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House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Holds Hearing on the Fiscal Year 2025 Navy and Marine Corps Budget Request

KEN CALVERT: Good morning. The Defense Subcommittee will come to order today. The subcommittee will receive testimony from the Honorable Carlos Del Toro, secretary of the Navy; Admiral Lisa Franchetti, chief of Naval Operations; General Eric Smith, commandant of the United States Marine Corps. Thank you all for joining us. I want to start by welcoming Admiral Franchetti.

You have the distinction of being the first woman, chief of Naval Operations, the first woman in the Joint Chiefs of Staff and today is your first time testifying before the committee. We're happy to have you here today. General Smith, this is also your first time testifying for ourcommittee. You lost your chance last year, but we're glad that you're back.

And we appreciate your -- your service and we were all worried about you for a while there, but God bless you and -- and thank you for leading the Marine Corps, and thank you for being here. Finally, Secretary del Toro, welcome back. It's always good to have you. Today, our nation faces global all domain threats.

Conflict in the Middle East has sent our sailors to the Red Sea, and our strongest regional ally Israel is at war. The ongoing war waged by Russia and Ukraine continues to demand our attention and support. Despite these ongoing conflicts capturing our time and resources, China remains as you refer to it, the pacing threat.

In the China scenario, the Navy is the cornerstone -- cornerstone of our military's ability to project power. The tyranny of distance cannot be surmounted without a robust fleet and I'm concerned that the Navy is falling behind, and is behind. The Navy continues to retire ships faster than it builds them.

And I'm troubled by the Navy's request to decommission 10 ships before the end of their service life and build only six. The budget also proposes to buy fewer strike fighter aircraft than we previously planned and delays production of critical next generation platforms in all domains. I understand the need to make tradeoffs, but these are pivotal years and we must meet the challenges facing us today with credible capability.

I'm especially concerned about the delays in the construction of the lead Columbia class submarine. This program is the Navy's top priority and fundamental to our nuclear triad. Congress has funded every dollar requested for this program. Now it is delayed by at least a year leaving no more margin for failure for the rest of the decades-long procurement and delivery schedule.

I want to know how the Navy lost sight of the critical path to delivering this vital platform to the fleet. It's simply unacceptable. What's more the budget proposes to buy only one Virginia class submarine, production remains at a 1.2 submarine cadence per year versus the necessary cadence of two per year further undermining our ship count and sending a bad signal to our AUKUS allies.

I hope to learn more about how the Navy will get our submarine production back on track. Following three consecutive failed or no test events the development of a Navy hypersonic weapon, the Navy is requesting deferral of its planned procurement by two years. I'm concerned that after $4.3 billion invested in development, we have not had yet a successful test.

I want to hear the Navy's plan to get a hypersonic weapon fielded to the fleet in the near term. I also want to note that my concern regarding the nearly $2 billion requested for completing ship construction that was previously funded. This is a historic level of additional funding that represents cost overruns driven by schedule delays and poor program execution in a time of constrained budgets.

This reflects the gross inefficiencies and problems in our shipbuilding program. I hope to learn more about what actions the Navy plans to implement to get these programs back on track. Informed by the 45 day shipping -- shipbuilding program review I understand was recently completed. I note that the Navy intends to conduct a second review of challenges in the shipbuilding enterprise and look forward to a robust discussion on the results of the review that you just concluded so we may be aware of the issues and challenges that were illuminated.

The Department of the Navy's capability and capacity is further eroded by the maintenance delays that plague the fleet. The issues range from lack of experienced manpower at our public shipyards to inconsistent demand signal and government paperwork delays at the private yards. The committee continues to see the Navy spend every cent appropriated for ship maintenance, but complete fewer maintenance availabilities than forecasted.

This creates both near-term risk to the fleet readiness and a bow wave of costly future maintenance requirements. The repeated extensions of the Bataan's recent Middle East development deployment and subsequent gap in the marine force afloat in that region all because the Bataan's replacement was delayed and maintenance is the latest example of the significant impacts to global operations.

The conflict in Ukraine is teaching us how drones can have an asymmetric impact on the battlefield as cheap platforms can inflict damage on multimillion dollar platforms. I'm encouraged by programs like Replicator and Hellscape that are using these lessons to scale charitable kinetic solutions to deter and ultimately defeat a cross-strait invasion by the Chinese.

Our progress in leveraging emerging technologies is defined by the successes we have and we partner with the private sector. If we're to succeed in a rapidly changing threat environment, the Navy must continue to experiment with incorporating commercial technology to address our evolving operation needs.

Finally, I'd like to hear General Smith's thoughts on the continued evolution of force design and how this budget advances the strategy to shape the Marine Corps of the future. Before we hear from our witnesses, I'd like to recognize the distinguished ranking member, Ms. McCollum, for any opening comments.

BETTY MCCOLLUM: Thank you, Mr. chair. Mr. secretary, admiral, general, thank you for being here today. Admiral and general, as was pointed out, we welcome you to your first appearance before the committee. The Department of Navy's budget request reflects the enormity of your mission to defend freedom and to preserve economic prosperity and to keep the seas open and to keep them free.

The $258 billion including military construction is the largest request we've seen. And I'd like to point out what happens in MILCON affects your ability to maintain and to deliver ships and boats on time. It's fitting that the Navy and the Marine Corps work together to solve and address some of our most pressing challenges.

You are at the forefront of all we do to compete with China and counter threats from Russia, Iran and North Korea. As we know, the Navy is fighting daily in the Red sea, defending our ships and our sailors while ensuring freedom of navigation. We thank all of our service members involved in the operations there for their service and wish them a successful mission and a safe return home when their tour is done.

While the hearing today will cover a range of topics, I want to highlight a few that are important to me that often get buried under some of the other topics that the chair brought up that I also totally agree with his remarks on. First, I'd like to talk about the great power competition that's expanded into a region that you've heard me talk about a lot, the Arctic.

I'd like an update on our training activities in that region and the Navy force planning with respect to the Arctic. Second, the recent legislation was enacted updating the compacts of the Free Association. I feel that having this compact work successfully is vital to our success in the Indo-Pacific region.

I'd like to know the Navy's interactions with our allies in that region and how this budget request supports that and if there's more that needs to be done. And finally, the committee is concerned about the recruitment and retention across the services. And I'd like to hear how the Navy is addressing this.

And what plans and funding proposals are included in the FY '25 budget to achieve your FY '25 recruiting goals. But before I yield back, Mr. chair, we don't get to say this very often, but I am excited and I'm here to commend the Marine Corps on achieving an unmodified audit option. Thank you for doing that.

You have become -- yeah, you deserve a round of applause. We've been asking for for audits forever. So, General Smith, this -- this is a tremendous achievement. You are now the North Star for how the rest of the services should be doing -- getting their audits done. You've set an example and we sincerely applaud your efforts.

I want to thank again our witnesses for appearing today. We appreciate your testimony. We look forward to hearing the answers to your questions in a follow up and that, Mr. chair, I yield back.

KEN CALVERT: Thank you. I'm sure the Navy's next with a clean audit and now it's my real pleasure to turn to the new chairman of the full committee and my good friend and now chairman, Tom Cole. Congratulations, Mr. chairman, the floor is yours.

TOM COLE: Thank you very much. As my good friend Chairman Calvert mentioned, this is your first rodeo. It's my first rodeo in this spot too. But fortunately, not on this committee where I've had the honor to serve. Thanks to my good friend, Chairman Rogers for many, many years, he put me here in more ways than one.

So good morning to our witnesses. Thank you for being here with us today. Our adversaries continue to challenge us across multiple fronts and all domains. Now more than ever, it's critical that we maintain a strong and capable Navy. Ship count remains a significant factor of our military readiness. However, the Navy's proposed shipbuilding budget fails to grow the fleet in response to China's pacing threat.

Modern naval warfare relies on mass dispersion and I'm concerned by the lack of a defined plan for growing our fleet. We cannot continue to divest ships without investing adequately in ship construction. I'm particularly troubled with the Navy's recent report, finding four of our most important shipbuilding programs are years behind schedule.

These programs, Columbia and Virginia class submarines, Constellation class frigates and Forward class carriers are vital to countering China in the Pacific. I look forward to hearing more about the Navy's plans to address these delays. I'm also concerned about the Navy's decision to delay several significant modernization programs, including the Navy's next generation submarine, destroyer and strike fighter.

We must maintain technological superiority, particularly as China continues to advance its military capability. Finally, as the Marine Corps continues to modernize as part of force design, I'm eager to learn more about your efforts to project power as an expeditionary force in the Indo-Pacific. It's critical that we maintain our forward posture to bolster deterrence and strengthen defense relationships with our allies and partners.

I look forward to hearing from you all about a range of issues that continue to face the Navy and Marine Corps today. These include fleet readiness, Navy recruitment, improving quality of life for our service members and their families, establishing stable and predictable plans, uh and for shipbuilding programs and strengthening our defense industrial base.

Thank you very much and with that, I yield back, and again, thank you Mr. chairman.

KEN CALVERT: Well, thank you, Mr. chairman. That's great to say that. So great to have you on board. Uh, OK. Now uh, gentlemen, you're an -- Admiral. Your first -- your written testimony will be placed in the record. I'd like to please have you all give a brief summary of your statements. Secretary del Toro, the floor is yours.

CARLOS DEL TORO: Chairman Calvert, Ranking Member McCollum, Chairman Cole, distinguished members of the Committee, it is an honor to appear before you this morning to discuss the posture of the Department of the Navy. First and foremost, as you have done, I would like to thank General Smith and Admiral Franchetti for answering again the call of our nation time and time again.

They like all who devote their careers and in some cases sacrificed their lives in defense of their fellow Americans represent everything that makes these United States a beacon of hope and freedom around the world. Together, our combined years of service to our country totals over a century. A century marked by multiple deployments, time away from home and sacrifices that have been made by our families.

And as we gather here this morning, thousands of our sailors, Marines, civilians and their families are either stationed or deployed all over the globe, making the same sacrifices and enduring the same trials that myself, General Smith and Admiral Franchetti have faced throughout our careers. In the Indo-Pacific, our Navy and Marine Corps are sailing and operating alongside our international allies and partners in support of a free and open maritime commons, one where nations are secure in their access to the seas and where their rights within their exclusive economic zones are respected and upheld.

