Ghost Fleet (novel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War
Ghost Fleet (novel).jpg
First edition
CountryUnited States
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt[1]
Publication date
June 30, 2015
Media typePrint

Ghost Fleet is a 2015 techno-thriller by P. W. Singer and August Cole. Set in the near future, the book portrays a scenario in which a post-Communist China, assisted by Russia, is able to launch a technologically sophisticated attack against the United States in the Pacific, leading to the occupation of the Hawaiian Islands.


Prior to the main events of the novel, Indonesia has collapsed into a failed state following a second war in Timor, and a dirty bomb was detonated in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, causing a massive spike in the price of oil.[2][3][4] A newly discovered natural gas field in the Mariana Trench provides China with energy security.[5][6] Popular unrest leads to the removal of the Communist Party of China, and China is governed by a mix of businessmen and military leaders known as the Directorate.[7][8] China and Russia have also developed the ability to detect and track nuclear-powered ships using Cherenkov radiation, allowing China to effectively neutralize the US Navy's nuclear submarine fleet.[9] China plans to gain control of the third island chain and secure dominance in the western Pacific.[10]

Using a computer virus to first infiltrate the computer systems of the Defense Intelligence Agency, China launches a massive cyber-attack against the United States, crippling many technologically sophisticated systems, including the F-35 Lightning, which were compromised with infected microchips in the supply chain.[11][12] The attack includes extensive use of anti-satellite weapons, leading to the disabling of the Global Positioning System and the loss of several communications and reconnaissance satellites critical to the U.S. military.[3][6] Russian fighters and drones are able to launch a raid on the U.S. military base in Okinawa, and the U.S. military presence in Japan is neutralized.[6] Supported by Russia, China is able to capture Hawaii after a bloody battle, establishing the Hawaii Special Administrative Zone.[12][13][14] The attack leads to the near-complete destruction of the United States Pacific Fleet.[15]

The titular 'Ghost Fleet' refers to the United States Navy reserve fleets, which the United States re-activates as a low-tech fallback.[16][17] The residents of Oʻahu and surviving U.S. military personnel launch an insurgency, known as the North Shore Mujahideen (NSM), against the Chinese occupiers using previous tactics learned from insurgents during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.[7][14] Private companies, such as Walmart, establish a supply chain using 3D printing technology to provide supplies for the war effort and the U.S. government initiates a program to recycle old microchips to negate the effects of the infected ones from China. Following the dissolution of NATO, the United States recognizes Greenland's independence from Denmark, in exchange for using the newly independent Kalaallit Nunaat fleet of icebreakers to move the ghost fleet through the Northwest Passage. An eccentric Silicon Valley billionaire, using his personal wealth and resources, seizes control of the Chinese space station and neutralizes China's anti-satellite systems. Simultaneously, another Silicon Valley magnate wages his own separate campaign against China by using his connections to get into contact with the hacktivist group Anonymous. The group manages to launch their own cyberattack, which cripples the Directorate's cyberwarfare capabilities indefinitely. The United States' military is ultimately able to liberate Hawaii, aided by the Ghost Fleet, the 82nd Airborne Division, the United States Marine Corps, the United States Special Operations Command and aircraft reactivated from the United States Air Force boneyard. The war ends in a status quo ante bellum, with both the United States and the Directorate recovering from the effects of the conflict, however Russia breaks up into a collection of smaller states as a result of public opposition to Russia's participation in the war (i.e. the "Moscow People's Republic.").

One of the subplots in the story revolves around Carrie Shin, a surf instructor at the Moana Surfrider Hotel. She was previously engaged to a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps and was in the process of preparing her wedding when the Invasion of Hawaii began. It is implied in the text that she was previously the victim of systematic sexual and physical abuse at the hands of her father and was recovering with the help of her fiancé. He is subsequently killed during the invasion when his F-35 is compromised due to the malware in the Chinese-made microchips. Now psychologically changed, she begins a systematic campaign of killing Chinese soldiers who are occupying Honolulu. Earning her the moniker, the "Black Widow." Her killings come to the attention of both General Yu Xilai, the Chinese commander of the occupation and his subordinate, Russian Colonel Vladimir Markov. Her actions culminate in Shin and Markov establishing a grudging respect for one another and she feigns capture in order to get close to Yu, whom she violently strangles to death at his headquarters with Markov's silent consent; just as the U.S. counterattack begins.

