House subpanel recommends buying three more ships than Navy requested
House lawmakers are proposing giving the Navy three more ships than it asked for in fiscal 2019 — one aircraft carrier and two littoral combat ships.
A House Armed Services Committee subpanel would give the Navy a total of 13 ships in its portion of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“As Russia and China grow their naval presence it is absolutely critical that we continue to invest in and rebuild our Navy,” subcommittee Chairman Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) said in a statement. “The mark released today would put our Navy on the path to make our way to a 355-ship fleet.”
The Navy plans to transition away from the littoral combat ship (LCS), which has been plagued by cost overruns and has not worked as expected, in favor of a new frigate. But it continues to buy LCSs so that shipyards keep working and will be able to keep pace on future orders.
The Navy requested just one LCS, but the Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee felt three would better support the two shipyards in Wisconsin and Alabama that build the ships, a committee staffer told reporters at a background briefing on Wednesday.
“I think the committee saw this as just one LCS was damaging to the two construction yards, and so we are recommending that an additional two LCS be authorized for a total of three LCS,” the staffer said.
The subcommittee would also authorize one more aircraft carrier than requested in an effort to save money by having the Navy buy its third and fourth Ford-class carrier at the same time. The Navy has indicated the strategy could save $2.5 billion, the staffer said.
“By moving forward with [the fourth Ford-class carrier] we’re basically moving forward the cadence on Ford-class aircraft carrier construction,” the staffer said. The ship, “if you take a look at the 30-year shipbuilding plan, was scheduled to be authorized in FY2023.”
The rest of the ships in the subcommittee’s portion of the overall NDAA follows the administration’s budget request, including two Virginia-class submarines, three DDG 51 Arleigh Burke destroyers, two T-AO 205 oilers, one Expeditionary Sea Base and one T-ATS towing, salvage and rescue ship.
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