Across Europe, we, in cooperation with our NATO allies are supporting our Ukrainian partners as they continue their fight to restore their territorial national sovereignty as Russia's illegal full-scale invasion now enters its third year and I urge Congress to pass the National Security Supplemental in support of our Ukrainian partners as they fight to restore peace in their homeland and more importantly, perhaps defend democracy for all free nations.

In the Middle East, our sailors and Marines have counted hundreds of missiles and drones launched by the Houthis, an Iranian partner and a specially designated global terrorist group targeting merchant shipping and the warships of both the United States and our international allies and partners. We are confronting an adversary that has no respect for innocent lives of civilian merchant mariners and one that is actively targeting our ships attempting to harm our sailors and Marines because we dare, we dare to defend the defenseless.

For any who may question, why the American taxpayer should provide for and maintain a Navy and a Marine Corps look at what's happening today in the Red Sea, where we are defending the free flow of international commerce and support of the economic and national security of our nation, our allies and our partners around the globe.

Members of the Committee, we appear before you today to ask for your continued support, your partnership and your commitment ensuring that the nearly 1 million sailors, Marines and civilians of the Department that we lead are ready on all fronts. While the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 forces to make very hard choices, the $257.6 billion in the president's budget request for fiscal year '25 for our department adeptly balances, maintaining and modernizing the fleet of force of today against the planning of the future force while also taking care of our people, which is so critically important to all of us. This budget directly supports our department's three enduring priorities: strengthening our maritime dominance, creating a culture of warfighting excellence and enhancing strategic partnerships around the globe.

We are acquiring the most lethal agile and capable warships, submarines, aircraft weapons and systems that our world has ever seen and they will replace the legacy systems that perhaps are it's time to decommission. We are also funding the research and development of transformational technologies and fielding them as quickly as possible to make our fleet more lethal and persistent within our current fit up. We're also investing billions of dollars into the industrial base that supports us while encouraging them to also invest more in themselves as they should be. And as responsible stewards of taxpayer funds, we will enforce accountability to ensure our sailors and Marines have the platforms and capabilities that they need on time and on budget as well.

Above all else, we are taking care of our personnel and their families by focusing on improving housing, expanding childcare capacity and increasing access to mental health resources amongst other critical areas. We are clear eyed about the challenges that our nation faces today and the maritime domain, both commercial and naval.

And as a maritime nation, we must confront the challenges of today and prepare for the potential conflicts of tomorrow by investing in a strong Navy and Marine Corps. Again, it is an honor to appear before you this morning and we look forward to discussing with you how best to deliver the Navy and the Marine Corps that our nation requires.

It is an honor and a privilege for me to serve as the 78th secretary and I am proud that our Navy and marine Corps is the most powerful, capable, lethal and flexible Navy and Marine Corps in the world and we are committed to keeping it so. Thank you.

KEN CALVERT: Thank you, Mr. secretary. Now I recognize the chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Franchetti for her remarks.

LISA FRANCHETTI: Chairman Calvert, Ranking Member McCollum, Chairman Cole, distinguished members of the Committee, good morning and thank you for the opportunity to testify on the posture of the United States Navy. On behalf of the sailors, Navy civilians and their families deployed and stationed all around the world, thank you for your leadership and your continued support in providing and maintaining the Navy the nation needs.

I'd also like to thank my teammate, General Smith, for his exceptional partnership and collaboration is we guide our services under the leadership of Secretary Del Toro, flanked by two oceans. The United States is and always has been a maritime nation whose security and prosperity rely on access to the sea.

And for over 248 years, the United States Navy has guaranteed that access operating forward, defending our homeland and keeping open the sea lines of communication that fuel our economy and underwrite our nation's security. The events of this past year and the actions taken by your Navy Marine Corps team in the Indo-Pacific, in the Mediterranean, in the Red Sea and beyond underscore the enduring importance of American naval power.

With an average of 110 ships and 70,000 sailors and marines deployed on any given day, the Navy and Marine Corps team is delivering power for peace deterring potential adversaries and standing ready to fight and win our nation's wars if called and deterrence fails. I could not be more proud of this Navy team.

No other Navy in the world can train, deploy and sustain such a lethal combat credible force that operates from the seabed to space at the scope, scale and tempo that we do. This year's budget request supports the National Defense Strategy and my priorities of warfighting, warfighters and the foundation that supports them.

It enables the Navy to continue to meet our Congressionally-mandated mission both in peace and war. It is strategy driven, maintaining our focus on the People's Republic of China as the pacing challenge and the acute threat of Russia and other persistent threats like the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran and violent extremist organizations.

Given this discretionary spending caps prescribed by the Fiscal Responsibility Act and a top line increase of 0.7 percent, the Navy had to make tough choices, favoring near-term readiness, investing in our industrial base and prioritizing our people while assuming risk in future capabilities. Within this fiscally constrained environment, the budget request fully funds the nation's top acquisition priority and the most survivable leg of our strategic deterrence, the Columbia class submarine.

It provides funds for six Battle Force ships and incremental funding for two forward class aircraft carriers in FY '25 and continues our support to Marine Corps force design by maintaining 31 amphibious ships procuring three LPD, one LHA and eight medium landing ships. In total, the budget request procures 57 ships across the fit up. This budget request prioritizes warfighting by funding our operations, training and readiness accounts.

It continues our strong commitment to our warfighters and our families through pay raises for our sailors and Navy civilians and investments in quality of service initiatives such as unaccompanied housing, education, child care and sailor resiliency. And it invests in our foundation with funding for our installations, for our shipyard infrastructure optimization program and for the broader defense industrial base, sending a strong signal to our industry partners on the need to increase our capacity to meet the growing demands of the present and of the future.

As chief of Naval Operations, I am committed to pulling every lever available to me to put more ready players on the field. Those are platforms that are ready to go with the right capabilities, weapons and sustainment and people who are ready with the right skills, tools, training and mindset to defend our nation's security and prosperity wherever and whenever it is threatened.

I thank the committee for your leadership and partnership in ensuring the world's premier warfighting force remains ready to preserve the peace, respond in crisis and win decisively in war, if called. I look forward to your questions.

KEN CALVERT: Thank you, Admiral. I now recognize General Smith, the commandant of the Marine Corps for his remarks.

ERIC SMITH: Good morning, Chairman Calvert, Ranking Member McCollum, Chairman Cole, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to represent your Marines today. I'd like to start by sincerely thanking this committee for its enduring support and your advocacy for a timely, predictable and sufficient budget that enables the Marine Corps to remain first to fight.

I would also like to express my deep gratitude for the partnership between Admiral Franchetti and me as we lead our respective services under the leadership of Secretary Del Toro. Whether deterring, responding to crisis or in conflict, it will be the Navy and Marine Corps expeditionary forces who make first contact with partners seeking help or adversaries seeking a fight.

Our partnership collaboration and integration is a decisive advantage. Last week, I published updated guidance to the force entitled Maintain Momentum. I chose this title as I firmly believe that the Corps is on the right path, under force design. A few points from that document. First, I believe the Corps must continue to strike a balance between high-end modernization and our commitment to persistent forward deployed naval expeditionary forces that campaign and respond to crisis globally.

This effort is represented by our Marine Expeditionary Units, the crown jewel of the Marine Corps. Second, we must prioritize our operations with the Navy and its amphibious ships and we must provide Marines with the organic mobility to rapidly maneuver from shore-to-shore, ship-to-shore and back again. Third, on recruiting, our performance speaks for itself will continue to make mission without ever diminishing our standards.

Additionally, our top performing Marines are enlisting at record rates and we must sustain this trend. Fourth, we must maximize the capabilities of our reserves to ensure that our nation has the ready bench of warriors that they have relied on since the founding of a Marine Corps Forces Reserve in 1916. And fifth, I'm dedicated to ensuring a quality of life for our Marines that matches the high demands we place on them every day.

That means nutritious food, high quality and accessible gyms and a safe, quiet place to recover from a hard day's work. Our barracks 2030 initiative is our most consequential barracks investment ever and it is sorely needed. While aggressively pursuing these priorities, I commit to you that our Corps will always be frugal and accountable with the resources you and the American people provide.

I'm proud of my Marines and civilian Marines who enabled the Marine Corps to receive an unmodified audit opinion earlier this year, the first of any service to do so. They told us what we have long known, when you entrust us with the taxpayers money, it is money well spent and fully accounted for. All these things are critical to maintaining the strength and dominance of your Marine Corps.

This year marks 249 years since the founding of our Corps. That is 249 years of battles won and peace upheld in the name of democracy and prosperity for our nation and for all nations who abide by the international rules-based order. But increasingly, world events demonstrate this order is being challenged.

Free trade unrestricted access to the seas, peaceful cooperation between nations, big and small are under assault. Our nation's prosperity is underwritten by a strong Navy and Marine Corps who maintain a global presence and keep malign actors at bay. Thank you again for the opportunity to represent your Marines today.

I pledge to continue to work closely with each of you to ensure that your Marine Corps remains the most lethal fighting force on the planet. I look forward to your questions.

KEN CALVERT: Thank you, Commandant. I want to make sure that each member has a chance to ask questions, so we'll limit this to five minutes including myself. So when the timer turns yellow, you have one minute remaining. First, I'll recognize myself for five minutes. You've obviously heard, Mr. secretary, that the -- of our problem with the number of ships that we have right now and in the future of the shipbuilding program.

The Navy is proposing to buy only six ships in fiscal year 2025 and decommission 10 ships before we end their planned service life. The fleet would decline to 287 ships in fiscal year '25 compared to 293 ships we have today. It's a far cry from the Navy's 30 year for structure plan of 355 ships. Meanwhile, China's navy is projected to have 395 ships by the end of 2025 and 435 ships by 2030. Mr. secretary, what is your assessment of the domestic shipbuilding industrial base including its suppliers, its capacity to handle increases in shipbuilding?