Characters in Ghost Fleet[edit]

  • Commander Jamie Simmons. Initially an executive officer for the USS Coronado, following the Battle of Hawaii he is placed in command of the USS Zumwalt.[12]
  • Chief Mike Simmons, a U.S. Navy veteran who works at the National Defense Reserve Fleet. Father of Jamie Simmons.
  • Major Carolyne “Conan” Doyle, a United States Marine Corps officer on O'ahu during the Directorate invasion. She later becomes one of the primary leaders of the island's resistance movement, the North Shore Mujahideen (NSM).
  • Dr. Qi Jiangyong. A Chinese surgeon who uses BrainGate-inspired brain implant technology to conduct interrogations.[18]
  • Daniel Aboye, a "Lost Boy" of Sudan turned Silicon Valley-magnate, Aboye helps marshal the information technology war effort, including Anonymous.[19]
  • Colonel Vladimir Andreyevich Markov. A Spetsnaz officer stationed in Hawaii following its capture.[13]
  • Vice Admiral Wang Xiaoqian. A leading military figure in the Directorate.
  • Sir Aeric K. Cavendish. Born Archis Kumar, Cavendish is an Australian biotech billionaire whose private military company is used to neutralize the Tiangong-3 space station during the later stages of the war.[20]
  • Admiral Agathe Abelsen. The leading naval figure of the newly independent Republic of Kalaallit Nunaat (formerly Greenland).
  • General Yu Xilai. Head of the Hawaii Special Administrative Zone, he is primarily engaged in overseeing the Directorate's counter-insurgency campaign.
  • Major General Sergei Sechin. A Russian officer stationed in Beijing, Sechin passes on critical information about the Directorate's Cherenkov radiation detection system to the United States via coded references to Star Trek's Pavel Chekov.[18]
  • Carrie Shin. A female civilian who works at the Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki Beach. Her fiancé was a Marine Corps fighter pilot who was killed during the Invasion of Hawaii. She goes on a personal vendetta by committing a series of increasingly gruesome murders of Chinese troops across Occupied Honolulu.


The authors explicitly wrote Ghost Fleet with the goal of exploring how new technological developments might impact a future war.[7][21] Technologies explored include electromagnetic railguns, swarm UAVs, optical head-mounted display glasses, space-based weaponry and performance-enhancing stimulants.[17][21] The book includes over 400 endnotes.[14]


Ghost Fleet has been praised as a useful exploration of future conflict, and recommended by leaders of the United States military as recommended reading for troops.[12][22] Admiral James Stavridis said the book is "A startling blueprint for the wars of the future and therefore needs to be read now!"[23]

Attention from the Indonesian opposition[edit]

Indonesian opposition leader Prabowo Subianto cited a detail in Ghost Fleet regarding Indonesia's hypothetical disintegration in 2030 due to a second Timorese conflict, during a Great Indonesia Movement Party (GERINDRA) assembly speech on 18 September 2017, while treating the novel as an academic study. A video clip of the speech was posted to Gerindra's official Facebook page on 18 March 2018, which subsequently attracted criticism and derision.[24][25] Singer remarked on Twitter over Prabowo's enthusiasm on the book's particular detail, saying: "There have been many unexpected twists and turns from this book experience, but this may take the cake."[26]


