At the beginning of 2017, the U.S. Navy is
increasing its familiar posture of ships and air-
craft deployed and engaged around the world.
The Navy continues to rebalance its fleet with
more emphasis toward the Asia-Pacific region,
in accordance with the January 2012 Defense
Strategic Guidance, while maintaining significant
forces in the Middle East and, more recently,
the Mediterranean Sea. The Navy also continues
to shift more of its fleet forward to execute the
strategy and reduce the strain on force levels.
Ray Mabus, the outgoing secretary of the Navy, leads a
department with a Navy budget of approximately $139 billion.
Aided by budget relief from the Congress, the service continues to recover from readiness and maintenance shortfalls in
ships and aircraft as it also continues to modernize the fleet.
Adm. John M. Richardson, a career submariner and the
31st chief of naval operations, sees the design for maintaining
maritime security as protecting the nation from attack, operating from the deep ocean to the littorals and from the sea floor
to space, and deterring aggression and enabling peaceful resolution to conflict.
The Navy’s six numbered fleets — U.S. Third, Fourth, Fifth,
Sixth, Seventh and Tenth — provide the maritime components
for U.S. joint and allied operations in areas of responsibility that
span the globe. The ships, aircraft and personnel of these fleets
are administered and supported by the major regional and theater naval component commands: U.S. Fleet Forces Command,
U.S. Pacific Fleet, Naval Forces Europe/Africa, Naval Forces
Central Command and Naval Forces Southern Command.
As of Dec. 1, 2016, the Navy included 323,792 active-duty
and 108,515 Ready Reserve personnel, and 210,966 civilians.
The ship battle force included 272 ships and submarines.
The Navy’s forces included 3,700 aircraft. The Navy, building
toward a battle force of 308 ships, completed a force structure
study recommending a fleet size of 355 ships.
About 18 percent of the battle force, 50 ships, was deployed
overseas and 15 percent, 40 ships, was underway for local oper-
ations or training. Carrier strike groups and amphibious warfare
ships continued to launch strikes from the Persian Gulf and the
Mediterranean against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. An
Aegis Ashore site now is operational in Romania, with a second
under construction in Poland. The Navy deployed the MK VI
patrol boat for the first time to the Persian Gulf and Guam.
During 2016, the Navy commissioned its first Zumwalt-
class guided-missile destroyer, which will have its mission
systems installed or activated in 2017. The service also com-
missioned one Virginia-class attack submarine, three littoral
combat ships (LCSs) and one amphibious transport dock ship.
Military Sealift Command placed into service one expedition-
ary fast transport ship and one oceanographic survey ship. An
oceanographic research ship also was placed in service.
During the year, the fleet moved toward increased lethality
with the deployment of the Harpoon cruise missile onboard
the LCS USS Coronado, which made the first deployment of the
Independence class. The service also continued development
of a new frigate in lieu of additional LCSs. Technology devel-
opment progressed with the Large-Displacement Unmanned
Undersea Vehicle and other unmanned underwater systems.
In naval aviation, 2016 featured more carrier trials for the
F-35C Lightning II strike fighter. The Navy selected its first
fleet squadron for the transition to the F-35C, Strike Fighter
Squadron 147. The transition to the P-8A Poseidon maritime
patrol aircraft from the P-3C passed the halfway mark in 2016.
Production was authorized for the MQ-4C Triton unmanned
aerial vehicle (UAV) as the Navy stood up its first unit,
Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19, for the new UAV. Also during the
year, an LCS deployed with both an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter
and an MQ-8B Fire Scout UAV for the first time. n
Sailors walk across the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D.
Eisenhower as it conducted a scheduled transit through the Suez Canal
Dec. 4, 2016.