CRYSTAL CITY, Va. (NNS) -- Naval leaders, government officials and private industry members gathered for the final presentations and closing banquet of the 27th Annual Surface Navy Association Symposium (SNA) in Crystal City, Virginia, Jan. 15.
Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus delivered his keynote address on the state of the surface Navy, highlighting the strength of the fleet and debunking rumors.
"Uniquely, what we provide, the Navy and the Marine Corps, is presence," Mabus said. "That constant presence, ready for any challenge that may come over the horizon. In order to provide that presence that we need today, we have more than 100 ships forward deployed and more than 30,000 marines deployed around the world. And they're doing this myriad of missions, from airstrikes against ISIL to fighting ebola to exercising with our partners and our friends to protect freedom of navigation in the pacific.
"Providing that presence falls on the surface fleet, the foundation of our Navy. The foundation of our Navy is ships. That's what we are. That's why we're the Navy. We have to have a right-sized fleet to do what we need to do.
"In the first five years that I've been in office, we have put under contract 70 ships with a smaller top line for Navy. In 2014, we launched nine ships, and by the end of the decade, our fleets going to be back over 300 ships ... we have bought 1,300 naval aircraft. That's 40 percent more than we're bought the five years before. We're not neglecting ships or planes. And even as we deal with possible impacts of sequester, now's not the time to give up on the progress that we've made in our ship building. I don't believe you ought to pay for one Navy ship with another Navy ship."
Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michelle Howard wrapped up the SNA symposium with her closing remarks at the annual SNA banquet.
The theme of this year's symposium was "Surface Warfare: Distributed Lethality - Going on the Offensive," and government-contracted defense companies, suppliers and commands exhibiting the latest in surface warfare technology and the way ahead for future research and development converged to display their capabilities. The symposium also provided an opportunity for discussing a broad range of professional and career issues for the surface community.
The SNA was incorporated in 1985 to promote greater coordination and communication among those in the military, business and academic communities who share a common interest in naval surface warfare and to support the activities of Surface Naval Forces.