Senator Wicker Statement on Recent Navy Procurement Challenges

April 10, 2024

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the below statement in response to several developments within the Department of the Navy suggesting significant challenges ahead for shipbuilding and defense procurement.

Specifically, Senator Wicker is responding to the recently released 30-year shipbuilding plan, the Navy’s $2.2 billion unfunded priorities list, and the recent 45-day shipbuilding review. The review reported delays in every major Navy program of at least 12 months, with some programs as many as 36 months behind.

“The Biden administration’s naval policies create more excuses than ships. Since President Biden took office, the Chinese Navy has grown by 15 ships to 370 in their battle fleet. Congress has prevented the Biden administration from rapidly shrinking the Navy, but the White House has now asked once more to cut the Navy down to 280 ships. This trajectory puts even more risk on our sailors’ backs,” Senator Wicker said. “It is clear that Congress will again need to act to prevent early ship retirements and provide sailors with the platforms they need to win.”

Senator Wicker continues to point out several problems with the shipbuilding plan:

  • The 2027 drop in vertical launch system cells across the fleet, which come at the same time as several senior military and intelligence officials assess that Xi Jinping wants his forces to be ready to overtake Taiwan.
  • Failing to analyze industrial base capacity to meet the plan and expand the submarine industrial base strategy to surface ships.
  • Unrealistic assumptions about the delivery plans for the Constellation-class frigate and inadequate explanation of second shipyard plans.
  • Retiring 17 more ships over the next three years than will be procured.
  • Negative message of one attack submarine in FY25 to suppliers and our partners in Australia.
  • Omission of the impact of the AUKUS agreement on submarine force structure.
  • Failure to incorporate plans for unmanned systems and delaying transition to the unmanned fleet.

Senator Wicker also observed the following major issues with the 45-day review:

  • Columbia-class submarine lead ship delay of one year reported earlier this year has been extended to 12 to 18 months.
  • Constellation-class frigate lead ship delay of one year reported in January this year has been extended up to three years.
  • Lack of bold recommendations and funding requirements to get shipbuilding back on track to compete with China.