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Twenty Years


Defense News just recently published its twentieth anniversary issue. Of particular note to me was an article on the difference that twenty years has made in naval procurement. In 1986…

583 ships
14 CV
217 surface warships, including 3 battleships
101 SSN

In 2006…

281 ships.
12 aircraft carriers
91 surface warships
54 attack submarines

And all of those numbers are likely to go down in the next ten years. Defense News is good enough to remind us of why this happened:

Soviet Navy in 1986…

Nuclear Attack and Cruise Missile Submarines: 142
VSTOL Carriers: 6
Cruisers: 32, including 2 battlecruisers
Destroyers: 74

Russian Navy in 2006…

SSN and SSGN: 22
CV: 1
Cruisers: 5, including 2 battlecruisers
Destroyers: 17

And that probably overstates Russian naval strength, since the fleet is so poorly maintained that much of it is unable to leave port.

Fascinating times. I know of no other case in which a navy has cut itself in half, yet managed to increase its global dominance. My guess would be that the Royal Navy had a roughly similar experience after 1815, but I don’t know enough about naval procurement policies in the first half of the 19th century to say for sure.

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