Warner, Kaine call for funding for Carrier Replacement Program

warner-kaineSens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) asked the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense to protect funding for the Carrier Replacement Program during the Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations process.

If the Department of Defense is funded temporarily through a Continuing Resolution, as is currently expected, the advance procurement funding for the program will continue at FY 2016 levels – delaying shipbuilding, jeopardizing national security and threatening jobs in Hampton Roads – unless the legislation includes an exception for the Navy to move forward with the program at funding levels requested by the President in the FY 2017 budget.

“As you know, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier fleet is already stretched thin, and as a result, the Navy has required a waiver to have one fewer operational carrier than the 11 required by Congress. The current fleet of ten nuclear-powered aircraft carriers is being utilized at unprecedented rates because of a complex security environment and a delayed procurement of additional ships.  This over-utilization is resulting in extended deployments, deferred maintenance, reduced operational availability, increased ownership costs and potentially shortened life spans for these strategic assets,”wrote Sens. Warner and Kaine in a letter to the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. “Ensuring stable and adequate funding for the Carrier Replacement Program is one of the foremost steps Congress can take to allay the risks associated with the current shortfall in available aircraft carriers.”

Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) in Newport News, Va., is the sole designer and builder of aircraft carriers for the U.S. Navy.

For FY 2017, the Department of Defense requested – and the Subcommittee recommended – funding the Carrier Replacement Program at $1.37 billion, about $500 million more than the FY 2016 appropriation, in order to ensure the timely procurement of long-lead items required for planned cost and delivery schedules for the USS Enterprise (CVN-80), the third Ford-class aircraft carrier that will be constructed by NNS. A Continuing Resolution funded at the lower FY 2016 level would force delays that will increase the cost of the Carrier Replacement Program, delay the already-strained carrier schedule, and put local jobs at risk.

Maintaining the Navy’s fleet of 11 aircraft carriers, which are vital to projecting the country’s strength around the world, has been a bipartisan priority for Virginia’s congressional delegation. In 2014, when the 11-carrier fleet was in danger, the delegation successfully restored funding for the refueling and overhaul of the USS George Washington (CVN-73) after the Pentagon did not include it in its FY 2015 budget request.

Wrote the Senators today, “We appreciate any consideration the Committee can give to keeping the Carrier Replacement Program on track and helping to preserve one of our nation’s most vital national security assets.”



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