Armed Services Committee News

24 Jul 2019

Wicker Votes to Confirm Esper as Secretary of Defense

Photo: wicker.senate.gov

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has voted to confirm Dr. Mark Esper as Secretary of Defense.“Mark Esper’s experiences as a West Point graduate, combat veteran of the Gulf War, defense industry professional, and as the Secretary of the Army have prepared him well to serve as our next Secretary of Defense,” Wicker said. “Secretary Esper will be an outstanding leader for the Pentagon at a time when our national security faces many challenges and growing threats.

24 May 2019

U.S. Deploys Troops to Middle East, Blames Iran for Tanker Attacks

The United States on Friday announced the deployment of 1,500 troops to the Middle East, describing it as an effort to bolster defenses against Iran as it accused the country's Revolutionary Guards of direct responsibility for this month's tanker attacks.President Donald Trump's administration also invoked the threat from Iran to declare a national security-related emergency that would clear the sale of billions of dollars' worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries without required congressional approval.The actions were the latest by the Trump administration as it highlights what it sees as a threat of potential attack by Iran…

25 Apr 2019

OP/ED: The Jones Act is Worth Fighting For

File Image: Congressman John Garamendi at a recent speech at the California Maritime Academy.

The President says he wants to make American great again, so why is he trying to destroy the principal support system for America’s maritime industry? This week, we learned that President Trump is “seriously considering” issuing a broad waiver for the Jones Act, a critical law that requires domestic shipping in the U.S. to occur on ships that are built in the United States, fly the U.S. flag, and are operated by crews consisting of at least 75 percent American citizens.I served as the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee of Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation for six years.

19 Mar 2018

US Navy Asks Huntington Ingalls for Pricing on Two Aircraft Carriers

Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) departs Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding for builder’s sea trials in April 2017 (U.S. Navy photo by Christopher Delano)

The U.S. Navy asked shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries on Monday for detailed pricing on the cost of two aircraft carriers, showing the Trump administration is taking a serious look at doubling its order for the most expensive ship in the U.S. fleet. The Navy’s request seeks to determine the savings achievable with a two-ship buy. “This opportunity for a two-ship contract is dependent on significant savings that the shipbuilding industry and government must demonstrate,” said James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research development and acquisitions.

01 Nov 2017

Wicker Calls for 355-Ship Navy

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

Speaking in front of the Senate, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Seapower Subcommittee, said the requirement for a 355-ship Navy is clear, especially in light of the recent, fatal accidents involving the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain. In response to these incidents, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson, directed that a comprehensive review take place. On Tuesday, Wicker and other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have been briefed on those findings. The Navy is scheduled to make the review public later this week.

19 Sep 2017

Are US Navy Accidents Linked to Budget Caps?

Visible damage to the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain, which was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. (U.S. Navy photo by Joshua Fulton)

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday that he was working to see if there was a link between a spate of recent military accidents and budget caps, but said he could not draw a direct line at this time. Since June, more than 70 U.S. service members have either been killed or injured in training or non-combat accidents, ranging from two naval collisions in Asia to a Marine Corps transport plane crash in rural Mississippi. “I am not willing to say right now that there is a direct line between sequestration and what has happened. I am willing to say ...

29 Jun 2017

Wicker’s SHIPS Act Included in Defense Bill

Ingalls Shipbuilding yard in Pascagoula, Miss. (File photo: HII)

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Seapower Subcommittee, announced that he successfully added his “SHIPS Act” proposal to help the Navy reach its requirement of a 355-ship fleet in this year’s “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA). The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved the national defense bill, authorizing $640 billion in overall funding for America’s servicemembers, military installations and industrial base. It now awaits consideration by the full Senate.

15 Jun 2017

Wicker Meets With Trump’s Choice for Navy Secretary

From left: Roger Wicker with Richard Spencer (Photo: Sen. Wicker’s office)

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Seapower Subcommittee, today met with Richard Spencer regarding his nomination to be President Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Navy. “Mr. Spencer and I had an encouraging meeting,” Wicker said. “I reiterated my commitment to helping the President and the Navy build a larger, more modern fleet that can meet growing demands around the world. I was pleased to learn that Mr. Spencer shares that goal. Wicker is leading the…

21 May 2017

Navy Christens USNS City of Bismarck

Photo: Official FB Page of Austal USA

Austal celebrated the christening of Expeditionary Fast Transport ship USNS City of Bismarck (EPF 9) with a ceremony at its state-of-the-art shipyard on May 13. City of Bismarck is the ninth of 12 Expeditionary Fast Transport vessels (EPF) that Austal has under contract with the U.S. Navy as part of a contract worth over $1.9 billion. The ship’s sponsor, Congresswoman Jane Harman, headlined the group of officials, naval guests, civic leaders, community members and Austal employees who attended the ceremony beneath the hull of the ship in Austal’s final assembly bay.

