“Here’s the deal: we need more money,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday asserted at the Surface Navy Association conference in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday, reported Defense One.
“There’s broad agreement across the government that our Navy needs to grow … We need to pursue unmanned technologies, and we need to solve tough technology and policy issues associated with unmanned instead of running away from them.”
Gidlay argued that more funding is required in order to pursue these objectives and build the 355-ship fleet requested by US President Donald Trump as national policy. According to the defense bill, only $209.2 million was appropriated for two large unmanned surface vessels (LUSVs) and an additional $50 million will be provided for the development of LUSVs without vertical launching tubes.
“We haven’t made a decision yet that those [unmanned ships] are going to be included as battle force numbers, because they’re conceptual,” Gidlay said.
This push to expand the US Navy’s fleet comes concurrently with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy’s December commissioning of six additional warships - which would bring Beijing’s ship total to 300, versus only 293 in the US Navy.
Gidlay explained that the service’s primary focus at the moment is on constructing Columbia-class submarines so that they may replace the aging Ohio-class boats.
“In the 1980s, the Navy’s percentage of the DoD budget was 38%. Right now, it’s 34. So I think historically I have a case to make,” he said, as reported by Defense News.
The admiral’s statements on the Navy’s portion of the Pentagon’s budget parallel those of acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly, who argued a similar case to Defense News on Monday.
“We definitely want to have a bigger Navy, but we definitely don’t want to have a hollow Navy either,” Modly told the outlet. “These are difficult choices, but the requirement to get to a bigger fleet, whether that’s 355 ships or 355-plus, as I like to talk about, it is going to require a bigger top line for the Navy.”