Magazine article National Defense

Former Navy Leader Warns about Fleet Expansion

Magazine article National Defense

Former Navy Leader Warns about Fleet Expansion

Article excerpt

The Navy and President Donald Trump aim to increase the size of the fleet to 350-plus ships. But pursuing that goal could be detrimental, according to a former service leader.

The Congressional Research Service estimates that 73 to 77 ships would have to be added to the Navy's latest 30 year shipbuilding plan to achieve and maintain a 355-ship force in the coming decades. That would require about $5 billion more in annual shipbuilding funds compared to the previous plan for 308 ships, according to a recent CRS report, "Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress."

Richard Danzig, who served as secretary of the Navy under President Bill Clinton, said focusing on ship numbers in an era of budget constraints could lead to the acquisition of the wrong types of vessels.

"If you raise the flag of 350 or 355 ships as the measure of our well-being and we put it out there as what we want above all, we will motivate people to build more and more at the low end and less and less at the high end, and it's the high-end [ships] we need" to fight and deter a major conflict with advanced adversaries such as Russia and China, he said during a conference hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. …

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