Does industry need a demand signal to ramp up its production capability?

CARLOS DEL TORO: For sure, I think it's a valid concern obviously and actually the investments that's being made by the president's budget '25. We're looking at $15 billion of American taxpayer investment and the submarine industrial base [Audio Gap]

KEN CALVERT: [Audio Gap]

LISA FRANCHETTI: Well, as the secretary said, we definitely need a larger Navy and, you know, we continue to invest all those resources in the industrial base, this year's budget to be able to set the conditions to increase that throughput to be able to meet the demands that we need. As far as the manning goes, as you know, we are about 18,000 billets short at sea right now.

This is a full-court press for us to be able to increase our recruiting while we continue to maintain our very historically high retention of our sailors. So we're taking a lot of initiatives right now to reach out to every zip code in America where all of that talent is to be able to bring more people onto our Navy team.

I'll just quickly say we're doing that in probably two key ways. First is improving our actual recruiting enterprise by appointing a two-star admiral to be in charge of that enterprise to fully manning all of our recruiting stations and centers. By the end of May, we will be fully manned at those centers.

We had taken people out of those centers to be able to man our ships at sea. So again, we're going to have the full manning so we can get out and make all those investments in all of the places we get to go in high schools and coaches and talking to all the different influencers. The other part of the recruiting equation is expanding the pool of folks that are able to join our team.

We've increased the age of folks that can join to be able to join up until there are 42nd birthday. We've put in place a future sailor preparatory classes for academics and for physical fitness. Again to be able to provide people more opportunities to join the Navy team and increase the number of specialties that they're eligible for.

We are also enabling folks that don't have a GED or a high school diploma to be able to join the team if they have a very high AFQT score of 50, which will enable them to be in very many specialties across our force. So again, we're really optimistic that the investments that we're making and the investments and changes we're making in marketing and using data analytics to make sure that we're actually getting out to the population that we want to recruit.

We're going to see promise in progress in recruiting. So that will help us man those stations.

KEN CALVERT: Thank you. Ranking Member McCollum.

BETTY MCCOLLUM: Think if I could, I'm going to follow up on a little bit of the shipbuilding for a second, but what you said about um waiving the GED and the high school diploma. So for those young adults who maybe didn't pay attention, I used to teach high school. We had bright kids who didn't pay attention. Sometimes are you going to work with them so at the end of their service contract that they will have either a GED or a high school diploma.

LISA FRANCHETTI: Yeah, certainly, you know, we do provide a lot of educational benefits in the Navy and we actually have a lot of senior enlisted that started out without a GED or a high school diploma and now have bachelor's and master's degree. So we're committed again through this academic prep course as well as continuing that.

BETTY MCCOLLUM: I just wanted to -- I assume that, but I didn't want to just do that and not have that be um accurate so that they can take advantage of advanced career opportunities after they leave the Navy. I'm going to follow up a little more on has some questions and I'm going to package them together. And then whoever wants to respond can a little more in depth about what you feel is happening with the Columbia class submarine delays and what -- what can the committee.

We have things that we could do in discussions that we have with uh, business leaders in that, uh, what more should this committee maybe be looking to do to assist you in and changing that around. Could you tell us a little more about the proposed repair activities in Japan? And one of our important allies, we have the prime minister speaking to a joint session tomorrow and then you know how that that could impact and free up some things in maintenance as you work through your other maintenance plan.

And the last but not least, what is the plan for not the Coast Guard but for the Navy to have a heavy ice cutter in its near future, not the distance future? Thank you.

CARLOS DEL TORO: Ranking member, let me take on the question of Colombia specifically. So one of the most significant challenges that we have with Colombia that specific to Colombia is actually the late delivery of the turbine generator to Colombia by a subcontractor, Northrop Grumman. That has had a major impact on the delay of the Columbia.

Now there are other issues that actually transcend all of these platforms that are causing some of the delays. We have a shortage in blue collar workforce in this country that is significantly impacting our shipyards, and it's making it difficult for them to actually be able to recruit. I believe the shipyards need to do more in terms of retaining their own people as well too.

So industry has to do a bit more and bump it up basically when it comes to retaining the people that they do recruit. We have one shipyard in particular who has a extremely low retention rate. And so we're trying to work with that shipyard to improve their retention rate actually by even giving bonuses to potential workers, $5,000 for the first year and $5,000 if they stay at the shipyard by the delivery of the first ship, for example.

So we're trying to be as creative and innovative and supportive of industry as we can be, but ultimately it is the responsibility of industry to recruit and retain their own people. Um, there have been shortages in the supply chain that have been impacted by COVID across the board. It has also caused the late delivery of a lot of materials to the shipyards and that itself has caused problems, which by the way of moving forward, advanced procurement for a shipyard is a strategy that makes a lot of sense whether it's for Virginia or for the aircraft carriers themselves.

So those are the significant contributing factors to the delay -- the Columbia submarine itself. With regards to Virginia, it's compounded by the shift from Black Ford or Black Five, for example. The Virginia Payload Modular module is a far more complicated uh submarine. It's significantly larger.

And the design teams both at the shipyard and I would argue also --


CARLOS DEL TORO: Uh, yes, ma'am. So with regards to repair activities in Japan, we look forward to working with uh, the Japanese shipbuilders and other shipbuilders around the globe, including the Indians, for example, in the South Koreans to take a look at where -- which shipyards, we could actually conduct voyage repairs because this is something that we should explore now so that when we do, if by chance find ourselves in times of conflict and we have damage to our ships and repairs that have to be conducted under way that we don't have the need to bring them back.

All the way back to the United States. But we can conduct these forward as we should expect to do so. And CNO, would you like to comment on the icebreaker issue?

LISA FRANCHETTI: Yeah, Ranking Member McCollum, the Arctic is an incredibly strategic terrain. We know we need to operate up there. We are fully supporting the Coast Guard and their design of the -- of the icebreaker and support funding for the -- their Department of Homeland Security for additional icebreakers, I think we have great opportunities to partner with our Arctic friends like Norway, now Finland and Sweden joining NATO, to find opportunities to work together to develop that capability broadly with a like-minded nations.

KEN CALVERT: Thank you, gentlelady. I want to make a point that my father joined the Navy. A lot of -- a lot of young people did before he finished high school in World War II and got his GED and while he was serving in the United States Navy. So -- and he he he did OK after he got out of the Navy. So with that, I was happy to recognize the chairman of the full committee, Mr. Cole.

TOM COLE: Thank you very much. Again, thank all three of you for being here. Thank you very much for your service. Uh, you'll probably hear a common theme and what Chairman Calvert and Ranking Member McCollum had to say in my questions. Uh, because I'm very concerned. I will tell you bluntly, I think this budget is too low.

I think that's been consistently true the administration, but I also recognize we're under the constraints of the Fiscal Responsibility Act and that's going to make it difficult for us to do some things that that we -- I think we need to do. But I'm particularly concerned about this shipbuilding problem.

I mean, the trend lines in terms of the size of the Chinese navy and ours and they're able to concentrate a lot more their forces in a single region than we are of ours and we're a global power. Those things are concerning, even more concerning to me is just lack of capacity, you know, we can give you a lot of money, but we clearly don't have the capacity to produce as quickly as we would like to as much as I think we need to. So I would ask you again on your investments in the shipbuilding base, but I also, Mr. secretary, would ask you to tell us a little bit.

I mean, we're not building very many -- our private shipyards don't produce commercial shipping anymore. And we don't have the kind of capacity. Actually, you're the biggest part of the shipbuilding that we do do in the country. So we don't have the kind of base that we had in 1941 or the 1930s or well into the 50s and 60s. So how big of that challenge and what can we do to, you know, increase capacity to produce.

CARLOS DEL TORO: Thank you, Mr. chairman. It's a great question. It's something I've been focused on very aggressively over the past two-and-a-half years, launching this national concept of a national maritime statecraft that just doesn't look at naval shipbuilding, but looks at commercial shipbuilding, which has been devastated in this country since about the 1980s after the Cold War as well too.

But we started -- we stopped actually incentivizing and subsidizing the shipbuilding, the commercial shipbuilding industry. And it's because of that, that actually our shipyards went from 30 down to eight shipyards today that basically work with the Navy to produce Navy ships. And that's a real challenge.

It also results in our ships being far more expensive than they would be if we had a robust commercial industrial base in this country as well too. That's where we need to get after. And as part of my discoveries, for example, we've discovered authorities that are already on the books such as Title 46 that allows the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and myself and the secretary of Transportation to deem a ship that has dual motor use for both commercial and for military use, for example, to be able to receive subsidies.

So if the ship costs, say, $100 million to build here in the United States, but actually cost $80 -- 80 million to build it overseas, we could actually subsidize that shipbuilder with $20 million to support the construction of that ship. We need to get innovative of how we actually grow the commercial shipbuilding industry.

And I have stood up a actually a government shipbuilding council to try to look across government for all of the key agencies to work together to try to achieve this. And there's also been increasing interest on the part of -- of Congress as well too. And a request made for a maritime coordinator, for example, for the White House to be designated to take a look at all these issues to try to get us to a better place.

TOM COLE: On the things that Congress could be and should be doing to incentivize capacity building, frankly in the nonmilitary field, you kind of touched on that. But do you have any specific recommendations Because that's one of the things actually looking at the tax code and some other things we could do.

CARLOS DEL TORO: Yes, Mr. chairman, I think one perfect example of that is the LNG situation and we can't build our own LNG ships. You know, if we could actually encourage domestic shipbuilders to invest in LNG -- building LNG ships here, we could actually have the ships that transport LNG around the United States and the territories as well too.

And there might be, you know, international investors that are willing to again invest in shipyards here. You know, the South Koreans and and the Japanese are some of the best LNG uh shipbuilders in the world. If they could actually invest in smaller shipyards here, then we could start building our LNG ships domestically.

And that would be a big boon for the economy.

TOM COLE: Great. Last question because I don't have a lot of time and you touched on this, but uh, a lot of us around this room served with our former colleague, our current ambassador to Japan, Ambassador Emanuel. And anytime we go, he will rail at us about why aren't we doing more to use Japanese shipyards and cut the amount of time now.

