Tuberville Questions Top Defense Officials on Shipbuilding Delays and Workforce Concerns

WASHINGTON – Today,U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) questioned Commandant of Marine Corps General Eric Smith, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Lisa Franchetti, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. Senator Tuberville asked the officials about the U.S.’s strategy in the Indo-Pacific, shipbuilding delays, and workforce concerns.

Read excerpts from Senator Tuberville’s remarks below or watch on YouTube or Rumble


TUBERVILLE: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning. Thanks for being here. Gen. Smith, I was able to recently meet with some Marines that came from the Indo-Pacific—great people. Let me tell you, they’re exactly what we need in our military. What resources can Congress assist with to better support our mission in the Indo-Pacific?”

SMITH: “Senator, thanks for that question. Thanks for the praise of our Marines. I share it. My own son is a Marine. […] What I would say, Sir, is we need predictable, steady funding for our amphibious warfare ships. We need LHA’s on four-year centers and LPDs on two-year centers. Because that provides us the operational flexibility and mobility that’s required to counter the PRC.”

TUBERVILLE: “I know you’ve kept an eye on the Middle East, and we have seen unmanned drones—small, unmanned drones. Talk about what we’ve learned and what we can take from there to the Indo-Pacific in this next incursion.”

SMITH: “Yes, sir. What we’ve learned is that directed energy weapons are gonna be a thing of the future because we can’t get into a reverse cost curve where we’re expanding, you know, million-dollar missiles to shoot down hundred-dollar drones. We’ve got to invest in the technology and the capability to disable drones in flight. To disable their targeting infrastructure and to knock them down without shooting a missile at them because that’s, again, that’s putting us on the wrong side of the cost curve. And we’re working on that now at the Marine Corps fighting lab.”


TUBERVILLE: “Yep. I think Sen. King would agree with you on that. We’ve talked about it quite often. Secretary Del Toro, the Navy recently released their 45-day ship building review last month and there are significant delays. The Columbia class are now 12-16 months late. We make components in Mobile for the Columbia class, and we hear a lot about studying this and doing a report on that. You know, we need results, obviously. […] What are we doing to fix this?”

DEL TORO: “Yes, sir. Well, it’s this just one example, Senator, and I know your commitment and passion for this. You know, down in Austal, for example, the Navy actually worked very closely with Austal over the last couple of years to turn it into steel production facility. And I have been encouraging the big primes over the last two and a half years that I’ve been Secretary, aggressively. To actually outsource more of their work hours to companies like Austal and the smaller shipyards so they can help with production. So, in 2023 alone, we had three million additional hours of outsourcing that’s taking place. We hope to increase that in 2024, hopefully, to six million. Right? And it’s the smallest shipyards that actually help as part of the team to then increase the production rates. […] I think we’re going to see production rates continue to grow in the future because of those efforts.”

TUBERVILLE: “Yeah. And we’re also running into a problem. You know, we budget it. We appropriate it, but we’re having a tough time allocating money for some reason. We’re running into a stonewall of people not doing their damn job, to be honest with you. And, you know if we can’t get the money allocated, we can’t build anything. We can’t pay people for work and we’re having a tough time now getting people to work and people that are trained to work. And it’s getting worse and worse. It is not getting better.” […]

DEL TORO: “No, sir. And I agree with you.”


TUBERVILLE: “Yeah. And, you know, we’re working very hard to train people. We’re actually recruiting out of McDonald’s, Walmarts.”

DEL TORO: “Yes, Sir.”

TUBERVILLE: “And welders and all those things. I mean, we’re in a tough time right now of getting people actually off the couch back to work and getting them trained.” […]

DEL TORO: “I think we need to get innovative, Senator. 



TUBERVILLE: “Are we taking non-citizens, non-American citizens in the Navy?”

FRANCHETTI: “We only take people that are legally allowed to enter the Navy.”

TUBERVILLE: “Okay. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”

Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.