President Trump speaks to the Fincantieri Marinette shipyard in Marinette, Washington, 25. June.
Scott Olson/Getty Pictures
The Trump Board is taking an important step this week to accelerate the build-up of the US Navy after the catastrophic slowdown under previous governments. Last year, after decades of cuts in shipbuilding and maintenance, the Obama administration reduced the fleet to a size it had barely 100 years ago. The 275 ships were struggling to meet America’s national security needs, putting pressure on crews, delaying necessary maintenance and endangering the country. The industrial base of shipbuilding has been reduced to part of the production capacity that won the Cold War.
Mr Trump has made it a priority to expand the fleet to 355 warships and to strengthen America’s maritime superiority. This strategic approach to blue water scares off American opponents, enables America to project energy abroad and, over time, offers a cost-effective alternative to endless foreign deployment. As a maritime state, the United States relies on control of the sea to protect its population and the movement of goods.
The Trump administration is steadily increasing the number and readiness of warships, and construction will start on Thursday. The White House will release a 30-year development plan for the shipbuilding industry that will provide the means to implement the 355-strong fleet.
This founding document is the result of an unprecedented nine-month study of the naval structure of the Pentagon. It contains a detailed plan for legislators and industry partners and reaffirms the commitment of the United States to maintain its maritime dominance.
The plan calls for a force of 355 ships within 10 years and nearly 400 ships within 20 years. It will halt the decades-long decline in the number of attack submarines by building three submarines a year from 2025, with a target of 80. This will more than double the number of small multi-mission ships to almost 70. The new frigates of the Constellation class will form the basis for this ship class and a second shipyard will be needed to increase the share of shipbuilding. The fleet’s workhorses, the Arley Burke class destroyers, are being modernised.
The government will retain its current 11 Ford aircraft carriers and invest in a new class of aircraft carriers. The recapitalisation of the strategic submarine ballistic missile fleet will remain one of the Navy’s top priorities and will modernise the most viable phase of the nuclear triad. Finally, the plan provides for substantial investments in new unmanned vessels, which will increase the impact of the fleet at a fraction of the cost of manned vessels.
This roadmap is accompanied by proposals for investment in our country’s shipbuilding industry to increase production capacity and create more US jobs. Stable and consistent investment in the shipbuilding industry would enable hundreds of thousands of people to work on important production skills that are easily applicable in other industries. This new demand for manpower will encourage young people to undertake the necessary training to maintain US production capacity.
The Trump administration also publishes fiscal frameworks to show that this naval expansion is affordable, even with the prospect of limiting future defense budgets.
Assuming that the top line of the defence department’s budget, actually frozen at $722 billion in 2022, adjusted only for inflation, increases shipbuilding by only $6.7 billion, or 33%, to $27 billion in the first year. The growth of the navy will add an extra $39 billion by 2026. Other national security priorities should not be sacrificed. The increase in costs is fully offset by the reinvestment of the savings resulting from the reduction in the Middle East, the management of military personnel and the reduction in the Pentagon’s overheads.
Mr Trump kept his promise to rebuild the army. However, America faces urgent and enormous challenges to national security. Although the Chinese navy is less powerful than ours, it already has more than 350 ships and is growing rapidly. Beijing is building islands in the South China Sea, threatening trade routes and allies. American dominance at sea is necessary to meet this great challenge. The shipbuilding plan will deliver on the World President’s promise by force in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.
-Mr. Woot is director of the White House Bureau of Management and Budget. -Mr. Woot is the director of the White House Bureau of Management and Budget. Mr. O’Brien is director of the National Security Council at the White House.
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