Donald C.F. Daniel, Ph.D.

Milton E. Miles Professor of International Relations

Strategic Research Department

Center for Naval Warfare Studies

Naval War College

Newport, RI 02841-1207

401 841-4444 (voice)/ -3579(fax)

[email protected]
















This article aims to generate debate by setting down propositions about the significance of seapower for the United States in the foreseeable future. Some are hypotheses subject to being judged true or false. Others are more properly postulates, statements that are not so much provably true or false as assumed to be true and thus subject to validation, i.e., to being judged as to whether they provide sensible bases for follow-on analysis and decision-making.


American seapower simply refers to the nation’s ability to use the seas for its own purposes. Specific American users include the nation’s naval services, its Coast Guard, government-owned transport and research ships as well as resident non-governmental entities that employ or rely on merchant, fishing, and research ships. This paper will restrict itself to propositions as they apply to the merchant shipping and naval dimensions of America’s seapower. They arguably have the greatest impact on the nation’s well being.




Present trends clearly support the proposition that the United States’ dependence upon the seas for the transport of trade is vital and increasing. Total world seaborne trade measured in ton-miles is projected to nearly double in the period between 1998 and 2013.[1]  Accounting for “29 percent of global trade in 1997 in terms of ton-miles (demand for vessel services),”[2] the United States will markedly contribute to this doubling. Excluding the surface transport of goods to and from Canada and Mexico, at least 95 percent of America’s foreign trade tonnage is seaborne.[3] At the current rate of growth the total value of its goods transported by sea will likely triple by 2020 to $1.8 trillion.[4]   


Two types of developments would negatively affect the rate of growth. One is economic. The 1997 Asian economic downturn or “flu” measurably slowed growth,[5] and another Great Depression would probably reverse it altogether. Growth would also slow if new forms of transport cut into shipborne trade. In an age where speed is becoming more highly valued, some foresee air vehicles filling a niche between high speed but low payload airplanes and low speed, high payload ocean-going ships. Some French designers, e.g., envision giant cargo seaplanes capable of carrying 1.4 million pounds.[6] At the end of the day, however, the transport costs of ocean shipping, a very competitive industry, should guarantee that ships continue to dominate trans-ocean carriage of goods,[7] and absent another Great Depression, temporary economic downturns should slow growth but not stop it.


While America’s economic dependence on the seas is increasing, its own merchant transport capability to carry that trade is minimal and will remain so. Only 2.7 percent of the nation’s foreign seaborne trade is carried on American flag vessels, and there is no expectation for any significant rise in that number since US foreign trade is projected to rise but its registered merchant fleet’s carrying capacity will not keep up.[8] While the capacity of some of US flag ships is increasing, the number of units is very gradually dwindling and was down to 287 ocean-going vessels in 1998, two less than the year before.[9] Industry analysts agree that the US flag fleet is uncompetitive without congressional subsidies.[10] Partly ameliorating such reductions is the existence of ships controlled by US companies and registered under flags of convenience,[11] but their numbers are probably also declining.[12] Consistent with a consolidation in the maritime industry of fewer but larger shipping conglomerates, many US owners (whatever flag they fly) are getting out of the business or being bought out by foreign companies. In 1999 SeaLand, Lykes Lines, Crowley Lines, and American Presidents Lines were acquired by, respectively, Maersk of Denmark, Canadian Pacific Ships of Canada, Hamburg-Sud of Germany, and Neptune Lines of Singapore.


While such trends would profoundly disturb a 21st century Mahan, it can be postulated that the present state of the US merchant transport fleet is not detrimental to American economic interests because, as a collective economic entity, the United States is a virtual merchant transport power. In the competitive world of ocean transport, the United States is simply too big a trader to be shunned or ignored. American companies can buy or rent the services they need. The ships being employed need neither be owned by Americans nor fly their national ensign. As noted earlier, ninety-seven percent of America’s seaborne carriage needs are already being met by non-American companies and there is no reason to believe that this will not continue into the future. The companies consist of both for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises, the latter encompassing “ships from countries employing their national flag fleets as instruments of broader national economic policies—including…stimulating growth in other parts of the national maritime infrastructure.”[13] Against that background, even advocates of an increased US flag fleet accept that “to maintain a viable presence in international shipping, the United States should have a US-flag commercial fleet capable of transporting 5-10 percent of US international trade,”[14] thereby accepting that, at the least, 90 to 95 percent will indefinitely be borne by others.


