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NEWS | Sept. 16, 2022

Chief of Naval Operations: A Navy ready to fight tonight is the focus

By David Vergun DOD News

While investments in a future fleet are vital, so is maintaining the readiness of the current fleet so that it's ready to sail into harm's way, should that be necessary, the chief of naval operations said.

The other focus is on the sailor and his or her family's wellbeing, said Adm. Michael Gilday, who spoke virtually today at the State of Defense conference, sponsored by Defense One.

Sailors work aboard ship.
USS Ronald Reagan
Sailors perform maintenance on the canopy of an F/A-18E Super Hornet attached to the Eagles of Strike Fighter Squadron 115 on the flight deck of the forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the Pacific Ocean, Sept. 13, 2022.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Gray Gibson
VIRIN: 220913-N-DW158-1010C

Modernizing the current fleet is important, he said, since 60-to-70% of that fleet will still be in service a decade from now.

"We're not going to have a navy larger than we can sustain," he added.

The U.S. shipbuilding industry, which is made up of five companies, is another vital aspect, Gilday said.

"We're trying to turn the corner here in terms of giving the shipbuilding industry steady and predictable demand, certainly in terms of ship numbers," he said. "We need to sustain that steady demand signal."

A sailor reunites with his family.
Family Greeting
A sailor assigned to the USS Harry S. Truman greets his family after returning to Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Sept. 12, 2022, from a regularly scheduled deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet and U.S. 6th Fleet areas of operations.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan Beard
VIRIN: 220912-N-QI061-1836C

The current proposed shipbuilding budget is $27 billion, which is the highest ever, he said. The goal is to grow the number of ships to 350.

The key to attaining that goal is predictable, steady funding, and Congress seems to be very supportive of that, he said.

The Navy is also trying to grow the unmanned fleet, using the latest technologies available, such as artificial intelligence, he said, adding that command and control software and security of those vessels are also priorities.

Sailors refuel an aircraft.
MV-22 Osprey
Sailors refuel an MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (Reinforced) on the flight deck aboard amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli Sept. 14, 2022, in the Philippine Sea.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Peter Burghart
VIRIN: 220914-N-XN177-1102

Gilday also mentioned the importance of allies and partners, citing AUKUS, which is the trilateral security pact among the U.S., Australia and the United Kingdom.

As part of that pact, the U.S. and U.K. will help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines, among other important warfighting assets.

Eventually, Australia will be able to produce their own nuclear-powered submarines, he said, but that's a long-term effort.