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Hornsby: A 350-ship Navy?

The "Big E" is no more. A recent note in this newspaper marked the decommissioning of the USS Enterprise (CVAN-65), the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Headed to the breakers, it will soon be reduced to razor blades and Japanese cars. We are now down to 10 aircraft carriers, although we do have nine large amphibious assault ships that would be classified as aircraft carriers in most foreign navies.

In the midst of his “sturm und drang,” President Donald Trump has laid down a marker to increase our Navy to a total of 350 ships. That’s quite ambitious, considering we only have 274 commissioned warships today that are considered “deployable.” You will see some lists numbering as high as 440, but it’s a Potemkin fleet that includes Ready Reserve ships, "mothballed" vessels sometimes referred to as the “ghost” fleet, auxiliary or service ships organized and operated by the Military Sealift Command, which are denoted “USNS,” and some ships that are under construction. The largest of these, the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), is being constructed at the Newport News, Virginia, Shipyard. Built at a cost of more than $13 billion and climbing, the most expensive ship ever built, it is already two years behind schedule.

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