Aircraft Carrier, Naval Prowess, Admiral Mark HeinrichWhile American military prowess is often depicted as the most powerful in the world, the question of why largely goes unexplained. Sure, we realize that our capacity for technology and budget for defense exceeds that of other countries, but what, really, distinguishes the United State military from another Western industrialized country, like, say, England? Well, while there’s certainly a variety of answers, the clearest is this: our navy.

The American Navy gives the United States the ability to project power anywhere in the world at any given time, fortifying our global presence as a world superpower. More specifically, it is truly our collection of astounding aircraft carriers that give us the ability to impose our presence. To give some context, one of our aircraft carriers, literally a single carrier, “has a more powerful air force than 70% of all countries.” Additionally, just to operate our newest class (the Gerald R. Ford Class) of aircraft carriers, it costs $7,000,000 per day. These aquatic portable metropolises patrol the open seas with seemingly absolute authority, tremendously housing crews of 5,000+ technicians. As these magnificent ships sail the world over, one cannot help but be reminded of Theodore Roosevelt’s “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

The United States of America boasts a full fleet of aircraft carriers, 19 in total. Across the rest of the planet, there are only 12 other aircraft carriers in existence. So, America has 150% more carriers than the rest of the world combined. However, all these impressive statistics aside, we do seem to be having issues maintaining ships, and I do not just mean aircraft carriers.

As stated on, we are “suffering from an inability to deploy ships to key international conflict zones due to rising maintenance issues on an aging fleet, that is increasingly being sidelined for lengthy repairs, according to military experts and a new government investigation.” Now, while I think “suffering” may be strong language here, I do think this poses an interesting question, since it does not seem like our backlog of maintenance is likely to grow shorter in the near future.

In fact, for surface combatant ships, maintenance was finished on schedule only 28% of the time last year, meaning that the fleet was forced to lose a notable 391 deployment days. Essentially, the fleet lost a year on the water simply because they weren’t serviced in time. Clearly, something needs to be done, especially so considering the current state of global affairs (think Persian Gulf and Asia-Pacific regions). Yet, I do not, by any means, intend to inspire fear mongering or anything of the sort. I am merely pointing out an issue that should be rectified.

Of course, we are doing something about it. Actually, the Navy has recently instituted a series of reforms that will ideally decrease these deployment delays. That said, these same reforms will also take years to reach their full effect, indicating that current deployment delays are likely here to stay, for the moment at least.