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Trump, Navy Chart Fleet Expansion

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

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The U.S. Navy and President-elect Donald J. Trump are both looking to expanding the country’s fleet, at a rate not seen since the Cold War.

USS Rafael Peralta christening
U.S. Marine Corps photo: Sgt. Gabriela Garcia

The Navy last month released a proposal to increase the size of its fleet by nearly 30 percent.

The Navy last month released a proposal to increase the size of its fleet by nearly 30 percent, from its current collection of 274 operational ships to 355. That would bring the force to its largest size since 1997, when it included 359 ships.

Trump had promised during his campaign to expand the Navy to 350 ships.

Yearlong Assessment

The 355-ship plan came as the result of a yearlong Force Structure Assessment conducted by the Navy. The FSA will be taken into consideration as the Navy puts together its fiscal year 2018 30-year shipbuilding plan.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said that counterterrorism efforts and “competing with a growing China and resurgent Russia” underscore the need for a growing Navy. “We have successfully reversed the decline in shipbuilding that occurred from 2001-2009, putting 86 ships under contract over the last seven years,” Mabus noted.

Hull painting
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Alexander P. Akre

The military accounts for 69 percent of shipbuilding and repair work done in the United States annually.

The Navy fleet has generally declined in size since the 1950s, when it included more than 1,000 ships.

In 2015, the Navy unveiled a goal of reaching 308 ships by 2020, a goal Mabus now sees as a “bridge” to the new, larger goal.

Determining Cost

The Fiscal Times estimates the boost in shipbuilding would cost the U.S. government about $9 billion additional per year, up to about $25 billion in shipbuilding costs yearly, compared with the $15.9 billion it says the Navy has spent annually on average over the past 30 years.

A Congressional Research Service analyst gave the Associated Press a more conservative estimate, predicting the shipbuilding initiative would require $5 billion to $5.5 billion more annually than is currently budgeted for Naval shipbuilding.

A spike in Naval shipbuilding could have major implications for U.S. shipbuilders. According to a 2015 National Defense University report, the military accounts for 69 percent of shipbuilding and repair work done in the United States annually.

Industry Reaction

The Shipbuilders Council of America released a statement supporting the Navy’s new expansion goal, and addressing the lasting effects of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which the organization says will result in decreases in discretionary defense funding each year until 2021.

“In order to begin the work of building a larger fleet, it is imperative Congress end sequestration,” the trade group said. “The U.S. shipyard industry stands ready to build this fleet of the future that will ensure the continued flow of international commerce and the security of our nation.”


Tagged categories: Government; Marine; Military; Newbuilding (marine); Ships and vessels; U.S. Navy

Comment from Robert Bullard, (1/11/2017, 4:24 PM)

During Obama's farewell speech last night, I recalled the first presidential farewell speech I heard as a teenager - that of Ike, in which he made his 'military-industrial complex' warning, which, of course, has been totally ignored by all in power since his speech. How smart is another arms race with Russia, now, with China added in?

Comment from John Perez, (1/13/2017, 8:48 AM)

Peace thru strength ! We must have the best military on earth. "Walk softly and carry a BIG stick"

Comment from Car F., (1/16/2017, 12:41 PM)

"Peace thru strength !" I am not sure if a population immersed in drugs, alienation, crime, mass murder shootings, lack of medical care, malnutrition, lower life expectancy and general poor living conditions can actually afford and have the collective fortitude for an all-out war. I am not talking about war in distant lands, but air bombardments and shelling in your own city. Russia, China, Iran are not poorly military equipped nations like Afghanistan, Vietnam, Panama or Grenada. A war with any of these nations will mean a total nuclear war of mutual annihilation in every large American city.

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