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Jerry Hendrix, Vice President of Telemus Group, discusses the necessity of a larger Navy and the cost of developing it

The Future Navy Force Study could include plans to expand the Navy fleet well beyond the current target of 355 ships. Jerry Hendrix, Vice President of the Telemus Group, joined “Government Matters” to discuss what the future of the fleet could look like and how the Navy can expand.

“There is real recognition now that we need a larger Navy – that there is a strategic requirement driven by the fact that we are in a Great Power Competition,” Hendrix said.

Defense News reports supporting documents from the Future Navy Force Study map out a plan for anywhere from 480 to 534 ships in the Navy. The Hudson Institute calls for an even larger 581-ship force.

“All the rumors now are not around the number 355,” Hendrix said. “[The Navy is] looking at something much larger than that – numbers in the 500 range.”

Hendrix said he believes Defense Secretary Mark Esper is aware the Navy will need a larger budget to accommodate for a larger ship target number. He said Esper announced the shipbuilding budget would go from 11 percent to 13 percent of the total Navy budget. Hendrix said this roughly $4 billion increase will help the Navy build two to three more ships per year.

“This will not come without a cost,” Hendrix said. He mentioned Esper will need to decide where the extra shipbuilding money will come from.

As for the structure of the fleet, Hendrix said the Navy should cultivate a mix of high-end and low-end vessels. He expects the new ships will include not only large combatants, but also smaller ships, frigates, and unmanned platforms.

“One of the key takeaways, from virtually all of these conversations, is that unmanned [vessels] must be part of the future fleet design, and that those ships must be counted,” Hendrix said.

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