President Trump on Thursday addressed Newport News shipbuilders and US Navy sailors on the deck of the USS Gerald R. Ford, the Navy’s next-generation aircraft carrier.
Trump’s speech paid tribute to the great history of the US’s unparalleled force of aircraft carriers while pushing his proposed unprecedented increase in defense spending.
Trump praised the USS Ford as “American craftsmanship at its biggest, its best, its finest” and “a monument of American might” while promising that “we’re going to soon have more coming,” referring to the Navy’s new Ford-class aircraft carriers.
The USS Ford, the first of its kind, represents a major improvement over the US’s current Nimitz-class carriers, which came into production in the 1970s.
However, like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program that Trump has often criticized, the Ford has run into a series of cost and schedule overruns, none of which were mentioned by the president Thursday.
“We will have the finest equipment in the world, planes, ships, everything else … very soon,” Trump said.
Trump reiterated his justification for increasing defense funding, stressing that the US military’s recent undertakings have carried on far too long without clear conditions set for victory and withdrawal.
Trump added: “We will give our military the tools you need to prevent war and, if required, to fight wars, and only do one thing. You know what that is? Win!”
- US Navy
“I asked Congress to eliminate the defense sequester and to support the great rebuilding of the US military and US Navy,” said Trump of his Tuesday address to a joint session of Congress.
Trump also championed orthodoxy in regard to defense spending, saying that a predictable budget would help the Navy and other services plan their acquisitions, thereby reducing the cost.
“We will make it easier for the Navy to plan for the future and to get the best deals for the taxpayers. If we don’t make a good deal, we’re not doing a good job,” said Trump.
Trump said he intended to bring the Navy to its largest ever size. During the campaign, Trump expressed support for a 350 ship Navy. The Navy now has 272 ships at its disposal. Specifically, Trump called for a 12 aircraft-carrier force, which would mean an additional Ford-class carrier after the Ford’s commissioning brings that total to 11.
- Business Insider
This increase keeps with a December US Navy Force Structure Assessment, which called for more large-surface combat ships, attack submarines, amphibious warfare ships, and an additional Ford-class aircraft carrier.
Decked out in a hat with the Ford’s image and logo, as well as a military-style jacket, Trump celebrated the ability of aircraft carriers “to project American power in distant lands.”
“Hopefully, it’s power we don’t have to use, but if we do, they’re in big, big trouble,” Trump said.