As part of his plan to increase defense spending by $2 trillion over the next decade, Mitt Romney has repeatedly cited the factoid that the United States has fewer ships in its Navy today than it did in 1916, suggesting that our naval power has declined since then. He is also campaigning on a pledge to boost the number of ships from 285 to 313. saying “I will restore our Navy to the size needed to fulfill our missions by building 15 ships per year, including three submarines.”
Our current ship-building rate is 9 to 10 per year.
Two points regarding that issue:
1.) As it happens, two political scientists at Florida State University recently completed a historical study that compares naval strength among the major powers from 1865 to 2011. They conclude:
“In 1916, the U.S. controlled roughly 11% of the world’s naval power. This is an impressive number that ranks the US third in naval strength behind the UK (34%) and Germany (19%), and just ahead of France (10%). What about the US navy in 2011? In 2011, the US controlled roughly 50% of the world’s naval power putting it in a comfortable lead in naval power ahead of Russia (11%).”
In Romney’s view, the fact that 4 percent of the world’s population controls a mere 50 percent of the world’s naval firepower, almost five times the amount of the second-ranked power, leaves that 4 percent dangerously vulnerable.
2.) Why is Romney stressing naval expansion in his campaign remarks? Take a look at the map of swing states. Virginia is critical to his election hopes. Virginia is also home to Newport News Shipbuilding, which with 21,000 employees is a major contractor with the U.S. Navy. The additional submarines that Romney keeps mentioning are nuclear-powered Virginia-class subs, built in part at Newport News at a cost of $2.5 billion per copy.
In other words, Romney is dangling billions of taxpayers dollars and government-financed jobs in front of Virginia voters, hoping that it wins him the presidency.
– Jay Bookman
measure of state naval strength for all countries from 1865 to 2011detailing the