Author Topic: China creates a Blue Water Navy in the early 60s with Soviet help  (Read 626 times)

Offline Volkodav

  • Counts rivits with his abacus...
  • Much older now...but procrastinating about it
Mao recognised that China was unable to defeat the UN in Korea due to their inability to control, or even deny access, to the waters surrounding the peninsula.  He even went so far as to request assistance from Stalin in the form of Soviet operated submarines to be used (in a completely deniable manner) to interdict UN naval forces operating in the region.  Stalin refused so as not to be drawn into the conflict but what if instead, once the cease fire had begun, the USSR provided the PLAN with significant numbers of major units?

I know that relations deteriorated significantly between the two nations but suppose Khrushchev decided to keep up appearances by transferring significant numbers of new ships he now saw as outdated and useless, i.e. Sverdlov class cruisers and maybe even the Stalingrad class battle cruisers.  Khrushchev could even have arranged a barter deal for Chinese produce and labour in exchange for completing and transferring the incomplete Sverdlovs and Stalingrads, as well as more numerous destroyers, submarines and maybe missile craft, letting the Chinese think they were getting precedence over Soviet needs for the equipment but in reality the Whiley Russians were simply recouping losses on unwanted and unneeded equipment.

The irony is, while perceived as useless in a nuclear war this fleet in being would completely change the balance of power in South East Asia and the South China Sea in particular with the various bushfire wars and insurgencies taking place in the region during the late 50s through until the early 70s.  Even if never used in anger the existence of a dozen large gun cruisers and three battle cruisers, and Chinas ability to crew them would likely have forced a complete reappraisal of what exactly the west could do in the region, and potentially forced a complete re-evaluation of force levels and equipment types retained and  / or acquired, as well as required force levels.

Would the US have perhaps modernised and recommissioned all of the Iowas?  Maybe the Alaskas too and perhaps even Hawaii, Illinois and Kentucky could have been completed to provide sufficient big gins to protect the now much more vulnerable carriers?  Would the UK have pulled out East of Suez sooner, or would they have invested more in the RN to counter the threat?  Perhaps Vanguard being retained in operational service for longer and spending most of her time in the waters she was originally intended to serve in.  Would the RN have gotten additional carrier modernisations or perhaps the oft delayed new build carriers, perhaps the proposed new gun missile cruisers would have been built after all as the carriers would need to be escorted by ships that could see off a Sverdlov. 

Would Japan have rearmed sooner and more extensively, perhaps acquiring carriers with strike aircraft needed to defend against these ships? Would it have seen South Korea spending big on their navy and building it up much sooner, would they perhaps have concentrated on submarines as a counter as they couldn't hope to make the number of cruisers.

And of course, what would Australia have needed to do to stay relevant in the region?  Would they have even have bothered trying, or just redrawn a map and pretend the world stopped just north of Java?

Offline Rickshaw

  • "Of course, I could be talking out of my hat"
Re: China creates a Blue Water Navy in the early 60s with Soviet help
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2017, 11:39:06 AM »
While Australia was "concerned" about events north of Indonesia, in reality it didn't do all that much about them.  Its defence forces were small and were deliberately kept small throughout the 1950s by the Liberal Government, with the monies saved being spent on domestic affairs.   Something which partially ended with the reintroduction of Conscription in 1964.   Up until then, the Army consisted of one reinforced brigade of infantry, one armoured regiment and two medium and one heavy regiments of artillery (plus supporting units).   The RAAF was the consistent winner but even for them, the expense of maintaining a large flying force was proving expensive.  Australia would start to up it's ante with the commitment to South Vietnam.  I could see perhaps Sydney's modernisation going ahead and perhaps another one or two destroyers being built but not much more.

The problem I see with your scenario is that the PRC lacked the ability to finish off the part-finished ex-Soviet ships.  It didn't have the heavy industry to create armour plate nor the shipyards to build them in.   Further, you're buying into the American Cold War thinking that wars of National Liberation were created by Communist (read initially Soviet and then later Chinese) foment, when in reality they came about because of local conditions and a desire to be free from European imperialism.   The Chinese possession of larger and more powerful ships wouldn't change that.   It might cause Beijing to become more adventurous but Mao was a landsman.  He knew little about the Sea.   After the first set back, all the Chinese ships would have been kept in port as a "fleet in being" rather than one in action.  I suspect the US Navy would have relished the chance to refight WWI or WWII in the South China Sea.   Without aircover, the PRC's ships would have been sitting ducks for the carrier aircraft of the USN.

Kruschev would be the real winner in this deal.   The Soviets would be getting rid of ships they no longer desired or needed.  They'd be giving them to the Chinese and I can see the fleet being ripe targets for the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution, much to it's detriment.

Offline Volkodav

  • Counts rivits with his abacus...
  • Much older now...but procrastinating about it
Re: China creates a Blue Water Navy in the early 60s with Soviet help
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2017, 01:17:42 PM »
While Australia was "concerned" about events north of Indonesia, in reality it didn't do all that much about them.  Its defence forces were small and were deliberately kept small throughout the 1950s by the Liberal Government, with the monies saved being spent on domestic affairs.   Something which partially ended with the reintroduction of Conscription in 1964.   Up until then, the Army consisted of one reinforced brigade of infantry, one armoured regiment and two medium and one heavy regiments of artillery (plus supporting units).   The RAAF was the consistent winner but even for them, the expense of maintaining a large flying force was proving expensive.  Australia would start to up it's ante with the commitment to South Vietnam.  I could see perhaps Sydney's modernisation going ahead and perhaps another one or two destroyers being built but not much more.

The problem I see with your scenario is that the PRC lacked the ability to finish off the part-finished ex-Soviet ships.  It didn't have the heavy industry to create armour plate nor the shipyards to build them in.   Further, you're buying into the American Cold War thinking that wars of National Liberation were created by Communist (read initially Soviet and then later Chinese) foment, when in reality they came about because of local conditions and a desire to be free from European imperialism.   The Chinese possession of larger and more powerful ships wouldn't change that.   It might cause Beijing to become more adventurous but Mao was a landsman.  He knew little about the Sea.   After the first set back, all the Chinese ships would have been kept in port as a "fleet in being" rather than one in action.  I suspect the US Navy would have relished the chance to refight WWI or WWII in the South China Sea.   Without aircover, the PRC's ships would have been sitting ducks for the carrier aircraft of the USN.

Kruschev would be the real winner in this deal.   The Soviets would be getting rid of ships they no longer desired or needed.  They'd be giving them to the Chinese and I can see the fleet being ripe targets for the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution, much to it's detriment.

The idea was based on the fact Mao recognised that without a blue water naval force capable of at least sea denial that they would never be able to defeat the western imperialist scum in a land war, i.e. they had to be able to remove the advantages the wests carriers and amphibious forces brought.  The follow up of this thinking was the knowledge the Chinese at that point were incapable of building such a fleet themselves and the Soviets had a large number of ships under construction that Khrushchev did not believe they needed.  The win win is the Soviet yards get to finish the contracts, maybe even getting some bartered Chinese labour to help and the Chinese get the ships and the deterrence factor they bring.