Mon, 17 May 2021

WASHINGTON D.C.: Proposed legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate on April 28 would fund a $25 billion investment in public and private shipyards that build and maintain the U.S. Navy fleet.

The bill would deliver $21 billion to four shipyards, as part of the Navy's Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program.

Also, private shipyards would qualify for $2 billion, and another $2 billion would be directed to commercial ship repair yards.

Additionally, a 20-year program, at a cost of $2 billion, would recapitalize Navy shipyards.

The shipyards to be targeted for upgrades include the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington.

The Senate bill is sponsored by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., with co-sponsors Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Angus King, I-Maine; Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire.

In the House of Representatives, U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman, R-Virginia and Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, will similarly introduce the bill.

The Shipyard Act focuses on improvements in "performing critical dry dock repairs, restoring and optimally placing shipyard facilities, and replacing aging and deteriorating capital equipment."

The Navy has repeatedly called for improvements in U.S. shipbuilding and maintenance, noting the growing Chinese and Russian military fleets as competitors.

"Congress has already taken the important step of committing to a larger Navy, but our shipyards are having trouble servicing today's 296-ship fleet and are clearly insufficient to maintain the 355-ship or larger fleet we need to counter China, Russia, and other adversaries," Wicker said on Wednesday.

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