The American Shipbuilding Association today calls upon congress to add money to the President’s budget for more naval ships. “It is impossible to reassure Americans of their safety and security when the President’s budget slashes funding for ships for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. This budget will plunge the fleet to a size never before witnessed in our history. Investment in America’s naval fleet has been woefully inadequate for the last decade. But it is unconscionable that the current Administration is shrinking the fleet even below the levels proposed by the previous Administration. Homeland security begins with naval forces,” stated Cynthia Brown, president of the American Shipbuilding Association.
The first phase of the war against terrorists in land-locked Afghanistan was waged from ships, because ships are lethal, mobile bases that can operate around the world without the permission of a foreign government. More than 50 ships were amassed in the Arabian Sea, 500 miles from Afghanistan, to commence America’s retaliation against the 9/11 attack on our country. This war could not have been waged but for ships, because the United States did not have access to land bases in neighboring foreign countries from which to launch offensive strikes. The nearest such base was Diego Garcia, 3,000 miles away.
The President’s budget request funding
for only five ships, half the number needed each year to maintain a 300-ship Navy. The FY’03 request of $6.1 billion for ship procurement is $5billion below the amount requested by the previous Administration in its fiscal year 2001 budget. This budget is also less than this Administration’s fiscal year 2002 budget request of $6.5 billion, which funded only five and 1/7th ships.
At this rate, the fleet of the United States Navy and Marine Corps will dive to 150 ships. This represents one-quarter of the fleet size that former President Ronald Regan built to ensure deterrence of aggression and the safety of Americans. It also represents a fleet that is less than half the size our Naval Commanders-in-Chief state is the minimum to defend America.