With one major but manageable exception, the present state of the US transport fleet is not detrimental to the nation’s defense sealift needs. The critical sealift scenario is one that involves a surge in demand for the transport of large amounts of militarily-significant cargoes often for sustained periods. (A classic example is the Desert Storm/ Desert Shield buildup.) Several overlapping factors are relevant here. One is that, while it was expected during the Cold War that unfriendly governments would act against US interests by forbidding companies within their jurisdiction (with some being state-owned) to transport US national defense sealift, most of those governments would probably now give precedence to the pursuit of economic benefits for their nationals or their state industries. Much along the same lines, a second factor is that the maritime industry in general is said to be undergoing consolidation—referred to as globalization by some—with transnational shipping conglomerates controlling more of the liner trade. A result is a reduction in national differences among maritime carriers and the dominance of economic rationalization in their decision-making—all to the benefit of “military customers.”[15] A third factor is that the top ten international merchant ship registries alone account for about 28,000 ships and 334 million gross tonnage. Would all those ships declare themselves off limits if the profits were made attractive? Would Panama, the top provider of its flag as a convenience, dare to order the foreign owners to avoid shipping for the USA? Why would Panamanian-registered ships take any such order seriously? If Panama were no longer convenient, why would they not switch registry to Liberia, for example? During the Gulf War 20 percent of the military’s dry cargo sent to Saudi Arabia was transported by non-American vessels. Why could it not have been 30 or 80 percent? Granted that the “US experience during the Persian Gulf conflict found such ships to be more costly, less efficient, less reliable, and less safe to operate than their US counterparts,”[16] but they got the job done and that is the first criterion in war. A fourth factor cutting across the consolidation trend mentioned earlier is that the United States has in place a Maritime Security Program where vessels available for defense sealift are chartered “from US trusts (of which foreign owners are the passive beneficiaries).”[17] That is, an American legal entity controls how a ship is used, but that entity is ultimately underwritten by foreign interests who are in it for the money and willing to have the Americans put the ships at risk when transporting military cargoes to areas of (potential) combat.


Where the United States may have a problem is in the availability of two kinds of ships for high volume surge and sustained lift. These are ships that can carry outsized items such as large tanks[18] and ships that can offload in damaged or technologically primitive ports. As containerization becomes ever more the standard, alternative forms of shipping such as roll-on, roll-off and lighterage ships are needed to meet these requirements. This problem could be managed, however, by building on two existing programs. The United States already owns a Ready Reserve Fleet of transport ships and it could add to their numbers. Critical to making this option work is insuring that the crews be available, but there is no reason that this could not be planned for ahead of time if Congress and the President are willing to spend the funds to train and employ the necessary mariners. The second option may be easier in the long run, and this requires building on the Maritime Security Program whereby the US government subsidizes shipping companies for the cost of building and maintaining ships that normally would be employed in commercial service but would be available to the DoD in the event of a major crisis requiring a military response. There are presently 47 ships in this program at a cost to the government of $2.1 million a year per vessel. Of the two options, the second may be the more cost-effective. One reason is that the ship crews would be constantly on the job. A second is that the “leveraged impact of these 47 ships [already in the program] should not be underestimated. Because of existing vessel-sharing agreements and alliances with other ship-operating companies of the world, the MSP contracts open up cargo space on literally hundred of ships worldwide.”[19] With these two options, then, the military sealift problem comes down to a question of the national defense priorities of the President, the Congress, the DoD, and the services.


Whether merchant ships are serving commercial or national defense needs, the most serious point of vulnerability for  the secure delivery of US seaborne goods will be  the ports specialized for handling types of cargo rather than  the ships carrying them. This will be especially true for containerized shipping. As alluded to earlier, containers and their carriers are becoming bigger, and because they account for ever increasing percentages of transported goods, they are forcing ports to adjust. Intermodal transfer has become the new standard as ports are now falling into two groups:  the few that can readily move the largest containers and the remainder that will rely on feeder ships, rail, or trucks to transfer goods to and from the larger ports.


