JUST IN: Navy Must Invest in Shipbuilding Industrial Base to Outpace China
CHARLESTON, South Carolina — The U.S. Navy and the defense industry’s current shipbuilding pace is cause for major concern, and together, the two must improve the entire shipbuilding industrial base in order to outpace China, a top Navy official said.
“We use the term ‘pacing challenge’ for China. That pacing, that temporal aspect, is
incredibly important,” said Russell Rumbaugh, assistant secretary of the Navy, Financial Management and Comptroller, in his keynote speech at the Eastern Defense Summit in Charleston Dec. 6.
“I fully believe the U.S. military, especially the Department of Navy, is the best in the world,” he said. “That advantage can be lost. It can be lost if we do not outpace China. Yet here we are, letting months slip by.”
The sea services are “crucial” to the United States’ national security, and it is vital that maritime dominance be improved and maintained, he continued.
“What are the forces the United States turns to when such a crisis unexpectedly happens? [It turns] to two carrier strike groups, the amphibious ready group, the Marine expeditionary unit, guided missile submarines, integrated air defense and missile defense forces and more fighter aircraft,” he said. “Six of seven involve Naval forces. The USS Ford, the USS Eisenhower, with their strength groups, the USS Bataan, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. That is maritime dominance. That is what the sea services provide. That is what the United States is doing in the world.”
Pacing in the shipbuilding industry is a “cause for concern,” especially ahead of a potential conflict in the Indo-Pacific. Complications like fiscal uncertainty and the government’s continuing resolution mean slower processes, and this is less than ideal for the shipbuilding industry, especially during wars in Ukraine and Israel and ahead of a potential conflict in the Indo-Pacific, he said.
“If we do not move our pace, we will squander our tactical advantage,” he said. “We must strengthen our maritime dominance. We have to.”
Strengthening the Navy’s maritime dominance and improving the shipbuilding industry is not only the responsibility of the Navy, but of its strategic partners and industry partners.
“We need our industrial partners to do more, be more efficient, to expand,” Rumbaugh said. “We want you to grow, we want you to prosper. Only together, only in partnership, do we all get better.”
While the current pace of the shipbuilding industrial base is a cause for concern, the Navy is refocusing on investing in the industry to maintain a tactical advantage, he added.
“We are investing in our public shipyard infrastructure optimization program,” he said. “We, meaning the president, are investing in our submarine industrial base $3.2 billion, not to buy boats, just to put into the industrial phase to improve outcomes.”