Sea Power and Global Strategy

March 6, 1968

Report Outline
Recent Emergence of Soviet Sea Power
Development of American Naval Fleet
Changes in Components of Sea Power
Special Focus

Recent Emergence of Soviet Sea Power

Sea power is regaining a luster once thought forever dimmed by missiles and bombers. Russia has developed a strong interest in the potentialities of a big navy and is building a war fleet that already is second only to that of the United States. Soviet warships have begun to challenge American naval supremacy in the Mediterranean and may vie for top place in the Indian Ocean when British forces are withdrawn from east of Suez in the 1970s.

The United States Navy has taken on new importance in global strategy in recent years. No place on earth is beyond the range of Polaris missiles fired from deep under the seas by nuclear-powered submarines. Aircraft carriers furnish this country with offshore bases in distant parts of the world. American carriers skirt the rim of Asia and the shores of the Mediterranean, giving new currency to the half-forgotten phrase “naval diplomacy.” Their jet planes make them formidable and mobile weapons of war, as witnessed by the carrier-based bombing attacks now launched daily against targets in North Viet Nam.

To make sure that the United States continues to hold the lead it enjoys today, Congress has been pressing the Executive Branch to move faster and farther than some defense experts have thought necessary toward “nuclearization” of naval vessels. The congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, in a study made public on Feb. 25, was critical of retiring Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara for not “moving forward aggressively” to develop improved types of nuclear attack submarines. The committee declared also that all future escort ships for naval strike forces should have nuclear propulsion. It was reported two days later that the Navy had installed a new Sea Sparrow missile system aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Enterprise, stationed off the coast of Viet Nam, to give that ship and its planes added protection against “modern antiship missiles”—presumably the Soviet Styx missiles which, it is suspected, have been shipped to North Viet Nam.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
U.S. Navy
Jul. 23, 1976  Navy Rebuilding
Mar. 06, 1968  Sea Power and Global Strategy
Oct. 06, 1945  Army-Navy Consolidation
Oct. 02, 1941  Undeclared Naval Warfare
Oct. 25, 1939  Naval Blockades and Submarine Warfare
Nov. 20, 1935  American Naval Policy
Nov. 19, 1934  Naval Limitation and Pacific Problems, 1921–1936
Oct. 27, 1931  The Proposed Naval Holiday
Jul. 25, 1930  Military and Naval Expenditures
Jan. 16, 1930  The London Naval Conference
Sep. 28, 1929  The Anglo-American Naval Situation
Feb. 13, 1928  The 1928 Naval Building Program
Cold War
Defense Technology and Force Planning
U.S. at War: Cold War
War and Conflict