In a must read article on rising weapons costs and defense spending, the Economist puts up an interesting chart from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) showing that China now has more warships than the U.S. While IISS apparently uses its own definition for what is and is not a warship (the chart puts U.S. warships at a very debatable 150), the long term trend is unmistakable.
As the Economist notes, declining U.S. fleet numbers reflect sharply rising unit costs:
"At some point, as unit prices rise, one of two things must happen: countries must either scale back their ambition, or seek game-changing technology, as they did when the battleship gave way to the submarine and aircraft-carrier."-- Greg Grant