That's the title of an article I wrote a while back, and it still holds for America as well as Britain. From the UK Times we get this concerning the Royal Navy's First Sea lord, who is bemoaning cuts in the fleet:
The head of the Royal Navy gave warning yesterday that the fleet would lose its flexibility if the Government cut back too far on warships and manpower. Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, said that there was a risk that the Navy would not be able to fulfil many of its duties.
Then goes on to reveal that "he" is the problem:
He envisaged a different style of Navy emerging in which vessels would no longer have anti-air or anti-submarine roles but would be multipurpose. With tight resources, the emphasis, he said, would have to focus on “quality, not quantity”.
Multipurpose is the reason we currently have a less than 300 ship fleet, the Royal Navy far less and both shrinking fast ( just follow the travails of the multi-mission littoral combat ship in the news). It has also given us many hi-tech wonders, like the new DDG-1000 destroyer of which we are buying only 8,and which are too costly to afford in any numbers that the services feel are adequate for our countries self-defense. There's something to be said about quantity, which has a quality all its own, as I'll discuss later today.
More-A related story from the Virginia Pilot, "Navy faces battle of the bulge in shipbuilding costs".
Galrahn comments on this article as well, and catches the Sea Lord's apparent contradiction.