Local members of Congress question Navy leaders on proposal to decommission ships

Elaine Luria
Posted at 11:53 AM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 18:47:47-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Local members of Congress are questioning Navy leaders on Wednesday morning about their upcoming budget proposal, which includes decommissioning 24 ships.

The proposal would call for eight new ships to be built. Still, several members of Congress on the House Armed Services Committee, including local Reps. Rob Wittman and Elaine Luria, remain skeptical of the proposal.

"I have severe misgivings about the Navy shrinking by 16 ships," Wittman said during the hearing.

Luria tweeted that the proposal "severely reduces our capacity and capability."

Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations, said the proposal was aimed at modernizing the fleet.

"We need to field a fleet today that's ready as we modernize for the future. This has forced us to to make difficult decisions, including the decommissioning of platforms that do not bring the needed lethality to a fight in contested seas," Gilday told the committee.

Congress will continue to debate the budget proposal over the coming months.

The chairman of the committee, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington), also said he wanted more information about the situation on the USS George Washington. The Navy moved more than 200 Sailors off of the ship last week after several Sailors died by suicide.

"For all the equipment, it's about the people. The people are what make us the best military in the world," said Smith. "We have to take care of our people. It does not seem at the moment that we're doing that to the extent that we should."

Last week, Luria met with Sailors on-board. She's waiting to hear more from the Navy about the results of an investigation into the Washington and a look into the broader issue of quality of life for ships at shipyards.

"There are always going to be Sailors living and working in that environment," she said. "We need to have better resources. We need to have barracks. We need better parking. Look at transportation and quality of life issues, so there's really a lot of questions that need to be answered. We can't just say the status-quo is okay."

Tomorrow, Navy leaders will be in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) said he plans on also asking about the situation on the Washington.