As the fiscal year 2003 defense budget proposal soared above one-third of a trillion dollars in the aftermath of I September, you could hear the disbelief rising on Capitol Hill. Only .. five ... new ... ships?
"I would hope that someone in your capacity would step forward, Secretary England, and say, 'After a $66 billion increase to the defense budget, it is inexcusable that we have the smallest fleet since the Great Depression,"' Representative Gene Taylor (D-MS) exhorted Secretary of the Navy Gordon England at a 13 February hearing of the House Armed Services Committee. "Who's going to say it? Because if we do it, then the press jumps on us and says, 'It's just pork.' It's got to start from within the service."
England declined. Instead, the former aerospace engineer explained patiently—as he did again and again in the face of rising congressional ire—why the Navy's $108-billion spending plan, which contained almost $10 billion more than anticipated, fell so short of the eight to ten warships needed to sustain the fleet's long-term size.