Is Romney Right About The Navy?

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 24 2012 @ 2:25pm

Politifact rated Romney's claim that the Navy was at its smallest since 1917 "Pants on Fire." Tom Bruschino, one of the experts Politifact contacted, counters:

 On the Navy question, Romney appears to be accurate[ly] using the standard Navy metric, which is number of active ships. In 2003, the US Navy dropped below 300 active ships, and is currently at about 285. The last time the number was below 300 at the end of the year was 1916, when it was at 245. 

Ackerman and Schachtman explain why this technical accuracy isn't at all meaningful:

This is the sort of thing that’s literally true but meaningless in context. Counting ships is less important than counting types of ships, because they offer different seapower options. In 1917, the Navy did not have any aircraft carriers. It did not have silent, nuclear-powered (let alone nuclear-armed) spying submarines. It did not have — for all their many, many problems — modular minehunters that can operate close to enemy shores. And on and on.

In fact, as Politico’s Chuck Hoskinson has pointed out, Obama’s very Navy chiefs have unveiled a shipbuilding plan that goes from the current 288-ship fleet to 325 by early next decade. “Romney’s point falls flat as a political attack,” Hoskinson wrote last week, “because he’s suggesting the administration should do what it already had planned to do.”