U.S. committee calls for bringing shipbuilding funding to Reagan era levels

The Seapower Subcommittee, an arm of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, wants the U.S. Navy’s shipbuilding budget to be increased to $20,6 billion which, if authorized, would be the highest level of shipbuilding funding, accounting for inflation, since President Reagan was in office.

The subcommittee mark, released by the body’s chairman, Congressman J. Randy Forbes April 19, also called for Navy to build aircraft carriers 20% faster.

Aircraft carriers should be built every four years instead of five, a change in tempo that would increase the size of the carrier fleet and create more jobs at Newport News, the mark argued. A “block buy” of components for multiple carriers which would reduce costs for the taxpayers was also authorized.

Forbes’ legislation also looks to prohibit the Navy from simultaneously inactivating 11 of 22 cruisers under its “phased modernization plan” and holds the administration accountable for cruiser modernization by withholding funding from the Office of the Secretary of Defense until modernization contracts have been signed.

Additional $385 million would be authorized for another littoral combat ship, previously struck from the budget. Funding would also be provided to accelerate procurement of the next-generation LX(R) amphibious ship or a 13th San Antonio-class amphibious ship (LPD-29), which would enable the Navy and Marine Corps to close the amphibious capability shortfall.

The markup which calls for an accelerated construction of the majority of programs – from carriers to submarines, missiles to landing craft – will, however, first have to be approved by the House Armed Services Committee before going to the U.S Senate.