In this file photo, students watch the dock landing ship Germantown in the northern Philippine port city of Olongapo.

In this file photo, students watch the dock landing ship Germantown in the northern Philippine port city of Olongapo. JAY DIRECTO/AFP via Getty Images

Omnibus Bill Would Add 3 Warships, Save 9 from Retirement

Lawmakers tinkered with the Navy’s shipbuilding plan in the proposed 2023 omnibus bill.

A giant funding bill would buy 12 warships in 2023, three more than the Navy requested, as lawmakers signal they want the service to maintain its 293-ship fleet.

The 2023 omnibus bill released by the Senate on Tuesday includes $31.9 billion for shipbuilding, up from $27.9 billion requested by the Biden administration in March and up from $26.7 billion appropriated in 2022. It would buy three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers; two Virginia-class submarines; an America-class amphibious assault ship; a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock; a Constellation-class frigate; and two expeditionary medical ships, according to a summary issued by Senate Republicans.

The bill adds a destroyer and the medical ships to the Navy’s original request.

The appropriations bill also gives the Pentagon authorization to award a multiyear contract for up to 15 DDG-51 destroyers, according to a summary issued by Senate Democrats.

Asked for comment, Navy spokeswoman Lt. Kassie Collins said the service is “aware that Congress has released the proposed FY23 NDAA and we will continue to monitor progress of this legislation. We look forward to passage of the FY23 defense bills.”

The 2023 fiscal year is nearly one-quarter over. Congress, which has been funding the Pentagon at last year’s levels, has until Friday to approve a new spending bill before the government runs out of money and shuts down. 

When Navy officials rolled out their budget request in March, they said they wanted to retire five guided missile cruisers, nine littoral combat ships, and four dock landing ships.

Lawmakers criticized the Navy’s decommissioning choices because several of the ships still had remaining service life.

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s statement about defense spending in the omnibus bill says it will “restore funding” for the cruiser Vicksburg and four dock landing ships: the USS Tortuga, USS Germantown, USS Gunston Hall and USS Ashland. The bill would also forbid spending money to decommission five littoral combat ships.

The omnibus also provides $1.8 billion to help fund the purchase of 19 F-35s and buy spare parts, according to the summary documents.

The Marines Corps would also receive eight Ground/Air Task Oriented Radars at a cost of $304 million. The air-defense radar was used by the 3rd Littoral Anti-Air Battalion, 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment in Hawaii during the Rim of the Pacific exercise in July.