Gallagher Raises Sealift Concerns

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Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party wrote to the Departments of Defense and Transportation, exposing critical deficiencies in the United States’ military sealift capabilities in the Indo-Pacific.

"The Chinese military has embarked on an unprecedented naval buildup. Meanwhile, our aging and underfunded fleet of sealift ships will be relied on to transport ninety percent of all Army and Marine Corps equipment to support large-scale operations in the Indo-Pacific."

Mr. Gallagher writes, “Sealift has long been an essential element of our national security strategy... Now, in the middle of a new Cold War, the United States finds itself with neither the sufficient military nor civil resources to meet our sealift objective.”  The situation, he writes “has led to a perfect storm in which the United States appears unprepared to carry out major sealift operations during a crisis.” 

Mr. Gallagher emphasized the significant gap between the U.S. and Chinese military sealift capacity. He highlighted the United States’ 60 ship military sealift fleet, and 177 merchant ships, down from 600 merchant ships in 1990.  By comparison, China maintains a 5,500-ship merchant fleet.

Moreover, the average age of U.S. sealift ships is 45 years old. A 2019 Department of Defense exercise revealed that only 40 percent of the then 61-ship fleet sealift fleet was ready for mobilization.

Mr. Gallagher called for an immediate expansion of U.S. sealift capacity, requesting information from the Departments about the current sealift fleet and plans for fleet expansion. 

Read Mr. Gallagher's letter  HERE.