Senator Snubs SecDef With Amendment In Fight Over Navy Funding

(U.S. Navy photo/Released)

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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Wisconsin Republican Sen. [crscore]Ron Johnson[/crscore] waded into the fight over how many ships the Navy can buy with an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Tuesday.

The amendment would remove Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s restrictions on the number of littoral combat ships (LCS) and modified Frigate versions the Navy would be allowed to purchase in fiscal year 2017.

In a Dec. 14, 2015, memo to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, Carter directed the Navy to change its request for 52 LCS and Frigate ships to 40. His directive limited LCS purchases to one manufacturer. Carter also instructed the Navy to redirect funds from the ships and purchase F-35 and F/A-18 aircraft instead, intending to focus “more on new capabilities, not ship numbers.” (RELATED: Report: The F-35’s Pilot Eject System Could KILL You And Definitely Will Maim You)

Johnson has long been a proponent of LCSs in the Navy, one version of which is manufactured in Marinette, Wisc., by Lockheed Martin Corporation. The new amendment would remove all restrictions to LCS purchases in FY 2017. “The Navy deserves certainty as it plans for its current and future ship needs,” Johnson said in a statement. “It is not in our country’s best interest to restrict funding for the needs of the men and women of our naval forces in the face of global threats.”

LCS vessels entered the Navy in 2008 and have received criticism for quality and combat readiness. During 2015, the Navy issued several corrective action requests to Lockheed Martin to correct what the Defense Contract Management Agency called “systemic quality deficiencies.” In an unreleased May, 2016, report obtained by Bloomberg News, the Government Accountability Office recommended Congress avoid buying any LCS craft in FY 2017. (RELATED: Top US Navy Officer Wants A High-Tech Fleet)

The House of Representatives passed its version of the NDAA May 18, 2016. The Senate version is currently being amended and debated. On Tuesday, the White House issued a policy statement saying President Barack Obama would veto the bill in its current version.

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