Jerry Hendrix, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, discusses some issues with the Navy’s plan for a 355-ship fleet, and how focusing less on “capital ships” could help.
While the Navy’s plan to build up their fleet to 355 ships is popular among members of Congress and top military brass, the strategy outlined in the 2018 omnibus spending bill may not be the best way to get the service the vessels it needs. “I see a plan that is long and virtually unreachable,” said Jerry Hendrix, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. “What we see is that it may take as long as until the 2050s in order to approach it. The plan is overly cautious in the sense that it emphasizes the large capital vessels, the fast attack submarines, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers going forward, and it underfunds things like frigates or offshore patrol vessels. Hendrix told Government Matters that despite the underfunding, the Navy is pushing forward in acquiring new frigates. “We’re looking at five different designs that we can bring into our fleet, and those are out there. Those are very good. Some of them are foreign designs, they’re all mature designs…” Hendrix said. “There’s also other ships like the offshore patrol vessels like the [Ambassador missile boat], which U.S. shipbuilding companies have built, that we’ve sold to other countries. Perhaps we could buy some ourselves to serve in certain areas like the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, where they’re more naturally inclined.”