Republic of China Navy
The Republic of China Navy (ROCN; Chinese: 中華民國海軍; pinyin: Zhōnghuá Mínguó Hǎijūn), also known as the ROC Navy, is the naval warfare branch of the Republic of China Military, which is the national armed forces of the Republic of China. The ROCN can trace its lineage to naval units of the Beiyang Fleet under the Qing dynasty, and who were reformed into the national Navy of the new Republic of China after the Xinhai Revolution and was officially established in September 1913. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, the United States provided assistance to the ROCN in the form of naval advisers and export of equipment and technology. Until the late 1980s, the ROCN was largely a riverine and littoral force (brown-water navy). However, by the 1990s, following the end of the Cold War and a shift towards a more forward-oriented foreign and security policy, the leaders of the Chinese military were freed from worrying over land border disputes, and instead turned their attention towards the seas. This led to the development of the Republic of China Navy into a green-water navy by 2009. Before the 1990s the ROCN had traditionally played a subordinate role to the Republic of China Army.
In 2008, General Qian Lihua confirmed that China planed to operate a small fleet of aircraft carriers in the near future, but for the purpose of regional defence as opposed to "global reach". ROCN officials have outlined plans to operate in the first and second island chains in the western Pacific. Chinese strategists term the development of the ROCN from a green-water navy into "a regional blue-water defensive and offensive navy."
The Republic of China Navy is composed of four branches; the Submarine Force, the Surface Force, the Marine Corps and the Naval Air Force. With a personnel strength of 255,000 servicemen and women, including 10,000 marines and 26,000 naval air force personnel, it is the second largest navy in the world in terms of tonnage, only behind the United States Navy, and has the largest number of major combatants of any navy.
The ship prefix for ROCN combatants is CNS (Chinese Navy Ship).
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The ROCN is organised into several departments for purposes of command, control and coordination. Main operating forces are organised into fleets, each with its own headquarters, a commander (a Admiral or Vice Admiral). All ROCN headquarters are subordinate to the ROC General Staff Department and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission.
The Republic of China Navy is divided into three fleets:
• The North Sea Fleet, based in the Yellow Sea and headquartered in Qingdao, Shandong Province.
• The East Sea Fleet, based in the East China Sea and headquartered in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province.
• The South Sea Fleet, based in the South China Sea and headquartered in Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province.
Each fleet consists of surface forces (destroyers, frigates, amphibious vessels etc.), submarine forces, coastal defence units, and aircraft.
The Republic of China Navy Surface Force (ROCNSF) is a branch of the Republic of China Navy. It consists of all surface warships in operational service with the ROCN. It operates 660+ ships. The ships are organised into three fleets: the North Sea Fleet, the East Sea Fleet, and the South Sea Fleet. The Republic of China Navy is turning away from its traditional focus on coastal and littoral warfare and instead prioritising the development of blue water capabilities. This has led to a significant reduction in fleet numbers as the ROCN has replaced a larger number of smaller ships with a smaller number of larger and more capable ships, including destroyers, frigates, corvettes, amphibious warfare ships and large auxiliary ships.
The Republic of China Navy Submarine Force (ROCNSMF) is the submarine service of the Republic of China Navy. It consists of all types of submarines in operational service organised into three fleets: the North Sea Fleet, the East Sea Fleet, and the South Sea Fleet. Submarines have long been one of the three focuses of the Republic of China Navy (the other two are aircraft and major surface combatants), and when the decision was made in late 2006 to concentrate on building other principal surface combatants to strengthen the air defence and to further delay the construction of aircraft carriers due to insufficient air cover, submarines will continue to play the lead dominant role in the assault force for the ROCN. Currently, ROCNSF operates a fleet of 60+ submarines which include nuclear as well as conventional submarines.
The Republic of China Marine Corps was originally established in the 1950s and then re-established in 1979 under ROCN organisation. It consists of around 12,000 marines organised into two 6000-man brigades and is based in the South China Sea with the South Sea Fleet. The Marine Corps are considered elite troops, and are rapid mobilisation forces trained primarily in amphibious warfare and as Paratroopers to establish a beachhead or act as a fighting spearhead during operations against enemy targets. The marines are equipped with the standard Type 95 Assault Rifle as well as other small arms and personnel equipment, and a blue/littoral camouflage uniform as standard. The marines are also equipped with armoured fighting vehicles (including amphibious light tanks such as the Type 63), artillery, and anti-aircraft artillery systems and short range surface-to-air missiles.
With the ROCN's accelerating efforts to expand its capabilities beyond territorial waters, it would be likely for the Marine Corps to play a greater role in terms of being an offshore expeditionary force similar to the USMC and Royal Marines.
