Sky News host Rowan Dean says two Chinese surveillance ships “prowling” outside Australia’s territorial waters to spy on Talisman Sabre 2021 could have saved themselves the bother with a report finding the US Navy is “barely fit for purpose”.

“And the reason? Identity politics,” he said.

Exercise Talisman Sabre is a bilateral training activity between Australia and the US, with forces from Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and the UK participating in 2021.

“A Report on the Fighting Culture of the United States Navy Surface Fleet, released this week, was prepared by retired Marine Lieutenant General Robert Schmidle and retired Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery who conducted lengthy interviews with 77 current and retired Navy officers on the promise of anonymity if they spilled the beans,” Mr Dean said.

“And they most certainly did.

“One of the key issues raised by those interviewed was that today’s Navy leaders spend far more time focusing on diversity and inclusion training than they do on developing warfighting capacity and key operational skills.

“You know the stuff we’ve talked about it on this show often enough, unconscious bias, LGBTIQ training, anti-racism, white privilege, nobody offend anybody else, don’t call women guys, all of that rubbish.”

Mr Dean, referring to a quote in the report, said one lieutenant currently on active duty should “cheer up” personnel on the Chinese spy vessel Tianwangxing.

“Sometimes I think we care more about whether we have enough diversity officers than if we’ll survive a fight with the Chinese navy,” the lieutenant said in the report.