Rep. Randy Forbes Likely Pick for Secretary of the Navy
USNI News reported Thursday that the likely pick for Secretary of the Navy in the Trump administration is Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA).
A spokesperson on Rep. Forbes’ congressional staff could not immediately confirm the news.
Forbes has advocated for an enlarged, 350-vessel Navy, including the refit and restoration of the aging Ticonderoga-class missile cruisers; he alleges that the Navy has resisted steps to modernize the class in order to save on operating costs. Forbes has also advocated for continued investment in the controversial Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program.
Outgoing Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has joined the Senate Armed Services Committee in calling for the reform and reduction of the LCS program; the two LCS classes have been dogged by a series of well-publicized propulsion and hull casualties, in addition to concerns about armament and survivability.
The Navy says that it is presently on track to reach a 308-vessel fleet by 2021, in line with its most recent force requirements assessment.
In addition to his differing views on force structure, Forbes was among the 175 congressional representatives who voted against the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, which allowed gay and lesbian members of the military to serve openly for the first time.
By contrast, Mabus has been a supporter of an LGBT-inclusive culture within the service. In June, he described “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as "insidious and morally wrong.” He also recently sponsored the naming of an auxiliary vessel after a well-known gay rights activist.
If he is not appointed Secretary of the Navy, Rep. Forbes will still depart the House of Representatives at the end of this congressional session: in April, he lost his seat to a primary challenge by an ex-Navy SEAL, Scott Taylor.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.