President-elect Donald Trump discussed the importance of bulking up our woefully depleted military capabilities on the campaign trail, and in response, the U.S. Navy has put forward an ambitious shipbuilding plan of a scale that hasn’t been seen since the end of the Cold War.
ABC News reported:
The Navy’s 355-ship proposal released last month is even larger than what the Republican Trump had promoted on the campaign trail, providing a potential boost to shipyards that have struggled because budget caps that have limited money funding for ships.
At Maine’s Bath Iron Works, workers worried about the future want to build more ships but wonder where the billions of dollars will come from.
“Whether Congress and the government can actually fund it, is a whole other ball game,” said Rich Nolan, president of the shipyard’s largest union.
Boosting shipbuilding to meet the Navy’s 355-ship goal could require an additional $5 billion to $5.5 billion in annual spending in the Navy’s 30-year projection, according to an estimate by naval analyst Ronald O’Rourke at the Congressional Research Service.
The Navy’s revised Force Structure Assessment calls for adding another 47 ships including an aircraft carrier built in Virginia, 16 large surface warships built in Maine and Mississippi, and 18 attack submarines built in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Virginia. It also calls for more amphibious assault ships, expeditionary transfer docks and support ships.
Matthew Paxton, president of the Shipbuilders Council of America, a group that represents the bulk of major navy shipbuilders, explained the importance of an expanded fleet. In addition to the obvious boon to national security, sailors would have shorter deployments and the ships would have more downtime which means more time to undergo maintenance.
“Russia and China are going to continue to build up their navies,” Paxton said. “The complexities aren’t going to get any easier. The Navy, more than any of the services, is our forward presence. We’re going to need this Navy.”
As ABC News reported, many defense analysts are in agreement about the diminished state of our military capabilities that has occurred in recent years — particularly in regard to warships, aircraft, and tanks.
At this point, the Navy has 274 deployable battle force ships, which is significantly short of their old goal of 308 ships.
The Bath shipbuilders, of which there are about 6,000, aren’t ready to celebrate just yet, however. “A lot of people are hopeful that it’ll happen,” Nolan said. “But they’re taking a wait-and-see approach. They’ve heard it before and then seen it not come to fruition.”