The U.S. Navy plans to operate 500-strong ship fleet of which 150 will be unmanned.
In late September, Navy documents sent to Defense Secretary Mark Esper said between 480 and 534 total ships should be at sea, with a mix of manned and unmanned vessels. This is a 35% increase in fleet size from the previous 355 target.
In an address to the Rand Corp. earlier this month, Esper referred to a future Navy of "over 350 ships.”
Dated October 1, the plan seeks 8-11 more nuclear carriers and 70-80 submarines, up from the current 11 nuclear carriers and 55 submarines respectively. The Navy could also receive additional conventionally powered amphibious assault ships.
"If we do nothing else, the Navy must reach production of three new Virginia-class subs per year," Esper said Tuesday at a virtual event hosted by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank in Washington, D.C.
Manufacturers General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries presently deliver two Virginia-class vessels every year.
Presently, the Pentagon has 293 ships, as against the Chinese Navy’s 350 warships. “The People’s Republic of China has the largest navy in the world, with an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines including over 130 major surface combatants. In comparison, the U.S. Navy’s battle force is approximately 293 ships as of early 2020,” US Department of Defense’s 2020 annual report to Congress on Chinese military power released in late August stated.