The Pentagon will shift more navy ships to the Asia-Pacific region and 60 per cent of the fleet will be assigned there by 2020, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says.
The shift is part of a new strategy to increase US presence in Asia.
Panetta, who is visiting Singapore, said there was a five-year budget plan for the goals.
At the annual Shangri-La Dialogue conference on Saturday, Panetta provided some of the first details of the Pentagon's impending pivot to the Pacific.
He said it would take time, but "make no mistake, in a steady, deliberate and sustainable way, the United States military is rebalancing and brings enhanced capabilities to this vital region".
The boost in naval presence could increase tensions with China, whose leaders have expressed unhappiness at any larger US presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
A key area of dispute is the South China Sea, which China claims almost entirely as its own. But Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines also have territorial claims there. The US has pressed for a diplomatic solution to the disagreements.
Panetta said a greater US presence in the Asia-Pacific would benefit China and improve regional security.
The US navy has about 285 ships, with roughly half assigned to each coast, but that total may decline a bit as some ships are retired.
Panetta said he intended to have six aircraft carriers in the Pacific in the coming years. He said the Pacific would also eventually host a majority of the navy's cruisers, destroyers, submarines and littoral combat ships, which operate close to shore.
Panetta is on a nine-day trip across Asia, with planned stops in Vietnam and India