Courtney Statement On Navy Budget
WASHINGTON, DC —Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, made the following statement on the 2018 budget proposed by the Trump administration for the Department of the Navy.
“The 2018 budget released today begs the question: where is the Navy build up?” said Courtney. “We have a new Force Structure Assessment calling for 355 ships released last year that was the result of a lengthy analysis on the future needs of the fleet conducted by the previous administration. We have an accelerated shipbuilding plan prepared by the Navy in the early days of the new administration that found that 29 ships could be added to the shipbuilding plan over the next few years beginning in 2018. And, just last week, the Chief of Naval Operations released a white paper underscoring the urgent need to get moving on the larger fleet.
“Yet, the budget released today by this administration seems to totally ignore these inputs both in 2018 and in the out year plans submitted to Congress. Shipbuilding is a long game that relies on certainty in the Navy’s plans and intentions. Nothing in the budget, however, provides any new clarity on where this administration intends to go with the buildup of the fleet. While I understand that the Defense Department is planning a wider review of its defense strategy that will guide future investments, a year lost in shipbuilding can never be regained and that is exactly what this budget proposes.
“As someone who has advocated for robust and bipartisan investment in our nation’s shipbuilding programs and has worked on a bipartisan basis on the Seapower Subcommittee to boost resources for new ships and submarines, I am deeply disappointed in the missed opportunity the administration has outlined in their budget. I know we can do better.
“The one area of welcome progress is in the area of submarines. This budget reflects a priority I have long advocated for – the addition of a second submarine in 2021, which will sustain the two-a-year build rate of Virginia-class submarines through at least 2023. This is a good start towards meeting the increase in the attack submarine force structure that the Navy has identified. I will continue to look for every possible opportunity to further increase the build rate to take advantage of the “hot” submarine production line and fully leverage our industry and supply chain to meet the Navy’s new submarine requirements. I am also particularly pleased that the Navy indicates its use of several authorities provided through the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund to accelerate key areas of work on the new SSBN. I look forward to hearing more about the Navy’s plan to fully utilize and lavage these authorities moving forward.”
- Requests approval of multi-year procurement authority for the next block of Virginia class submarines, Block V (2019-2024). As submitted in the 2018 budget, the Navy requests authority to contract for at least 10 submarines during this period – adding one in 2021. The Navy, industry and congress are continuing to explore capacity to further increase submarine production.
- Continues detailed design and construction preparation for the Columbia class submarine.
- Utilizes the authorities granted inside the National Sea Based Deterrence Fund in order to maximize savings across the Columbia, Virginia class and Carrier programs.
- Continues plans to include the Virginia Payload Module (VPM) starting with the second 2019 boat.
Background on the second 2021 submarine:
- In a hearing last year, Courtney questioned then-ASN for RDA Sean Stackley about sustaining the two a year build rate of Virginia class submarines. In response, Stackley underscored the “compelling need for additional submarines” over the then-program of record, and noted that 2021 was the first opportunity to add a submarine back into the build rate.
- Following consistent testimony, Congressman Courtney heard from military leaders about the growing demand for undersea capabilities, the Seapower portion of the House-passed 2017 defense authorization included language supported by Courtney to direct the Navy to conduct a full assessment of the ability of the industrial base to sustain the current two-a-year build rate into the future. Specifically, 2021 was cited as a starting point.