WASHINGTON — The Navy and Marine Corps' budget would grow by more than $11 billion next year -- or 4.5% -- the most of any of the military branches.
"This request delivers the resources necessary to ensure America's Naval forces are ready, timely, flexible, and forward-deployed," said Erik Raven, Undersecretary of the Navy, speaking Monday at the Navy's 2024 budget rollout news conference at the Pentagon.
The budget would spend $32.8 billion to add nine additional ships to the fleet, including paying for two new Virginia-class attack submarines and a second Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, with a percentage of that work to take place at Newport News Shipbuilding.
The budget continues funding the construction and development of the next two Ford-class aircraft carriers, with 100% of that work taking place at Newport News.
The budget would spend $17.3 billion to pay for 88 new aircraft, including 35 F-35 B and C Joint Strike Fighters. The plan would also invest $2.7 billion into Naval shipyards, including Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth.
On the personnel side, the budget gives a 5.2% pay raise to all military personnel, the largest hike in 22 years.
The budget would add $334 million to sexual assault prevention training and, following eight sailor suicides since last April, the budget would add $29 million to increase the availability of mental health care.
"As we continue to de-stigmatize mental health treatment, we are working to ensure every member has access to the full continuum of mental health care," said Rear Admiral John Gumbleton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget.
Most controversially, the proposed budget would place a "strategic pause" on the construction of new San Antonio Class Amhipibious Transport docks.
That's one of the ships the Navy uses to transport Marines.
Raven said the reason for the change is "to make sure we have the right capabilities at the right price."
This is just a proposal. Congress must still weigh in.
Several Republican lawmakers have been critical in their assessment, with one calling the plan "wholly insufficient." They complain that the plan does not keep pace with the rate of inflation.