Lawmakers approve measure to bolster U.S. Navy

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) — A measure called the SHIPs Act is moving forward on Capitol Hill to bolster the U.S. Navy. In light of recent collisions at sea, this effort looks to add dozens of new ships and alleviate burdens on sailors. "We just can’t ask our young men and women to do this work of defending the nation as volunteers and in a state of exhaustion," said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS).

As lawmakers in Washington take up a national defense bill, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker wants to strengthen the Navy and increase the number of ships from 276 to 355.

Wicker says that number comes from top military brass who want to make sure the Navy is not stretched too thin.

"We have a very dangerous world and that’s why the experts said our requirement has gone up," said Wicker.

There’s a consensus among bipartisan leaders that the U.S. and other nations face escalating tensions with countries like North Korea and Russia. But some experts say adding more ships might not fix every problem.

"I generally support the idea of at least a modestly larger Navy but I’m a little worried that the goal of roughly 350 ships that’s been advanced is unrealistic and unnecessary," said Michael O’Hanlon, Brookings Institution senior fellow.

O’Hanlon says in addition to building more ships, military leaders can consider more efficient use of existing resources.

"We don’t want to deploy sailors at sea too long and don’t want to wear them out too, we need just a certain sheer number of people and ships to maintain that pattern of operations – but who says that pattern is sacred?" O’Hanlon said. "Maybe some of our deployments can be unpredictable and not consistent and not always there. Maybe we can alternate and change the kinds of ships we use in some cases."

Meantime, the Senate and House plan to sit down to resolve differences between the legislation in the coming weeks.