So, and you talked about planning it, but what would it take to actually do that? And how quickly could that be done -- done? And, you know, how big of an asset would that be to you and the admiral?

CARLOS DEL TORO: Yes, sir, there's a legislative proposal right now before the Congress in fiscal year '25 basically to allow us to do up to six, so not CNO availabilities but voyage repair availabilities basically that would allow us for approximately 15 days to 30 days be able to bring a ship into an international shipyard and have them actually do the work.

That of course would ease up the load on -- on the domestic shipyards in one manner, but more and more importantly, it will actually allow us to be able to certify these shipyards to be able to work with us so that in a time of conflict, we would actually be able to rely on these shipyards to do that type of work.

And it could be done on MSC ships or it could also be done on naval ships as well.

TOM COLE: Thank you very much. Yield back, Mr. chairman.

KEN CALVERT: Thank you, Mr. chairman. I think we're all hearing from my -- our good friend, Mr. Rahm Emanuel, lately. Let's see who's next? Dutch? Yep.

C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER: OK. Secretary Del Toro, first thing, uh, as you know, I'm chairman of the Naval Academy Board. So I work a lot with the Naval Academy.

C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER: Thank you. Can you hear me now? All right. OK, and so we do a lot of the internal thing. We also work very closely with the Army, too. Mr. Womack's chair of that board, by the way, you know, the big issue that the academy leadership has is increasing number of flooding events on the yard. I mean you went to the Naval Academy, you know that and it's getting worse and worse.

And we're just falling behind in infrastructure and it's getting worse even where the -- where where the -- the the midshipmen and whatever live. It's -- it's not -- it's not good and yet the Naval Academy just last year, I'm not sure this year was ready the number one public four year institution in the country and that's -- so we're doing OK there.

Now as you know, the academy has put together a comprehensive installation residency plan to get after the problem. And now before it's too late, we need to -- we need to move forward. The plan includes several projects needed over the next 40 years. However, I don't see any of those projects in the project pipeline for program FSRM and MILCON funding and that really concerns me. It's always seems the Naval Academy is always left over.

If there's anything left over after everything else is taken care of and we have a lot to take care of as we know now, are there any shovel ready resilience projects at the Academy that have been identified as a priority for FSRM and MILCON funding?

CARLOS DEL TORO: Congressman, let me first thank you for your leadership on this issue and for Congressman Womack's leadership at West Point as well too. Because these academic institutions are the very best in our military and we need to be sending our best and brightest to these institutions and they deserve to have the -- the material readiness of those installations to be the very best that they can be. I've been extremely devoted to this for the last two and a half years working very closely with you.

We have increased FSRM funding over the last two consecutive years to fix things like the utility bridge. And again, I thank you for your investment in the sea wall. For example, there are FSRM projects that are ready to go. In fact, they have a 15-year installation resiliency plan in place with numerous projects and we can certainly make that information available to your staff uh for additional investment as well.

But we are committed -- I can't speak to why my predecessors uh did not make this a priority, but it is a priority, including the renovation of Bancroft Hall, for example, that has water leakage on the fifth floor. That roof needs to be replaced. So we're going to start the reconstruction.

C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER: I mean, a lot of it, it's just the infrastructure and it's water.


C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER: West Point doesn't have water, but we have water and water is getting worse now. We had one major project and that that has done well. But I'm really concerned. And more broadly, how does the big Navy plan to fund and implement the Brazilians plan laid out in the long-range plan to counter the effects of rising sea levels on the campus's infrastructure and safeguard it for future generations of midshipmen and women?

CARLOS DEL TORO: Congressmen, we're obviously extremely concerned about the rising sea levels and the impact that it has on all our naval bases on the coastlines for both the Navy and the Marine Corps. We have already made major investments at Camp Lejeune at Parris Island, numerous other places. But last year we need to really coordinate this as one department.

And last year, I directed both the Navy and the Marine Corps and my own department put together a 30-year infrastructure plan and we're committed to doing that. We're about in the planning stage of about year 15 right now or extending that out to 30 years so that we can actually have all the different installation plans for all the different bases in place.

And then we can prioritize uh with a focus on, which projects are going to actually provide the biggest return on investment to develop the combat. I always say that installation readiness is combat readiness and we have to work together as one.

C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER: I see this, but I don't see it in the budget and that -- that -- that's what bothers me. And I want to get your commitment because you've given me that commitment for the two-and-a-half years and you've been producing --

CARLOS DEL TORO: -- Yes, sir --

C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER: -- to do this. But this is serious now because the water doesn't stop.

CARLOS DEL TORO: We'd be happy to come to your staff and show you the commitments that we have made in the presidential budget for '25. But I will also add that the Fiscal Responsibility Act has actually also made it difficult for us to be able to grow that list of projects as well too. And so in some cases, we've actually had to reduce MILCON in '25 from what it was in '24, which was a very productive year to make progress on the installation front.

C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER: And one quick question on how will resilience work at the Academy We identified as a priority when stacked against the Navy's range of other infrastructure requirements? It's a big question. Uh, you know, you've talked about it a lot, but it seems that the Naval Academy is always at the end.

CARLOS DEL TORO: Well, for the past two-and-a-half years, sir, you've had a secretary of the Navy who graduated from the Naval Academy, has made more investments in infrastructure at the Naval Academy than any past secretary probably in decades. So we are focused on this as a -- as an important mission requirement basically for the combat readiness and training of those midshipmen.

C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER: And we're also [Inaudible] Army-Navy game too. That -- that kind of obviously.

CARLOS DEL TORO: I'm always willing to take a earmark for the Army-Navy -- for the Navy football team, so.

KEN CALVERT: Thank you. With that, Mr. Rogers, you're recognized.

HAL ROGERS: Thank you. Mr. chairman, we share your concerns about the advancement of China's military and the risk it poses to our assets in the -- in the -- in the Indo-Pacific theater. Could -- Mr. secretary, could -- could you quickly highlight one area, especially in which you've changed your '25 budget request to reflect the pacing challenges associated with China in the Indo-Pacific?

CARLOS DEL TORO: Yes, sir, uh, of course, as you know, there are many challenges in the Pacific, but let me just highlight one, and I thank the support of the Congress on this issue as well, too. When we look at the important role that the Marine Corps in our last -- uh, the commandant to comment after I finish, when we look at the very important role that the Marine Corps will play in the Pacific with regards to force design, providing expeditionary, advanced basing operations standing forces, maneuver, reconnaissance and and counter reconnaissance, for example, they need heavy lift to transport Marines into the Pacific.

And then once in the theater, they're going to also need the lift necessary to do inter-theater transport as well too. So in the -- one of the things I'm most proud about is that we have three LPDs that are baked in now into the fit up. Basically, we have 1 in 25, 27 and 29. And we also have the first LSM that's also baked in for 26 with additional LSM in the -- in the fit up as well too.

That's one example of adjustments that we've made to be able to provide the Marine Corps in this case, the ability to do their job in the Pacific and perhaps I could have the commandant talk about that a bit more.

ERIC SMITH: I can, Mr. secretary. Force design, we're committed to it. It's a balance against crises, crisis response and readiness, uh. and invest in key capabilities like strike, unmanned systems, long range fires, medium range intercept capability and it enables modernization while retaining our capacity for competition and crisis response, meaning our muse, our crown jewels.

The force design effort continues apace and it requires a landing ship medium, which the request for proposal is out to industry now. So I'll be mindful not to get ahead of myself, but as secretary said, uh, the acquisition plan is the first LSM purchased in FY '25. And I'm pleased with the FY '25 SEN plan that produces 11222. We just need a ship that meets our key performance parameters to go inter-island and to be able to beach itself and to come off a beach in order to carry these capabilities of long-range fires and sensing and making sense and passing to the joint force what the PRC is doing throughout the first island chain.

HAL ROGERS: Mr. secretary, let me ask you. Last year, we provided funding for 79 Mach-48 torpedoes and you requested 79 more. It's that enough? Is that too much? How important is that stock of?

CARLOS DEL TORO: Yes, sir. The Navy could always use more. There's no question about that. I think that the 79 that we have requested is in line with what industry can properly produce at this time. And so without creating opportunity costs in the future, I think it is the right number for now. But I think that continued investments in the submarine industrial base to be able to help increase the production of Mach-48s, in addition to many other missile systems as well.

Two, that we need in greater numbers is the right approach in '25.

HAL ROGERS: I thank you. Thanks for your service to your country.

CARLOS DEL TORO: Thank you, sir.

HAL ROGERS: Yield back. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. chairman.

KEN CALVERT: Mr. Kilmer?

DEREK KILMER: Thanks, Chairman and thanks for being with us.Secretary del Toro and Admiral Franchetti, as you know, our public shipyards are incredibly important for readiness including Puget in my neck of the woods and thank you for for visiting. We've discussed the importance of the shipyard infrastructure optimization program, which is a multiyear, multibillion dollar effort to modernize our shipyards.

In my neck of the woods, we have been dealing both with SIOP and with some seismic uh challenges, which thankfully you know, due to some fast action, hundreds of millions of dollars from Navy's O&M accounts were deployed to repair three of the highest priority dry docks. So I have a few questions on this front.

First, how do we ensure that SIOP remains on track while also addressing these seismic mitigation efforts? And is the $2.8 billion requested for fiscal year '25 sufficient?

CARLOS DEL TORO: Congressman, I do believe it is sufficient for this year. We have made progress on the -- the multiple projects that we have across all the four public shipyards. I'm particularly pleased with the collaboration that existed between the local community and the Navy and being able to execute the seismic repairs that we had to conduct last year.

It was done most professionally, most expeditiously in order to preserve the operation of that particular drydock. As you know, the drydock programs are all phased in. There will be more money that will be needed outside the fit up for SIOP investment. There's no question in my mind about that, but I want to make sure that those projects are properly costed early on, so that we have a full understanding of how much resources will be needed before we actually make those requests of Congress.

And perhaps I could ask the CNO to also comment.

