SINGAPORE - The United States navy needs to expand its capability in order to keep up with - or even outpace - the development of maritime forces by other countries in the region, said its chief of naval operations John Richardson on Tuesday (May 16).
"Pace is an important part of our current security environment and so we have to be mindful that that environment is moving forward at a particular pace and if we're going to remain competitive we better pick up the pace and match it at least, if not exceed it," he said.
Such an upgrade will not just be about the number of ships or the type of naval assets. The US navy will also have to take into account how it complements other parts of the US military as well as its network of allies and partners, said Admiral Richardson, who is in Singapore for the International Maritime Review and the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (Imdex) Asia.
He added that the world was once again entering "an era of maritime competition" and noted China's military growth in particular.
But he stressed that historically, it is normal for maritime countries to expand in the seas for economic prosperity.
"So we shouldn't be too surprised that we're seeing that dynamic unfolding before us and neither should we be alarmed," said Admiral Richardson, who is the most senior military figure in the US navy.
To manage such a changing environment, countries should identify areas of common interests at sea as well as their differences, while maintaining an open line of communication to minimise the risk of miscalculations, he said.
He also reiterated the close partnership between the US and Singapore navies, and said he and Singapore navy chief Lai Chung Han have outlined measures to deepen cooperation.
The work that both navies do together will strengthen the network of partners that Singapore is a part of, he added, but declined to go into specifics.
"But be assured that we're close partners, part of that bigger community of partners and friends, and we're going to continue to be so in the future," Admiral Richardson said.