Who Can Command the Wind? IMEMO`s New Maritime Potential Index

April 15, 2024


Research paper by the Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO RAS). 2023. 
ISBN 978-5-9535-0614-4, DOI 10.20542/978-5-9535-0614-4 (published both in Russian and in English)

URL: https://www.imemo.ru/files/File/ru/publ/2023/SPR-2023.pdf

Since naval forces are playing an increasingly important role in promoting the global power of nations, this aspect of international security has attracted close attention of many security researchers worldwide. Such forces can perform missions virtually in any spot of the world ocean and can serve both as a deterrent and be used directly in the combats. Great powers put premium on their navies and strive to take foremost positions. However, it is complicated to identify the champion among the leaders.   

IMEMO RAS developed a system of indexes for the evaluation of an overall maritime capability of a country. The Index of Maritime Might (IMM) is a system of subindexes which helps to analyze maritime potential of countries and rank them. This system includes the rankings of the top 100 countries according to the degree of their involvement in a variety of maritime activities (military, economic, science, etc.).

The IMEMO Sea Power’s Rankings 2023 is a unique research paper where the authors (Alexander Polivach and Pavel Gudev) analyze a number of factors (from offshore mineral reserves to the availability of advanced naval technology) to determine a nation’s maritime power. The following main maritime activities (not included in other indices) are defined for the IMM evaluation: maritime transportation, maritime employment, civil ship building, port activities, extraction, and breeding of marine bioresources, extraction of minerals from the continental shelf, use of the sea for energy production, maritime recreation and sports, marine bioresources, etc.

The authors not only present the main criteria for the IMM evaluation, but also provide case studies. Thus, according to the researchers, the competition between China and the United States in the naval field is of the greatest interest. The authors underline that China remains the leader in warship construction, surpassing the US by an average of 1.7 times annually. According to the forecast, the Chinese naval potential will surpass American one by 2041, in case the current rates of their development remain the same (one has to remember that this forecast is about the Index of Navy, but not about the number of ships).

All in all, the IMM is one of the most comprehensive indices of the maritime capabilities of countries at the moment and can be used by international security specialists to conduct their research and assess the maritime security capabilities of states. The monograph itself is also of great interest because of the large number of relevant statistics and practical cases.

E16/MIN – 24/04/15