LISA FRANCHETTI: Thank you. I just wanted to add, I was just out last week in Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and you know, it's really good to see that Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard has learned from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. So a lot of the lessons learned through that first SIOP project is -- are actually being transferred over there.

And I know as we continue to design other -- the two other SIOP projects that that continued lessons learned sharing will occur. I think the other piece is all the new dry docks are designed to, you know, for all the seismic standards that you know we can anticipate. So again, I think that's already being planned into the design.

DEREK KILMER: Probably the big decision that needs to be made for Puget is the multi-mission drydock. Do you have a sense of the timing? How close is the Navy to making a decision regarding the -- the construction of the the Meta V2 [Sp] and, you know, how will that impact programing and planning for the necessary work?

CARLOS DEL TORO: I'll have to get back to you with specifics on that, on the timing. I don't want to speak right now.

DEREK KILMER: OK. OK, all right. The other thing I wanted to ask you about was a workforce issue. The demand for additional child development centers with supporting staff has really exceeded the supply at installations in my state. Childcare in Washington state costs on average $1,000 per kid per month. I have heard real concerns from the workers at the shipyard.

Uh, you know, the combination of relatively lower wages, high cost of housing, the cost and lack of availability of child care is really creating concerns both with regard to recruitment into the shipyard workforce, but also being able to hang on to the folks that that work there. So what do we do? You know, how do we plan to assist in terms of addressing this need, both for service members and for employees who are looking for something to do with their kids?

And are there plans to increase CDCs nationwide? Uh, should we be looking at community partnerships? How do we handle this?

CARLOS DEL TORO: Congressman, I'm aware of the difficulty actually that exists in the Pacific Northwest on this particular issue. But I'm very proud of that over the course of the last year, the Navy and the Marine Corps have made enormous progress on this. The '25 budget actually has for the CDCs and the Marine Corps and for additional CDCs and the Navy.

There are also an additional 12 that are actually baked into the fit up across the board. But just in the last year alone, we have gone from a combined shortfall of 11,000 families that have been needing seats and CDCs basically spots and CDCs to 3, 400 in the Navy and 900 in the Marine Corps. That is an enormous change.

And it's also been fostered by the support that we've gotten for Congress, for example, and being able to provide families additional monies so that they could subsidize private CDC care as well too. So I think we are making a marked difference from where we were just even a year ago, but we will need to continue to make more investments particularly in the Pacific Northwest to accommodate this challenge in this shortfall.

Do you want to comment further, CNO?

LISA FRANCHETTI: You know, I was just going to add in addition to the creating new spaces by MILCON or building new centers or renovating old ones. Part of the challenge is the workforce, staffing. The staff itself. We're about 88 percent manned right now. And, uh, that's an improvement from where we were, but that's about making sure that we're paying people the amount that's commensurate with what they could make out in town for that same thing.

So we're incentivizing them by having a discount for their own kids to be able to go to that childcare as well as providing more to make it more like a career path. So they can have retention bonuses. They can move to different CDCs if their spouse moves to another duty station.

DEREK KILMER: Thank you.

KEN CALVERT: Thank the gentleman. Mr. Womack.

STEVE WOMACK: Thank you. Have to respond to my friend Dutch's comments about no water around West Point. Obviously, you were not there on Sunday, July 9th when a 500-year storm flooded virtually that entire campus, lots of damage.

C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER: Well, that's just one storm.

STEVE WOMACK: But but of note -- of note, Dutch. I have to commend the West Point leadership for doing some resiliency stuff. They have now protected the area on which the Commander in Chief's Trophy will sit so that any future 500-year storms will not.

C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER: What about the scholastic ones [Inaudible]?

STEVE WOMACK: I'm not going to yield any time to you. I also add my thanks to the panel here this morning and what terrific service you render this country. We're eternally grateful. Mr. Commandant, I'm going to jump down in the weeds on -- on one program with you. And if I have time with uh with the CNO, and I want to talk a little bit about that medium range intercept capability, the Emmerich.

We've put money into that program and I know it's a vital piece of your force design. And I want to give you an opportunity to talk about it in the innovative strategy the Marine Corps has to implement and partner with Israel, and bring this capability to the core.

ERIC SMITH: Mr. Womack, thank you for the question. We are using an Israeli Tamir missile paired with a TPS-80 Gator radar to sense and make sense of inbound threats and take actions at great ranges. So the -- the relationship is good with -- with this Tamir missile it. It fits our needs, it is light enough to be transported and it has the range we require to protect our forces when paired with the TPS-80 Gator radar.

And I can come back to you in a classified setting and tell you the -- the size of the targets that the TPS-80 Gator radar can detect. But in an unclassified setting, I can say that -- you know, well, I'll be mindful in the unclassified setting but it is an incredibly powerful radar and the Tamir missile is an incredibly good partner to that TPS-80 Gator radar.

STEVE WOMACK: Yeah, and and look, I appreciate the fact that you were willing to take a proven capability and to us here that sit on this committee that's -- that's very important. Admiral Franchetti, I want to ask a tomahawk question. Uh, we all know the Tomahawk missile has demonstrated its continued utility in recent strikes against Houthi targets.

I understand you expended a significant amount of tomahawks in those strikes. Glad to see we're trying to degrade Houthi capabilities even in a limited way. The Houthis and all of the Iranian proxies are like that old schoolyard bully. They only understand strength and -- and they need to be -- we need to punch back.

I hope we see increased strikes to destroy their capability. To that end, I've noticed it while the Navy's '25 budget request includes Tomahawk modifications and research, it does not include any new production Tomahawks. Army and Marine Corps on the other hand are buying new production missiles. I understand the Navy does not believe it can buy any new production Tomahawks given the Army, Marine Corps and recertification efforts.

To that end, what investments do we need to make to expand our Tomahawk capacity?

LISA FRANCHETTI: Well, thank you. And again the Tomahawk really is the premier strike land strike weapon and we continue to really be impressed by its capability. And in our budget, we actually are buying a new in the FY -- in the PB '25. We are actually procuring about 181 new Tomahawks as well as doing recertification for about 1,800 of those Tomahawks.

And that will also include 306 maritime strike Tomahawk. So again we believe this is a weapon that we need to continue to invest in. I think more broadly, you know, as we talked about infrastructure investments, we also have made significant investments in things like munitions over the last few years and we appreciate the multi-year authorities that we have to do that.

And again, when you talk about what do we need to do to get after the pacing threat of China, having ready players means having munitions and enough munitions to be able to prevent -- to provide a credible combat deterrent. And again to really appreciate the support for all the munitions investments including Tomahawk.

STEVE WOMACK: I thank you with 30 seconds, I'll yield back to my chairman.

ED CASE: Thank you very much. Good to see you all. Admiral, good to see you again. Hope you had a good trip to Hawaii. Mr. secretary. Let me focus a little bit on Red Hill, Mr. secretary, if I could. We've had a momentous change recently from the Joint Task Force Pearl Harbor or Red Hill, I should say, it is now exclusively again in the Navy's kuleana as we say in Hawaii jurisdiction.

And that is a development that we all have to be very careful about because of course it was on the Navy's watch that it happened to start with. I think we would all agree the Joint Task Force Red Hill was very successful. At least that's my view and I think it's most people's views. We're now back to the Navy itself.

Good solid start, but a lot of things to watch for. And one of the things that -- that that has been concerning to me is that we had actually gotten Red Hill into a very focused line item in our budgets, and that is no longer the case in the current budgets. It's now split up again among the various components.

And so it's hard to track what's actually being put into Pearl Harbor and I suspect it's very hard to supervise as well. And that's why we went there to start with during the original decision to, to focus everything into one line item. How are we going to be sure that your efforts on Joint Task Force Navy in the next steps of Red Hill are, in fact, coordinated, are, in fact synchronized across numerous budget lines?

CARLOS DEL TORO: Well, congressman, first of all, let me thank you for your leadership, ensuring that the Department of Defense and the Department of the Navy has the necessary funds through the supplemental that was enacted for us to be able to accomplish the very important mission at Red Hill, but let me also reassure you, congressman, the Navy has never been absent from Red Hill.

We have been there from the very beginning as part of the Joint Task Force, making up most of the Joint Task Force and most of the leadership of the Joint Task Force, whether it be Admiral Aquilino, Admiral Paparo, now Admiral Koehler, Vice Admiral Wade, Rear Admiral Bartlett, they've all been engaged.

And as I've I as well too, from the very beginning and you have my strong commitment to continue to be as engaged today as I was in the very beginning to ensure that we safely take care of the service members in Hawaii and the people of Hawaii, which is our number one responsibility to act with caution and safety always first and foremost in their mind.

We have made major changes to the C-2 structure at Red Hill and all our fuel depots and installations across the Navy. In fact, as a result of some of the lessons that we learned a great deal. The funding is sound to be able to fulfill the remaining mission there. We have 35,000 gallons of sludge that still needs to be removed from the bottom of the tanks.

We need to clean the tanks, decommission the tanks and disable the ten miles of pipeline actually between the tanks and Pearl Harbor itself. And then we need to remediate the ground and around Red Hill in order to make it completely safe for the people of Hawaii and our service members. We are tracking every issue at Red Hill, extremely cautiously from the very top of the Department of the Navy down to the lowest person who's working there at Red Hill itself and has the ultimate attention of both the CNO, myself and the continued leadership out at Red Hill.

And I was very proud to go to and visit during the transfer of authorities at Red Hill and meet with the community while I was there as well. And so the challenge continues and we will be there on the ground doing everything that we can responsibly to remediate what needs to be done at Red Hill.

ED CASE: I didn't mean to leave the Navy out of my reference to Joint Task Force Red Hill. I do commend the Navy for your actions in -- in Joint Task Force Red Hill and do realize that you had a leadership role. You personally have always been very transparent, very dedicated to this. So I didn't want to leave that uh that point unresponded to.


ED CASE: I get that. What about my basic question though is how are you actually going to coordinate the budget authorities that you need? How are you going to be able to track what, who needs what and prioritize it across a number of line items again as opposed to one single line item where we can track it and you can track it?

