New Navy secretary talks about the Ford, shipbuilding, transgender service

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Navy Secretary Richard Spencer spent his first trip to Naval Station Norfolk touring the fleet’s newest carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, along with the submarine USS John Warner. Spencer also pledged to build more ships.

During Senate confirmation hearings over the summer, Spencer discussed a target size for the fleet. He told reporters Thursday afternoon at Chambers Field that he thinks 355 ships overall is a good plan.

“In the immediate future, we need more ships, and we’re going to build more ships.”

Spencer said all ideas are on the table, including refurbishing old ships, even using international designs to build ships in the U.S. He added that construction and budget overruns for the Ford were part of a learning curve that will benefit the construction of future vessels.

When asked about President Donald Trump’s recent tweets about prohibiting military service for transgender people, Spencer said the Navy will follow whatever plan the president develops. He also said no individual service secretary should “go off and do social experiments on his own. On a fundamental basis, any patriot who wants to serve in our military and meets the requirements should be able to do that.”

Meanwhile, five active transgender service members — three Army, one Air Force, one Coast Guard — are suing over the issue. They have nearly 60 years of combined service. Their lawsuit wants the president’s directive to be declared unconstitutional.