WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 6 SEAPOWER / MARCH 2014
Letter Pleads Case for 11 Carriers,
Others Recommend Reductions
As the Pentagon weighs potentially painful cuts to its force structure and modernization accounts, a
bipartisan group of House lawmakers is pleading its case
for maintaining 11 aircraft carriers in the Navy’s fleet.
The Pentagon will not send its fiscal 2015 budget
proposal to Capitol Hill until March 4, about a month
later than usual. But the campaign to save prized programs began long before the budget drop, thanks to
spending caps that will force both the Pentagon and
lawmakers to rethink defense priorities.
Aircraft carriers are the single most expensive piece of
equipment in the Defense Department’s inventory, with
the price tag for the first of the Ford class of nuclear-powered carriers nearing $13 billion, 22 percent above
initial cost projections. They are, in essence, an easy
place to generate big savings quickly, a fact not lost on
the Navy and its biggest backers in Congress.
On Jan. 28, 11 House members wrote Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reiterating their strong support of
an 11-carrier Navy and stressing that the United States
needs to maintain a robust fleet to respond to demands
around the world.
“With the United States entering an era where our sea-services are likely to be called on to provide more presence, deterrence, and engagement throughout the Indo-Pacific littoral and across the globe, we believe now is the
time to reinvest in our fleet, not look for ways to reduce
its size and accept greater risk,” they wrote.
Among the signatories were several senior House Armed Services
Committee members, including
Chairman Howard “Buck” Mc-Keon, R-Calif.; Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee
Chairman J. Randy Forbes, R-Va.;
and Seapower ranking member
Mike McIntyre, D-N.C.
In the letter, the lawmakers
pointed to an October letter from
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus that
stated a smaller aircraft carrier fleet
would limit the Navy’s forward
presence and increase its response
time, rendering the force incapable
of executing missions spelled out
in the Defense Strategic Guidance
In a statement accompanying the
letter, Forbes, whose district is situ-
ated in military-heavy southeastern
Virginia and just over the border
from Naval Station Norfolk, warned
the reduction would “profoundly
damage U.S. national security” at a
dangerous time for the country.
“It is unacceptable to pretend
that the United States lives in anything less than an 11-carrier world
given China’s growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific, rising
instability in the Middle East and
U.S. Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., left, speaks with Navy
Secretary Ray Mabus June 13 prior to receiving the Navy
Distinguished Public Service Medal for exemplary service
and support of the Navy and Marine Corps at the U.S.
Capitol. Forbes was one of 11 House members who
wrote Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Jan. 28 in support
of an 11-carrier Navy, citing an earlier letter from Mabus
stating that a smaller carrier fleet would limit the Navy’s
forward presence and increase its response time.