Documents obtained by Defense News revealed that the Pentagon is considering increasing the US Navy fleet to around 500 ships. The documents reviewed by Defense News are draft versions of the forthcoming Future Navy Force Study, an assessment commissioned by the Pentagon.
Two groups commissioned for the study suggested a fleet size of anywhere from 480 to 534 ships. The new Navy would be more focused on smaller ships, rather than large vessels like aircraft carriers. The Navy currently has an estimated 293 battle-ready ships and is expected to increase the fleet to 355 by 2030.
The final version of the Future Navy Force Study is expected to be published by the end of the year. The study is a collaboration between offices within the Pentagon and the Hudson Institute, a Washington-based think-tank.
Speaking at an event hosted by the RAND Corporation last week, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he wants the Navy to have over “350 ships.” To achieve this, Esper is calling for increasing funds for Navy shipbuilding.
Earlier in September, the Pentagon released its annual report on China’s military power. The report said China has the largest navy fleet in the world, with “an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines.” But the number of ships a country is not the best way to judge overall naval power. The US Navy is much larger than Beijing’s in terms of tonnage.