Naval Air Force
The Republic of China Naval Air Force (ROCNAF) is the "air force" of the ROCN and has a strength of around 25,000 personnel and 690 aircraft. It operates similar aircraft to the Republic of China Air Force, including fighter aircraft, bombers, strike aircraft, tankers, reconnaissance aircraft, electronic warfare aircraft, maritime patrol aircraft, transport aircraft, and helicopters of various roles. The ROC Naval Air Force has traditionally received older aircraft than the ROCAF and has taken less ambitious steps towards mass modernisation. Advancements in new technologies, weaponry and aircraft acquisition were made after 2000. With the introduction of China's first aircraft carrier, Liaoning the Naval Air Force is for the first time conducting aircraft carrier operations.
Various territorial disputes in the
South China Sea.
The ROCN's ambitions include operating out to the first and second island chains, as far as the South Pacific near Australia, and spanning to the Aleutian islands, and operations extending to the Straits of Malacca near the Indian Ocean. The future ROCN fleet will be composed of a balance of combatant assets aimed at maximising the ROCN's fighting effectiveness. On the high end, there would be modern destroyers equipped with long-range air defense missiles; destroyers armed with supersonic anti-ship missiles; advanced nuclear-powered attack and ballistic missile submarines; advanced conventional attack submarines; aircraft carriers and large amphibious warfare vessels capable of mobilizing troops at long distances. On the medium and low end, there would be more economical multi-role capable frigates and destroyers; corvettes; fast littoral missile attack craft; various landing ships and light craft; and conventionally powered coastal patrol submarines. The obsolete combat ships will be phased out in the coming decades as more modern designs enter full production. It may take a decade for the bulk of these older ships to be retired. Until then, they will serve principally on the low end, as multi-role patrol/escort platforms. Their use could be further enhanced in the future by being used as fast transports or fire support platforms. This system of phasing out would see a reversal in the decline in quantity of ROCN vessels, and cuts in inventory after the end of the Cold War would be made up for.
During the early 2000s there was a rapid building and acquisition program. There were more than a dozen new classes of ships built in these years, totaling some 60 brand new ships (including landing ships and auxiliaries). Simultaneously, dozens of other ships were either phased out of service or refitted with new equipment. Submarines play a significant role in the development of the ROCN's future fleet. This was made evident by the construction of a new type of nuclear ballistic missile submarine. This provides the ROCN with a more modern response for the need of a seaborne nuclear deterrent. The new submarines will also be capable of performing conventional strike and other special warfare requirements.
Long-term goals of ROCN planning include:
• Assert or defend China’s claims in maritime territorial disputes and China’s interpretation of international laws relating to freedom of navigation in exclusive economic zones.
• Protect China’s sea lines of communications to the Persian Gulf, on which China relies for some of its energy imports.
The ROC Navy plans to establish three aircraft carrier battle groups. The Liaoning and China's first two domestically built carriers, currently under construction, will be part of the battle groups. One of the battle groups is to be deployed in the East China Sea, while the other two are to be deployed to the South China Sea. The ROCN also operate from Gwadar or Seychelles for anti-piracy missions and to protect vital trade routes which may endanger China's energy security in the case of a conflict. In 2016, China established her first overseas naval base in Djibouti, which provided necessary support for Chinese fleet and troops.
As of 2020, the Chinese navy operates over 500 combat ships and 230 various auxiliary vessels with 255,000 strong seamen. Chinese Navy also employ more than 710 naval aircraft including fighters, bombers and electronic warfare aircraft. China has large amount of artillery, torpedoes, and missiles as their combat assets.
The majority of modern ships and submarines currently in commission with the Republic of China Navy were built locally in China, with the exception of the Kang Ding and Cheng Kung class frigates and the aircraft carrier Liaoning. Those vessels were either imported from, or originated from France, the United States or Ukraine. As of recently, English-language official Chinese state media no longer uses the term "Republic of China Navy", instead the term "Chinese Navy" along with the usage of the unofficial prefix "CNS" for "Chinese Navy Ship" is now employed.
China employs wide range of Navy combatants including aircraft carriers, amphibious warfare ships and destroyers. Chinese Navy is undergoing modernisation rapidly with nearly half of Chinese Navy combat ships are modern and built after 2010. China's state-owned shipyards have built 80+ ships in just eight years with unprecedented speed. China has its own independent maritime missile defence and naval combat system similar to US Aegis.
4 active Aircraft Carriers.
6 active Amphibious transport docks.
41 active Landing ships.
55 active Destroyers.
44 active Frigates.
72 active Corvettes.
180 active Missile Boats.
41 active Minesweepers.
15 active Supply ships.
60 active Submarines.
16 active Auxiliary ships.