Wicker Conducts Hearing to Learn Lessons From Naval Buildup Under President Reagan

Seapower Subcommittee Receives Testimony From Former Reagan Administration Officials

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Seapower Subcommittee, today conducted a hearing to learn lessons from officials who helped oversee the nation’s last naval buildup under President Ronald Reagan. This marks the fourth hearing Wicker has held this year focused on the Navy’s 355-ship requirement.

Last month, Wicker successfully added his “SHIPS Act” proposal to the FY2018 “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA). The bicameral, bipartisan “SHIPS Act,” introduced with Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., would make it the policy of the United States to achieve the Navy’s requirement of 355-ship fleet.

Key excerpts of Wicker’s opening statement include:

“The United States has embarked on naval buildups roughly every 30 years over the past century – in the 1910s, then in the 1940s and 1950s, and most recently the 1980s – in response to emerging threats, technological development, and the condition of the fleet. This is now our time to lead. Our task is to increase the fleet’s size from 276 ships today to 355 ships as soon as practicable, an increase of 79 ships. In comparison, during the 1980s buildup, the Navy added 75 ships to the fleet in eight years, from FY1981 to FY1988 according to the Congressional Research Service. I would stress that we need the optimal mix of ships; tomorrow’s Navy should not replicate the one we had in the past or the one we have today. In other words, this Subcommittee has no intention of funding shipbuilding only for the sake of shipbuilding.”

“Our witnesses took the 1980s buildup from a vision to reality and proved many naysayers wrong along the way. The 1980s buildup was based on a comprehensive naval strategy, thorough analysis, and sound acquisition practices. Our witnesses thought outside the box. For example, they supported outfitting our ships with cutting-edge technology, but also brought battleships out of mothballs. Perhaps most important, once the Navy established the famous 600-ship requirement, the senior leadership – uniformed and civilian – rallied around it.”

Witnesses at today’s hearing included:

The Honorable John F. Lehman, Jr., former Secretary of the Navy;
The Honorable Everett Pyatt, former Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Shipbuilding and Logistics; and
The Honorable William J. Schneider, Jr.; former Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget.