February 16, 2018

Achieving a 355-Ship Navy ‘Before This Decade Is Out’

By Jerry Hendrix

The Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan falls short of the strategic imperative. In 1961 President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation with a great goal: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.” 

“Before this decade is out.” 

This nation used to be able to do great things in a short period of time, when it thought it was important. This past week the U.S. Navy, with its 30-year shipbuilding plan, fell short of the standard of national greatness. To be sure, the plan has some strong points. Its adds 54 ships to the battle force over the next five fiscal years, raising the battle force from its present 280 ships to 324. This will take some strain off the fleet as it attempts to defend the nation’s vital national interests by maintaining approximately 108 ships forward deployed at all times, but it falls far short of the 355 ships required to meet the nation’s minimum requirements. In addition, the plan envisions a massive falloff in the ship count a decade from now, during the 2025–35 “maximum danger” era, and does not achieve the statutory goal of 355 ships until the 2050s. The plan fails due to an abundance of caution and a lack of adherence to the nation’s strategic goal of achieving a balance between capabilities and capacity.

Read the full article in The National Review.