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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.”
"The tankers, bombers, and airlift programs that fall under the “projection forces” side of our panel’s oversight serve as the backbone of our nation’s ability to bring and sustain the power that preserves our nation’s interests around the world. As we know all too well, however, these important aircraft all share the common enemy of age. The tankers and bombers in service today are largely legacy aircraft. These aircraft, in most cases, are much older than the airmen and women who fly and service them. That is why it will be critical that we ensure that the 2018 budget properly invests in the refueling, mobility, maritime patrol and long-range strike programs under our purview."
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We are joined today by three distinguished witnesses to discuss the fiscal year 2018 budget request for the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps. Before we get into the substance of the hearing, I think it is important to remember the context in which we are considering the budget request submitted yesterday. In December of last year, the Navy under President Obama and Secretary Mabus released an updated Force Structure Assessment (FSA) that laid out a requirement for increasing the fleet from 308 ships to 355. Among other factors, the FSA noted that increased operations, lengthened deployments, and changing conditions around the globe necessitated the boost. Then, in the early days of the Trump Administration, the Navy submitted an accelerated fleet plan that, in the words of Acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley, “offers a first step towards a framework to develop strategic guidance and identify the investments needed to reinvigorate our naval forces.” That plan identified 29 additional ships that the Navy found could be accelerated in support of the larger fleet identified in the FSA."
“Ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea is critical for our national security,” said Courtney. “Given the increasing challenges we are seeing around the globe in excess maritime claims that threaten stability and commerce on the seas, the lack of US ratification of UNCLOS leaves us without a seat at the table when key decisions and rulings are made. I will continue to urge my colleagues in the Senate to ratify the convention and address our most obvious maritime double standard.”
"Since the cancellation of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle in 2011, the Navy and Marine Corps have wrestled with what the right distance is for the Marines to disembark the ship and what type of vehicle that should be in. This is not an easy debate and is one I am sure we will talk more about today. However, there is more to this than just what distance an amphibious ships should launch its vehicles from or what type of vehicles those should be. Our military is a joint force and will always operate that way in any contingency, so we need to be talking about how to fully integrate our amphibious forces and ensure they are leveraging the technologies that are other forces are relying on. "
“Australia is one of our closest allies on the global stage and a key strategic partner in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Courtney. “Today, we remember the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, a significant historical moment when U.S. and Australian Naval forces fought side by side to ensure allied victory in the Pacific. As I said to Ambassador Hockey earlier this year, I look forward to working with my colleagues on the caucus to strengthen the unshakable strategic, economic, and cultural bonds we share with the Australian people.”