CARLOS DEL TORO: No sir, we are tracking it very closely. And of course, the supplemental had one line items associated with it, but all the underlying activities that continued at Red Hill, still had multiple line items. And both myself through the assistant secretary of the Navy, Meredith Berger, are tracking those line items and ensuring that they're fully funded.

There's not going to be any withdrawal from full funding to do everything that we need to do there, uh, as well as the CNO, who's also tracking it on the uniform side as well, too, and the leadership there on the ground and Admiral Barnett as well.

ED CASE: OK, thank you very much. I yield back.

KEN CALVERT: Mr. -- Judge Carter, you're recognized.

JOHN CARTER: Thank you, Mr. chairman. Welcome and thank you very much. We're all concerned about the -- the shipbuilding with the submarines and other things, but you're also starting to build frigates. Is that correct? And what you did away with all your frigates and now you're bringing back frigates. I chaired MILCON. I mean, I chaired Homeland for a while and we built what everybody told me in the National Defense cutter, basically a frigate just outfitted for -- basically it was outfitted for the -- the Coast Guard, not for the Navy.

Is there anything -- do you believe -- do you agree that that largest ship that they built is basically a frigate? And if so, are you looking to people that have that kind of experience that maybe they could build up the speed up the -- and be geared up to build frigates in the future? That -- is there any -- anything that I -- am I just speaking on my out of stupidity or is that -- is that a reality that that ship that they built for the National Defense Cutter was basically a frigate?

CARLOS DEL TORO: Congressman, if you're referring to the constellation class frigate that we've committed to uh absolutely. So it is absolutely the right decision to build that ship. My very first ship in the Navy was a Garcia class frigate. And I will tell you that this frigate is ten times more capable than my old Garcia class frigate was.

And so we're committed to the frigate. I think the Congress and the Navy made the right decision. Uh, when we actually decided to also add additional SM-6 capability to the frigate as well too, which will make it even that more capable as a multi-mission platform. It is what the Navy should have committed to actually 20 years ago.

We're late to the game, but moving forward, it is absolutely the right investment. CNO would you like to further comment?

LISA FRANCHETTI: Just, you know, the frigate really has for a long time been the workhorse of our fleet. We are really excited about getting that capability in there. Uh, you know, we're -- have been able to work with the Allied frigates all around the world, especially the FREM class frigate. And again, incorporating a lot of those technologies that they will be building into our frigate up in Marinette.

It's a very exciting to get that that ship under -- under construction.

JOHN CARTER: Thank you. General, I got a question for you. In the Pacific where we were basically going to be outfitting the islands with supplies and rebuilding runways for so that if the Marines have to come quickly to a location, they can land a plane at a -- at a specific location. And I've been out there once looking at this stuff and I'll be out there again in about a month and a half or two months.

Have you ever considered using 3D printing for building runways? They can build a house in like, uh, two -- two days. Have you ever looked at 3D printing for the building of runways and and low dwellings on these islands where basically you don't need it till you need it? And then is the Marines going to be need to be moving both by sea and by air to respond to issues that are -- that are out there?

ERIC SMITH: Congressman, thanks for that question. We have considered um the -- the expanse of the Pacific and we've surveyed all of the runways and potential runways that we can use, which is why we've -- I won't say we've -- we've begun to print runways, but we've -- we've begun to do additive manufacturing and digital printing of parts of aircraft.

And we have, we call it Moby Matting, which is a replaceable nonpermanent runway that we can lay down. The additive manufacturing is more for parts for engines. But the reason that we have our -- our Harriers is precisely that they can land in a -- in a basketball court. But we -- we have surveyed the vast amount of runways and we know where they are and we have our mobile construction battalions, along with our Seabees, where we can repair them quickly to allow our aircraft to land.

JOHN CARTER: So you basically work with what you got?

ERIC SMITH: We do, sir.

JOHN CARTER: All right. Well, I'd like for you to look at 3D printing for various things you're doing because it's the future.

ERIC SMITH: Yes, sir.

JOHN CARTER: It really is the future is far as quick building. It's a very strong building -- building materials and building materials that are available on those islands fit perfectly with what they do and they have portable units. I'm not pushing any company. I just watched multiple companies build houses and dwellings in two days.

Uh, that's pretty fast.

ERIC SMITH: Yes, sir, you have my commitment that we are -- we are experimenting with and looking into all of those things because we need runways that are -- can take a hit, be repaired quickly and land our aircraft to include our F-18 Hornets.

JOHN CARTER: Thank you. Yield back.

KEN CALVERT: Thank you, Judge. Marcy, you're just in time. You're recognized for five minutes.

MARCY KAPTUR: I've got to remember, which subcommittee I'm in. I'm sorry. I've been running around this morning. I think the leadership now that Chairman Cole will be in charge could plan the schedule in a way that we can give proper courtesy to those that come before us. That's just an observation. All right, thank you, Mr. chairman, very much.

The first question I have is of the secretary. I kindly gave some of your staff that are accompanying you, maps of the Great Lakes, and I need your help with some information. In looking at your recruitment numbers, both for the Navy and the Corps marine Corps, I noticed they're down significantly.

And I'm sure others have asked this question. But I'm interested in um drawing to your attention that in some places in the country such as the Great Lakes where you receive many, many, many enlistments, the investments of the Navy are not very stellar. Maybe over in the Chicago area for the Great Lakes investment of the Navy, you know, fine.

But over where I come from and we adjoin Canada in the Great Lakes system, we've really been shortchanged by the Navy. I'm just being very honest. And we had a big armory years ago, they -- they still sits in the -- in the bay. But I'm just asking you to kindly look at the places in the country where you have high recruitment levels and, uh, they could be better, but maybe the Navy could do something as well.

And I've been working for ten years, uh, with the Department of Defense and failed to be able to bring home a program like Starbase and the excuse we're constantly given is well, you know, we can't bring it there because you don't have a base. We only work when you can be on base. Well, what if the Navy hasn't given us any kind of base?

How do we succeed? So if we are trying to provide a pipeline, help us. You don't have to answer that question. I'm just giving you a problem and I'm really tired of it. Because I think that our people distinguished themselves with military service. And in fact, I'm going to a big Marine Corps breakfast in about two weeks.

And so those who have served the Corps couldn't find better Americans anywhere. And but I just am asking you to take a look at your assets. Over in Lorain, Ohio, which I don't any longer represent. We have facilities there that could -- the Navy might use to speed up your shipbuilding program. All I'm asking you is look at us. What can we offer?

I think the Great Lakes have been shortchanged, maybe Ranking Member McCollum has a different experience up in Minnesota. I don't know. But, you know, California does real well and I understand that they got the Pacific Ocean, but we got another kind of ocean. And it's going to become more important with what's happening with climate change.

So I just ask you to take a look at that and the other question you might be able to answer on the record.I represent Northwest Ohio where one of the two commercial nuclear power plants at the center of Ohio's largest public corruption scandal is located. And this plant called Davis Bessey has had a long and troubled history of safety violations under the ownership of FirstEnergy and its subsidiaries.

It's tragic really. Back in 1986 when a series of pumps and valves failed and caused a temporary loss of coolant water to the reactor core, retired US Navy Admiral Joe Williams, a former commander of the US Atlantic Submarine Fleet and the NATO submarine fleet was brought in at my request to reform the plant and its safety culture.

He's the only person I've known in 41 years that did the right job there. The rest of them are corrupt. They're going to jail. Horrible things are happening in Ohio now in the federal courts with the people that perpetrated these crimes, but witnessing his leadership in the aftermath of this egregious event, has made me a lifelong admirer of the nuclear navy.

Uh, if only his leadership could have continued at the plant perhaps, my constituents would have been spared living through the worst nuclear safety incidents since Three Mile Island when in 2002, a pineapple-sized hole was found in Davis Bessie's reactor head. Given the preeminent expertise in the field, can you describe how the nuclear Navy engages with civilian power plants?

If you can't do it today, provided for the record. And does it maintain relationships with such plants across our country?

CARLOS DEL TORO: Congresswoman, I'd be happy to come back to you with a submission on the record specifically how we interact. However, most of the responsibilities for operating the civilian power plants, as you know, fall under the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. But certainly I'll give you specifics as to where.

The intersections actually lie and perhaps what we can do to at least bring awareness of how much we actually focus on safety as the most important issue with regards to the operation of our nuclear power plants and the high standards that we impose on all our nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers as we operate them safely around the globe.

KEN CALVERT: Appreciate the secretary for getting back with Ms. Kaptur with a written response on that. And with that I recognize Mr. --

MARCY KAPTUR: Thank you, Mr. chairman.

MARIO DIAZ-BALART: Thank you very much, Mr. chairman. And secretary and admiral and general. Thank you sincerely thank you for your service to this amazing country of ours. You know, the two weeks that we were not here one of the things I did is I visited a number of private shipyards and it seems to me that the Navy is not fully utilizing our -- our own private shipyards.

And since, as we all know, since 1993, the number of public ship shipyards has -- has actually uh shrank from eight to four, with frankly limited, you know, functional dry docks. And -- and obviously, we have the issues of delayed maintenance schedules for our fleet. Fortunately, that's -- that's augmented by 22 private shipyards.

But even there, three shipyards have left the industry and only one new shipyard, I think has been built since, I guess, since the 60s, right? Since 1960. And so it would -- it would seem to me that since we're falling behind in maintenance, what is it now? We're looking at 20 years behind maintenance, right?

Something like that. I mean, whatever -- whatever it is.

CARLOS DEL TORO: I wouldn't agree with that number but we're --

MARIO DIAZ-BALART: OK. Well, yeah, and it'd be great to get the actual number, not right now, but -- but just where we are. But I think there's pretty much an agreement that we're -- we're not where we need to be, right. And so I'm just curious why are we or am I wrong that we're not fully using our own, you know, private shipyards?

We keep hearing about the industrial base obviously, which is a real issue, but -- but I think there's some inconsistency in how we're using them. I -- I actually witnessed some some you know, open areas there that that they're kind of waiting for a ship to -- to -- to come in and so the -- there seems to be some inconsistency potentially in scheduling.

So just if you could help me kind of understand what -- how can we do a better job utilizing those shipyards?

