Friday, March 9, 2018

Combat Fleet Count Update

Here is the periodic update on the combat fleet size.  The Navy claims the fleet is growing and is well on its way to 300+ but what are the actual numbers?  Well, previous updates have shown that the combat fleet size is steadily decreasing.

To refresh your memory, the combat fleet is composed of carriers, cruisers, destroyers, frigates, submarines, and amphibious ships (CVN, DDG, CG, FFG, SSN, SSBN, SSGN, LHA, LHD, LPD, and LSD).  Vessels like 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” are not counted as part of the combat fleet.

I’ve deleted the Ford from the count because, even though technically in commission, it is not a functional ship yet.

I’ve also deleted the six idled Ticonderoga class cruisers from the count since they represent a permanent decrease (they’ll only return to the fleet on a one for one replacement for a retiring Tico, according to the Navy, though it remains to be seen how this will play out).

Here are the updated numbers.

1980  392
1985  421
1990  405
1995  283
2000  243
2005  220
2010  225
2012  210
2014  205
2015  197
2016  191
2017  193

You can check the fleet size for yourself at .

So, we’ve gained two ships and halted the steady downward trend.  That’s good, I guess, but at that rate we’re not going to achieve any 355-ship fleet any time soon! 

I’ll close this post with the same statement I closed the previous Combat Fleet Count update posts:

Compare the Navy’s trend to China’s and ponder the implications for yourself.

I’ll continue to update this from time to time.


  1. Id like to see a China watcher do a similar count on they're combat vessels, a detailed view would be very interesting.
    There is a lot of info out there but only general stuff.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. A count is not meaningless. What do you think it demonstrates?

    3. "Focusing on numbers as the public discourse does disguises the real issues"

      Perceptive and correct! Now, what do you think this means for the Navy's much publicized goal of 355 ships? Should this be reconsidered? If so, in what way?


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