WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today questioned leaders from the Department of the Navy on a range of issues, including the Navy’s readiness, shipbuilding, and an important study on amphibious warships commissioned by the Secretary of the Navy.
Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday, and Marine Corps Commandant General David Berger all appeared in a committee hearing before Wicker to address these issues.
Wicker emphasized the need to reach 31 amphibious ships and pressed Del Toro on when a study he commissioned on the issue would reach the Senate. Both Berger and Gilday agreed with the directive for 31 amphibious ships.
Wicker also stressed to Del Toro the importance of the congressionally mandated 355-ship requirement for the Navy. He further pressed Del Toro on whether the shipbuilding plans he provided – several of which do not meet the 355-ship requirement – take guidance from this statute. Wicker additionally asked Commandant Berger for an update on Force Design 2030, Berger’s project to modernize the Marine Corps.
In a second round of questioning, Wicker questioned Del Toro and Gilday on ongoing engineering issues with the Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) platform following the deployment of the USS Sioux City to the Arabian Gulf. Wicker pressed Del Toro and Gilday on the consistency of deploying these ships even as the Navy purports that they potentially present a class-wide issue.
“How many ships have this class-wide failure in the ship's engineering plan? And if the failure is that serious, why is it capable of being sent to the Arabian Gulf for serious duty?” Wicker said. “Either it's not reliable and not capable, or it is capable enough to send it to be sent into harm's way.”
Watch the exchange regarding the LCS here.
Read a recent op-ed by Wicker on shipbuilding issues here.