At Seapower Hearing, Congresswoman Elaine Luria Challenges Navy’s Request to Decommission USS Harry S. Truman

March 26, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Contrasting military budget requests with the dictates of federal law, Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Vice Chair Elaine Luria (VA-02) today challenged top Navy leadership on its attempt to decommission the Norfolk-based USS Harry S. Truman halfway through an expected five-decade service life.

The Navy’s budget proposal to Congress would cancel the USS Harry S. Truman’s midlife Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH), scheduled for 2024.

A 20-year Navy veteran who retired at the rank of commander, Congresswoman Luria at today’s subcommittee hearing pointed out that federal law requires the Navy to maintain 11 operational aircraft carriers and nine operational air wings.

Addressing Assistant Secretary of the Navy James F. Guerts, Congresswoman Luria said she is “really baffled” at the prospect of the Navy retiring the USS Harry S. Truman – especially when the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan has no more than 10 operational aircraft carriers and sometimes only nine.

“I believe that any budget the Executive Branch submits has to start with the things that are mandated by Congress to be fully funded,” Congresswoman Luria said. “It seems as though you’re coming before Congress and this could be some sort of shell game where you request to not fund the Truman, but you’re looking for unmanned surface vessels. I don’t think the President’s going to turn to the Secretary of Defense and say, ‘Where are my unmanned surface vessels?’ when a conflict breaks out. They’re going to turn and ask, ‘Where are my aircraft carriers?’”

Congresswoman Luria mentioned prior committee testimony in which combatant commanders have said they get only one-fifth or one-half of their requested carrier presence.

“So how can you justify further reducing the number of carriers?” Congresswoman Luria asked Vice Admiral William R. Merz, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems.

Congresswoman Luria also cited past committee remarks by Capt. (Ret.) Thom Burke, former Director of Fleet Readiness: “The cheapest ship we have out there is the [one] we already have. We have just got to take care of it and make sure that it lasts for its full expected service life. So that is step one.”

Prior to today’s hearing, Congresswoman Luria had spoken out several times to oppose the Navy’s plan to decommission the USS Harry S. Truman.

Video of Congresswoman Luria’s remarks at the hearing can be seen here.

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.