April 29, 2021
Move Over Aluminum: Why the U.S. Navy is Turning to Steel Ships
The Navy knows that the dawn of a new and more agile 500-ship fleet starts in the shipyard.
by Kris Osborn
It is a well-known paradox: In order to prepare for peace, prepare for massive maritime warfare with heavily armed surface ships, long-range weapons, and layered defenses. This is the conceptual basis for deterrence, a strategic approach grounded in the idea of strengthening military power for the ultimate purpose of preventing conflict on the open ocean.
With this in mind, the Navy is taking new strides in its ongoing, multi-year ambition to build a larger, stronger, more heavily armed, and distributed surface fleet. It intends to do this in part by potentially migrating some of its shipbuilding initiatives away from large surface vessels and more toward a smaller agile fleet. Concurrently, the service is also moving at an ambitious pace to add greater numbers of larger-platform warships to include amphibs, destroyers, and frigates, among others. With a desired fleet of 400-500 ships in mind, the Navy is pursuing efforts to transition to more steel building materials and to substantially rev up shipyard production capacity throughout the industrial base.
Now, a bipartisan group of lawmakers on the Hill is seeking the same thing through a new legislative proposal to add billions in new funding for U.S. shipyards. Representatives Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI-08), along with Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Supplying Help to Infrastructure in Ports, Yards, and America’s Repair Docks (SHIPYARD) Act of 2021, which would provide $25 billion to make investments needed to optimize, improve, and rebuild shipyard facilities, electrical infrastructure, environmental systems, and the equipment of public and private shipyards in the U.S. that support the U.S. Navy fleet. https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/move-over-aluminum-why-us-navy-turning-steel-ships-183971