04 May 2017

US Navy to Delay Planned Frigate Award

Littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) (U.S. Navy photo by Ace Rheaume)

The U.S. Navy has decided to delay by a year until fiscal 2020 the awarding of a design and construction contract for a planned new frigate, according to congressional testimony on Wednesday by two Navy rear admirals. The delay resulted from a decision to set up a frigate evaluation team to look at how to make the vessel more lethal and survivable, Rear Admirals Ron Boxall and John Neagley said in their prepared testimony. Navy analyses have determined that the U.S. fleet needs 53 small surface combat ships to supplement the larger aircraft carriers and destroyers…

22 Mar 2017

Trump's Navy: A Look at the Future US Navy

President Donald J. Trump speaks with Sailors in the hangar bay aboard Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). Trump visited to meet with Sailors and shipbuilders of the Navy’s first-in-class aircraft carrier during an all-hands call inside the ship’s hangar bay. (U.S. Navy photo by Joshua Sheppard)

It’s still too early to know for certain what the new administration will do about building up the U.S. Navy, as the numbers are a moving target. But with President Trump’s recent pledge to add $54 billion to defense spending, it’s a safe bet to make that the fleet will grow. So let’s start with the numbers. There are different ways to count the fleet size, including whether or not you count auxiliaries, but let’s use this number as the baseline: There are 274 ships in the U.S. Navy now.

17 Mar 2017

Skilled Workers Needed to Build Trump's Navy Vision

File Image: AdobeStock CREDIT Bogdan Vasilescu

U.S. President Donald Trump says he wants to build dozens of new warships in one of the biggest peace-time expansions of the U.S. Navy. But interviews with ship-builders, unions and a review of public and internal documents show major obstacles to that plan. The initiative could cost nearly $700 billion in government funding, take 30 years to complete and require hiring tens of thousands of skilled shipyard workers - many of whom don't exist yet because they still need to be hired and trained, according to the interviews and the documents reviewed. Trump has vowed a huge build-up of the U.S.

14 Mar 2017

Carl Vinson Celebrates 35th Anniversary of Ship's Commissioning

Official U.S. Navy file photo of The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the South China Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Devin M. Monroe

The crew of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) celebrated the ship's 35th commissioning ceremony March 13 while on a regularly-scheduled Western Pacific deployment. Capt. Eric Anduze, Carl Vinson's executive officer, announced the cake cutting ceremony via a message on the ship's general announcing system while summarizing 35 years of Carl Vinson's highlights, which included numerous deployments since 1983, one earthquake response and the burial-at-sea of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

22 Jan 2017

Mattis Takes Oath as 26th Defense Secretary

The Honorable James Mattis took office as the 26th secretary of defense shortly after his Senate confirmation. (Dept. of Defense photoReleased)

By a 98-1 vote, the Senate confirmed retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis to be the 26th secretary of defense Jan. 20, and Vice President Michael R. Pence administered his oath of office shortly afterward.R. Pence administered his oath of office shortly afterward. Mattis is the first retired general officer to hold the position since General of the Army George C. Marshall in the early 1950s. Congress passed a waiver for the retired four-star general to serve in the position…

30 Sep 2016

Naval War College Professors Testify on State of South China Sea

Subi Reef (Photo: CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe)

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) invited two U.S. Naval War College (NWC) faculty members to testify in Washington, D.C. on understanding and countering China's growing maritime concerns. Erickson's testimony centered on China's growing involvement of their Maritime Militia, which he describes as the third maritime force in addition to the nation's navy and coast guard. The Maritime Militia is a civilian force posing as fishing boats and other noncombatants but is clearly under the operational control of the government, according to Erickson.

19 Jul 2016

Great Lakes Ports Support Ballast Reforms

Directors of major commercial ports in the Great Lakes region called on Congress to end years of regulatory chaos surrounding ballast water management. In a joint letter issued late yesterday, 14 port directors urged the Senate Armed Services Committee to include ballast regulatory reform in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Known as the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA), these regulatory reforms were included in the House-passed NDAA, but not the Senate-passed version. Currently, a House-Senate conference committee is working to hammer-out a final version of the legislation. When not fully loaded, cargo ships must take on water (ballast) to maintain their stability.

