America’s dominance at sea is slipping, writes Rebecca Grant in a July 11, 2014 piece for the Washington Times. Since 2001, the US Navy’s shipbuilding program has been preoccupied with light, small ships for the near-coastal areas or littorals. Meanwhile, threats ranging from sea mines to proliferating anti-ship missiles to China’s aircraft carrier have tilted the balance.
As Samuel Locklear, the admiral in charge of United States Pacific Command, recently put it, the “historic dominance that most of us in our careers have enjoyed is diminishing.” On top of this, the Navy 30-year shipbuilding plan needs increases of billions of dollars more per year to pay for new ships, submarines and aircraft carriers over the next ten years. The good news is that the US Navy already has proven ship types like DDG 51 with the tough capabilities for all seas and all threats. The Navy must take a fresh look at true conditions in the littorals to chart its course through the emerging threats and budget challenges ahead.