As for direct threats to the transits of US-associated merchant ships, they will be limited to specific regions as opposed to any far-reaching or global menace (other than that of creeping national legal jurisdictions that impinge on freedom of navigation). The last time there was a broad-based threat—and this to militarily-significant shipping—it emanated from the Soviet Union in the context of a Third World War, and that threat evaporated with the end of the Cold War. There is always the possibility, of course, that a state that sits astride one or more critical choke points or narrow seas might seek to exact leverage by harassing American shipping, but this would fall into the category of an ad hoc political problem to be dealt with on the day. The protection that the US Navy accorded to oil tankers in the Gulf in the late 1980s is a case in point, but even those oil SLOCs are projected to become increasingly less significant to the United States over time as it diversifies its energy sources. Because those oil lines will remain critical to Japan, India, China and others, it is reasonable to ask how their protection should be shared and which nation should take the lead. Specifically, why shouldn’t the United States coordinate the protection task with other more dependent stakeholders of Gulf oil?


Outside the Gulf the chief recurring problem is piracy in waters off the Southeast Asia, Africa, and South and Central America.[20] Most incidents are small-scale with nearly 80 percent of all reported events—roughly about 200 a year—occurring in territorial waters. Fishing and recreational craft are the probable victims of most unreported incidents.




It is appropriate to begin with the contextual proposition that the relative utility of US military forces as political instruments will decrease. Supporting this proposition is the rise in globalism, i.e., “ a state of the world involving networks of interdependence at multicontinental distances.”[21] There are several reasons why complex interdependence or enmeshments among states, peoples, and organizations lessens the relative utility of force:

¨ It raises the salience of other forms of leverage—economic and other mechanisms of “soft power”—to influence a party.

¨ A party potentially subjected to US military pressure may itself now have strings it can pull in order to retaliate against American interests in ways that could cause US policy-makers to reconsider the use of force.

¨ As the globe moves to “‘overlapping communities of fate’; that is, a condition in which the fortunes and prospects of individual political communities are increasingly bound together,” the United States will have to calculate how much its use of force would spill over to harm neutrals and friends and rebound to harm itself.[22]

¨ Relatively independent non-state actors will increasingly be the loci of the problems to which the United States may feel the need to respond, but unless those actors are terrorists who can be pinpointed by a cruise missile, for example, there is little scope for the use of conventional military force against them.

¨ There is an ever-increasing number of international mechanisms to adjudicate disputes that can substitute for the use of force.


The concept of “overlapping communities of fate” cuts two ways, however, in that the United States may find itself drawn into situations—especially in areas that are not highly “globalized”—in which it feels it has no intrinsic vital interests. When the military is used in those circumstances, some of the factors listed above coupled with the “CNN effect” will constrain how force is used and heighten the prospect of political backfire if Americans are killed or if operations cause high collateral damage. Secretary Caspar Weinberger realized this in 1984 when he offered restrictive principles—e.g., the interests at stake must be vital and public support should be reasonably assured—for guiding whether or not the US would commit forces.[23] The principles seem even more relevant in a world where transnational groups succeed in banning land mines and call for international war crime tribunals. In short, while the Cold War provided political cover to use force, that cover has since thinned.


With its Navy and Marine Corps, however, the United States will possess the premier naval services for the indefinite future. This widely-held belief needs no documentation. The only dispute concerns degree of superiority rather than its fact—a superiority that is probably increasing.[24] Some sense of this comes from the lament of allies who fear the consequences of decreasing interoperability as they see their American naval counterparts striding forward with seven league boots while their own modernization is at a far slower pace. The US’s focus on network-centricity has only compounded their fear of falling further behind.


For America’s potential adversaries, the best way for them to deal with its naval superiority is not to build a comparable naval force but rather an “anti-navy” that aims to deny the Americans freedom of naval movement. The ideal anti-navy would probably possess afloat expendable surface elements, small quiet submarines, and mines; in addition, a very significant proportion of its capability would consists of shore-based anti-ship missiles and associated sensors. The threat it would pose would markedly worsen the closer US naval forces approach a hostile littoral. Its main aim would be, not to attack distant US merchant shipping or blockade its coast, but simply to keep US naval forces from approaching the littoral.