06 Apr 2016

Senator Wicker Calls For a Stronger U.S. Navy

(Source: http://www.wicker.senate.gov/)

U.S. “The Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower convenes this afternoon to examine Navy shipbuilding programs. We welcome our three distinguished witnesses: The Honorable Sean J. Stackley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition; Vice Admiral Joseph P. Mulloy, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Integration of Capabilities and Resources; and Lieutenant General Robert S. Walsh, Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration, as well as Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

30 Mar 2016

AMP Honors Senator Mazie Hirono

2016 Champion of Maritime award recipient Sen. Mazie Hirono(D-HI) Photo AMP

The American Maritime Partnership (AMP), the voice of the domestic maritime industry, today recognized U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) with the 2016 Champion of Maritime Award. Sen. Hirono is honored for her long-standing support and commitment to the men and women of American Maritime in her work on the Senate Armed Services Committee and as a Ranking Member of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Energy. Sen. Hirono understands the critical role the domestic maritime industry plays not just in Hawaii, but also in the nation’s economic, national and homeland security.

28 Mar 2016

Rep. Conaway Tours Newport News Shipbuilding

Rep. Conaway points at a simulated engine room during a demonstration of the Rapid Operational Virtual Reality tool that enables Newport News Shipbuilding construction teams to collaborate, consider improvements and trouble-shoot onsite during aircraft carrier construction. (Photo by Chris Oxley/HII)

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) hosted Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, for a tour of the company’s Newport News Shipbuilding division. The visit provided an opportunity for Conaway to meet shipbuilders and see the progress being made across Newport News’ ship construction programs. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Conaway introduced legislation last fall to increase the number of operational U.S. Navy aircraft carriers mandated by law from 11 to 12. “I enjoyed touring the Newport News Shipbuilding division today,” Conaway said.

10 Mar 2016

China's Manmade Islands Project 'Substantial Offensive Power'

China will be able to project "substantial offensive military power" from artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea's disputed Spratly Islands within months, the director of U.S. national intelligence said. In a Feb. 23 letter to John McCain, chair of the U.S. "Based on the pace and scope of construction at these outposts, China will be able to deploy a range of offensive and defensive military capabilities and support increased PLAN and CCG presence beginning in 2016," Clapper said in the letter released this week, using acronyms for the Chinese navy and coastguard. "Once these facilities are completed by the end of 2016 or early 2017, China will have significant capacity to quickly project substantial offensive military power to the region," Clapper added.

25 Feb 2016

Rep. Courtney Visits Newport News Shipbuilding

Aaron Wikle (left), a pipefitter at Newport News Shipbuilding, shows Rep. Joe Courtney how the shipyard is presenting work to shipbuilders in a visual environment with the goal of improving quality and cost performance. (Photo by Chris Oxley/HII)

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) hosted Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) Tueaday, for a tour of the company’s Newport News Shipbuilding division. The congressman saw first-hand the progress being made on Virginia-class submarines, which Newport News builds in partnership with General Dynamics Electric Boat, located in Courtney’s district. He also learned about progress being made on the aircraft carriers Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) and met with Newport News…

09 Oct 2015

US Must Exercise Freedom of Navigation in Asia-Pacific -Navy Commander

Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., Commander, U.S. Pacific Command (Photo: U.S. Department of Defense)

The commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific said on Friday the United States must carry out freedom of navigation patrols throughout the Asia Pacific, but declined to say whether it planned go within 12 nautical miles of China's artificial islands in the South China Sea. Asked about reports that the United States planned to challenge 12-nautical mile limits around China's artificial islands, he replied: "I will not confirm that. Pressed on the issue, Harris said, "I believe that we should exercise freedom of navigation wherever we need to.

25 Aug 2015

AWO Working Hard for the Domestic Workboat Market

Higman Barges by Capt. Darren Istre

The year 2015 has been a busy year for The American Waterways Operators, the national trade association for the tugboat, towboat and barge industry, and for the industry AWO is privileged to represent. It’s a dynamic time for a vital industry that constitutes the largest segment of the U.S. domestic fleet, as companies throughout the industry are investing heavily to meet evolving customer needs; the industry stands on the verge of historic regulatory change; and AWO pursues an active public policy agenda to support members’ needs for predictable and practicable government policy.

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