This may seem an overly critical description of the best blue water navy on the planet today. The United States has 11 full-sized aircraft carriers; no other nation has more than one. America’s fleet is larger than its Russian and Chinese rivals in nuclear-powered attack submarines, cruisers, destroyers, and many other standard metrics of naval power. The U.S. Navy still claims, and physically confirms, freedom of navigation around the world. Yet U.S. naval preeminence has been deteriorating—a case of squandered strength and avoidable mistakes—since the end of the Cold War.
For nearly thirty years now, wishful thinking and a lack of accountability have driven a U.S. shipbuilding and ship maintenance program that have steadily eroded the Navy’s combat power and American security. One case in point: The U.S. Navy has not introduced a capable, cost-effective new surface warship design since the end of the Cold War (the submarine fleet is a shining exception to all that follows).