Washington: Sen. John McCain, son of an admiral and a legendary naval aviator in his own right, dispensed a little tough love today to the Navy on its management of its current and future fleet.
The Arizona Republican blasted away at Navy’s less-than-stellar record in shipbuilding during today’s confirmation hearing for presumptive Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert.
From the decision to slash the number of DDG-1000s to well-documented troubles with its new USS San Antonio class, “the Navy continues to lack a single ship that is operationally effective or reliable,” McCain said.
Putting the service’s struggles on the Littoral Combat Ship or F-35 Joint Strike Fighter on the back burner for the moment, McCain said the service’s recent efforts to get a new ship — any new ship — in the water were “less than admirable.”
McCain cut Greenert off before he could offer a defense. Later in the hearing, Greenert admitted the Navy has failed in its attempts to keep the surface fleet ready. Getting the “right maintenance at the right time” to the ships that needed it most is something “the Navy did not do well.”
While tough, McCain’s attack was clearly intended not just to embarrass the Navy, but to warn it. “If the Navy’s performance in the design and procurement of its weapons systems doesn’t improve, I’m worried that the service could lose the commitment and support of American taxpayers and Congress… which would be a long-term disaster for the Navy and our nation,” McCain said.
As the Hill continues to contemplate cuts to defense that reach into the trillions, the Navy and the Air Force — but especially the Navy — could find itself with a growing bulls-eye on its back.
With some in Washington already questioning the need for fleet staples such as the aircraft carrier, the Navy’s investment-heavy acquisition portfolio has become a favorite target among deficit hawks looking for Pentagon savings.