The Hill Q&A: Mabus discusses priorities since taking over the Department of the Navy

Ray Mabus, who took the reins of the Department of the Navy in May, has moved aggressively to outline energy efficiency efforts for the Navy and Marine Corps and is also clearing a path for women to serve on submarines. As secretary of the Navy, Mabus is responsible for an annual budget in excess of $150 billion and almost 900,000 people. Mabus is the former governor of Mississippi and a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the Clinton administration. The native Mississippian served as a Navy surface warfare officer in the early 1970s.

Q: What are some of your major priorities for next year and beyond?

The main thing I am always going to focus on is taking care of sailors and Marines and their families. Specifically, one of the things that we have been doing a lot of work on is sexual assault and prevention of sexual assault. We are also making sure when people come back from deployment that their physical and mental health needs are taken care of and that the Wounded Warrior programs are working not only for the wounded warriors, but also for their families.

Outside of that overarching theme, we are trying to make sure that we get a handle on the cost of procurement so that we build enough ships so that we maintain a global Navy, and trying to also protect our industrial base as we go forward. Another priority is unmanned vehicles. I and the CNO [Chief of Naval Operations] believe that’s going to change the way we fight. We have to have a sharp focus on it to make sure that our research and development efforts go in the right direction, not just unmanned aerial vehicles, but also unmanned surface and unmanned undersea platforms … And finally, energy. One decade from now, the Navy will cut its use of fossil fuel in half.

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