President-elect Donald Trump and the Navy are preparing the biggest boost to American seapower since the Cold War, the AP reported over the weekend:
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…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.
Last week, the Pentagon said it hopes to close an order for a dozen new nuclear submarines by the inauguration. The cost of that program is estimated at $128 billion.
These developments send a much stronger signal to Russia than do any tweets expressing skepticism about allegations of Russian meddling in the election. In Moscow and Beijing, you can be sure that officials are paying close attention to what happens to the U.S. Navy. Intelligentsia types who would prefer not to think about military strategy tend to forget that the America’s ability to secure global order is first and foremost dependent on seapower. Like the British Empire and the Dutch empire before it, American supremacy is a maritime phenomenon.
The conversation about whether Trump is going to subordinate America’s security and global power to his narrow business interests would benefit from acknowledging his plans to enlarge and strengthen the military. Assuming Trump goes ahead with it, this naval build-up would be a clear signal that he understands U.S. power in global terms. This is not a Fortress America policy of retreat; the strength of the U.S. Navy will determine our ability to continue missions like promoting the safety and freedom of the seas for the commerce of all nations. It’s a bigger deal than most of the headlines America’s top newspapers are running with these days.