|South Korean Sejong the Great class Destroyer|
By WENDELL MINNICK, JUNG SUNG-KI and NIGEL PITTAWAY
TAIPEI, SEOUL AND MELBOURNE — Ninety percent of the world’s trade flows by sea and the majority of that through narrow, vulnerable straits such as Malacca, Singapore and Taiwan. This has forced the Asia-Pacific region to outspend all other nations, except the US, in procurement of ships and submarines.
The dangers are real. Taiwan Adm. Chen Yeong-kang said regional territorial disputes could disrupt sea lines of communication (SLOC) in the region. The comments were made during the 2014 International Sea Lines of Communication Conference sponsored by the Taiwan Navy on Oct. 15.
“Any abrupt armed incident or mass military conflict is possible to impact the SLOC and endanger transport safety.”
Due to the tight thoroughfares of many of Asia’s straits and low depths of the South China Sea, many regional countries are procuring fast attack craft, corvettes and coast guard cutters, said Stanley Weeks, an adjunct professor at the US Naval War College. He expects navies and coast guards to procure more fixed-wing planes, including UAVs and refurbished P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft.
More P-3s will become available as the US begins retiring its fleet and procuring the new P-8 Poseidon.
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