The Navy doesn't like to advertise this, but it is trying to fulfill its traditional global role with a fleet of 285 ships—the smallest it has been since before the First World War, even if modern warships are more capable than ever before. That number is likely to decline further under President Obama's proposed budgetary cuts. If you sleep better at night knowing that a powerful American Navy ensures the freedom of the seas in places like the Gulf, the time to start worrying about the Navy's future is now.
-from Brett Stephens' opinion piece in today's WSJ. (About O'Brian's Master and Commander.)
UPDATE (Be sure to read Sean's comment to this post.)