That said, the relative utility of US naval forces will increase at the strategic nuclear level, and probably at the conventional. For the foreseeable future the most secure basing for the nation’s strategic nuclear retaliatory capability will be on deployed SSBNs. There is no indication of any nation devoting the level of resources necessary to change that prospect. As the United States reduces its overall strategic nuclear arsenal and as its land-based missiles age, it makes sense to shift more of the deterrent to sea as opposed to building new (expensive, mobile) land-based systems that are destabilizing since, being on land, they remain more easily targetable. If the United States, furthermore, goes forward with a strategic nuclear missile defense system for itself or allies, basing parts at sea may be sensible should the Aegis system prove an effective defense against theater missile attacks.[25]


Several factors will contribute to a probable increase in the relative conventional utility of naval forces even as the other services transform themselves to become more expeditionary. A baseline for discussion is that during both the Cold War and post-Cold War eras US naval surface ships responded to crises an average of about five to six times yearly during both periods.[26] Considering the longevity of that trend and the fact that it does not seem to have changed after the end of the Cold War, it seems reasonable to extrapolate that level of utilization forward (and especially so if populations are gravitating to the ocean littorals as some claim[27]). Naval use should also become more attractive as the US is forced to reduce its reliance on foreign bases and traditional allies, and as Asia “moves to the forefront” of America’s geopolitical planning in Washington.[28] The Australian defense analyst, Paul Dibb, united some of these themes in a conclusion to a recent paper:

From a defense planning perspective, it is important to understand that potential military operations in the Asia-Pacific region will be essentially maritime in nature. Apart from the Korean peninsula, US military forces are not likely to be involved in large-scale, land forces operations. The dominant geopolitical change…has been the virtual elimination for military planning purposes of allied continental commitments. The emerging struggle for power in Asia will focus on fault lines that are maritime rather continental in aspect. The development of China’s military power, and the response by India and Japan, is likely to put pressure on the chain of America’s friends and allies in the long littoral extending between South Korean and Taiwan in the north…to the ASEAN countries and Australia in the south.[29]


Reinforcing the impact of these trends are the characteristics of US naval forces that have made their use almost second-nature to US policy-makers[30] and are in tune with new conceptions of strategy for a globalizing world. Jean-Marie Guehenno has argued that, because of globalization, determining long-term goals and political strategies to attain them “may become increasingly unrealistic: too many factors are beyond our control, and there are too many unknowns.” Hence, he concludes,

A successful [political] strategy may be no more than a series of successful tactics. Under these circumstances, strategy’s goal becomes, not identifying the best outcome and finding the means to attain it, but keeping as many options open for as long as possible to provide maximum tactical flexibility. The intrinsic value of having the option to make or not to make a decision, long recognized in the financial world, may increasingly become part of politics.[31]

A naval task force inherently offers such flexibility. Without legal constraint it can transit to foreign littorals, modulating the visibility, level, and makeup of its presence to match the political situation. With aircraft carriers, cruise missile shooters, and Marines, it can provide the full spectrum of conventional power projection, and it can loiter indefinitely in international waters off a littoral of (potential) crisis, ready to go into action on short notice.[32] While offshore, it can sustain itself without access to nearby land bases and minimize the prospect of its personnel being captured or subject to sabotage. It can also enable the later entry of ground-based army and air forces.


At the conventional level of military activity, the core mission of US naval forces is preparing for and responding to contingencies as directed by the President including:

¨ providing humanitarian assistance,

¨ enforcing international sanctions (such as embargoes and no-fly zones),

¨ participating in or supporting peace operations,

¨ evacuating Americans from danger areas,

¨ securing the high seas against threats to the transport of maritime and military goods (including those on pre-positioned ships) important to US interests,

¨ engaging in retaliatory or compellence strikes,

¨ actively defending a friend or ally from air, ground, naval, or missile attack, and

¨ conducting sustained offensive combat operations.

Preparing for these responses will involve aperiodically deploying to areas where contingencies might arise. The objectives will be military:

¨ acclimating US naval forces to those physical and meteorological idiosyncrasies of the area that affect how well sailors and systems would perform as well as

¨ exercising with indigenous militaries so as to enhance interoperability should they combine with the United States to respond to a contingency.

They will also be political:

¨ reassuring friends that the United States will help defend them while also

¨ helping condition them and others to support US efforts if and when a crisis does occur.

It is through such preparations that US naval forces might significantly contribute to shaping the environment.


