The visit is reportedly aimed to ‘build relationships’ with China.
The US warship currently in China is the USS Benfold, an Arleigh Burke class destroyer.
Benfold is a multi-mission platform. Benfold was one of the first ships fitted with the new AEGIS Ballistic Missile System and during the 2010 Stellar Daggers exercise was the first ship to simultaneously engage a ballistic missile and a cruise missile.
This comes as a state-run Chinese newspaper suggested China take military action against Australian warships over the South China Sea dispute.
The Global Times editorial piece, entitled ‘Paper cat Australia will learn its lesson’, describes Australia as a “an offshore prison of the UK and then became its colony, a source of raw materials, overseas market and land of investment.”
The piece goes on to say:
“China must take revenge and let it know it’s wrong. Australia’s power means nothing compared to the security of China. If Australia steps into the South China Sea waters, it will be an ideal target for China to warn and strike.”
The Royal Australian Navy fleet is made up of 47 commissioned warships as of January 2016.
The main strength is the eleven frigates of the surface combatant force: eight Anzac class and three Adelaide class. Six Collins class boats make up the submarine service, although due to the maintenance cycle not all submarines are active at any time.
Amphibious warfare assets include two Canberra-class landing helicopter dock ships and the landing ship HMAS Choules. Thirteen Armidale class patrol boats perform coastal and economic exclusion zone patrols, and four Huon class vessels are used for minehunting and clearance (another two are commissioned but in reserve since October 2011). Replenishment at sea is provided by two ships, Sirius and Success, while the two Leeuwin class and four Paluma class vessels perform survey and charting duties.
There are approximately 496 ships active in the People’s Liberation Army Navy, this figure does not include the 232 various auxiliary vessels of the PLAN.
A summary of ship types in service with the PLAN include an aircraft carrier, amphibious transport docks, landing ship tanks, landing ship medium, destroyers, frigates, corvettes, missile boats, submarine chasers, gunboats, mine countermeasures vessels, replenishment oilers and various auxiliaries. In addition, there are also nuclear and conventional submarines presently in service.