One word: exhaustion.
It is simply not sustainable to have a 275-ship Navy that has 100 ships underway at any given time. The Navy needs to expand its numbers with smaller, cheaper surface combatants such a new multi-mission frigate that the can relieve high-end warships such as DDGs from mundane missions such as forward presence. With frigates relieving the DDGs from those roles, cruisers and destroyers can focus on high-end missions such as missile defense.
With the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) knocked out of commission after a collision on Aug. 21 in the Straits of Malacca, the United States Navy is down two ballistic missile defense-capable Aegis destroyers in the Pacific.
With USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) being also being knocked out of action after a June 17 collision off the Japanese coast, the loss of the two vessels from operational service could not come at a worse time for the Navy, which needs of all the ballistic missile defense assets it can get to deal with the North Korean threat. Nor does the Navy have a good way to mitigate for the loss of those vessels—the 275-ship fleet is already stretched thin.
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“The U.S. combat fleet is already over-stretched,” Seth Cropsey, director of the Center for American Seapower at the Hudson Institute told The National Interest.
(This first appered in August.)