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This article was originally published by Zbigniew Mazurak on October 22, and subsequently posted on on October 26, 2012.

Shortly after Mitt Romney delivered his October 8th VMI speech, CNN set out to defend Barack Obama’s sordid defense and foreign policy record and to hide the truth from the American people by defending Obama’s record and stating blatant lies to mislead the public.

An example of this was CNN’s factually incorrect “fact check” of Romney’s naval claims. It was anything but a fact check. It was a litany of blatant lies. (Bloomberg has made similar, false claims here.)

In his VMI speech, Romney pointed out that today’s Navy has the fewest ships since 1916. CNN not only failed to understand what that means, it rushed to claim that Romney’s remark was “pointless”, that comparing the fleet sizes of today and as of 1916 was “not valid” and “pointless”, and that ship numbers don’t matter.

They falsely claimed that:

“It is wrong to assume that fewer ships translates to a weaker military, Pavel said. Because of the technological supremacy of current Navy ships, the military can get more from each one than it did even 10 to 15 years ago.(…)

Today, a single Navy ship can serve many roles. Because of this, the military branch does not need as many ships as it did in 1916, because technology has advanced to such a point one ship can be used in numerous battle scenarios.(…)

Having more ships does not really mean anything, according to experts. And making more ships does not necessarily mean anything, unless you have a plan for them.(…)

And as experts point out, lower numbers in the fleet does not mean a weaker Navy or military. Because of the technological advantage of current ships, you can leverage these ships more now than ever before. They can do more things, carry more sailors and go more places easily than the U.S. fleet in, say, 1916.”

Firstly, the only “experts” CNN quoted were an anti-defense hack from a Brent-Scowcroft-founded “think tank” and an Obama Administration Navy spokesman. They are not experts. One of them is an ignorant anti-defense hack and another is a spokesman for the Obama administration.

Secondly, ship numbers do matter a great deal, contrary to the CNN’s lies.

Today’s ships cannot “go to more places” or “do more things” than the US fleet of 1916, because no one has yet invented a ship that could be in two places simultaneously.

No amount of technology is a substitute for numbers. A ship, no matter how technologically advanced it is, can be in only ONE place at any given time.

So no, today’s ships cannot “go to more places” or “do more things” than those of 1916 – because they cannot be in two places simoultaneously.

Yet, since 1916, the world has not gotten any smaller or more secure. In fact, it is now much less secure and much more dangerous than in 1916 or even during WW1.

Furthermore, the Navy’s current size is woefully inadequate for today’s requirements (let alone the much larger requirements of tomorrow). At present, it can meet only 59% of Combatant Commanders’ requests for ships, and only 61% of their requirements for submarines. So Romney is right: the Navy doesn’t have nearly enough ships to do its missions. It’s a simple supply and demand situation: the demand vastly outstrips the limited supply.

Alexander Gray points out that the Pacific Command alone says it needs at least 16-18 submarines permanently, and the most the Navy can supply is 10.

Furthermore, two independent studies – one by the QDR Independent Review Panel (the Hadley-Perry panel) and one by the CNAS – have concluded that the Navy needs 346 ships – a far cry from the meager 285 vessels it has today. The CNAS stresses that so many ships are needed just to back up American diplomacy and reassure America’s allies. Coincidentally, their calculations of the needed ship number (346) is quite similar to that reached by Romney and his defense issues advisors.

The Navy itself was saying just 10 months ago that it needed 313 ships. In January, under Obama’s budget diktats, it had to abandon that goal.

And yes, fewer ships DO mean a weaker Navy. Not only because a ship cannot be in two places simoultaneously, but also because one technologically advanced ship is always a smaller military capability than two ships of similar technological sophistication and armament.

And because today’s ships – as CNN admits – are far more technologically advanced than those of 1916, scrapping or losing one of them is a much bigger loss than losing a 1910s’ ship.

So fewer ships DO mean a weaker Navy and a weaker military.

Furthermore, the Obama Administration plans to decommission 9 ships prematurely: 7 young, technologically-advanced Ticonderoga class cruisers and 2 amphibious ships. Scrapping those 7 cruisers would mean losing more firepower and technological capability than that wielded by the entire surface fleet of the British Royal Navy.

Likewise, CNN’s claim that

“Having more ships does not really mean anything, according to experts. And making more ships does not necessarily mean anything, unless you have a plan for them.”

is also a blatant lie. Having more ships means a stronger Navy that can go to more places simoultaneously, do more things at the same time, and handle more enemies simoultaneously.

Moreover, Mitt Romney does have specific plans of what to do with these ships: counter China’s vast military buildup (which long ago exceeded any legitimate requirements of self-defense), patrol the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Med, protect American interests and allies there, provide a naval component of a robust missile defense system, reassure American allies around the world, and meet the requirements of Combatant Commanders, which today’s Navy – as demonstrated above – is way too small to meet, as it can supply only 59% of the ships and only 61% of the submarines needed by Combatant Commanders.

Moreover, as Navy numbers show and as CNN admits, in 1916 the Navy had more capital ships (36), more cruisers (30), and as many destroyers (61) than today (11 carriers, 22 cruisers, and 61 destroyers).

CNN also says that the Scowcroft think tank “expert”, Barry Pavel,

“doubts any president — be it Obama or Romney — would allow the number of ships to fall below minimum requirements.”

Actually, Obama (and previous presidents) have already allowed the number of ships to fall below minimum requirements, because, as demonstrated, the Navy is already too small to meet the requirements of today, let alone of tomorrow. It can supply only 59% of the ships, and only 61% of the submarines, needed by Combatant Commanders.

Furthermore, the Obama Administration plans to keep the Navy at roughly this small, pathetic size for decades, and to deeply cut Navy shipbuilding and the Navy cruiser, destroyer, and submarine fleets even without sequestration. As the Congressional Research Service’s naval issues expert Ronald O’Rourke has demonstrated, even without sequestration, under Obama’s own plans, the Navy’s cruiser, destroyer, and submarine fleets will shrink precipitously during the 2020s and 2030s and will be well below the Navy’s own understated requirements (e.g. the Navy will have only 39 attack submarines versus the 48 attack subs it says it needs).

And that’s without counting Obama’s plan to decommission 7 cruisers and 2 amphibious ships prematurely.

Furthermore, Obama’s shipbuilding plan calls for cutting FY2013-FY-2017 shipbuilding construction plans by 16 ships, from 57 to 41. Casualties include a submarine, a destroyer, eight Joint High Speed Vessels, and supply ships.

Under Obama’s own shipbuilding plan, the Navy will stay at roughly its current size for many years, then slowly climb to a still woefully inadequate level of 301 ships – and many of those will be tiny, weak, useless Littoral Combat Ships that cost half a billion dollars a year. This, however, enables Obama to maintain the fraud that he plans to expand the Navy.

CNN questions whether Romney’s shipbuilding plans are executable, but they are. He wants to increase submarine production from 2 to 3 per year, increase destroyer production rates, build more LPDs, and build a new frigate class. American shipyards can clearly handle such orders, as they’re already building 2 subs and 2 destroyers per year, and frigates are easy to build. Additional orders only help the shipbuilding industry; it’s INADEQUATE orders that can harm the industry.


CNN is clearly wrong.

The opinions expressed on Ziggy’s Defense Blog do not necessarily reflect those of


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