Unless decisive action is taken, in a decade or two the United States Navy could be down to as few as 150 ships. Those 150 ships will still make our Navy the most powerful in the world and probably without peer. And, if peace and stability prevail, 150 ships may be sufficient. But not everyone accepts these assumptions.
To understand why the 150 figure is plausible, history and arithmetic are useful guides. Forty years ago, at the start of the Vietnam era, the Navy numbered nearly a thousand ships, many of World War II vintage. Thirty years ago, when the war ended, that number was cut in half to about 450. Twenty years ago, amid the Reagan defense buildup, the Navy was approaching 600 ships. Today, depending upon how one counts, the Navy has about 300 ships in service. Given the economic facts of life, a 150-ship future Navy is not imnossihle to imagine.