Does China's Admiral Luo Yuen understand that we shoot back?

A Chinese admiral in the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) named Luo Yuan* just told America we had best sound General Quarters.  ("Sound General Quarters – all hands man your battle station" is a Navy term meaning prepare to fight.)

Since PRC leaders mean what they say, a "Victory at Sea" sequel maybe fast approaching.

"What the United States fears the most is taking casualties," Admiral Lou declared.

He said the loss of one super carrier would cost the US the lives of 5000 service men and women.  Sinking two would double that toll.

"We'll see how frightened America is."

Rear Admiral Luo Yuan (image credit: Voice of America).

Anywhere a U.S. Navy ship sails, it will be prudent for any adversary to know there is the high probability that the spirit of U.S. Navy World War II fleet admiral Nimitz travels with it.  There is a great quote about Nimitz's personal leadership in World War II.

His chief of staff, Raymond Spruance, said of Nimitz that he "never knew what it meant to be afraid of anything."

Less than a year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the "Doolittle Raiders" had their "30 Seconds over Tokyo" bombing raid.  In doing so, the Navy-Army Air Corp team gave the Japanese leaders a real wake-up call that they would ultimately lose WWII.  B-25 Army Air Force crews made their heroic flight launching from the deck of the CV-8, USS Hornet.

After the Doolittle Raid, the USS Hornet continued to fight the Imperial Japanese Fleet.  At the Battle of Midway, the entire complement, save one pilot, of Torpedo Squadron 8 from the Hornet were all killed, but the great "miracle at Midway" victory was achieved.

Finally, the heroic ship was sunk at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Island.  Quoting various reports about the battle proved that it was a hard ship to kill.

In a 15-minute period, Hornet took three bomb hits from "Val" dive bombers, another bomb hit compounded by the "Val" itself crashing into the deck, two torpedo hits from "Kates", and another "Val" crashing into the deck.  Because of the damage the Hornet was taken under tow when another Japanese plane scored a hit.

The order was given to abandon ship.  U.S. forces then attempted to scuttle Hornet, which absorbed nine torpedoes and more than 400 5 in (130 mm) rounds from the destroyers Mustin and Anderson.  Mustin and Anderson moved off when a Japanese surface force appeared in the area.

Japanese destroyers Makigumo and Akigumo then finished Hornet with four torpedoes.  At 01:35 on 27 October, she finally sank with the loss of 140 of her crew.

It was the last U.S. fleet carrier to be sunk in WWII.

And another history lesson, this time from my class in naval history over four decades ago at the U.S. Naval Academy.  I have tried to find the original source, but I just remember the professor's narrative.

As the war in the Pacific got closer to the main islands of Japan, Kamikazes – the drones of the day – were used to attack the American battle fleet.  At that time the aircraft carrier was the primary ship leading the attack.  Killing carriers was the goal.  The Navy, knowing this, screened the fleet carriers with radar picket destroyers to both give warning and provide anti-aircraft fire at incoming Kamikazes.

During a lull after a wave of deadly Kamikaze attacks, a voice was heard skipping across the waves by sailors of the main fleet (sound can do this at sea).  As told, it was an ensign on a radar picket ship, and he was telling the crew that all the officers were killed, but he was in command, and they would continue to fight the ship.  I was told the destroyer was lost.

If PLA satellites are a problem and it is a choice between putting a carrier battle group at risk or fighting a space war, I think the fighting Navy is capable and ultimately ruthless enough to blind the PRC military.

After the PLA shot down a satellite from a land-based launch pad, the U.S. Navy demonstrated our at sea capability.  From a Department of Defense report:

At approximately 10:26 p.m. EST, Feb. 20, (2008) a U.S. Navy AEGIS warship, USS Lake Erie (CG-70), fired a single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) hitting the satellite approximately 133 nautical miles over the Pacific Ocean as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph. USS Decatur (DDG-73) and USS Russell (DDG-59) were also part of the task force.

So let us make it simple for the PLA, PLAN, PLAAF, and 2nd Artillery: the U.S. Navy is battle-tested, with a legacy of carrying the fight to any enemy.

In the 21st century, it will be important that no platform fight alone.  USN satellite-killing Aegis ships are joined by F-35Bs flying from the Navy/Marine Amphibious Readiness Group "Gator" Navy – the USMC F-35B V/Stol.  This is a huge at sea multiplier in capability.  Carrier battle group air wings with the F-35C will give naval forces afloat both situational awareness and the ability to fight a three-dimensional war.

Anti-submarine warfare is a huge war-at-sea weakness of the Chinese PLAN.  In the American Navy community, historically, it was proven that "courage runs deep" in our submarine force.  In WWII, Navy undersea warriors accounted for 52% of all ships sent to the bottom, with 52 "Still on Patrol."  They are to this day a fearless group of sailors.

Finally, like the radar picket ships of WWII, current destroyers and frigates can add a huge defensive element against CHICOM incoming missiles.  The capability to spoof and jam incoming guided weapons is an art of electronic warfare practiced by Navy forces for decades.

The 21st-century Navy can blind them and blast them and sink them – and that is real deterrence and should give the PRC pause.  Before starting a hostile action, if you fight "Feet Wet," Admiral Lou, all your ships will be sunk.

*Spelling of this name varies: Luo Yuen, Luo Yuan, and Lou Yuen have all appeared in print.

Ed Timperlake is a Naval Academy graduate who commanded VMFA-321, a Reserve Marine fighter squadron.