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US lawmakers grill US Navy officials on proposed shipbuilding budget

US lawmakers question the US Navy request to fund only one Virginia-class submarine (pictured) in fiscal year 2025. (Janes/Michael Fabey)

Members of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee raised concerns about the proposed US Navy (USN) plan to pare down key shipbuilding programmes on 17 April during the subcommittee hearing on the USN's Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 budget request.

While the USN – as was the case with the rest of the Pentagon – was charged with keeping a lid on costs, lawmakers said they felt the USN went too far with some major programmes.

Connecticut Congressman and ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, Joe Courtney, set the tone with his opening statement.

β€œThe Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), which [was] passed in May 2023 to avert a default on the full faith and credit of our nation's currency and bonds, mandated a 1% increase in the Department of Defense's budget request for fiscal year 2025,” Courtney said.

β€œThe navy's shipbuilding and conversion account cuts even deeper than the FRA's mandated budget cap,” Courtney said. β€œTo be clear, the navy's shipbuilding procurement request is not for only a 1% increase – rather it decreases that line item by 3.4% from the fiscal year 2024 enacted level that President Biden just signed into law last month.”

The USN request includes six battle force ships, he noted, β€œa sharp deviation from last year's Future Years Defense Plan [FYDP] and 30-Year Shipbuilding Plan. And, at the same time, 10 battle force ships are being decommissioned. Of particular note, it seeks to reduce procurement of the Virginia-class [attack] submarine [SSN] programme from 13 consecutive years of steady, two per year cadence, down to just one submarine in FY [20]25”.

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