Reporter: About the shipbuilding plan, are you only going to give like a number for the 10 years out and then give, again give a range for this year, 30 year shipbuilding plan?
SECNAV: Yeah, I spoke very clearly actually about what was done last year. But you're gonna have to wait till we actually released a shipbuilding plan to see what we're going to do this year.
Reporter: So what do you think Congress's reaction is going to be when you're going to only give him a range again?
SECNAV: Well, we'll have to see we're actually when we release the shipbuilding plan and how Congress responds to anything that we actually release. The question I got earlier in the audience was about, my answer spoke about the FY22 budget and how it was handled, and I thought it was handled well, that you're going to have to wait to see our reaction when we released the President’s FY 23 budget.
Reporter: Hello Sir. I wanted to ask you about unmanned systems, specifically, the Navy has been, you know, in a bit of a messaging battle with Congress these past few years on, you know, proving the technology against funding it. I wanted to hear your take on that issue. How has the Navy changed its messaging, and how should it change it going forward? If you want to convince Congress to fund unmanned at the rate the Navy says it's needed?
SECNAV: Well, I think, you know, Department of the Navy has responsibility to be able to prove that the technology that Congress is going to invest in actually works right, and it meets what we need to address the threat that lies ahead, right. So it's important to assess these technologies to pilot the technologies to make sure they fit within our concept of operations, to prove them and to figure out the man to unmanned interaction that has to take place with regards to the technologies. And I think at that point, basically, you receive additional funding to take it to a higher acquisition level. Before we make that investment. I think that's the responsible thing to do. I think our Congress understands that and so I don't see it as a fight between Congress and the Department of the Navy. I think we're sort of, you know, aligned in our thinking about what has to be done.
Reporter: Continuing on unmanned systems, you mentioned in your speech, that part of the fluctuation, in the range of the shipbuilding plan is built in for those unmanned systems. I was wondering if you could maybe discuss a little bit more how you are balancing that range with you don't really know exactly where unmanned systems are going with Congress's desire to have specific numbers?
SECNAV: Well, I think that there are some in Congress that want to have very specific numbers, and there are some in Congress that are quite comfortable actually talking about a range of numbers. At least that's my impression of what took place last year as well too. And so you know, when you take a look at the numbers of unmanned platforms, small or large, that might be needed in the Department of the Navy, it's really hard to predict the exact number, you know 20 or 30 years out, and so I think it's a viable option to what was done in the Presidential budget, the FY22 budget to take that approach basically.
Reporter: Going into frigates, how likely do you think it is that the Navy might end up using a second shipyard to develop Frigates faster, especially if you ever decide to go beyond 20?
SECNAV: Well, I think we'll have to look at that issue in years to come. Obviously, the more competition we have to build any particular platform, the better off we are as well. So we have this initial 20 Frigates we are looking at, as we continue to look beyond those 20 it may be necessary to bring on a second shipyard. I really don’t know the exact answer to that yet but we are going to be assessing that very closely in the years to come.
Reporter: So we keep talking about the importance of personnel and how they are our strategic advantage but right now we currently have 4,600 Active Duty sailors who can't deploy because they're not fully vaccinated. So how does that play into continuing to have a strategic edge, we have so many sailors who can't fulfill the mission of the Navy.
SECNAV: Actually, when you compare it to the whole of the Navy and the entire manpower, the Navy and the Marine Corps, it's actually not that great, a larger number. And it's incredibly important for all our sailors and our Marines to be properly vaccinated because this is an issue of combat readiness. We simply cannot put the lives of our other sailors who are vaccinated at risk.
Reporter: Sorry if I'm asking you a repeat question. CNO mentioned doing another force structure assessment coming up for FY24 lawmakers and have been pretty insistent that they want some more long range guidance in the upcoming FY23 budget cycle and I just wondered what we could reasonably expect in 23, even knowing that you have another FSA coming up.
SECNAV: I think we'll be very clear about what the Department of the Navy actually needs, both in the Marine Corps and the Navy in the President’s FY23 Presidential budget.
Reporter: But I mean, looking out forward or are you really projecting until you do another FSA?
SECNAV: In FY24 we are going to be conducting another force assessment. The last force assessment was done several years ago so we are going to be implementing that in 24 as well to keep looking ahead as to what we need. Thank you so much. Have a great day. Bye.
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