By Tristan Jung
The US Navy has announced new plans to expand the number of ships in the fleet to 355 by 2035, according to a statement by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. Even more ships are hoped to be constructed by 2045, potentially bringing the total to 530, according to DefenseNews. Currently, the US Navy has 289 deployable battle ships with 11 nuclear-powered fleet carriers and over 4,000 operational aircraft.
As part of the Battle Plan 2045 initiative, Secretary of Defense Esper argued that the rise of China’s modernized military will require investment in attack submarines, mini aircraft carriers, and new unmanned vessels. This has spurred the drive to build more ships.
While experts have said the need for more ships is clear, finding a way to pay for them is going to be a challenge. Equipping, maintaining, and staffing more ships will be difficult. Esper said that the money would come from moving around funds in the Department of Defense budget, but that likely won’t be enough.
Retired surface officer and current consultant Bryan McGrath told Military.com that the new plan would cost over $100 billion per year over the current budget. That plan would likely run into opposition in Congress.
Experts do agree on the importance of adding ships, but it’s unclear if the country is willing to pay for a 500-ship navy.