Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee
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"I am pleased to join you to offer the subcommittee mark for the Seapower and Projection Forces portion of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. Once again, the proposal before us reflects thoughtful bipartisan work and cooperation that our subcommittee has year in, and year out, produced and has truly made a difference in seapower policy."
Over the years, our subcommittee has earned a stellar record of constructively influencing the debate about our nation’s priorities on, above and below the seas. For example, the 2018 appropriations process that concluded on March 23rd with passage of the final omnibus in many ways reflected the bipartisan input and priorities for ships, aircraft, and capabilities that were set here in our subcommittee last year.
In 2016, the Department of the Navy produced a new Force Structure Assessment which determined that the Navy our nation needs is a 355-ship navy. This is not a number that the Navy came to simply because it believed it needed a larger force. It reviewed and validated the stated requirements – and the real-world demands – faced by our combatant commanders. It looks to present challenges and those expected in the decades ahead.
“Today is a special day in southeastern Connecticut as we mark the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Navy installation that would become Naval Submarine Base New London,” said Courtney. “On this date in 1868, the state of Connecticut and the city of New London conveyed a deed of gift to the U.S. Navy that was only 5,200 feet long and 700 feet wide. Over time, that small tract of land along the Thames River has grown in size and stature as it became the home to the ‘first and finest’ submarine base."
March 22, 2018 Press Release
“For months, we have been hearing from military leaders about the critical need for budget certainty to move forward on a wide range of programs and priorities. Now, with this bill, Congress has finally provided them with that certainty,” said Courtney. “As ranking member of the Seapower subcommittee, I am pleased that this measure reflects many of the priorities I have worked on including robust investment in our undersea forces. I am proud to have fought for key investments in programs important to Connecticut that will contribute to our state’s growing manufacturing resurgence.
Our subcommittee responded to this clear demand signal by giving the Navy the authority to procure up to 13 Virginia class submarines in the next block contract – three more than was planned. This plan, which passed on a bipartisan basis starting with this panel and is now law, was crafted to take advantage of capacity in the industrial base between years that we are building the Columbia class SSBN.
The 2019 budget request for these programs reflects the challenging balancing act facing the Air Force and the Congress. For instance, the budget continues significant investment in major replacement programs like the B-21 bomber and the KC-46 tanker. At the same time, a large portion of the request also covers a range of modernization efforts aimed at keeping older legacy bombers and tankers operational and relevant for years to come.
As the 30 year shipbuilding plan clearly shows, this budget does not achieve the minimum Navy force size the Navy says it needs until the 2050s. Looking closely at the budget and the shipbuilding plan, it is clear that there is still substantial “meat on the bone” where industrial base capacity may exist to add further ships and capabilities to the fleet.
January 22, 2018 Press Release
“Today’s announcement from Electric Boat that strong hiring is planned in 2018 and beyond is a continuation of great economic news for our region and the entire state,” said Courtney. “As the ranking member of the House Seapower subcommittee for the last three years during the period when Congress expanded submarine construction authority, I will continue to work closely with the Navy and Electric Boat leadership to build upon this success."
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you Secretary Spencer and Admiral Richardson for your presence here today to update our subcommittees, and the American people, on the results of your reviews of last year’s Navy ship collisions. This is the fourth engagement we have held on topic which is of the highest urgency, given the unacceptable level of fatalities in a non-combat setting which occurred in 2017. For many members, even those who hail from districts far from the Western Pacific, these collisions strike close to home. In Connecticut, two outstanding Sailors – Electronics Technician 2nd Class Dustin Doyon of Suffield and Sonar Technician 2nd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh (pronounced “Nop - Troong - When”) of Watertown lost their lives. It is the duty of all of us to ensure that bold, systemic change happens to protect our sailors and ships from similar tragedies in the future.