Ships of Pan-Asia
Early expansion in the 1950's was primarily the result of purchasing hand-me-down frigates and destroyers from the Soviet Navy while the People's Republic of China developed shipbuilding and naval architecture skills from within its own borders (with Soviet assistance). The PLAN remained largely focused on littoral and riverine combat until the late 1980s and the break-up of the Soviet Union. China's more prominent role in world — and naval — affairs in the years hence has led to explosive growth of the modern PLAN and development of green water capabilities that continue to expand today. The PLAN operates at least one modern aircraft carrier — purchased as surplus from the Russian Federation Navy — while developing their own carrier construction program; they launched their first nuclear ballistic missile submarine in 1981, and continue to progress improvements to their own designs of surface vessels and submarines.
Their meager forces devastated in the opening days of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, the ROCN effectively ceased to exist again until the close of World War II. Re-constituted and bolstered by the transfer of decommissioned ships from Allied navies — and captured ships from the IJN — the ROCN was again decimated by Chinese internal politics, as some units defected to support Communist forces during the Chinese Civil War that broke out in March 1946. Loyal ROCN units were instrumental in assisting with and protecting the evacuation of over a million refugees from mainland China to the island of Taiwan in October 1949 following the defeat of Chiang Kai-shek's Chinese Nationalist forces at the hands of Mao Zedong's Communists.
Much to the irritation of the People's Republic of China, Western navies — such as the United States Navy — quickly developed relations with the exiled armed forces of the Republic of China and have supported them in the decades since. Transfers of technology and materiel have kept the ROCN modern and relevant as concerns developed in the early 1990's around the PLAN's ability to potentially blockade the island. Local shipbuilding lacks the capability to deliver submarines, but has successfully built and commissioned a mix of frigates, corvettes, and local patrol vessels into ROCN service. Combined with a mix of surplus vessels purchased from the United States, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, the modern ROCN continues to pursue a mission of local littoral control and anti-blockade measures in the shadow of an expanding PLAN.
The young navy barely had time to develop assets before finding itself embroiled in the Korean War that broke out in June 1950. Bolstered by sales and donations of surplus World War II ships and material from friendly navies — as well as the active participation of navies from the member states of the United Nations — the ROKN quickly developed a reputation of aggressiveness, competence, and effectiveness in combat. The cease-fire that ended the war three years later has given way to a long, uneasy peace between the Republic of Korea (South Korea) on the southern half of the peninsula and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) on the northern half.
Since the end of the Korean War, the ROKN has concentrated its efforts on building naval forces to hold in check the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Navy (DPRKN) and their littoral naval capabilities. By the late 1970's, the growth of the South Korean economy and shipbuilding industry allowed them to grow their naval fleet with destroyers, frigates, and corvettes built indigenously. The modern ROKN continues to pursue missions of deterring aggression, protection of national maritime rights, and supporting the nation's foreign policy; as a part of their overall mission, it has engaged in several peacekeeping operations since the turn of the 21st century.
Siam later placed orders with Japanese shipyards for the construction of two coastal monitors, two submarines, and number of destroyers. These ships were involved in the 1932 coup that transformed the absolute monarchy of Siam into the constitutional monarchy of Thailand, as well as the Franco-Thai War, which saw Thailand take advantage of the fall of France in 1940 to reclaim territory lost to the French during the conflicts of the 19th century. The conclusion of the Franco-Thai War was mediated by Japan, and the treaty signed in Tokyo on 9 May 1941. Barely seven months later, Japan invaded and subjugated Thailand, forcing her government to declare war on the Allied powers in January 1942.
The conclusion of World War II brought additional political turmoil to southeast Asia; the withdrawal of the Japanese and the weakening of colonial European forces left room for many countries to undergo significant leadership changes. Backed by the Soviet Union and China, communist ideology began to expand throughout the Indochina peninsula. With the aid of the United States — and royal influence — Thailand was able to resist communist influence and join the United Nations, allowing units of the RTN to participate in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars (in cooperation with South Korea and South Vietnam, respectively).
Today, the modern RTN continues to develop their overall capabilities, and is notable as the only southeast Asian nation to operate an aircraft carrier. Like their counterparts in Taiwan, local shipbuilding also has the ability to deliver modern frigates and destroyers without the need to purchase them from Western navies.