The current state of the civilian mariner sector is a weakness for the United States should a conflict with China break out in the Indo-Pacific, the nominee to lead the combatant command that oversees the region told Congress Thursday.
Adm. Samuel Paparo, who currently leads U.S. Pacific Fleet and was nominated to lead U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee for his confirmation hearing. During the testimony, Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) noted that China has more than 5,500 merchant vessels, while the U.S. has 80 U.S.-flagged merchant ships operating worldwide.
“I believe that the current size and scope of the U.S. merchant fleet is a vulnerability,” Paparo said when asked about the numbers and China’s potential advantage in a conflict. “I believe that we have a force that’s sized for efficiency, but has not been examined from the standpoint of effectiveness under fire.”
Read the rest of the story from USNI news here.