Sea Control Through Maritime Strength

Deployed as part of a U.S. 3rd Fleet Pacific Surface Action Group (PAC SAG) USS Spruance (DDG 111) (front), USS Decatur (DDG 73), and USS Momsen (DDG 92) steam in formation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Will Gaskill/Released)

Have you ever stood in the middle of one of the big box retailers and rejoiced that they have so many affordable products available? Probably not. But you may notice when your favorite items are out of stock. This infographic shows how much money is spent on goods every second in the U.S., yet we often give little thought to how products are “shipped.”

The United States’ economic strength was founded and remains reliant on our ability to freely transit the seas. The same can be said for our trading partners around the world. To help ensure shipping lanes remain open for navigation—commercial or otherwise – the U.S. Navy, and particularly the Surface Fleet, works with our friends and allies to project power through the presence of combat-ready ships deployed around the world.

Over time the surface fleet’s main focus had become defending high-value and mission-essential units, such as aircraft carriers, and projecting power ashore. However, as the world changes, so too must the employment of the Navy. Today, we are incorporating new tactics to address modern threats ranging from low-end piracy to the navies of high-end nation-states, who are increasing their forces and challenging accepted maritime traditions.

Graphic depicting the potential for a wide-spread lethal force that would complicate the planning calculus of our adversaries.

The rise of potential adversaries and nations that challenge us at sea is the driving force behind the concept of ‘Distributed Lethality’. Distributed Lethality pushes to increase the lethality of surface ships as efficiently and opportunistically as possible by doing things like adding new weapons systems to ships that did not previously have them, or by practicing new tactics to reduce detection. Additionally, once upgraded, these more lethal ships can be operated in adaptive force packages, operating independently from the main fleet.

Operating ships in these new ways allows them to cover a wider geographic area and provides us more options when faced with potential threats. This wider coverage makes it harder for adversaries to figure out what we’re doing through intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems. The tougher it is for any maritime enemy of the U.S., or other entities hoping to disrupt international shipping lanes, to understand our ships’ movements and capabilities, the greater advantage we have at controlling the sea.

President George Washington once said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” That sentiment remains relevant today as we focus on the Navy’s ability to maintain command of the sea throughout the world as needed.

Indeed, we must be prepared to counter, and ultimately defeat, challenges as they arise. With increased offensive firepower, wider geographic distribution capabilities, and enhanced defensive capabilities, Distributed Lethality helps the Surface Fleet maintain sea control and ensure Americans and our allies are able to maintain their way of life.


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