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U.S. Navy fleet could drop by seven ships in 2022

Va. Rep. Rob Wittman is concerned America is not keeping pace with China, saying "It just doesn't make sense."

WASHINGTON — The 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, as passed by the House Armed Service Committee last month, provides funding of $705.9 billion, a modest 1.4 percent increase over the current budget.

The Senate Armed Services Committee version of the NDAA OKs $24 billion for shipbuilding, which is $2 billion more than what the Biden Administration sought.

Still, Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Virginia, 1st District) is concerned that under current plans, the United States Navy fleet would drop from 296 ships to 289.

"The Chinese are building," he said. "We're reducing. It just doesn't make sense."

According to the Department of Defense’s “2020 China Military Power Report," the People’s Republic of China has approximately 360 battle force ships, with plans by 2025 to field as many as 400.

Wittman serves as Ranking Member of Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee. He calls the Biden administration's recently released 30-year shipbuilding plan -- which dropped a previous emphasis on a 355-ship goal for the U.S. fleet -- "inadequate" and he says the Administration's eight-ship request for FY22 is "anemic." 

"If you're going to build eight, of which two are tugboats, and you're going to retire 15, you can't do addition by subtraction," he said. "And the Chinese are eating our lunch as far as building their Navy. It's fools' folly to think any of this is going to result in a bigger Navy any time soon."

The House version of the NDAA provides a  2.7 percent pay raise for the troops and the Senate version provides more than $12 billion for ship repair and ship maintenance at public and private shipyards.

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