The obverse of the previous proposition is that all other missions are of lesser priority, and expectations should be low as to what else naval forces can accomplish. In particular there are few reasons to believe that outside the context of a crisis, constant day-to-day presence or engagement in an area does much to deter unwanted behavior or shape the environment beyond what is needed to prepare for a military response. It raises false expectations to argue, e.g., that the “ ‘gapping’ of aircraft carriers in areas of potential crisis is an invitation to disaster—and, therefore represents culpable negligence on the part of America’s defense decision-makers.”[33] In the early 1960s, the United States maintained three aircraft carrier battle groups in the Mediterranean Sea, but later gradually found it needed to scale back such that the goal—often not met—is now to have a carrier there only for three-quarters of a year. This is a very significant reduction, but no one has ever claimed that the Mediterranean region has become far more unstable as a result.


Systematic analytic attempts to link presence and engagement to shaping have little to offer, but one effort is worth highlighting. A team from Rutgers’ Center for Global Security and Democracy did a focused comparison of six cases to determine the link between forward presence and engagement on the one hand and shaping on the other.

Perhaps the most important finding…is that when “shaping” involves more than deterring particular external actions, it can prove very difficult….The clearest illustration is the American experience in the Caribbean: continuous American intervention provided a certain amount of surface stability, but failed to result in the construction of effective domestic political institutions. In Africa, the French began a much higher level of political and intellectual penetration, based on colonial legacy, and they pursued much more limited goals (the preservation of French influence vice the American goal of building stable governments) while tolerating a higher level of political instability and violence. Even so, they, like the British during the interwar years in the Arab world, found their influence gradually declining and their ability to shape events decreasing.[34]

The case analyses also suggest that presence—particularly if perceived as overbearing or hegemonic—can backfire and generate local nationalist opposition.[35]


In short, it is probably an exaggeration to claim that “balanced forward naval presence will be increasingly vital in shaping the peace,” either absolutely or relative to soft power mechanisms.[36] What is vital instead is that US naval forces show up during the runup to and the onset of a contingency and, because of prior operations in the area, be immediately prepared, both militarily and politically, to do what needs doing to reassure or defend a friend and deter or compel an adversary. As a consequence, what should drive US decisions on non-crisis forward deployments is not a relatively inflexible set of standards (such as one carrier full time in region A and another present three-quarters time in region B with a tether of so many days transit to region C, etc.), but rather a more flexible rule set based on the requirements for being prepared militarily and politically. In addition, consideration ought to be given as well to a rolling and integrated US Navy and Coast Guard non-crisis deployment schedule to engage nations with navies too small to contribute much to a military operation but whose political support would be important nonetheless.


It remains to be seen what the impact of a flexible non-crisis policy would be on operations and personnel tempo. If done rightly, it certainly need not raise alarms with friends that the US is abandoning their region. What they would have to be convinced of is that the US will be there when needed as opposed to being there every day according to a fixed schedule that overtaxes both ships and men. Indeed, when done with fanfare, the buildup of a US naval presence during the runup to a crisis helps signal US resolve to defend its interests and that of its friends.


A corollary to this policy is that the efficient and timely deployment of American naval forces absolutely depends on the quality of the strategic intelligence available to those authorities that direct their movement. Strategic intelligence focuses on what nations and transnational actors intend and will do. Quality information maximizes the time available for US naval forces to assemble the right mix at the right spots with the right missions and tactics. It becomes a force multiplier such that fighting to insure top quality strategic intelligence should be as much a US naval priority as buying the next capital ship.


Finally, it brings this paper full circle to focus on the nexus between America’s naval power and its heavy dependence on the ocean carriage of imports and exports. Over 100 years ago, Alfred Thayer Mahan surveyed the oceanscape of his day while also looking back to the previous three centuries. He concluded that maritime commerce was “the central link” in a “chain of exchange by which wealth accumulates” and that navies in turn “exist for the protection of [maritime] commerce.”[37] The latter assertion is now an overstatement. Protecting the high seas transport of goods is only one-half of eight core mission tasks listed above, and it is probably among the least significant by virtue of the lack of a foreseeable generalized threat (except that of national jurisdictional claims infringing on free transit). The US Navy’s command of the seas may indeed deter potential troublemakers, but there is no evidence to support claims that forward deployed forces provide day-to-day “background security” to merchant shipping.[38] While the United States remains as dependent upon seaborne trade as when Mahan posited commerce protection as a central Navy mission, it is now far less significant to deployment and mission planning. 




