A Wall Street Journal op-ed falsely claimed the size of the Navy is declining under President Obama in order to defend Mitt Romney's falsehood that the U.S. Navy is weaker than it was during World War I.
During the third presidential debate, Obama responded to Romney's misleading claim that the U.S. Navy is smaller than it was in 1916, saying that the U.S. Navy having fewer ships was comparable to the U.S. military having "fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed."
Mark Helprin responded to this by writing a Journal op-ed claiming that the Obama administration's plan for the Navy is "to shrink," while China may drastically build up its navy in the future. Helprin also claimed that in order for the United States to secure its interests against China, the U.S would need "not the less than 300 at present or the 200 to which we are headed, and not 330 or 350 either, but 600, as in the 1980s." But Helprin is misleading about Obama's plan for the Navy's fleet size and about China's naval strength.
As of 2011, the Navy has 285 ships, a number higher than the number of ships the Navy had afloat at the end of the Bush administration. Although the defense cuts called for in the 2011 sequestration deal agreed to by Democrats and Republicans would shrink the fleet, it would be to to 230-235 ships, not 200 as Helprin claims -- and Obama, Democrats, and Republicans have all agreed that this will not occur.
Without the sequestration based cuts, Obama's budget calls for the U.S. Navy to grow to 300 ships.
Political scientists Brian Crisher and Mark Souva estimate that the U.S. Navy is currently stronger than it has ever been, with the US controlling "roughly 50% of the world's naval power." China on the other hand controls only about 5 percent:
Contrary to Helprin's claim, Obama has not decreased Navy's size, nor does he plan to, and the Chinese navy is not currently the threat that Helprin claimed it to be.