With increasing threats around the globe – specifically from China and Russia – it is more important now than ever for the Department of the Navy to develop and implement a serious plan to ensure we have a fully-funded, strategic shipbuilding plan.
Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and China’s growing naval power should serve as a serious wakeup call for the United States to examine our capabilities and our long-range plans to defend ourselves and our interests from bad actors like Russia and China. In Congress, I sit on the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, where one of our many responsibilities is overseeing Navy programs related to shipbuilding.
It is very clear to all the members on the subcommittee (which is led by my friend Rep. Rob Wittman from Virginia), that the United States desperately needs to increase investment and long-term planning to ensure our naval shipbuilding is keeping up with demand. That’s why Rep. Wittman and several others on the House Armed Services Committee recently visited shipyards in Mobile and around the Gulf Coast to learn firsthand what our capabilities and what our needs are. My colleagues and I have been sounding the alarm on this for months because we know just how important it is to not fall behind and allow folks like Russia and China to lead.
Just last week, the Biden administration released its 30-year shipbuilding plan. I was extremely disappointed by most of what I saw in the plan. This plan would actually do the exact opposite of what we should be doing. It would reduce our ability to protect our aircraft carrier strike groups, reduce our ability to eliminate an enemy’s minefield, and it would reduce the Marine Corps ability to carry out forcible entry missions while reducing our fleet’s missile launching capabilities.
Even worse, President Biden’s budget request would actually shrink our naval fleet. Their plan is to decommission 24 ships while only adding eight new ships, despite clear evidence that our naval fleet is not large enough to adequately counter growing threats. The United States Navy currently has 298 active ships, while China has 355 active ships. China is not stopping there – in fact, they are on track to have 460 active ships by 2030, whereas the Biden admin wants to reduce our Navy to 291 ships. This is simply unacceptable and makes the world a more dangerous place.
Shipbuilding is not something that happens overnight. It takes years to build a single ship, and we can’t afford to wait until we are in desperate need to start increasing production. Cutting our naval power now to save a little money puts the United States at a serious disadvantage and could cause us serious harm in the years to come. Now is the time to make strong investments in our military, develop a long-term strategy, and ensure our men and women have the tools they need to protect and defend the United States.
Jerry Carl represents Alabama’s First Congressional District. He lives in Mobile with his wife Tina.