Thursday, June 1, 2023
Members of Congress support supercarriers not for reasons of strategy but because they create civilian jobs. Yes, carrier assembly takes place only at one shipyard, Newport News Shipbuilding, in only one state, Virginia. But, as the state’s Democratic Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner pointed out last year when they introduced a resolution celebrating the aircraft carrier’s centennial, the Ford Class supply chain consists of 2,450 companies in 48 states and 364 congressional districts, employing 13,100 people along the way. And the Newport News shipyard alone employs 25,000 more. The resolution cleared the Democratic Senate by unanimous consent but never made it out of committee in the then-Democratic House. Even though many experts on military strategy have come to agree that it’s time to forget the Ford, the political class that decides how Pentagon money is spent just can’t quit their love of expensive and oversize vessels.
One hopes we will learn this lesson in some way besides the USS Gerald Ford being sent to the bottom of the South China Sea.