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Navy's top brass defends plan to cut ships from fleet

Some House Armed Services Committee members criticized the Navy's FY23 budget proposal, which would decommission 24 warships by 2027.

WASHINGTON — The Navy's top leaders insist that their branch's proposed budget for the Fiscal Year 2023 is sufficient to meet the nation's needs.

But some lawmakers disagreed with the Navy's plan to reduce the size of the fleet.

Under its FY23 budget, the Navy's fleet would drop to 280 ships by 2027, with the building of eight new vessels and the decommissioning of 24.

Navy leaders defended the plan on Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee, arguing it will free up $3.6 billion over the next five years to reinvest in modernization and lethality.

"America needs a combat-credible Naval force that can protect our interests in peace and prevail in war, not just today but tomorrow in the long-term competition ahead of us. Our budget submission reflects that imperative," said Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday.

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro agreed.

"This budget does provide the right balance of capacity, lethality, modernizations and readiness that we need to execute the National Defense Strategy," he said.

But several committee members voiced concerns.

"I have severe misgivings about the Navy shrinking by 16 ships," said Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Virginia, 1st District).

Also voicing displeasure was Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Alabama).

"I remain very concerned about the president's budget proposal," he said. "Rather than keeping pace with the threat from China, the president's budget would let them lap us."

On another note, the committee's chairman, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington), scolded Navy leaders about allegations of poor living conditions aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which may have contributed to three suspected crew suicides within one week in April.

"We are concerned on this committee about how sailors and also just our service members, in general, are being taken care of and how responsive, in this case, the Navy, is to those needs and concerns when they are raised," he said. "It does not seem to have worked well in this situation."

The Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations are scheduled to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

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