Hopefully what has been presented above will open a debate as to the significance of seapower for the United States and the significance of the United States as a seapower. It would seem indisputable, however, that the United States will remain highly dependent upon the seas because of the degree of trade transported by sea, the security afforded to its strategic nuclear submarines patrolling under the sea, and the relative utility of its conventional naval forces operating on and from the sea. Possibly more disputable is this paper’s conclusion that the United States will remain a great seapower for the foreseeable future by virtue of the strength of its naval services and its ability—with one major but manageable exception—to charter ocean transport vessels regardless of the flag they fly. Possibly most disputable are the arguments about US naval power. One is that the effectiveness of the US naval services must be judged only by how well they respond to contingencies and by how well they attend in non-crisis periods to enhancing political and tactical interoperability with (potential) friends and allies. A second is that it would be best to mute other arguments about the supposed impact of forward naval presence and to develop instead a new rule set for making decisions about distant deployments in non-crisis periods.



* The views expressed are strictly the author’s and should not be attributed to the Naval War College or any other agency of the US Government.


[1] [UK] The Chamber of Shipping, Annual Review 1998 (London, UK: 1999), p. 25.

[2] US Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Maritime Administration, US Coast Guard, Maritime Trade and Transportation 1999, BTS 99-02 (Washington, DC: 1999), p. xii.

[3] Bruce Stubbs and Scott Truver, America’s Coast Guard: Safeguarding US Maritime Safety and Security in the 21st Century (Washington, DC: US Coast Guard, 2000), p. 9.

[4] Ibid, p. 27

[5] Chamber of Shipping, op.cit. at note 1, p. 23.

[6] Pierre Sparaco, “French Envision Giant Cargo Seaplanes,” Aviation Week and Space Technology, 13 March 2000, pp. 44-45.

[7] A “pilot project” based on the “fast-ship” (40 knots) concept will involve specialized container ships transiting between Philadelphia and Cherbourg. See Edouard Berlet, “Transport maritime: six questions pour 2010,” Bulletin d’Etudes de la Marine, No. 16 (November 1999), p.52.

[8] Richard D. Kohout et al., Looking Out to 2020: Trends Relevant to the Coast Guard, CIM 499-Sponsor Review Version (Alexandria, VA: Center for Naval Analyses, 1997), pp. 104-106. See also Maritime Trade…1999, op.cit. at note 2, p. 3, Table 1-1.

[9] “Seapower/Maritime,” Seapower-2000 Almanac Issue, January 2000, p. 284.

[10] Ibid., p. 285

[11] United States companies are credited with owning 1028 such ships, displacing nearly 47 million DWT, in 1998, but those numbers are somewhat questionable since “Vessel ownership concepts are clouded….This makes it difficult to define true ‘national’ fleets, and to identify the nationality of maritime transport operators.” Maritime Trade…1999, op. cit. at note 2, p. 7. Table 1-4, and p, 103.

[12] See National Defense Transportation Association, Maritime Policy Initiatives 2000 (Washington, DC: April 2000), p. 38.

[13] Ibid., p. ix.

[14] Ibid., p. vii

[15] Ibid., p. 14

[16] Ibid. p. 39

[17] Ibid., p. 21. See, e.g., Christopher Dinsmore, “Maersk Lands Ammo Shipping Deal,” Norfolk Virginian Pilot, May 24, 2000 as found in

[18] This problem may lessen as the US Army transitions to expeditionary units with lighter equipment.

[19] Robert W. Kesteloot, “A Century in Review,” Seapower-2000 Almanac Issue, January 2000, p. 42.

[20] On piracy see Office of Naval Intelligence and US Coast Guard Intelligence Coordination Center, Threats and Challenges to Maritime Security 2020, 1 March 1999, pp. II-23 to II-26.

[21] Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye Jr, “Globalization: What’s New?” Foreign Policy, No. 118 (Spring 2000), p. 105.

[22] David Held et al. Global Transformations: Politics, Economics, and Culture (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999) p. 444

[23] “The Uses of Military Power,” Speech to the National Press Club, Washington, DC, 28 November 1984.

[24] Captain George Kasten offers the case for how a transition to network-centric operations will make the Navy even more versatile as an expeditionary force.  See his “Building a Beehive: Observations on the Transition to Network-Centric Operations,” Strategic Research Department Paper 3-00, Newport, RI: Naval War College, May 2000.

