While investments in a future fleet are vital, so is maintaining the readiness of the current fleet so that it's ready to sail into harm's way, should that be necessary, the chief of naval operations said.
The other focus is on the sailor and his or her family's wellbeing, said Adm. Michael Gilday, who spoke virtually today at the State of Defense conference, sponsored by Defense One.
Modernizing the current fleet is important, he said, since 60-to-70% of that fleet will still be in service a decade from now.
"We're not going to have a navy larger than we can sustain," he added.
The U.S. shipbuilding industry, which is made up of five companies, is another vital aspect, Gilday said.
"We're trying to turn the corner here in terms of giving the shipbuilding industry steady and predictable demand, certainly in terms of ship numbers," he said. "We need to sustain that steady demand signal."
The current proposed shipbuilding budget is $27 billion, which is the highest ever, he said. The goal is to grow the number of ships to 350.
The key to attaining that goal is predictable, steady funding, and Congress seems to be very supportive of that, he said.
The Navy is also trying to grow the unmanned fleet, using the latest technologies available, such as artificial intelligence, he said, adding that command and control software and security of those vessels are also priorities.
Gilday also mentioned the importance of allies and partners, citing AUKUS, which is the trilateral security pact among the U.S., Australia and the United Kingdom.
As part of that pact, the U.S. and U.K. will help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines, among other important warfighting assets.
Eventually, Australia will be able to produce their own nuclear-powered submarines, he said, but that's a long-term effort.