Congresswoman Elaine Luria Questions Navy Leadership on Shipbuilding Concerns
WASHINGTON – This week, Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Vice Chair Elaine Luria challenged Navy leadership on shipbuilding priorities in the President’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget request for the Department of the Navy.
The President’s budget request significantly reduced the number of ships that the Navy plans to procure. While the 30-year shipbuilding plan projected 10 battle force ships would be requested in FY21, the President’s budget only requested seven. Two of those seven ships are fleet tugs, which have little combat capability. In addition, the FY21 budget request asks for one Virginia-class submarine instead of two, which will negatively impact the industrial base suppliers and raise the cost of procurement per ship for the taxpayers.
In her first line of questioning, Congresswoman Luria pressed Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) James Geurts on a statement that he made earlier in the hearing. Secretary Geurts said that there were no constraints on the industrial base for the Navy to reach its goal of 355 ships in ten years. Congresswoman Luria argued that it was tone-deaf to say there were no constraints on the industrial base following the removal of a Virginia-class submarine from the budget and continual changes to the 30-year shipbuilding plan as advance procurement of key components can take four or more years to coordinate manufacture by hundreds of suppliers.
“One quarter of the shipbuilding and repair that happens in our country occurs in Hampton Roads,” said Congresswoman Luria. “We put our nation’s industrial base suppliers and national security in a precarious situation when we fail to provide a consistent shipbuilding plan.”
Click above to watch Congresswoman Luria question Assistant Secretary James Geurts.
The Congresswoman’s second line of questioning highlighted the Navy’s tendency to ask Congress to fund unproven technologies while neglecting to sustain and modernize the capabilities that it needs to execute its mission. She highlighted the fact that Navy has proposed to decommission four LCS class ships after as few as 12 years of service, and before the mission modules are even developed and operational. The Congresswoman further noted that nuclear deterrence is the cornerstone of national security, and this makes the Columbia-class submarines extremely important.
“There is a credibility issue when the Department of the Navy comes to the table asking us to fund and field undeveloped concepts but doesn’t prioritize funding of the capabilities that we actually have and need to sustain and improve,” said Congresswoman Luria.
Click above to watch Congresswoman Luria question Assistant Secretary Geurts and VADM Kilby.
Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.