Seapower Chairman Scrutinizes Navy’s Plans for 355-Ship Fleet

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Seapower Subcommittee, chaired a hearing to hear from Navy and Marine Corps officials about the U.S. Navy’s shipbuilding programs.

During his opening statement, Chairman Wicker reminded the witnesses of the importance of the fleet buildup.

“A 355-ship fleet is not just a requirement. It is the law. We take it seriously and so should the Navy,” Wicker said. “If we do not take action, the consequences will be dire. Our maritime warfighting edge is eroding.”

Last week, the Navy announced plans to extend the service lives of the entire class of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. This announcement accelerates the schedule for the Navy to reach 355 ships from the 2050s to the mid-2030s.

In December 2017, Senator Wicker’s bicameral, bipartisan “Securing the Homeland by Increasing our Power on the Seas (SHIPS) Act” was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump as part of the Fiscal Year 2018 “National Defense Authorization Act.” The legislation made it the official policy of the United States to achieve the Navy’s minimum requirement for a 355-ship fleet. The Navy battle fleet currently stands at 282 ships.

The attendees at today’s hearing included:

  • James F. Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition;
  • Vice Admiral William R. Merz, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems; and
  • Lieutenant General Robert S. Walsh, Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Combat Development and Integration.

Senator Roger Wicker Press Release