Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement in response to the return of the destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60) from a nine-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Middle East:
"The return of the USS Paul Hamilton from an extended deployment reminds us of the tremendous sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform and their families. At the same time, it also highlights the dangers of allowing the U.S. Navy to shrink to a size that necessitates such lengthy time at sea. Over the last 5 years, 24% of all destroyer tours exceeded the Navy's standard deployment length. As the Fleet continues to atrophy across a range of ship types, the strain on our Navy's platforms and personnel will only increase, as demonstrated by the service's ability to meet only 51% of Combatant Commander requests this year after meeting 90% of COCOM demands in 2007. While our sailors are currently bearing the brunt of a shrinking Fleet facing undiminished threats to U.S. interests, it is all Americans who will pay the price of a U.S. Navy in permanent decline."