Faced with the dire prospect of a rapidly shrinking fleet of 280 ships, the Navy’s top brass are simply reclassifying a couple hospital ships and its small patrol craft deployed overseas to inflate the numbers. It’s an accounting sleight-of-hand that will fool no one and should be an embarrassment to the entire defense establishment.
There was a time when counting ships in the fleet was really simple. Just count up those big, gray ships one-by-one and you were done. Now, in a thinly veiled effort to disguise the troubling lack of newly constructed warships joining the fleet, the Navy is reclassifying a few non-combatants to make up for glaring holes in the fleet.
The changes, quietly noted in the recently released Defense Department’s 2015 budget proposal, add the dozen vessels to the battle force to help make up for the planned retirement of 10 frigates, a submarine and other ships.