The Heritage Foundation: The U.S. Navy Needs 400 Ships
Thomas Callender, a Senior Research Fellow for Defense Programs at The Heritage Foundation, has released a report saying the U.S. needs a 400-ship Navy in order to win in conflict.
America’s shipbuilding industrial base has the capacity to build at least an additional 22 amphibious warships, 20 frigates, and 24 combat logistics force ships between FY 2020 and FY 2039, he says. “To achieve the 400-ship Navy goal by FY 2039 with the recommended force mix would require an additional $4 billion–$6 billion annually above the current long-range shipbuilding plan. If Congress and the DoD fail to prioritize and provide stable funding for this long-term shipbuilding plan, our nation’s ability to deter aggression and win in conflict when necessary will be at risk.”
The study indicates the goal of 400 ships provides the recommended minimum numbers of battle force ships required to handle two simultaneous or nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts with a 20 percent additional margin. The extra 20 percent capacity serves as a strategic reserve and helps the U.S. to maintain an enduring peacetime global forward naval presence. Although U.S. defense strategies have varied over the past 25 years, the need for America to conduct two nearly simultaneous major combat operations has been a consistent theme.
400 ships is a significant increase from the U.S. fleet’s 286 battle force ships as of October 2018.
Callender says the U.S. Navy needs a minimum of 400 battle force ships to:
• Effectively provide the 13 carrier strike groups and 12 expeditionary strike groups required to meet the two-confict construct;
• Provide the historical steady-state demand of approximately 100 ships constantly forward deployed in key regions around the world; and
• Have sufficient capacity to maintain its ships properly and ensure that its sailors are adequately trained to “fight tonight.”
In the past, U.S. President Donald Trump has noted that the nation currently has the lowest number of ships since World War I, a situation he made an election promise to change. The Navy is currently planning for a fleet of 355 ships.
The Heritage Foundation has been known to influence U.S. policy. The independent think-tank's mission is to “formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values and a strong national defense.”