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