Senators pushing to raise minimum number of ships in Navy

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A push for more sea power is making its way through the U.S. Senate. As part of a large military funding package, Senators are calling for a significant increase in the amount of ships in the Navy. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) says the U.S. needs this show of strength.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) says international threats are growing, so the size of the U.S. Navy needs to do the same.

“We need to spend more money on national defense, because the threat is greater than it used to be,” said Wicker.

Wicker says with increasing hostility around the world, the current state of the Navy is unacceptable. With a current floating force of 276 ships, Wicker and others on both sides of the aisle are pushing the SHIPS Act that would make the legal requirement 355 ships.

“We’ve never taken the size of the Navy requirement and put it into law, into statute, as the policy of the United States. And I would hope we’re sending a stronger signal than we ever have before,” said Wicker.

He says with more shipbuilding comes significant job creation.

“We get a ‘two-for’ when we build up our military. But let’s make no mistake about it, this is not a jobs bill. This is first and foremost about national security,” said Wicker.

Wicker says he thinks President Trump is committed to bolstering the Navy, but says the president’s budget proposal falls short when it comes to building ships. Megan Eckstein, staff writer at U.S. Naval Institute News, says it comes down to money.

“That, I think, is where you’re going to start to see some friction between potentially the administration and the Congress in terms of how many dollars go toward funding these ships,” said Eckstein.

Eckstein says the cost to getting to 355 ships is high and it could take decades to complete. But, she says, what the Navy is currently being asked to do requires this increase in force.

“Given the current situations in the world and given changes in technology, if the Navy is to continue with its current mission it needs 355,“ said Eckstein.

Wicker’s legislation is attached to the annual military spending package, typically passed later in the year.