Wicker proposes bill to help U.S. Navy ramp up battle forces

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) on Feb. 5 sponsored legislation to bolster the number of U.S. Navy battle force ships as soon as practicable.

“Our nation’s Navy is still the envy of the world, but our adversaries are quickly catching up,” Sen. Wicker said. “It is time for Congress to get serious about investing in our fleet and give our sailors and Marines the tools they need to stay ahead of those who wish us harm.”

Sen. Wicker introduced the Securing the Homeland by Increasing our Power on the Seas (SHIPS) Implementation Act, S. 3258, which springboards off his 2017 SHIPS Act that was signed into law by President Donald Trump and made it the policy of the United States to reach a 355-ship Navy.

If enacted, S. 3258 would authorize the use of multiple cost-saving measures, including multi-year or block buy contract authorities when appropriate, and direct the Navy to procure 39 new ships over the next five fiscal years, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Wicker’s office.

During the last three years, according to Sen. Wicker’s staff, the Navy’s shipbuilding budget has remained at between $4 billion and $5 billion short of the level required to reach a 355-ship Navy.

“In the near term, the SHIPS Implementation Act would empower our Navy to reach its 355-ship goal by authorizing the procurement of specific vessels and cutting costs,” said Sen. Wicker. “Over time, my proposal would help to decrease risk for the Navy and provide greater certainty for the industrial base.”

Among several provisions, S. 3258 would direct the Navy to start construction on at least 12 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, 10 Virginia-class submarines, two Columbia-class submarines, three San Antonio-class amphibious ships, one LHA-class amphibious ship, six John Lewis-class fleet oilers, and five guided missile frigates across fiscal years 2021-2025.

The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee is considering the measure.