When President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Bill back in December, he not only put the largest defense budget in history into action, he also made the building of a “355 ship Navy” part of the formal national policy. That provision, championed by Senate Seapower Subcommittee Chairman Roger Wicker and Rep. Rob Wittman, mandated that the Navy grow by a whopping 78 ships as quickly as is “practical.”

“With his signature, President Trump has confirmed the United States’ resolve to meet the growing needs of our U.S. Navy,” Wicker said in a statement. “Building up our nation’s fleet is essential to protecting our national security and projecting American power around the globe.”

Unfortunately, while that provision was heavy on “resolve,” it was light on practicality. Although the Navy took the number and marched with it, even internal, and arguably optimistic projections don’t foresee reaching that 355 number until well into the 2050s – further than the Navy is willing to even do budget projections for.

“This is a helpful move, if largely symbolic,” said Bryan McGrath, a retired destroyer captain and consultant with The Ferrybridge Group, at the time.