Navy Secretary Says Fleet’s Decline Halted Under Obama Administration

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Ray Mabus speaks to the San Diego Military Advisory Council. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Wednesday the Obama administration has halted the decline in the fleet with twice as many ships being built as under the George Bush.

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“When I came in to office we had a shrinking fleet and a bad economy,” said Mabus. “We’ve dramatically reduced the decline in the fleet.”

During his seven years as Navy secretary, 86 ships were put under contact, he said, compared to just 41 ships between 2001 and 2008. He said the fleet was at only 278 ships and falling when he took office, but will exceed 300 ships by 2019 and reach 308 in 2021.

He said that with the presidential election three weeks off it was “an appropriate time to take the measure of what this administration has done.”

Mabus spoke to the San Diego Military Advisory Council, a group that promotes the interests of the defense community in San Diego, at the Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center in Pt. Loma.

“There is no better Navy town than San Diego,” Mabus told the group. “Thanks for the things you do day-in, day-out that don’t get a lot of publicity but mean so much.”

He said the Navy’s presence in San Diego will continue to grow, increasing from 59 ships in 2009 to 84 in 2023, with more contracts for local defense businesses such as General Dynamics NASSCO in Barrio Logan.

In the wide ranging talk, he touched on a range of accomplishments:

  • The Navy’s oil use is down 15 percent thanks to investments in alternative energy
  • Building and maintaining Navy ships supports 400,000 jobs in the United States
  • Personnel reforms like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” have made the Navy stronger
  • Some new ships have been named for civil rights leaders because they have also fought for America
  • The Navy is planning for advanced weapons such as lasers and rail guns because “I never, ever want to send sailors and Marines into a fair fight.”

“The changes we’ve made will ensure that the Navy and Marine Corps have a future as bright as their storied pasts,” Mabus said.

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