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.