Naval Preeminence, the State of U.S. Shipbuilding, and the Defense Industrial Base


On March 29, the Center for the National Interest hosted the second discussion in its series on American Sea Power. The first event in the series addressed the return of great power naval rivalry with China and Russia. This event focused on challenges to U.S. naval preeminence and the state of U.S. shipbuilding and the defense industrial base.

President Trump campaigned in 2016 on the ambitious goal of a 355-ship fleet. However, with a current force of 285 ships and the FY 2020 budget request charting a course for a 314-ship fleet by 2024, that goal appears remote at present. Expensive transformational projects, the need to recapitalize the ballistic submarine force, and other looming demands have some referring to the next decade as “the Terrible Twenties” for the U.S. Navy. How quickly can America rebuild and reinforce its navy and how prepared is the defense industrial base for both projected peacetime demands and a potential great power conflict?

To discuss these challenges, the Center hosted two exceptionally well-informed speakers with direct experience working on these issues:

Randy Forbes is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the U.S. Naval War College and Regent College. Forbes is a former U.S. Congressman, serving as the U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 4th District from 2001 to 2017. Congressman Forbes served as chairman of the Committee on Armed Services’ Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces and was a ranking member of the Subcommittee on Readiness.

Mark F. Cancian is a senior adviser with the CSIS International Security Program. He joined CSIS in 2015 from the Office of Management and Budget, where he spent more than seven years as chief of the Force Structure and Investment Division. Colonel Cancian served for more than three decades in the U.S. Marine Corps, active and reserve, with overseas tours to Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm, and Iraq (twice).

The Center’s Director of China and Pacific Studies, Lieutenant General, USMC (Ret.) Wallace C. Gregson, Jr., moderated the discussion.

This event aired on C-SPAN. A full recording can be viewed here.

To read summary of this event in The National Interest click here.