Apr 09 2019
Miss. Senator Suggests Alternative to Delayed Acquisition of Mississippi-Built Ships
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today asked the leaders of the U.S. Department of the Navy about their priorities in advance of discussions of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2020. Wicker has repeatedly raised concerns with the Navy’s proposal, which would delay procurement of amphibious ships, including LHA 9 and LPD 31. Congress allocated significant funding in last year’s defense appropriations bill for LHA 9 and LPD 31, which will be built in Mississippi.
Wicker directed his first series of questions to General Robert B. Neller, the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Neller told Wicker that the Marine Corps still needs 38 amphibious assault ships and that the Navy does not have that required number. Neller also agreed with Wicker that the amphibious capabilities of the Marine Corps would likely play a key role in a future potential conflict, including one with China.
“We have to look at the ability to come from the sea with the Navy as part of a maritime strategy,” Neller said.
Last month during a Seapower Subcommittee hearing on Navy Shipbuilding Programs, Wicker asked Assistant Secretary James Guerts if the Navy could apply incremental funding to the LPD and LHA platforms in FY2020 if authorized by Congress. Incremental funding would allow the Navy to proceed with the purchase of the ships and use the $350 million in funds that were appropriated in FY2019.
Wicker asked Secretary Spencer if he agreed the Navy could pursue an incremental funding plan for amphibious ship procurement if authorized by Congress.
“Yes, the answer is indubitably,” Spencer said.
“Thank you…We’re certainly going to pursue that,” Wicker said.