U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) on Thursday sought answers regarding the Navy's long-term needs and expressed his concern about potential "employment valleys" created by a reduction in naval ships. Wicker questioned Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, about the Navy's future capabilities.
The Navy's Fiscal Year 2013 budget request calls for a decrease to 284 ships, far below the Navy's 2012 shipbuilding plan of 328 ships, but Greenert stated sequestration cuts could reduce the fleet to 235 ships.
"To build the first-class ships that our Navy needs, a highly-skilled workforce is necessary," said Wicker, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Seapower subcommittee. "Irresponsible cuts to production could lead to dips in employment, and rehiring these skilled workers can take significant time and be costly. As Congress considers the Navy's request, we must keep in mind our national security needs, economic impacts, and the lead time required for these large projects."
Wicker and Greenert saw construction of the USS San Diego (LPD-22) during a tour of the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in October. The Pascagoula shipyard builds amphibious ships, destroyers, and the Coast Guard's National Security Cutter.