U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement after the Office of the Secretary of Defense proposed cutting the number of Littoral Combat Ships from 52 to 32:
"The reports that the Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense, Christine Fox, has issued a memo that would reduce the Navy's top priority, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), from the established requirement of 52 to 32 ships cannot be accepted.
LCS are terrific ships that enjoy the confidence and unanimous support of our senior Navy leaders. It has been the top priority of the U.S. Navy for 17 years and been supported by six consecutive Chiefs of Naval Operations (CNO) and six Secretaries of the Navy.
The ships are highly fuel efficient, use small crews, are flexible with many capabilities, and the 52 ship requirement has been affirmed on many occasions. The 52 number is not a wish list, but a formally established requirement. Our combatant commanders around the globe are anxious to have the ships and the presence they bring.
I intend to fight against this proposal and I will continue to fight for LCS. This ship is a critical part of our nation's need to return to a 300 ship Navy."
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee since January 1999, Senator Sessions has supported the concept of LCS since it was first conceptualized in the late 1990s and after the Navy formally introduced it as part of its future surface combatant program in November 2001.
Senator Sessions worked closely with then-Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark on moving the LCS program forward--long before anyone conceived that Austal USA would build some of these ships in Mobile, Alabama.