Richard Spencer, President Trump's nominee for Navy secretary, is open to studying small aircraft carriers to outfit the service's future fleet.
The Senate Armed Services Committee's version of the fiscal year 2018 defense policy bill directs the Navy to begin designing a smaller carrier. Three entities conducted recent Navy force structure assessments: the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, the Mitre Corp. and the Navy's assessment division in the office of the chief of naval operations (N81), all of which recommended the service add smaller aircraft carriers to its future fleet.
The recent legislation sets aside $30 million for preliminary design of a smaller aircraft carrier.
Spencer told reporters July 11 after his nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee the service needs to review everything that allows for additional capacity.
"I think studying it is a great idea because there's no bad path on that decision tree," he said. "You learn you might want it, you learn that you might want a derivative of it, you learn that you might not want it, but the fact of the matter is you have to address it, and studying it is the first step."
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) is an outspoken advocate for Pentagon accountability for high-profile acquisition programs.
Spencer said the Navy could use aspects of its strategic systems program office as a model.
"You walk in the door, you stay there your whole life, you can make it to flag there," he said. "I don't think we would have to go that extreme but there is an example of this thing that we can follow. You're put on a weapons platform Day 1 through development and you're totally accountable."