I have read that the U.S. Navy now has more admirals than it has ships. Can someone with the facts confirm this?
This sounds like the lead in to a bad joke: How many Admirals does it take to screw up the Navy?
No, we don’t but it’s close! U.S. Code of law explicitly limits the total number of admirals that may be on active duty at any given time. The total number of active duty flag officers is capped at 216 for the Navy. For the Navy, no more than 16.3% of the service’s active duty flag officers may have more than two stars, and no more than 25% of those may have four stars. This corresponds to 9 admirals.
(Translated, that says that the total number of Rear, Vice, and full Admirals is 216, that no more than 35 may be three or four stars, and that no more than nine may be four-star Admirals — and they only get the fourth star if appointed to a position that is to be held by a full Admiral. These caps may be waived by the President in time of war or national emergency.)