[25] See Richard J. Newman, “Shooting from the Ship,” US News and World Report, 3 July 2000 as found in 2000/e20000626shootingfrom.htm.

[26] Those numbers do not reflect other ship movements (including by submarines in circumstance where stealth is premium) that were never publicly acknowledged. They do reflect adding up yearly totals such that a response that stretched over more than one year (such as the role that carriers play in enforcing the Iraq no-fly zones) is counted in the total for each year.

[27] Whatever the trend, population density studies indicate that “population diminishes rapidly with elevation and with distance from coastlines and major rivers.” In particular, “there are far more people per available land area within 100 km of the coastlines and within 200 m of sea level than further inland or at higher elevations.” Christopher Small and Joel Cohen, “Continental Physiography, Climate and the Global Distribution of Human Population,” Proceedings of the International Symposium on Digital Earth, 1999 as found in 22 June 2000.

[28] Thomas E. Ricks, “For Pentagon , Asia Moving to the Forefront,” Washington Post, May 26, 2000, p. 1.

[29] Dibb, “Strategic Trends in the Asia-pacific Region,” Paper prepared for the Current Strategy Forum, US Naval War College, Newport, RI, 13 June 2000, p. 16.

[30] Two anecdotes illustrate the second-nature claim and associate it with aircraft carriers in particular. Former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney has related that when he would meet with President Bush to deal with a crisis, “literally the first thing he always [said was], ‘How are we fixed for carriers?’” Along the same lines, Vice-President Gore’s chief national security advisor, Leon Fuerth, recently gave the following answer when asked what Mr. Gore might do about defense strategy: “I think his view is that the two major contingency strategies have served us very well, and it is possible to see exactly where the vice president has been in the Cabinet Room with the president and others when we had to ask ourselves whether if we move a carrier…, we are opening ourselves up to adventures by one opponent or the next.” On Cheney, see Grant Willis, “Secretary Receives First-hand View of Carrier Operations,” Navy Times, November 13, 1989, p. 4; on Fuerth, see Elaine Sciolino, “A Gore Advisor Who Basks in the Shadows,” New York Times, 25 April 2000, p. A14.

[31] Guehenno, “The Impact of Globalization on Strategy,” Survival, vol. 40, no. 4 (Winter 1998-99), p. 14.

[32] General Colin Powell once praised this versatility of naval forces by remarking that “It’s hard to lie offshore with a C-141 or C-130 [aircraft] full of airborne troops.” As quoted in Jeffrey Record, “Strike from the Sea,” Baltimore Sun, 25 April 1990, p. 17.

[33] John R. Fisher, “A Tale of Two Centuries,” Foreword to Seapower—2000 Almanac Issue, January 2000, p. 4.

[34] Edward Rhodes et al., “Forward Presence and Engagement: Historical Insights into the Problem of ‘Shaping,’” Naval War College Review, vol. 53, no. 1 (Winter 2000), pp. 55-56.

[35] Ibid., 49-50.

[36] Jay Johnson, “Anytime, Anywhere: A Navy for the 21st Century,” Naval Institute Proceedings, vol. 123, no. 11 (November 1997), p. 50.

[37] As quoted in John Hattendorf, ed., Mahan on Naval Strategy: Selections from the Writings of Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1991), p. xxvii.  That western merchant mariners of the day thought that way is well illustrated in Joseph Conrads’s tale, Typhoon, published in 1903.  Conrad has Mr. Jukes, the chief mate of the British -built and originally British registered ship, Nan-Shan, express disquiet after the ship’s registry was transferred to Siam: “ ‘It was when the weather quieted down that the situation became confoundedly delicate.  It wasn’t made any better by us having been lately transferred to the Siamese flag....[T]his is an infernally lonely state for a ship to be going about the China Seas with no proper consuls, not even a gunboat of her own anywhere, nor a body to go to in case of trouble.’ ”Conrad, Typhoon, as found in Keith Carribine, ed., Joseph Conrad Sea Stories: Typhoon, Falk, The Shadow Line (Ware, Hertfordshire, UK: Wordsworth Editions Ltd., 1998), p. 74.

[38] This is an oft-made argument of US naval leaders. British maritime industry representatives interviewed by the author in January 2000 do not see any direct link between the US Navy’s sea primacy and the lack of any broad or recurring threat to their ships.