We know the fleet size is trending upward because the Navy and the current administration assure of this. Further, the various 30 year shipbuilding plans all describe a fleet solidly in the low to mid 300+ range. A couple of years ago, the fleet size was around 280 so by now it must be in the 290-300 range, right? Go ahead, take a guess – what is the current fleet size?
Answer: It’s 290. Hmm … I thought it would be a bit higher but, hey, we have been under pretty tight budget constraints, so I guess that number isn’t bad.
I wonder, though, what the combat fleet size is? Setting aside the JHSV, MCM, PC, hospital ships, LCS (we’ll count them if and when they ever get any combat capability), tugs, salvage ships, and ships whose designation starts with “T” or “A”, what do you think the combat fleet size is? Hint: it was 225 in 2010. By now it must be up to around 235 or so, wouldn’t you think?
Answer: It’s 205. Wait a minute! It was 225 four years ago and now it’s 205. That’s a drop of 20 ships in a four year period. But, isn’t the fleet growing on its way to 300+? How can the fleet be growing and the combat fleet be dropping sharply?
This is an update to our previous discussion about fleet size (see, “Combat Fleet Count”). Here’s the updated Combat Fleet Count numbers. The count includes carriers, battleships, cruisers, destroyers, frigates, submarines, and amphibious ships.
You can check the fleet size for yourself at www.nvr.navy.mil .
So, what do we make of this? The combat fleet size is steadily decreasing. Deceptively, even the overall fleet size isn’t actually increasing. We’re just counting previously uncounted ships like hospital ships, PCs, tugs, salvage ships, and whatnot. The overall fleet count is being politically manipulated to seem like the current administration and Navy leadership aren’t gutting the fleet. Check out SECNAVINST 4030.8B at www.nvr.navy.mil/5030.8B.pdf for the new counting rules. We’re going to be counting rowboats, soon. Fortunately, you and ComNavOps know better. We’ve dug a bit deeper and see the facts.
Sadly, it’s worse even than this. You recall that the Navy is planning to “idle” 11 Aegis cruisers? You and I both know that those are never coming back despite what the Navy claims. Once laid up, the Navy will never find the funding to reactivate them. As now, all available funding will go to new construction. So, instead of 205 combat ships, we actually have only 194. The Navy is already talking about early retiring a carrier and more amphibious ships as well as looking at the possibility of “idling” additional ships. We are headed for a combat fleet count of 150 or so in the not too distant future.
I’ll close this post with the same statement I closed the previous Combat Fleet Count post:
Compare the Navy’s trend to
’s and ponder the implications for yourself. China
I’ll continue to update this from time to time.