The Navy is proposing the biggest shipbuilding boom since the end of the Cold War to meet the various threats coming from saber-rattling China and a resurgent Russia. This follows President-elect Donald Trump demand for more ships.
The proposal that was submitted by the Navy was even larger than what Trump promoted during the campaign trail. The Navy released a proposal of 355 ships that will provide a potential boost to shipyards that have struggled due to budget caps that limit the resources available to fund ships.
Workers at Maine Bath Iron Works have expresses their worry since they are willing to build more ships but they wonder where the billions of dollars will come from to satisfy future needs.
"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.
Ronald O’Rourke who is a naval analyst at the Congressional Research Service pointed out that bosting shipbuilding to meet the Navy’s 355-ship goal could require an additional $5 billion to the $5.5 billion in annual spending in the Navy’s 30-year projection.
An additional 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 have all been called for by the Navy’s revised Force Structure Assessment. More amphibious assault ships, support ships and expeditionary transfer docks have also been called for addition.
In a statement made by Matthew Paxton, the president of the Shipbuilders Council of America, the addition of ships would have numerous advantages apart from boosting national security, large fleets would be more efficient since sailors would enjoy shorter deployments, while the ships would have more down time for maintenance.
"Russia and China are going to continue to build up their navies," he 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."
In regards to warships, tanks and aircrafts, many defense analysts agree that the military capabilities have depleted overtime in recent years. A senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, Korb, stated that "You never have enough money to buy a perfect defense. You have to make trade-offs," said Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.