The Declining US Navy

The US Navy, America’s First, Best Strategy

To Provide and Maintain a Navy: Why Naval Primacy Is America’s First, Best Strategy, by Henry J. Hendrix (Focsle, 146 pages)

Jim Talent, January 24, 2021

HMA Ships taking part in a trilateral passage in the Philippine Sea with US Navy ships and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence.

Excerpts from YahooNews

Dr. Jerry Hendrix (Ph.D.) is a retired Navy captain, a frequent contributor to NR, and one of the foremost naval historians and strategic thinkers in Washington today. He understands thoroughly what’s wrong with the Navy and what it will take to fix it; and it would be a sign that Providence intends once again to shine on these United States if he were at some point to become secretary of the Navy.

He would be the best secretary since the legendary John Lehman, who built the modern Navy during the Reagan years and who also writes the foreword to Captain Hendrix’s new book, To Provide and Maintain a Navy. The book is intended to be, and is, both an argument for the importance of naval power and a blueprint for the future Navy that the lay reader can easily access and understand.

The thesis is that the primacy of American naval power after World War II firmly established the idea of the seas as international commons, ensured oceanic security by deterring naval conflict, and — along with the technological advances of those years — empowered the growth of the American (and world) free-trade economy while also giving the United States a cost-effective means for sustaining its influence and alliances around the world.

Hendrix offers one of the best explanations of naval “presence” that I’ve ever seen:

US Navy ships . . . possess a distinct advantage over their land contemporaries in that they can exert influence ashore without having to be physically tied to the land. Not only does sovereignty move with each commissioned ship but also through the effects of its sensors and weapons; it can project influence simply by being present offshore. Think of this influence as an incandescent lamp moving about upon the sea. As it approaches an object, its influence can be understood as the degree to which [its] sensors and weapons fully “illuminate” or make clear the local strategic environment while demonstrating US interests at the local area. . . .

Ships moving toward an area of interest cast a “bow wave” of influence ahead of them as they approach, projecting their capabilities and potential for action well prior to their arrival, yet ships departing an area also leave behind influence in the good will and stability they fostered but also because of the implicit promise that they can, and will, return.

Invasion: Lepidopterologists and pest-control companies believe more than three million residences across the UK have been affected by moths, this year alone

Unfortunately, as Hendrix explains in lucid detail, American naval primacy is now largely a thing of the past. The defense budget was reduced by over a third in the 1990s, forcing the Navy to cut 200 ships. The situation got even worse in the first 15 years of this century. All pretense of meeting naval requirements was dropped, and the Navy lost another 100 ships. Our NATO allies reduced their fleets even more than the United States did during the same period.

At its low point about five years ago, the Navy had only slightly more than 270 ships. It was obvious to everyone (except some fact-checking organizations) that the Navy was too small, which prompted me in 2017 to write a column called simply “We Need More Ships!

There should be two aircraft carriers in the Pacific theater at all times. Only one is deployed there consistently. There should also be a two-carrier presence in the Persian Gulf, yet only one is typically there. There should be a continuous carrier presence in the Mediterranean, but typically there is no carrier there at all. This is because  the United States only has eleven aircraft carriers and at any given time only about a third of them can be deployed at sea. Carriers have to steam to and from deployments, and they must be maintained in home port. This “two for one” rule is true for the entire Navy (and in fact, for most of the armed forces) but it’s especially true for carriers, because they require so much maintenance.

October is the month for discovering moth infestations according to pest control experts

The Trump administration made rebuilding the Navy a priority but was able to add only about 20 ships to the inventory in four years. As a result, the Navy has had to lengthen ship deployments in order to maintain at sea even two thirds of the required number of vessels. That in turn has reduced the time available for maintenance and training, to the point that even the ships we have are much less ready than they should be. Hendrix calls this effect the “material death spiral” — the cascading disintegration of naval readiness when the fleet is highly stressed for long periods of time.

“I will be unto Ephraim as a moth” Hosea 5:12 

Clarke – I will consume them little by little, as a moth frets a garment.

Gill which eats garments, penetrates into them, feeds on them privately, secretly, without any noise, and gradually and slowly consumes them; but at last utterly, that they are of no use and profit:

~ by Joel Huan on January 25, 2021.

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