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US will build down, then up to a 306 ship navy

April 26, 2013

For nearly a decade, naval planners had said they required 313 ships to meet mission requirements through the end of this century’s third decade.  In its most recent statement, the navy has adjusted that number down to 306 ships.  To meet that goal, the Navy plans to retire dozens of active ships then slowly replace them with modern platforms.  The navy will shrink to a size of 270 ships in 2015 – the lowest total since before World War One.  While many of these new ships will have enhanced capabilities and be armed with better (directed energy) and cheaper (swarms of drones) weapons, the Navy will still be covering as much area with fewer ships.  Also, the fleets will continue to be built around Super Carriers, which many believe will be an outdated platform by the end of the 2020s (and some even believe they are outdated already).  With China focused on a naval strategy and rapidly building up its own naval forces, one wonders whether 300 ships – even 300 advanced ships – will be enough.  Of course, if we share enough of our advanced technologies with local partners, we can revive something like the “thousand ship navy” concept in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans.

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