American seapower-advocates howled two weeks ago when the U.S. Navy published its budget proposal for 2022.
Despite a long bipartisan consensus that the U.S. fleet should grow in order to keep pace with China’s own expanding fleet, the 2022 budget proposal buys just eight front-line “battle force” ships—six fewer vessels than the Navy plans to decommission next year.
That imbalance would flatten the fleet’s expansion. The Navy had 296 battle-force vessels in 2020, 294 in 2021 and would have 296 in 2022 after taking delivery of ships Congress paid for in previous years.
Advocates still cling to the idea of a 350-ship fleet. But actual budgets aren’t making much progress toward that goal. That the Navy can’t manage to grow despite asking for, and almost certainly getting, more than $210 billion out of an overall $6-trillion federal budget is deeply disappointing to some critics.
“All one has to do is look at the rest of the budget, and you can see that there is plenty of money,” tweeted Bryan McGrath, director of the FerryBridge Group naval consultancy in Maryland. “We are an unserious nation.”