A $25 billion bill to improve Navy shipyards, including the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in New Hampshire, pictured, was introduced in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. Photo by Endrick Dickson/Naval Sea Systems Command
April 28 (UPI) -- Senate legislation, introduced on Wednesday, calls for a $25 billion investment in public and private shipyards that build and maintain the U.S. Navy fleet.
The bill allocates allocate $21 billion under the Defense Production Act to four public shipyards for the Navy's Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program.
Another $2 billion would go to private shipyards that build Navy ships, with $2 billion dedicated to commercial ship repair yards.
A 20-year, $2 billion Navy plan to recapitalize Navy shipyards would also be fully funded under the legislation.
The shipyards mentioned for fixes are the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Hawaii and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Washington.
The Senate bill, called The Shipyard Act, is led by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., with co-sponsors Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Angus King, I-Maine; Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.
U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman, R-Va. and Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., are also supporting the bill, and a version of it will be introduced in the House as well.
All legislators involved represent states with shipyards.
The 11-page Shipyard Act highlights improvements in "performing critical dry dock repairs, restoring and optimally placing shipyard facilities, and replacing aging and deteriorating capital equipment."
The two bills cover improvements to shipyard infrastructure and building of dry docks, among other features.
The Navy has repeatedly called for improvements in U.S. shipbuilding and maintenance, citing the growing Chinese and Russian military fleets as competitors.
"Congress has already taken the important step of committing to a larger Navy, but our shipyards are having trouble servicing today's 296-ship fleet, and are clearly insufficient to maintain the 355-ship or larger fleet we need to counter China, Russia, and other adversaries," Wicker said on Wednesday in a statement.
"Now is the time to provide our Navy leaders the support they need to grow and preserve our fleet for generations to come," Wicker said.
The bill comes after President Joe Biden proposed an inclusive, $2.25 trillion package for infrastructure. Republicans have suggested a $568 billion counteroffer.