The Donald J. Trump campaign released a memo on Friday announcing the candidate’s plan to rebuild the U.S. Navy fleet.
Donald Trump has promised to rebuild America with American hands and American steel. On Day One of his administration, he will immediately begin to fulfill that promise with a Manhattan Project urgency to rebuild our navy, which has shrunk under the Obama-Clinton years to its lowest level since World War I.
Fewer ships and growing threats from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific has meant increasing and inordinate strains on our shrinking navy and over-taxed crews. Budget defense sequestration has cut training hours for personnel across the U.S. military, including our Naval Aviators, and contributed to the most serious military readiness gap in decades.
In the tradition of Ronald Reagan’s doctrine of “peace through strength” and a Reagan focus on naval power, Donald Trump has proposed a significant increase in the size of our Navy. The 350-ship goal conforms to that blueprint outlined by the bipartisan National Defense Panel.
Facilities like the Philadelphia Navy Yard can help lead the way – and the defense of America. This yard was shut down in the 1990s but still retains a variety of Navy Department facilities. It has substantial latent capacity to grow in support of the expanding Fleet, it is home to a Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility and retains several specialized engineering activities.
A Trump administration would fully utilize those parts of the Philadelphia Yard that remain in Navy hands and rapidly expand its activities to meet the Fleet’s growing science and technology needs – creating thousands of new jobs in the process. Leveraging the under-utilized capacity of the Philadelphia yard will alleviate pressure on other over-stretched facilities and provide an ideal location for tasks the Navy desperately needs accomplished.
Mr. Trump’s plan would grow the Navy’s surface and undersea assets, modernize a significant number of the Navy’s Ticonderoga-class cruisers, and invest in Flight III of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer as the backbone of a serious ballistic missile defense strategy.
As the most comprehensive naval buildup since President Reagan’s in the 1980s, Mr. Trump’s plan will require a significant partnership with a defense industrial base that has been strained by years of significant cuts to shipbuilding and ship repair. The nationwide infrastructure of yards, depots, and support facilities that created and sustained the World War II and Cold War-era Navy has been largely dismantled, with shipbuilding and repair functions now consolidated in only a handful of locations with limited capacity for enlargement to meet the Fleet’s expanded needs.
As Mr. Trump works with Congress to rebuild and modernize our Fleet, he will instruct his Secretary of the Navy to undertake a major review of our shipbuilding and repair infrastructure to ensure a robust network of yards and maintenance facilities to support his rebuilding program. A particular emphasis will be placed on facilities with a previous history of service to the Navy, proximity to diverse and vibrant private employers in the relevant industries, and a capacity for expansion to meet the needs of our soon-to-be revitalized Navy.
The Trump plan recognizes that the Navy must further invest in the continued professional growth of its highly skilled tradesmen in shipbuilding and repair fields like pipefitting, welding, and metalworking. Much as military officers attend war colleges as they progress to the pinnacle of their career, tradesmen in government-owned shipyards require continued professional development as they attain a “master” designation in their chosen field.
“Centers of excellence” for the highly-skilled tradesmen who support our shipbuilding and repair industries established in places like Philadelphia, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Hampton Roads in Virginia would develop our Navy’s civilian human capital, strengthen the defense industrial base by institutionalizing the critical knowledge these specialists need to maintain our Fleet in the decades ahead, and meet an important need that our over-stretched and space-constrained shipyards struggle to meet. Philadelphia’s historic ties to highly skilled industries relevant to the shipbuilding and repair fields makes it a particularly advantageous location to consider for this important task.
Donald Trump’s pledge to rebuild the U.S. Navy is a national undertaking, and it requires a national effort across our industrial base. The national security case for an expanded Navy is clear and shared across the political spectrum. As President, Mr. Trump will use the deep reservoirs of industrial talent and skill found in locations across this country to rebuild our shrunken Navy, strengthen our depleted military, enhance employment opportunities in critical industries, and truly Make America Great Again.