Trump Proposes Expanding U.S. Navy with 30 New Destroyers

For the last four presidents, at least, our deep ocean navy has been dwindling in size. Every president either cuts expansion, mothballs ships, or cancels new construction, if not all of those. But Trump has just proposed to enlarge our navy by adding 30 new destroyers.

Naval advisors have been warning for decades that our ability to carry on actions in more than one theater of action on the world’s oceans has been gutted by allowing our navy to slowly dwindle to nothing.

But now the Trump administration is looking to reverse that decades-long slide.

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The Navy’s ambitious fleet-size expansion relies upon a massive increase in heavily armed Destroyers able to launch long-range attacks, fire interceptor missiles, defend carrier strike groups and engage in massive open blue water warfare.

Within the next 15 years, the Navy plans to add as many as 30 DDG 51 Destroyers, including 22 new, high-tech DDG 51 Flight III warships and eight state-of-the-art DDG 51 Flight IIA destroyers. Prioritizing such a large number of these warships offers an interesting analytical window into Navy thinking about the next five decades of ocean war.

The new destroyers are not the only ships Trump wants to add to our naval capacity.

In addition to adding 30 new destroyers, the Navy’ also seeks 15 LCS’, 18 of the new Frigates and as many as 32 new attack submarines in the next 15 years. While many new ships are now under construction, the current number of Navy ships is roughly in the high 280s, a number the Navy hopes to grow to 355 by 2034.

“Battle force inventory reaches 301 in 2020 and 355 in 2034,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Chambers.

The new ships will also be state of the art with improved computer systems, software, and weapons systems.

This is long overdue.

As the Hoover Institute recently lamented:

The Navy’s number two leader succinctly explained the service’s dilemma: “Our Navy faces increased demand without the size and resources required to properly maintain and train for our future.” The Navy’s “battle fleet” is currently a bit more than half the size it was a generation ago. At the same time, America’s maritime commitments have grown, particularly in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Persian Gulf. Moreover, the reductions in forward-stationed land-based ground and air forces—and the reluctance to commit them to long-term irregular warfare campaigns in the Middle East—has exacerbated the pressure upon the Navy to project power ashore.

Naval advisors have been ringing these warning bells since Bill Clinton’s days in the White House.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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