US To Convert Pacific Oil Rigs Into Military Bases as Part of Anti-China Buildup

The idea is to create mobile missile defense systems and resupply bases

The US Navy will convert surplus oil rigs in the western Pacific into mobile military bases as part of the US military buildup aimed at China, The Defense Post reported on Tuesday.

The naval engineering firm Gibbs & Cox developed the concept, known as the Mobile Defense/Depot Platform (MODEP), and presented it earlier this month at the Sea Air Space Expo. The idea is to convert oil rigs into mobile missile defense and resupply bases.

“Our target here is to find a solution to help the challenging problem of having capacity issues in the Western Pacific. For not enough cells, not enough missiles, not enough of being able to keep those ships in the forward station,” Dave Zook, an architect at Gibbs & Cox, told Naval News.

Gibbs & Cox claims that the floating bases would be able to hold 512 vertical launch system cells or 100 large missile launchers, which is five times the capacity of a US Navy destroyer. The idea is to counter China’s ballistic missiles that could take out US warships and bases in the region in the event of an open war.

US military officials have been explicit about the fact that they’re preparing for a direct war with China in the region despite the obvious risk of the conflict quickly turning nuclear. The US has been expanding its military footprint in the Philippines and in Pacific island nations to give China more targets that it will have to hit.

Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, the former head of US Pacific Air Forces who is now the commander of Air Combat Command, made this clear in comments to Nikkei Asia last year.

“Obviously, we would like to disperse in as many places as we can to make the targeting problem for the Chinese as difficult as possible,” Wilsbach said. “A lot of those runways where we would operate from are in the Pacific Island nations.”

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.