  1. ^ "Ghost Fleet - Kirkus Review". Kirkus Reviews. April 16, 2015. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  2. ^ Eisler, David (July 3, 2016). "'Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War' by P. W. Singer & August Cole". The Huffington Post. Like many “future history” novels, the authors weave projected global developments into the narrative through dialogue and matter-of-fact references, from the evolution of the global reserve currency beyond the dollar to the detonation of a dirty bomb in Saudi Arabia.
  3. ^ a b Zappone, Chris (August 24, 2015). "Ghost Fleet: World War III techno-thriller shows Australia's worst nightmare". Sydney Morning Herald.
  4. ^ Lowry, Bob (April 24, 2017). "Is Indonesia A Fragile State?". Australian Institute of International Affairs. In the novel Ghost Fleet, about China seizing the third island chain encompassing Hawaii and the subsequent counter-offensive, there is casual reference to Indonesia collapsing into anarchy and fragmentation after a second Timor war.
  5. ^ Carpenter, Julie (May 23, 2016). "Shaping the Future of War: The Important Questions". Los Angeles Review of Books. Triggered by a Chinese gas discovery near the Mariana Trench, the Chinese government, known here as the Directorate, has enough power and economic leverage to act without fear of repercussions (in the form of sanctions) from the United States.
  6. ^ a b c de Luce, Dan (May 15, 2016). "A Novel About War With China Strikes a Chord at the Pentagon". Foreign Policy. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c "Chronicle of a war foretold". The Economist. June 27, 2015. Archived from the original on June 28, 2015.
  8. ^ Brantly, Aaron (October 23, 2015). "Book Review: Ghost Fleet – Scary, Accessible, Entertaining and Plausible – The Future Implications of Cyber Attacks". United States Army. Starting their story in a future that finds the United States in confusing geopolitical world recovering from economic collapse and war where the Chinese Communist Party has been replaced by an ominously named plutocratic-military junta called the Directorate.
  9. ^ Farley, Robert (August 24, 2015). "Ghost Fleet and the Causes of War". The Diplomat. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  10. ^ Burke, Justin (September 26, 2015). "Singer and Cole's Ghost Fleet imagines the next global conflict". The Australian.
  11. ^ Till, Geoffrey. "Warning of Wars to Come - A Review of Ghost Fleet by Peter Singer and August Cole". King's College London. Retrieved July 5, 2017. First and foremost, the US really has to bite the bullet and spend enough to retain the cutting edge in military and to avoid such obvious strategic vulnerabilities as malware in the microchips that the Chinese now supply, even to US arms firms responsible for critical weapon systems like the F-35.
  12. ^ a b c d Korb, Lawrence J. (June 20, 2015). "'Ghost Fleet' offers realistic look at an imagined war". The Navy Times.
  13. ^ a b Garrett-Rempel, Danny (2015). "P.W. Singer and August Cole. Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2015". Journal of Military and Strategic Studies. p. 4. ISSN 1488-559X. As Russian advisor to the Chinese occupation forces in the “Hawaii Special Administrative Zone,” General Vladimir Markov cautions his Chinese superior, General Yu, of the folly of failing to understand the insurgency, composed of US Marines fighting under the moniker of the North Shore Mujahedeen (263).
  14. ^ a b c Stratford, Darby (May 29, 2016). "Ghost Fleet—A Novel of the Next World War". Central Intelligence Agency.
  15. ^ Beckhusen, Robert (July 15, 2015). "Could China defeat America in World War III?". The Week.
  16. ^ Pentland, William (July 15, 2015). "Ghost Fleet: Military Geeks Imagine The Next World War". Forbes. In the aftermath of the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Navy is forced to recommission warfighting vessels from the so-called “ghost fleet.” Ergo the book’s title.
  17. ^ a b Bearden, Gary (July 7, 2015). "Book Review: Ghost Fleet and the Future of Great Power War". The Diplomat. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  18. ^ a b Dvorsky, George (June 25, 2015). "How Ghost Fleet Nails The Perfect Vision of World War III". io9.
  19. ^ Carter, Stephen L. (July 14, 2015). "The Hackers Behind Pages of 'Ghost Fleet'". Bloomberg News.
  20. ^ Singer, P.W.; Cole, August (June 30, 2015). "The Space Pirates of World War III". Vice Media.
  21. ^ a b Singer, P.W.; Cole, August (June 30, 2015). "How to Write About World War III". The Atlantic.
  22. ^ "Tech thriller describes new Pearl Harbor attack, this time by China". The Japan Times. December 8, 2016. Several senior U.S. military officials have told their troops to read the novel, which was published last year and written by August Cole and P.W. Singer.
  23. ^ "Reviews". Ghost Fleet Book. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  24. ^ Wicaksono, Bayu Adi (March 22, 2018). "Pidato Ramal Indonesia Bubar 2030, Prabowo Dibully". Viva Media Baru. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  25. ^ "The 'study' Prabowo said predicted Indonesia would dissolve by 2030 is actually a sci-fi techno-thriller called 'Ghost Fleet'". Coconuts Jakarta. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  26. ^ Nugroho, Bagus Prihantoro (March 22, 2018). "Penulis Novel 'Ghost Fleet' Posting Foto Prabowo di Twitter". detikcom. Retrieved March 22, 2018.