CARLOS DEL TORO: Yes, congressman. First, let me say we are maximizing the use of our private shipyards. There may be smaller shipyards that perhaps have not been able to successfully compete for contracts, and we'd be more than happy to work with your office to identify any. For example, in Florida who may have had challenges in competing for smaller shipyard contracts.

Obviously, all shipyards are not capable or certified to work on nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers and this is part of the problem. We want to help as many small and medium-sized shipyards to become certified to be able to work as subcontractors to the major primes. So that they can more fully engage in doing the shipyard work itself.

But just in the president's budget for '25, we have $14 billion that have been invested in maintenance across these shipyards. And we have 57 actual availability -- excuse me, 58 availabilities, uh, for private shipyards, both for submarine work and surface craft work, large and small. So we are making maximum advantage of the capacity of our shipyards.

But again, as the secretary of the Navy, my job is to keep ships ships at sea, not to have them in shipyards all the time either. And so I want to be able to minimize the amount of time that they actually are in shipyards by making those shipyards as efficient as humanly possible. And that's part of the submarine investment and the industrial base of $14 billion over the next five years and $750 million on the -- on the surface ship side.

So we are perfectly willing to work with your office Congressman if there are shipyards in Florida or other shipyards that you may be aware of, including Bartlett in Ohio, Congresswoman. I'm more than happy to work with Bartlett to have them be more effective and actually integrating Into the supply chain for all the shipyards to get them to a better place.

And I have been actively going around the country visiting shipyards in Maryland and in Philadelphia and all across the country. So I'm willing to continue those efforts to integrate even more into our supply chain.

MARIO DIAZ-BALART: Great. I have a minute left, let me just follow up with what the dean of the House asked about torpedoes and you answered um and I believe that, Mr. secretary, you talked about that's -- that's what we can do now with the current capability out there right? Is there anything that we can do to increase that capability of -- to -- to -- to increase our capability to build torpedoes?

It would seem to me, obviously, that if we're dealing with an issue in the Indo-Pacific we're going to need some large numbers, right? And anything that we need to be doing on our side to increase that capability of manufacturing of building of -- of producing torpedoes.

CARLOS DEL TORO: Well, continued investment in the supply chain is always welcome. I mean I fully understand that. Again, we're restricted by the Fiscal Responsibility Act this year in terms of the -- the choices that we can make. But additional investments on the civilian side into those companies is always welcome. Perhaps the CNO could comment further on the torpedo issue.

LISA FRANCHETTI: Again, I think it's for the suppliers and the supplier base, it's really about increasing the -- the throughput. So again, you know, it takes a long time to make a torpedo, how can we make them more quickly, more effectively and that will help us get more munitions that we need out there into our units.

MARIO DIAZ-BALART: Mr. chairman, I apologize for going eight seconds over my time. I yield back.

KEN CALVERT: We'll forgive you. Mr. Garcia.

MIKE GARCIA: Thank you, Mr. chairman. Thank you all for your service to this beautiful country. I personally have no doubt that we would win a war against China. I think it would be protracted, very bloody. Uh, extended -- probably not popular after time, but I do believe that because of the Marines with the rifles and the sailors who launch and project power overseas from carriers and vertical launch tubes that we would win that war.

What I do have concerns about is our ability to deter that war. And frankly, the pivot to the Pacific has not been fully realized. And I think that's uh, by any metric that you look at a reality, we are either falling behind or losing our lead relative to China. The -- the -- the most important weapon system in my opinion and frankly did not get enough attention today is that young marine, that young sailor, the young Army soldier, the junior enlisted E-1 through E-6 in California.

They just raised the minimum wage to $20 an hour last week, OK? So that means that a McDonald's worker right now starting salary is making almost double what an E-1 makes when they join the Navy. Now that doesn't account for housing, BAH, BAS and all these things, but those incentives are also lagging, right?

BAH in San Diego is -- is not keeping up with the pace of home value. So I would encourage you to -- you've got on the president's budget request a 4.5 percent increase in base pay. I would encourage you to look at my Raise Act which takes the starting salary of an E-1 from $22,000 and brings it up to $31,000, which at least gets it to that $15 equivalent per hour, OK? It compresses the pay table, so that doesn't ripple all the way up. General, you're not going to get that kind of a raise.

But the E-1s through E-6s deserve that raise to get above the poverty line to get off of food stamps. The request is that you support that uh and we are going to try to work that through Congress. The other request I have is that you continue to remind the young Marines and sailors that the military spouse licensing relief law is now the law of the land.

Spouses who have a professional license should be able to get reciprocity across state lines. As I visit units, they don't know that. So we need to do a better job making sure that our -- our troops know that the spouses should be able to just cross check their licenses across state lines if they're a real estate agent, nurse, doctor, teacher, whatever it is. A lot of talk today about shipbuilding, I am more concerned about ship readiness in the fleet.

And, secretary -- secretary, you mentioned, you know, getting as many ships to sea as we can. That's the -- that's the metric you look at. As my classmates start becoming one and two star admirals, they start becoming skippers of amphibious and aircraft carriers. I'm hearing stories that are frankly just blowing my mind.

And we visited Seventh Fleet what last year And the Seventh Fleet commander was talking about cannibalizing cruisers to make destroyers whole or vice versa. And the metrics are bad, so we're going to submit a series of questions for the record that I'd like to get a better understanding of what our true readiness issues are.

Specifically -- specifically in the Indo-Pacific region, specifically around Japan and Seventh Fleet. In the aviation community, we use the FMC versus, you know, partial mission, full mission capability versus partial mission. I think the metrics are not just bad, but I also think that the metrics are not truly honest and I'm not accusing anyone of conducting their -- their -- their logs here.

But our readiness levels when it comes to the ship availability numbers is below where it needs to be. So we're going to submit some information or some questions for the record for that. The repair issue, secretary, I agree we -- I -- the only thing I disagree with you is that the -- the -- the overseas ship repair capabilities and the partnerships with other countries should not begin today.

It should have begun 10 years ago, to be honest. We need to lower the classifications and sensitivity levels of some of these these repairs. I know that's not your fault, but we need to accelerate that and make sure that we are -- we are doing that mindfully. The -- the -- so just to sum up a couple last support for higher pay for junior enlisted, especially the Raise Act, we're going to be continuing to fight that fight that was in the Hackney bill last year.

The Senate stripped it out and unfortunately, it didn't come to the floor in the end, in the final version. We have uh, a lot of metrics that we're falling behind in and recruitment is -- is probably one of the -- the most scary uh metrics that we were falling behind on. If I can ask a question here, Mr. secretary, what's the status of the strike fighter shortfall?

This has been a well documented issue. I thank you for finally getting the prime on contract for the Hornets. We lost three as a result of all that churn. The American taxpayers are now getting 17 instead of 20. But, if you can comment on the status of the strike fighter shortfall and what are the plans to mitigate that moving forward?

CARLOS DEL TORO: Covered a lot of ground, I'm not sure I can answer it all in a short period of time, but I certainly would.

MIKE GARCIA: I'll submit the all of the others QFRs and just the strike fighter shortfall.

CARLOS DEL TORO: But thank you for your leadership on the strike primary shortfall, actually the shortfall will be down to zero I think by the end of '25. And so that's a tremendous accomplishment. And I attribute it so much to actually being able to extend the service life and F-18 E and F, which has been an extremely successful program by the Department of Navy through the investments that Congress has made on people [Audio Gap] three on the F-35 side with Lockheed Martin, and I'm hopeful that, of course, by the end of this year, they will overcome those challenges so that we can actually get those F-35s back into the fleet.

But we will actually have a zero fighter shortfall by the end of fiscal year '25. But it is a testimony to the aviation community and the Department of Navy and Marine Corps actually doing the things that they've done.

KEN CALVERT: Well, we can get back to some of the written responses to the gentlemen that would be great. and again, we appreciate getting those 17 hornets under contract finally.

CARLOS DEL TORO: Sure, and by the way, there's a huge advantage. Forgive me, my mic wasn't on. There's a huge advantage actually because what the big success of the Boeing negotiation, and I'm thankful to Boeing for having finally closed the deal with us, is the advantage that we get from the -- from the data package actually, which is enormous uh protecting the -- getting the intellectual property rights to those jets so that we can actually conduct emergency repairs on them in the future, should it be forward, is a huge, huge advantage.

And that's the big return on investment that the taxpayer is getting out of this as well, too. And hopefully, it'll also serve as an example for future negotiations on MQ-25, which will be extremely important moving forward.

KEN CALVERT: Mr. Aguilar, you're recognized.

PETE AGUILAR: Thank you, Chairman Calvert. Apologies for stepping away. I had a press conference to attend in. The first question I got was about Mr. Cole. So I wanted to -- I said some nice things in the spirit of our -- of our committee, I said some very, very nice things about our colleague, Mr. Cole. Congratulations to you.

We all look forward to -- to working with you and your leadership here as well, working with Chairman Calvert and Ranking Members McCollum and DeLauro. Mr. secretary, I wanted to start where where you started, which is the National Security Supplemental we know included 3.4 billion to support the submarine industrial base.

What -- what happens? What's the impact if this -- if this doesn't pass? And can you talk to me about how the funding would affect uh, specifically our AUKUS relationship and those commitments?

CARLOS DEL TORO: Thank you, congressman. Our goal is to get to 2.3 -- sorry, thank you. Our -- our goal is to get to 2.3 on Virginia class submarines is just one example. And so these submarine industrial based investments are critical in order to help the industry get there with under our oversight. So if we don't get the $3.3 billion in additional supplemental money, that means that we will have to actually slow down the workforce training programs, the advanced manufacturing programs that we hope to implement over the course of the next year or so. And it will simply slow the process of us being able to get there.

And that's why it's so critically important to have this supplemental pass in Congress. In addition to the support that we need to provide the 60 billion or so that we need to provide our Ukrainian brothers and sisters who are fighting for our freedom in Ukraine.

PETE AGUILAR: Thank you, Mr. secretary. The critical component that we've spent some time here and I appreciate the conversation talking about recruiting and retaining skilled workforce. Admiral, I did want to ask you if you have anything to -- to offer on the National security supplemental, please feel free. But specific to the Additive Manufacturing Center for Excellence.

