During my Plebe history class at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978, I read Paul Kennedy's The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery . In this landmark work, Kennedy examines the reasons for the initial establishment and subsequent weakening of the United Kingdom as a dominant sea power. Nearly 30 years later, with service as a submariner and nearly 20 years at a shipyard under my belt, I think about Kennedy's book often as I look around at the current shipbuilding environment. None of us in the industry wants to have future generations of midshipmen reading a similar book about the rise and fall of American naval power. As a nation, we are not yet at the point of making the same fateful decisions the British made, but we must be careful and take steps to resolve some of our issues or we could find ourselves sailing through equally stormy seas. Even in the 21st century, our country's economic strength as well as our ability to defend our national interests depend in good measure on the success of our vital industry.