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Navy budget proposal would cut fleet by 24 ships

House Armed Services Vice-Chair Elaine Luria vowed to fight to restore funding to preserve as many ships as possible.

WASHINGTON — The Navy is asking for nine new ships in the Fiscal Year 2023, but at the same time, it intends to retire two dozen vessels.

Under the proposed Department of Defense budget, the Navy would decommission nine Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ships, five Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers, four Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ships, two Los Angeles Class attack submarines, two oilers and two Montford Point-class expeditionary transfer docks.

The Navy said getting rid of those 24 platforms would free up $3.6 billion over the next five years to reinvest in modernization and lethality.

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The Navy currently has 298 ships. Under this plan, the fleet would drop to 280 ships by FY27.

That's a far cry from the 355 ships the Navy has stated it needs.

"We cannot add by subtracting, so, this again takes us yet further away from our goal of a 355-ship Navy, which is in fact law," said Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va., 2nd District), House Armed Services Committee vice-chair.

She said the proposed plan makes no sense.

But, the good news is that Congress, not the Navy and not the White House, controls the purse strings.

This year, Congress boosted defense spending by nearly $22.4 billion over what the Biden administration proposed, including an additional $4 billion more for shipbuilding.

"You know, our first conversation after the budget came out is, here we go again," said Luria. "We kind of have the same fight on our hands to make sure we get those resources added back."

The Navy's $180.5 billion FY'23 budget request also includes no new F/A-18 Super Hornets and fewer F-35C Joint Strike Fighters than last year.

And, it proposes a decrease of about 10,000 sailors over the next five years.

Taking the hot seat to defend the budget request on Tuesday will be Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley.

They are scheduled to testify about the budget before the House Armed Services Committee.

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