Will U.S. Navy Drop Fleet Plan?
Image Credit: U.S. Navy

Will U.S. Navy Drop Fleet Plan?


With looming defense cuts of at least $450 billion over 10 years, the U.S. military is reconsidering long-standing modernization schemes. For the U.S. Navy, that means potentially abandoning a six-year-old plan that envisioned growing today’s fleet of 285 major warships to at least 313 ships.

But Navy leaders claimed the reduction will not degrade the sailing branch’s ability to influence world events and deter rivals. At roughly 3 million tons displacement combined, today’s Navy is by far the largest in the world, exceeding the tonnage of the next dozen navies, combined. The Navy maintains around 2/3 of its forces in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.

Adm. Mark Ferguson, the Navy’s second-ranking officer, signaled a possible shift away from the 313-ship plan in a recent speech. He said a new shipbuilding plan could take three years to finalize.

Following up on Ferguson’s comments, Navy Undersecretary Robert Work said that even a slightly smaller fleet would still contain a preponderance of large, sophisticated warships capable of worldwide operations. “We [will] span the globe,” Work said, according to AOL Defense reporter Carlo Munoz.

Historically, the Navy has trimmed its overall force structure by eliminating the smallest and least-capable ships, Work added. Today, the United States’ smallest warships are the 3,000-ton Littoral Combat Ships, 24 of which have been ordered. Many analysts now expect the Navy to scale back its plan to purchase 55 LCSs.

February 10, 2012 at 18:54

Naval assets are exspensive to mentain and operate more so in the future. The U.S.A should focus more on high tech, multipurpose drones that can be operated by U.S.N and U.S.A.F and should be used as the first line of any offensive operation by air or by sea.I think it’s about time to do some R&D on high tech fast boats like the USN PT boats that we used extensively during WW11 in asia to confront Iran, China and other hostile countries that deploys those kind of toys instead of using CBBG. LCS/LHA, too big and not fast enough to engaged those fast boats, what we need is a game changer small attack fast boats that can deal with any kind of surface ship big or small that we could deploy a lot cheaper in quantity..

Collin Smith
January 30, 2012 at 17:49

Actually it will be the worst of both situations. The US will will grow it’s fleet but with less capable more costly warships (i.e. anything called modular and littoral is generally useless against a near peer). China and other nations that might want to compete with the US Navy will continue to analyze our force structure and look for asymmetric weaknesses, and they will find some.

The US does have one ace in the hole, and that is China is over playing it’s mojo. China is already bullying Vietnam, the Philippines, even Japan. The US can and will organize a combined naval armada of Indian, Vietnamese, Taiwan, Japanese, etc… fleets to successfully (more or less) inhibit China enough to keep it’s immediate aspirations hemmed in for the near term. Long term, unless the economics change, China’s navy, as well as India’s and Japans (far future) will eventually technologically and numerically overtake the US Navy. But that is at least fifty years out, though naval skirmishes were the US wins militarily but looses politically will come much sooner IMHO.

January 17, 2012 at 22:48

The difference is that when Deng cut the PLA, he was dealing with an obsolete and ineffective military that still viewed the mighty human wave as a legitimate military tactic. Thus, reducing the size of the PLA to modernize it made sense. It was a drastic tactic for a big leap.

For the United States, the military is already generations ahead of any possible emerging peer competitor. While R&D continues, there is no need to take such drastic action. Who after all, is the United States trying to catch up with?

Besides, the defense budget will be reduced significantly, but it will still leave the United States with the most powerful force in the world.

January 17, 2012 at 01:21

The answer is very simple. Because US wants to maintain the world dominance & hegemony, challenge the so-called “China threat”. US will not reduce its defense budget, in fact, which is in the increasing paths by lying to the American public. US will rather cut social security benefits to its senior citizens than reduce the number of aircraft carriers and R&D of those space vehicles, like X-47 and X-37B. I predict US will not be able to reduce its 15+ trillion-dollar debt in most of life times.

John Chan
January 17, 2012 at 00:49

Deng cut PLA by half in order to modernize the PLA; the result is impressive. Why can’t USA cut its navy, and air force by half then use the saving in R&D to build more lethal weapons that could lead any competitor by 20 years, such underwater unmanned aircraft carrier with unmanned warplanes.

Such bold strategy seems obvious in a defense cuts era, why can’t the USA military leadership make such easy choice? Is it because the US military bloated with people only know bombing and killing?

January 16, 2012 at 18:35

the LHA’s are very handy though, it allows you to do operations that are far away but without the attention that a carrier would bring, and with the introduction of the F-35B, it allows for LHA’s to do some things that a carrier can, only on a smaller scale. and of course it is cheaper than a carrier and thus you can afford more of it.

January 16, 2012 at 17:26

The world sees/fears USN only because of CBBGs, in sense if USN can operate vessels only carrier centric and a submarine fleet. that will do the job, USN can afford to let go of some LHAs maybe.

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