WASHINGTON - Rep. Rob Wittman joined with Sen. Roger Wicker in introducing a bill on Thursday morning that makes it the policy of the nation to achieve a 355 ship Navy as soon as possible.
Currently, the Navy has 276 ships and submarines, according to figures on the Navy's website. "We think that this is an extraordinarily important message to send to communicate to the citizens across the nation and also to the industry that we will need to get the 355 ships," Wittman said. The lawmakers said they were basing the number on recent Navy assessments.
Wittman and Wicker said a buildup was necessary for several reasons. "It's not just about being able to engage in conflict," Wittman said. "It's about being able to make sure that we are effective diplomatically and that we can respond on a humanitarian basis around the world."
The buildup would take 20 to 25 years in a best case scenario, Wittman said, citing the Congressional Budget Office. It would require more sailors, more maintenance, and more ammunition, among other things, the lawmakers said.
Bryan Stephens, the President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber, said the buildup could have a big impact on the local economy. "If the discussion is increasing our Navy to a 355 ship Navy that can mean nothing but good things for the Hampton Roads area," he said.
President Donald Trump made it a campaign promise to build a 350 ship Navy.