Adm. Moran: ‘Sense of Urgency’ Driving Navy Fleet Growth
By OTTO KREISHER, Seapower Correspondent
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – With recent and planned increases in funding, the Navy is in position to move toward a “300-plus ship fleet” by the mid-2020s, but the first step to that larger fleet is “maintaining the fleet we already have,” Adm. William F. Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, said April 9.
Navy leaders have said we need a bigger Navy, “but a lot of that Navy is tied up” in maintenance or needing repair, Moran told a luncheon audience at the 2018 Navy League Sea-Air-Space Exposition. “That doesn’t allow us to take advantage of the fleet we have.”
The increased funding in fiscal 2017 and this year will enable the Navy to start improving fleet readiness, and 2019 “is the year for growth,” he said. But looking beyond 2019 “there are a lot of things in play,” he added, apparently referring to the continued existence of the Budget Control Act limits on spending that were bypassed the last two years. “How fast we grow depends on how much money we get.”
The path to the 300-plus fleet includes maintaining the current fleet, adding capabilities that will make existing hulls relevant for decades to come, and “building more platforms that are tried and tested” while looking for new technologies for the future, Moran explained. He also appealed to the industry representatives in the audience to work with the Navy to accelerate acquisition and “make every cent count.”
“We cannot afford, nor do we have the time as the U.S. Navy, to play cat and mouse games with contracting. … We all have to act with a sense of urgency,” he said.
That urgency is generated by “the reemergence of a true existential threat,” Moran said. “We face a new era of great power competition, punctuated by authoritarian rule.” While Iran and violent extremist cannot be ignored “the real future threat will be from great powers,” he added, an obvious reference to Russia and China.
Moran listed requirements to attract, retain and train talented Sailors, harnessing things like artificial intelligence to “stay ahead of our competitors and reduce future casualties,” and to continue to innovate on technology. “Now is not the time to yield any of that space to authoritarian competitors.”
Asked if the nation was back in a Cold War, Moran sad, “We certainly are back in a war of ideology, which looks like a cold war. Except this time, we don’t have one competitor — we have multiple,” which means we must be prepared for a lot of different challenges.