Amid competition with China, US lawmakers move proposal to upgrade naval shipyards

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Representative Image
Representative Image

New York [US], May 19 (ANI): In a bid to prepare for a greater power competition with China, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers has proposed a USD 25 billion cash infusion into America's outdated naval shipyards.

Considering the pace at which Beijing is building its own ships, there are mounting concerns in the American defence community over the adequacy of vessel production and maintenance, reported Nikkei Asia.

The bill submitted to Congress is titled the SHIPYARD Act, which stands for the Supplying Help to Infrastructure in Ports, Yards and America's Repair Docks Act of 2021.

The proposal calls for the appropriation of USD 25 million. USD 21 million is to be used for four public shipyards and the remaining USD 4 billion is for private shipyards used by the Navy.

The SHIPYARD Act proposes to make a one-time payment to the Navy to accelerate the updates, as a previous plan included spending USD 21 billion to renovate the shipyards.

"Our dry docks are a hundred years old, on average, just shy of a hundred years old. We have got 21 dry docks across four public shipyards," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday, who laid out preparing for the next-generation Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines, modernising the outdated shipyards and strategic sealift as his three main priorities.

"We are making significant investment. These are once-in-a-century investments in these shipyards that I am not going to come off of, at least while I am CNO. It has to be a priority," Gilday said.

The dry docks are used to do maintenance on aircraft carriers, ballistic missile submarines, cruise missile submarines and attack submarines, Nikkei Asia reported.

However, Andrew Lautz, director of federal policy for the National Taxpayers Union, criticised the SHIPYARD Act as "a classic congressional fix to any problem -- throwing lots of money at it at a really fast pace."

According to the Pentagon's annual report to Congress on Chinese military and security developments, China is the top ship-producing nation in the world and is "increasing its shipbuilding capacity and capability for all naval classes".

On the other hand, the four public shipyards in the US, located in Virginia, Maine, Washington and Hawaii, are over 100 years old. These government-operated yards maintain the Navy's nuclear-powered fleet, which includes aircraft carriers, attack submarines and ballistic missile submarines.

Until the mid-1990s, the US used to have nine active naval shipyards, but the end of the Cold War led to many of them being closed down.

The competition between Washington and Beijing has intensified as the two nations have clashed over several issues such as human rights violations in Xinjiang, encroachment on the special status of Hong Kong, accusations of unfair trade practices by Beijing, lack of transparency concerning the pandemic and China's military aggression around the world. (ANI)

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