Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee
More on Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee
March 28, 2016 Press Release
The plan released today leverages the deep talent and unmatched skills of the hard-working shipbuilders at Electric Boat, and their partners in Newport News, Virginia. The replacement of our sea-based strategic deterrent is a pressing and multigenerational commitment to our nation’s defense. With the talent of our industrial base, we have risen to this challenge in the past, and by applying the same successful approach of the team delivering the Virginia class submarines today, I am confident that we will do so again.
This is a topic that does not often get the attention it deserves, but is arguably one of the most critical components of our Nation’s maritime national security. In 2015 alone, Navy Combat Logistics ships transferred nearly 1 million pallets of dry cargo and ordinance, and offloaded 8.3 million barrels of fuel to Navy ships. Our U.S. flagged sealift ships were responsible for the transport of over 900 thousand tons of dry cargo, much of which was being transported to and from combat zones. These critical capabilities are what allow the United States to project power anywhere in the world without having to depend on foreign vessels.
Over the last several weeks, Courtney has heard from a range of witnesses about the growing demand on our submarine forces, the need to reevaluate the current force structure requirement for attack submarines, and urgency of sustaining the current two a year production rate of Virginia Class Submarines. As Courtney heard from the witnesses over the last two months, the submarine force is strained to meet demand for its capabilities at the current force level today, would be severely challenged to do so as the force level dips in the future, and that one of the most impactful actions that can be taken in the near term is to sustain the build rate on Virginia Class Submarines at two a year for as long as possible. As Ranking Member of the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, Courtney is utilizing this testimony to ensure that the Navy has the resources and authorities it needs to sustain the two a year attack submarine production rate into the next five year block contract (2019-2023), and beyond, to meet the urgent and growing demand for enhanced undersea capabilities.
“In January, Electric Boat announced 1500 hires this year to accommodate that demand signal from the Navy. And it’s been all hands on deck, which the WIOA Act and the Workforce Board is today prdocugin results which would not have been the case without passage of that law and without the omnibus which has given the workforce innovation funds that are now combining community colleges, tech schools, and the employer who are now working together to fill this huge workforce need. Again, if you go online today there are probably 300 or 400 job openings [at Electric Boat] right now as we sit here in this room, that’s just for the shipyard, as you go further out there are 470+ suppliers in Connecticut and thousands across the country."
“My resolution is calling on the Senate to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea treaty once and for all,” said Courtney. “As our country continues to challenge excessive maritime claims in the South China Sea, or jockey for standing in the increasingly competitive Arctic region, we risk being left on the sidelines during these important negotiations unless we are a party to this agreement. The UNCLOS treaty has long been supported by presidents and leaders from both parties, and while 166 countries and the European Union have already ratified it, the U.S. is part of a small group of nations including North Korea, Iran, Syria, Libya, and Venezuela that have not done so. Our military leaders need this treaty ratified in order to maintain free and open access to waterways across the globe, as Admiral Harris and General Breedlove said just like week during two different House Armed Service Committee hearings. I want to thank Congressman Young for joining me as a lead cosponsor of this critical effort.”
As we have heard repeatedly in our hearings over the last year, the need to modernize and recapitalize these aircraft and their capabilities is increasingly critical. Rapidly improving A2/AD capabilities, long range weapons and sensing technologies makes upgrading and replacing our legacy fleets that much more important. In order to meet these challenges, we must make the right investments today to ensure that we stay ahead of these trends. In my view, the 2017 budget we are considering here today makes important investments toward this goal and, on the whole, moves us in the right direction.
This hearing and this budget comes at a critical time for our Navy and Marine Corps. As recent events around the world clearly demonstrate, the presence and capabilities of our forces on, below and above the seas are in higher demand than at any other time in recent history. Yet, as this subcommittee knows all too well, these forces are under significant pressure in meeting growing operational needs and keeping pace with developments around the world in the face of limited resources. I believe that we need to ensure that we make the right investments in the capabilities of our seapower forces while also ensuring that they have the capacity to utilize them. In my view, the 2017 budget request makes important strides to towards this goal – but there are areas where I look forward to working on a bipartisan basis to make further progress.
Over the years, we have seen the carrier air wing evolve from one with a large mix of aircraft to one composed of multi-mission aircraft capable of performing a variety of missions. Looking ahead, it is clear that the air wing will be remain a key part of our nation’s security and ability to project power well into the future – but only if we make the right investments in its composition, capabilities and reach.
“On balance, the 2017 budget appears to make significant investments in order to enhance the capabilities of the naval and projection forces platforms overseen by our panel,” said Courtney. “From expanding the reach and punch of our surface and subsurface forces, to strengthening our ability to project power through long range strike and refueling capabilities, I am pleased with many of the decisions reflected in this budget.”
January 30, 2016 Op-Ed
Earlier this week, one of Connecticut's oldest employers sent a jolt through the headlines. Electric Boat President Jeff Geiger announced plans to hire 1,500 engineers, metal trades workers and support personnel at its Connecticut facilities in 2016. The announcement included a positive forecast for the years ahead, with projected growth from 14,000 employees up to 18,000 by 2030.