You know, are we beginning to see the results of these efforts, What's the retention level of those recruited, What's the future of that, you know look like as well?

LISA FRANCHETTI: Thank you and just on the supplemental, you know, it's really important to maintain the momentum. So, you know, we've made investments over the last couple of years. This continues that momentum and again, it's taken a little bit of time for these investments really to percolate through the system to be able to have the effects we're trying to achieve to increase the throughput both in the submarine industrial base.

And as the secretary mentioned earlier in our ship building industrial base for surface ships. On the -- on the Danville Center, you know, this is one of the many initiatives that we have working with industry to create a pipeline. Uh, you know, for the workforce to be able to -- to come from wherever they are enter one of these training programs.

That's -- you know, it's a state uh, industry Navy partnership to be able to come out with a certification and a direct path into a -- into a job. So we're really excited about both of these pathways as well as the -- the promise of additive manufacturing and the different opportunities that is going to give us going forward.

So again, these investments really help, I think uplift the entire workforce that will be able to help us in any one of our shipyards going forward.

PETE AGUILAR: Can you talk about other partnerships that that we should know about? Specifically is it involves our -- our universities and existing, you know, institutions and that -- that you guys are working through and that you think could yield some benefit?

LISA FRANCHETTI: I think we have a lot of good relationships with different academia through different laboratories that we use. I would even say some that you might not think about which is partnering on getting out into the high schools and into middle schools with STEM. Because again, if we really want to grow our workforce, our engineering designers that we need in the future, there are different programs.

RoboSub is a great example of one of those. You know, we're really getting kids interested early on in technology and really introducing themselves to the Navy to academia and in really engineering and design. So I think beyond just the ones that we're doing with industry and with state to produce the workforce we need at the more senior level, I think these are some good opportunities.

There's also a lot of partnering going on with community colleges and again, this is another place not just for recruiting but for training the workforce we need in the future.

PETE AGUILAR: Thank you. Thank you, admiral. Thank you, Mr. chairman.

KEN CALVERT: Thank the gentleman. Mr. Ellzey?

JAKE ELLZEY: Thank you, Mr. chairman. I'm very honored and grateful to be on this subcommittee. And as a former Navy pilot with my friend, Mike Garcia, I'm grateful that we're starting these budget hearings with the best service. I'm joking. I appreciate the three of you being here, but I'd also like to point out someone who I've known since 1988 who I knew was destined for greatness and when she was my upperclassmen at the Academy.

I don't remember too many of them, but I remember her and I'm really proud of her and I'm proud to see her here. And that's Major General Shay. She is, she is a great person and a great leader and I'm really, really glad to see you again.

JAKE ELLZEY: From the top rope. Bases, boats barracks and airplanes, this service unlike most of them has to leverage all of those four things with the current requirements plus future requirements in a way that no other service has to. They really don't and at some point with limited abilities To pay for that stuff, something gets leveraged every once in a while, which is why we're seeing what's going on with our bases and our barracks as compared to our -- our Air Force brethren that are just falling apart because we have to build new ships.

We have to go fight at war every time we're on deployment. We're on a wartime footing in -- in the sea service uh and you're forced to think about EW capabilities that may or may not have but we need. Contested logistics that we're dealing with from time to time and is going to be looming in the INDOPACOM. Tanking, which suddenly rears its ugly head with new scenarios.

Magazine capacity issues, construction of missiles which aren't airplanes. But everything that we shoot off of our our aircraft or drop off of now with the Chinese capacity to build us 10 to 1, those are issues that we always have concern. And admittedly, on our side, CRs, not passing the budgets that you've asked for, uh, the FRA and mandatory spending, which has eaten up more and more of our capacity over time.

But you mentioned something SecNav about the competition for your blue collar workers. So what we have with the -- with the shipbuilding and the industry versus what you're doing is the two in uniform are competing for the very same people that we need for that industrial complex. And when we're talking about where are we getting these folks, when the number one killer of Americans at war time numbers similar to World War II is fentanyl killing 200 Americans aged 18 to 49 every day.

That pool is getting thinner and thinner and thinner. So we have to find other ways to build that industrial base that may not be based on ours. And the two in uniform are in competition with police law enforcement, welders, plumbers trades all across the country. And suddenly we find ourselves at a crisis of manpower capabilities for the blue collar trades in our country.

So it's a difficult problem to overcome. You can't buy yourself new people. Secretary Del Toro, I appreciate you frank dialogue on -- on the industry and how to improve delivery in our shortfalls. CNO, thank you for the opportunity to join you and Mr. Case on ISACS. It's a once in a lifetime trip that I never intend to take again, but it was fantastic.

I also want to commend you on getting more players on the field for autonomous platforms and, general, your work on the Marine Corps transformation is commendable and even if you don't believe the warnings coming out of INDOPACOM, one only needs to look at Europe and the Middle East to see that we need to be approaching our defense needs through an immediate wartime lens because we are at war in the Red sea with the Houthis.

The Philippines is at war with China. We are at war with the cartels and that must mean we must properly fund our force structure and deliver ships and aircraft on time and on budget. We also need to accelerate the feeling of new technology. On that front, it's good to see the Navy advancing the work of Disruptive Capabilities Office and that is a game changer.

Admiral, in the short time I've got left because I tended to talk too much uh, are you pleased with the resupply and the Red Sea? And are there some needs that have manifested themselves in a way that we didn't foresee? Very quickly, please.

LISA FRANCHETTI: Thank you, and I'm really proud of our team operating in the Red Sea. It's really years of investment that we have the equipment that is operating as it's designed. We have the people that are trained and ready to use it. I think on the capabilities that we think about for logistics and contested logistics and that theater and other theaters.

I'm really pleased with our logistics force is being able to deliver. We had been developing some expeditionary reload capabilities as well and we've been able to put those in practice and again, a lot of lessons that we can take to use in other theaters going forward.

JAKE ELLZEY: Thank you, admiral. General, I'm about out of time, but I did want to talk about contested logistics and I'll get those questions on the record. I didn't want to ignore you today, but I ran out of time. So contested logistics and aerial refueling capability in the Navy are questions I'd like to see answered.

I'll submit those for the record. And thank you all for being here. I yield back.

KEN CALVERT: Thank the gentleman. Let's have some last comments and I'll turn it over to the ranking member and we'll close it up. But uh, one, one thing, Mr. secretary, and as you know, I've been talking about innovation for some time now and, certainly a high priority for me since I've come to Congress and for both of us obviously.

And I -- I think it's a collaborative effort, uh, on innovation across the services, certainly across the enterprise. And DIU right now is scaling manpower to support increased appropriations in FY '24 and going forward. Secretary, I would like to get your commitment. You'll support the DIU with the manpower billets and details is needed for we can get this program off to a robust start.

CARLOS DEL TORO: Mr. chairman, absolutely. I mean we are really tied closely to -- to DIU. In fact, when replicator came out we're probably one of the biggest contributors to the replicator program with funding provided by DIU as well too. So our disruptive capability office is simply working side by side with DIU.

KEN CALVERT: I'm hopeful that they don't use the DIU money that we just appropriated as a pay for for all of this, but I'd like to find some other avenues to -- to pay for that if we move forward on reprograming. With that, Ms. McCollum.

BETTY MCCOLLUM: Thank you, Mr. chair. I think we had a robust discussion in the office and Mr. Garcia rightly points up the competition for pay. But I would like for you Admiral in general to kind of touch on, you've been successful with -- with recruitment, but it's not -- it's the barracks, it's the daycare, it's the health care.

It's everything that we also have to account in our budget when we go to balance it at the end of the day. So recognizing we've done bonuses, we -- we need to do more. Could you maybe elaborate what you're hearing and what's keeping with recruitment and how we have to keep moving forward in making advances?

In making sure the funding is there for those other things that are touching those sailors and Marines lives that's making them stay? If you just take a minute and do that as you did in my office, I'd appreciate it.

LISA FRANCHETTI: Well, thank you. I mean I think, you know, our most important resource is our people. We can have great platforms, we can have all the good equipment, but we don't have the people that can operate that. I think they're really our true secret weapon and we really have to invest in their quality of service.

And, you know, we've been very focused on making sure that we are a world class employer that we can attract and retain those people that be -- that will do that warfighting for us. You know, we have focused on improving our barracks, making sure they have a high quality standard of living. We are working hard to improve 24-hour access to gyms, uh, making sure that people have access to parking, making sure that we can put our mental health care providers, make them embedded with our units so people can quickly and easily access some of that health care that they need at their time of need.

We are also working to make sure they have access to high-quality food. We've just changed our policies so they can cook food in their rooms, in the barracks. Again, that is something that is very meaningful for the younger generation being able to take care of themselves. And again, we want them to be able to have that standard of living.

I think for our families, of course, we're focused, as I mentioned earlier on child care and making sure access to child care. And again, I think the other thing we were looking hard at is quality of life while ships are in shipyards, making sure that our sailors have an opportunity to serve at sea, that they don't spend their entire first enlistment uh, while they are in a shipyard in the shipyard, that they get off and do what they join the Navy to do. And also that they don't have to live on the ship when they're in an availability.

So those are just some of the things that we're looking at. I would also last one I would say is younger. People really love to have Wi-Fi, access to Wi-Fi. Setting up a lot of pilots so we can make sure that people have access to free Wi-Fi and things that they need to get their jobs done and their life taken care of.

BETTY MCCOLLUM: Thank you for your -- I thank you for your testimony and, Mr. Garcia, we'll figure out a way to balance all this out. I know we will. Thank you.

KEN CALVERT: Thank you. And before we conclude, I'd like to thank our witnesses. Mr. secretary, as always, I appreciate your frankness and coming to meet with us in this committee. CNO, thank you again for your service and, Commandant. We appreciate all of you. We appreciate your service. If there's any questions for the -- that would like to be submitted, I would encourage the members to do so, and please respond in a reasonable amount of time.

And with that, the committee stands adjourned.

List of Panel Members and Witnesses