Here is the inflation adjusted budget for the U.S. Navy presented in FY17 dollars and the corresponding fleet size (number of ships) for the indicated year.
1980 $149B (1) 530 ships
1985 $231B (1) 571 ships
1990 $194B (1) 570 ships
1995 $126B (1) 392 ships
2000 $130B (1) 318 ships
2005 $159B (1) 282 ships
2010 $201B (1) 288 ships
2015 $156B (2) 271 ships
2017 $165B (3) 275 ships
Note: The 2015 and 2017 fleet size numbers are misleading because they count the non-combat-capable LCS as warships but the trend of shrinking ship numbers relative to the budget is still quite evident.
We see from this that the budget, with some bouncing around, has remained fairly constant and that the 2010/15/17 budgets are in the upper half of historic values and even compare well with the 1980-90 buildup to the 600 ship fleet.
In fact, the ratio of budget to ships has increased markedly! We have the same amount of money and far fewer ships yet the Navy, and many observers, claim that the Navy is somehow budget constrained and can’t afford more crews, more training, more ships, more maintenance, more whatever. This is patently untrue. Relative to the number of ships we have, we have more money than ever. We’re just spending it unwisely.
We’re just spending it unwisely.
(1)Naval History and Heritage Command,