US Navy at its Most Powerful as Numbers and Firepower Increase
The shrinking U.S. Navy that worried Pentagon planners no end a decade ago is a relic of the past and today's navy "has never been stronger," said Secretary of the Ray Mabus in an assessment of a naval fighting force he described as "the absolute best in the world."
"We are getting the right number of the right kind of platforms to meet our mission," he pointed out.
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"Our disciplined and deliberate use of energy has made us better warfighters. We represent the greatest America has to offer, the absolute best in the world and we continue to provide presence -- around the globe, around the clock."
He noted that among the challenges when he came into office in 2008 was a shrinking fleet in a very bad economy. The plethora of problems facing the navy at the time was "occurring amid increasing threats, a far more complicated world and an ever-increasing demand for naval forces."
But these challenges didn't deflect the navy from its mission of maintaining a naval presence, which only occurs by having the ships to sustain it.
Mabus said the navy is on track to increase the size of its battle fleet from 278 ships in 2008 to 308 in 2021. He also noted savings of $2 billion in the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer program and a similar number in the current Virginia-class submarine contract.
"Quantity has a quality all of its own. To say that a navy is too focused on building ships is to admit an ignorance of its purpose. So I made shipbuilding one of my top priorities, and we've dramatically reversed the decline in our fleet."
"That unrivaled advantage -- on, above, beneath and from the sea -- ensures stability, reassures allies, deters adversaries and gives our nation's leaders options in times of crisis," said Mabus.
"We are 'America's away team' because sailors and Marines, equally in times of peace and war, are not just in the right place at the right time, but in the right place all the time. There is no next best thing to being there.
"In every case, from high-end combat to irregular warfare to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, our naval assets get on station faster, we stay longer, we bring what we need with us, and, because our ships are sovereign U.S. territory, we can act without having to ask anyone's permission to get the job done."
Mabus said "you have to have grey hulls on the horizon."
He also pointed out the advances made by the navy in unmanned systems, laser weapons and the electromagnetic rail gun that will see action by the next decade.
He noted the 8,000 new manufacturing jobs in the shipbuilding industry that added $37 billion to the national Gross Domestic Product.
Mabus' eight-year term as Navy Secretary, the longest by one man in close to a century, focuses on three priorities: shipbuilding, energy and personnel reforms. He steps down at the end of President Barack Obama's term.