Senate Cuts 2 Navy Ships from Budget Request

Monday, August 04, 2003
On the eve of adjournment by the Senate, the American Shipbuilding Association (ASA) expressed its dismay with Senate action to cut two ships from the President’s budget request. The zeroing of two T-AKE Combat Force Logistics Ships reverses positive steps the Administration took in its fiscal year 2004 budget to increase the rate of naval ship production from five to seven to shore up a rapidly sinking Navy. “The security of every American is put at risk when the Nation fails to provide for a Navy of the size and capability to defend our homeland,” said Cynthia Brown, President of ASA. Brown stated that the President’s fiscal year 2004 budget was finally moving in the right direction by increasing the annual construction of naval ships from five to seven, and by embracing smart business practices and acquisition policies to reduce the unit cost of ships for the taxpayer. By cutting $722 million for the construction of two T-AKE’s, the unit cost of each of those ships will rise because the price of each ship was based on a specific quantity and production schedule to allow the shipbuilder to offer the lowest possible cost to the Navy. If the funding is not restored by the conference committee on the Defense Appropriations Bill, there will be disruption throughout the industrial base and more highly skilled manufacturers will be thrown out of work. The President’s budget also recommended a Multi-Year Procurement Contract for seven Virginia Class Attack Submarines (SSN-774), which will save the taxpayer more than $1 billion and increase production of submarines to two per year to sustain a risk constrained force level of just 55 submarines. Maximum savings cannot be achieved without a commitment from Congress to embrace the President’s plan to purchase seven SSN-774 submarines over the next five years under a Multi-Year Procurement contract. Too few ships in the Navy’s inventory have stretched the Navy past its breaking point. Because of the dominant role of naval ships in waging war in Afghanistan and Iraq, ships had to be diverted from other troubled areas to fight these wars because the Navy’s inventory of less than 300 ships is woefully inadequate. As a result, critical and troubled areas such as Korea, Africa, the Straits of Taiwan, and American shores were shorted necessary American naval presence. The dramatically smaller fleet has also forced naval commanders to extend the deployment of ships and crew well beyond the normal six months because there are no ships to take their place. This places additional hardships and stress on our Sailors, Marines, and their families. The following chart illustrates the crisis facing the Nation if the sinking of America’s Navy is not halted through the commitment of Congress and the Administration to the construction of 12 ships a year.
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