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Saturday, March 6th, 2021

Sen. Wicker urges ship fleet increase

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Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) is urging progression toward the Navy meeting its goal of a 355-ship fleet, which became policy when President Donald Trump signed the Securing the Homeland by Increasing our Power on the Seas (SHIPS) Act into law last year.

Wicker, chairman of the Senate Seapower Subcommittee, recently led a hearing as a means of garnering testimony regarding the Navy’s shipbuilding plans, amidst concerns the Navy has been lagging in shipbuilding and will not be able to defend interests without significant additional investments in new vessels.

“Let’s be honest with the American people about how far behind we’ve gotten,” Wicker said to James F. Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition.

Geurts testified the Navy is on track to hit the congressionally mandated 355-ship minimum by the 2030s, which is two decades earlier than initially projected, but also noted the need for a bigger fleet has increased and not declined.

During the session, Wicker discussed funding challenges for procuring a new fleet in time to meet emerging threats across the globe.

The Budget Control Act of 2011, which capped defense spending levels for the better part of a decade, is due to snap back unless Congress takes action next year.

“I view that as unthinkable and it would be irresponsible on the part of this Congress,” Wicker said.