Oct. 6 (UPI) -- The Pentagon plans to build up a fleet of about 500 ships -- with 355 of those being manned and the rest being drones, according to documents released this week.
In late September Navy documents sent to Defense Secretary Mark Esper saying between 480 and 534 total ships should be at sea, with a mix of manned and unmanned vessels, and earlier in the month Esper referred to a future Navy of "over 350 ships" in a speech to the Rand Corp.
Esper commissioned two groups to design what a future Navy should look like, and they suggested fleets of anywhere from 480 to 534 ships -- a 35% increase in fleet size from the previous 355 target.
Esper's plan, dated Oct. 1, seeks "eight to 11" nuclear carriers and possibly more conventionally powered amphibious assault ships.
Today's fleet has 11 nuclear carriers.
Esper also seeks 70 to 80 submarines, up from roughly 55 today.
"If we do nothing else, the Navy must reach production of three new Virginia-class subs per year," the defense secretary said Tuesday at a virtual event hosted by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank in Washington, D.C.
Currently contractors deliver about two new Virginia-class vessels to the Navy.