November 14, 2016

12 Carriers and 350 Ships: A Strategic Path Forward from President Elect Donald Trump

By Jerry Hendrix

President Elect Donald Trump, correctly understanding the current strategic environment, is committed to building a 350 ship Navy. This will set aside thirty years of steady declines in the size of the Navy and put those who would make themselves the United States’ enemy on notice that the “irreplaceable nation” has picked up the mantle of leadership that it so recently cast off in an attempt to become more “normal” and less “dangerous.”  However, while 350 ships may seem huge in comparison to the battle force of 272 ships we have today; it actually represents the bare minimum that is actually required to maintain presence in the 18 maritime regions where the United States has critical national interests.

The last time the US Navy had 350 ships in its inventory was in early 1998, at which time it had twelve carriers, 30 cruisers, 53 destroyers, 40 frigates and 70 fast attack submarines. Five years later the Navy crashed through the 300 ship mark on its way to the 272 ships it has today, which includes 10 carriers, 22 cruisers, 62 destroyers, no frigates and 54 fast attack submarines.  Much of this decline has been driven by the fact that individual ship costs have gone up owing to new advanced technologies while the Navy’s ship construction spending account has remained flat, driving the number of ships that can be purchased downward. 

Read the full article at The National Interest.

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