Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee
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"Thank you Mr. Chairman. And thank you to Admiral Moran, Rear Admiral Boxall, and Mr. Pendleton for your testimony today. I would also like to recognize Ms. Rachel Eckels, mother of the late Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Timothy Eckels Jr. who perished onboard the USS John S. McCain, for joining us today. The circumstances that bring us to today’s hearing are painful and tragic. As Admiral Moran pointed out in his order to the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command dated August 24, 2017, in the span of 65 days, 17 sailors were lost in ship collisions and accidents on naval vessels. These were not, as he pointed out, “limited occurrences” but part of a disturbing trend of mishaps in the Asia Pacific Region that since January involved the USS Antietam (CG 54), USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), USS Fitzgerald, and the USS John S. McCain. To put that in perspective, these heartbreaking casualties are more than the number of service members we have lost in the Afghanistan war zone in 2017."
August 23, 2017 Press Release
My heart goes out to the families, friends, and shipmates of the US Navy sailors who lost their lives or remain missing after the USS JOHN S. MCCAIN collided with a commercial vessel earlier this week,” said Courtney. “The men and women of the Navy are asked to operate in contested waters each day to protect the national security interests of the United States. We owe it to these sailors to make sure that they have the tools, training, and support they need to carry out their duties safely and successfully."
August 21, 2017 Press Release
"First and foremost, my thoughts are with the crew and families of the USS JOHN S. MCCAIN who lost shipmates and loved ones in the collision. Like the USS FITZGERALD accident prior to this one, I know the Navy will conduct a full investigation of this matter and promptly report its findings."
July 14, 2017 Press Release
“As the ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, I am proud to the bipartisan work we have done in this bill to grow our Navy fleet,” Courtney said. “While the stage was set for the 2018 to be a starting point on the path to a 355-ship navy, the budget we received fell far short. I am proud to say that working in a bipartisan way, we produced a better budget than the one that came over from the White House. Among other things, the bill explicitly makes it the policy of our nation to achieve a 355-ship Navy and adds five new ships in 2018 to get us moving to the larger fleet that both the Obama and Trump administrations have signaled we need. This bill demonstrates if our defense leaders and the administration will not prioritize the national goal of growing the fleet, we will."
July 7, 2017 Press Release
"The Navy's response to the language included in the House 2017 defense authorization report makes clear that increasing submarine production helps fill key capability gaps, lower costs and increase stability in the industrial base,” said Courtney. “Since I worked to include the requirement for this report in last year’s NDAA, events have continued to show the need to ramp up production not just to sustain the two-a-year rate, but to go further where we can. That's why I pushed on a bipartisan basis in this year’s defense bill for an aggressive but realistic plan to ramp up as many as three attack submarines a year in the next block contract. This report clearly shows that increased production is both necessary and achievable. "
June 29, 2017 Press Release
“Since I first came to Congress, I have worked hard on a bipartisan basis to grow our submarine fleet and respond to the undersea needs of our Navy and our nation. Whether it was doubling submarine production in 2007, or passing the authority needed to enact the largest shipbuilding contract in American history, I have been proud to lead the way in pushing for the funding and support needed to grow our submarine force and invest in our industrial base. As ranking member of the seapower subcommittee, I have helped keep these issues front and center in the debate over our defense budget priorities. This bill continues that effort, and responds to three years of strategic analysis by the Navy and Congress as well as a chorus of testimony from our top military commanders stationed overseas that we need more attack submarines, as fast as possible, to meet growing demands around the world. Building on the current two a year production rate of Virginia class submarines, this measure helps the Navy to go even higher in the next block contract by authorizing up to 13 attack submarines between 2019 and 2023. We have laid out an aggressive but realistic plan to build as many as three submarines a year for the first time in decades, and I look forward to continuing to work with my committee colleagues, the shipyards and the Navy to make this a reality.”
This year’s mark takes the first statutory step to codify the multi-year call to grow America’s fleet. Beginning with the 2015 Comprehensive Strategy for Maritime Security, the 2016 Force Structure Assessment, and culminating in the 2017 Accelerated Fleet Plan - it has become abundantly clear that growing today’s fleet from 278 to a 308 ship fleet – which was underway is still inadequate. Rather, the FSA which was released by former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus last December stipulated that a 355 ship battle force fleet is required to deter aggression and maintain the security of the seas. I am proud that the 355 ship fleet requirement is formally codified in this year’s mark.
June 22, 2017 Press Release
"The goal of a 355-ship Navy is a consensus strategy going back to 2015 when A Cooperative Strategy on 21st Century Seapower was jointly issued by the chiefs of the nation's sea services, and reinforced by the 2016 Force Structure Assessment and the February 2017 Accelerated Fleet Plan. Incorporating this goal in the 2017 NDAA is a logical next step and I fully support its enactment. I look forward to working in a bipartisan manner with Chairman Wittman and the rest of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee to make this important goal a reality."
June 20, 2017 Press Release
“One of the messages we have heard loud and clear from our military commanders is the ever growing need for undersea capabilities, particularly in light of rapidly changing dynamics around the world,” said Courtney. “Meeting that demand and the increasing fleet requirements for our attack submarine force will require us to take aggressive but realistic actions to increase submarine production. This proposal, which was crafted on a bipartisan basis along with Chairman Wittman and our colleagues on the subcommittee hits that mark by laying out a path to achieve a three submarine build rate where capacity exists in the submarine industrial base. As with the larger mark will be present later this week, the submarine provisions will help achieve the needs of our nation through a larger and highly capable naval force."
June 13, 2017 Press Release
During his questioning, Courtney told Mattis that the 2018 budget request is “a 308-ship Navy budget that was sent over here, not a 350-ship budget.” In addition he expressed concern that “this budget…undercuts that demand signal” to the shipbuilding supply chain that is needed to build a larger fleet, and that “we've got to do better than what was sent over.”