provides an excellent country-by-country summary of major naval procurement projects and noteworthy deployments and exercises over the past year.
The Maritime COIN Project is back this month with Singaporean Professor Collin Koh’s “David vs. Goliath: Southeast Asia Can Resist China’s Gray Zone Aggression in the South China Sea . . . with Help.” We are glad to have an author from the region contribute to this project, and his insights on regional willingness to push back against Chinese overreach offer ways to support and amplify those efforts.
Finally, it is fitting to mention the passing of a valued international shipmate—Proceedings and Naval Institute Press (NIP) author Rear Admiral James Goldrick, Royal Australian Navy (Retired). James passed away in March. He was a renowned naval historian and strategist and the author of dozens of Proceedings articles and two NIP books. Then-Sub Lieutenant Goldrick penned his first Proceedings article in 1981. Fair winds and following seas, Admiral.