The U.S. Navy, which is nearing completion of a force structure assessment, will probably conclude it needs more ships than currently planned, service Secretary Ray Mabus said Oct. 12.
The Navy, which is slated to boost its fleet to 308 ships by fiscal year 2021, up from 278 in 2008, will likely determine that a larger increase is warranted to counter a growing number of threats around the world, Mabus said, echoing recent comments by other service officials, including Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson.
Richardson has stated publicly “that he would bet a paycheck that the number is going to go up,” Mabus said. “I’m happy to bet the CNO’s paycheck, too, that the number is going to go up.”
While Navy officials have repeatedly said that the assessment is wrapping up, they have not indicated exactly when it will be completed. “It ought to be relatively soon,” Mabus told reporters after speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Despite budget constraints, the Navy has managed to place 86 ships under contracts over the past seven years, up from 41 ships during the previous seven-year period, Mabus said. He said that greater use of “basic business practices,” such as firm, fixed-priced contracts, multi-year buys and stable requirements, have helped to control the cost of those ships, allowing the Navy to buy more.
Mabus, a former Mississippi governor who has led the Navy and Marine Corps since 2009, noted that with a new president set to take office in January, his tenure will soon end. But he gave no hint of what the future holds for him.
“I haven’t decided what I’m going to do next,” he said.