Take the 2-minute tour ×
History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is it harder to build a naval fleet today than two-three centuries ago?

Do we spend more or less % of GDP to build the complete fleet from scratch? Do we spend more or less % of GDP per ship, or per given class (battleship, frigate etc)?

Does it take more time to build a complete fleet? Does it take more time to build ships of a given class? Does it take more time to build the biggest naval vessel on the planet?

I don't expect the numbers to be too exact, but may be there is some well understood trend known. I do understand this is all kind of vague, but I hope for some interesting surprises, like, for example

Great Britain keeps building approximately constant N destroyers per year since 1820 or

The time and price (% of GDP) to build the largest available vessel on the planet doubles every N years

The number of Frigates in the world stays constant for the last 300 years.

share|improve this question

closed as too broad by Vector, LateralFractal, Mark C. Wallace, Kobunite, Sardathrion Oct 2 '13 at 11:39

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

You will find just the opposite of what you expect: Since WWII, naval fleets around the world have shrunk in number of ships and total tonnage as air power has assumed more and more responsibility for the exercise of sea power. Today, the only true blue water fleet in the world is that of the U.S., and it is much less tonnage than it was 30 years ago. –  Pieter Geerkens Oct 2 '13 at 1:03
And as the absolute tonnage of ship freight has increased dramatically, the economy of scale for ship building would have increased with the cost per ton decreasing accordingly. So what naval fleets there are have become an increasing small portion of the overall merchant fleet. In the much the same fashion that horses would have started out mostly for knights (the military) then become an increasing small portion of all horse power. –  LateralFractal Oct 2 '13 at 1:49
Voted to close: Too many questions bundled into one. Please try to ask one clear and discreet question, and at most one corollary question. If you have several separate questions, define each one clearly. We also like questions that have some sort of documented basis like: In 1920 it cost $X to build a war-ship, today it costs $X" (cite your sources) We see it costs X% more. Is this a historical trend? If so, why? –  user2590 Oct 2 '13 at 3:49
I've voted to close because while it isn't a bad question, and I would find the answer very interesting, it's going to be a huge answer that requires a deal of research on historical fleet sizes, average costs and building times and then the same again for a modern fleet. –  Kobunite Oct 2 '13 at 9:35
Elements of this question are answerable, but I agree that they need to be broken down into separate questions. Given that weapons systems change over time, it is probably worth discussing in terms of operational fleets and their cost to construct as %GDP / %GDP per capita. –  Samuel Russell Oct 2 '13 at 18:05

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.