The ship's name and number had already been replaced. Within hours, it would depart San Francisco as The People's Revolution. It would be accompanied the same task force that had sailed with it since its launching, all similarly re-flagged, renamed, and crewed by Chinese sailors.
Admiral McHenry ignored the Consulate General of Great Britain buzzing in his ear until taps ended and he lowered his salute. “I'm sorry, Counselor,” he said over his shoulder, “you were saying?”
“This is deplorable,” the counselor repeated. “You're delivering weapons into the hands of our enemy.”
The admiral shrugged in response. “They're bought and paid for,” he replied.
“But...” the counselor began, but was interrupted by the marshal music accompanying the raising of the flag of the Peoples Republic of China and the admiral resumed the position of attention without saluting.
Later, they stood side-by-side on the dock watching the great ship taking its position in the task force under the command of the Chinese admiral. A detachment of U.S. Marines held the press at bay. The Japanese and South Korean ambassadors stood slightly ahead of the admiral locked in uncharacteristic sympathy. “Poor devils,” the British diplomat observed. “China now has the tools to project power into the oceans around them.”
The admiral merely nodded as though lost in his own thoughts of foreboding. This was the third aircraft carrier task force sold to the Chinese. Even the Iranians now had one. The world was now at their mercy.
The Chinese Ambassador approached with a smile. “Why look so glum, Admiral?” he asked. “You now have a partner that's capable of sharing the burden of maintaining world peace.”
The British diplomat bit his tongue as he had been trained as the admiral returned the Ambassador's smile. “Yes, we look forward to working with you,” he replied as he had been trained. All three accepted the lie without reaction.
The sales had been sanctioned when the U.S. defaulted on its debt. Many still argued that it hadn't been necessary. Tax revenues were more than adequate to service the debt, principal and interest, but the President had insisted that his health care program was more essential than maintaining a world class fleet. Besides, he had argued, drone technology had negated any advantage that surface ships could provide.
Still, since the armaments had been turned over to the Chinese and Iranians, Europe and the United States had been obliged to accept widening Chinese and Iranian territorial claims. Many nations in Africa and Asia were now submitting to their demands for special trade concessions and the NATO alliance was on its last legs.
All this raced through the admiral's mind as he contemplated the bottle of fine bourbon and the handgun that awaited him in his office at the Pentagon.