Spratley Flashpoint Scenario

This is a military scenario involving naval action by allied nations in and around the Spratley Island chain. The assumption is that international relations between the superpowers are in tatters and that the US Navy and Marine Corps has been given the job of expelling Chinese occupiers from the Spratley Islands (which are more like sand dunes in a particularly shallow part of the sea West of the Phillippines). New Zealand has been asked to join an "allied naval task force".

Just to make clear how little New Zealand is compared to our allies here is the force available to the US.


The US Navy Pacific Command operates two fleets (the 3rd and 7th) in the Pacific. The 7th fleet is divided into nine task forces. One of those task forces CTF70 consists of 1 nuclear aircraft carrier with a wing of 50 F/A-18s and three guided missile cruisers plus eight destroyers.  Other task forces include submarines, Navy Seals, amphibious landing and Marine brigades.  In other words one fleet of the US Navy is bigger, better experienced and trained than the entire Chinese navy. If Australia comes to the party it could add a missile cruiser and five frigates to the line up.

In short New Zealand's contribution is symbolic, not practical.

What we could contribute:

2 Logistic Support Vessels able to provide at-sea resupply, refuelling and medical assistance
2 SH-2G helicopters for liaison and SAR


The US armed forces have their own ways of doing things. Interfacing with them is complicated and interfacing with them in a tense situation like combat takes a lot of training and practice. By contrast supplying fuel and food is relatively straight forward. It provides support but doesn't involve getting in the way of busy people. Rather than trying to be something we are not (a maritime power) we should help our allies with what we do best.