Wicker Holds Second Hearing on Building a Larger Navy

Seapower Subcommittee Receives Industry Perspective on Achieving 355-Ship Fleet

May 24, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Seapower Subcommittee, today conducted a public hearing aimed at getting industry perspectives on achieving a 355-ship Navy.

Wicker’s opening statement focused on four key issues: industrial base readiness to increase production, the importance of a stable and predictable workload, options to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and best practices to ensure success.

Key excerpts of Wicker’s opening statement include:

“Now more than ever, a strong Navy and Marine Corps are central to our nation’s ability to deter adversaries, assure allies, and defend our national interests.  Our sailors and Marines are at the forefront of our rebalance to Asia, ongoing operations against the Islamic State, responses to a resurgent Russia, and efforts to deter rogue states such as Iran and North Korea.”

“It is clear that our current fleet of 275 ships is insufficient to address the security challenges we face today and that we anticipate in the future.” 

“I am open to all options to meet the Navy’s 355-ship objective as soon as possible.  This would be an historic undertaking.  Depending on assumptions, such a buildup could take more than 25 years or as few as 8 years.  In any case, the new construction options we will discuss today are critical.  However, I believe we should also look at other options, such as extending the service lives of existing ships or reactivating decommissioned ships.”

Yesterday, Wicker convened a classified briefing with three Navy officials to discuss readiness challenges, emerging threats, and the requirements underpinning the 355-ship force structure objective.

Last week, Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, issued a report about the future of the Navy, which Wicker characterized as a “valuable contribution to the urgent national project of rebuilding naval power.”

Witnesses at today’s hearing included:

  • Mr. Brian Cuccias, executive vice president of Huntington Ingalls Industries and president of Ingalls Shipbuilding, representing America’s largest shipbuilder with nearly 37,000 employees and shipyards in Mississippi and Virginia;
  • Mr. John Casey, executive vice president of General Dynamics Marine Group, which includes 25,000 employees and shipyards in California, Connecticut, Maine, and Rhode Island; and
  • Mr. Matthew Paxton, president of Shipbuilders Council of America, a national trade association representing U.S. shipbuilders, ship repairers, and the shipyard supplier base with members in 34 states.