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Issue Background

U.S. Navy

It is easy to define the US Navy’s main obstacles in terms of its competitors. However, it is equally important to understand dramatic changes in the maritime environment, in which competition and cooperation occur. Ultimately, the world has, and continues to, become more globalized, which means we must invest in a globally-present Navy. In order to adjust to this new reality the Navy must continue to project a strong U.S. presence around the globe. The Navy must deter wars, win wars, and protect the global commons.

The primary global force is the classic maritime system, consisting of the influx of traffic on the oceans, seas, and waterways, including the sea floor. Over the past 1000 years, the seas have acted as a bridge to form connections between people and societies in order to help them prosper. As the global economy expands and becomes more connected, the maritime system becomes increasingly used by not only the United States but the world as a whole. Within traditional sea lanes, shipping traffic continues to increase, trade routes are opening in the Arctic, and new technologies are making undersea resources more accessible. This maritime traffic also includes uncontrolled migration and the illicit shipment of people and material. The maritime domain is more contested than ever.

Another increasingly influential force is the ever-increasing rate of technological advancement. The astonishing speed at which technology such as; robotics, networks of low-cost sensor, 3-D printing, and energy storage continues to alter every aspect of work and personal life. Genetic science and artificial intelligence is just beginning to break the mold and reshape the environment. The introduction of newly advanced technologies is positively correlated to the rate at which it is being adopted into society. These advancements are not limited to the United States:  new technology spreads more quickly than ever, and the U.S. must continually invest in its research and development and its industrial base in order to maintain its technological edge.

Competitors have also advanced in recent years, and the US now faces the return of a great power competition.  For the first time in 25 years, Russia and China have now advanced their military capabilities to potentially rivaling those of the United States. Each is investing serious resources in their naval capabilities, designed to focus on America’s vulnerabilities, for example the advancement of Anti-Access, Anti-Denial strategies and technologies. These global powers continue to advance and develop their precision and range of the kinetic and non-kinetic field information-enabled weapons. The Chinese PLA(N) along with the Russian Navy are both operating at frequencies and extending their reach much further than seen before, as evidenced by China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea.

However, Russia and China are not the only powers seeking advantages in the changing environment, which inevitably threaten US and global interests. North Korea is dedicated to furthering its nuclear and missile technologies. The small boat-threat posed by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz could create serious disruptions in global trade. Terrorist groups across the globe continually prove their resilience and capability of advancement, posing a long-term threat to global security. There is increased destabilization in the international system that only the U.S. Navy can prevent.

The U.S. Navy has introduced a new Maritime Strategy which outlines that preventing wars is just as important as winning wars. Conventional deterrence is a long used concept of utilizing threat to deny an opponent the ability to achieve its military and political objectives through aggression –“Deterrence by denial.” However, should conventional deterrence fail and conflict occurs, the presence of the U.S. Navy is equally imperative. The “local” power balance –U.S. forces within the area that can be rapidly deployed –plays a critical role. The presence of these forces act as a physical entity of conventional deterrence, displaying the U.S. Navy’s capability of preventing the opponent to achieve their objectives.  

However, despite what the U.S. Navy can do, Defense and Navy budgets can prevent the sea service from fulfilling its total mission. The United States must invest in the only service capable of both deterring and winning wars.  The U.S. Navy has been a part of over 15 years of continuous warfare and has helped prevent conflicts from escalating. We must make serious investments in the Navy if we want to remain safe, secure, and economically stable.

The Navy League helps the Navy by informing the American people and their government that the United States of America is a maritime nation and that its’s national defense and economic well-being are dependent upon strong sea services. Our members brief their community and their Members of Congress on the need for a bigger investment.

Navy League Issue Papers

The papers below provide more detailed information regarding specific issues related to the U.S. Navy and serve as a useful referrence for Congressional staff.

U.S. Navy Priorities for FY2017: The Navy is underfunded and overextended.  Here you can find the Navy League's recommendations for Navy funding for the upcoming fiscal year.

Navy League Recommendations- Aircraft Carriers: Aircraft carriers are crucial tools in the President's options on foreign policy and defense.  Read what specific carrier-related items need to be supported in Congress.

Navy League Recommendations- Submarines: The United States submarine fleet is a highly capable force but needs support from Congress in order to provide and sustain that capability into the future.

The US Navy is ready to execute fast and sustained combat circumstance to operations at sea. The Navy will protect America from attack, whilst preserving the US’s strategic prevalence in key regions of the world. US naval forces and operations, as well as the information domain, will dissuade aggression and facilitate peaceful resolution of crisis on terms acceptable to the United States its allies. Should deterrence fail, the Navy will conduct decisive combat operations.

The Navy League believes that in order to meet mission requirements, the U.S. Navy needs to build and maintain a fleet of 308 ships.  This fleet should consist of at least:

  • 11 Aircraft Carriers
  • 32 Littoral Combat Ships
  • 20 Small Surface Combatants based on upgraded LCS designs
  • 48 Attack Submarines
  • 14 Ohio nuclear ballistic missile submarines
  • 38 Amphibious Ships
  • 29 Combat Logisitics Ships

In order to support a fleet of this size the Navy League supports authorizing and appropriating $21 billion annually to the Shipbuilding & Conversion, Navy (SCN) account.  The Navy must also be provided funding to build and procure 12 Ohio Replacement SSBNs on time to ensure that there are no gaps in our nuclear deterrent. To ensure adequate aviation capability the Navy needs a minumum of 10 carrier air wings, a fully integrated maritime patrol inventory, a modernized fleet helicopter forces, and complementary unmanned aircraft systems.  Key to that capability is timely introduction of the F-35C Lightening II joint strike fighter to our carriers and the continued upgrades to the fleet's F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets and the F/A-18C multirole strike fighter.