Winning: The U.S. Navy Suffers From Success


May 31, 2007: The U.S. Navy is having a hard time convincing Congress that warship construction should be accelerated. The U.S. fleet has been shrinking ever since the Cold War ended in 1991. Two decades ago, the mantra was to create a 600 ship fleet. That changed after the Cold War ended, and just before September 11, 2001, the fleet was down to 315 ships, and now it's at 275. At the current rate of warship building, the fleet will bottom out at 210 ships.

Congress is not alarmed at this because it's no secret that the U.S. fleet is the most powerful on the planet. If you take into account American technical and personnel advantages, the United States has over half the naval combat power on the planet. While the admirals warn of a naval threat from China, that's in the future, and no one is sure how far in the future. The navy is also unhappy with American ship builders, and the shoddy work they have done on so many recent warships. While the navy would like to have more nuclear subs, it would rather make the ship builders more efficient and reliable first.

The problem is that the U.S. Navy is a victim of its own success. Coming out of World War II with the largest, and most powerful, fleet in all of history, that situation hasn't changed much in the last sixty years. Despite a challenge from the Soviet Union, the U.S. Navy kept up, and pulled ahead of all contenders. Thus it's difficult to get more money out of Congress when your naval power is already larger than all the rest of the planets navies combined.


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