Romney plans Navy buildup

Republican presidential candidate says he would add three submarines and an 11th aircraft carrier wing.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wants to buy three more submarines over the next three years as part of his plan to boost shipbuilding to 15 ships per year, he said Monday in a speech at the Virginia Military Institute.

Romney also plans to add an 11th aircraft carrier wing, build more Marine Corps amphibious ships, F/A-18 Super Hornets, a missile defense ship and a frigate.

The Republican spoke in detail about his plans to grow the Navy while adding few details about the other services in his speech to VMI Keydets billed as a national security address. Chris Cavas, Defense News’ naval ace, broke the story of Romney’s naval plans following an interview with John Lehman, a top Romney national security adviser and former Navy secretary.

On the campaign trail, Romney has promised to build up the Navy fleet to 350 ships by increasing annual shipbuilding from nine to 15 vessels. Until Monday, he had not provided details to what he wanted to build.

The Pentagon is preparing for a potential $500 billion cut to planned defense spending over the next decade should Congress not reach a compromise by Jan. 2 to avoid sequestration. Romney has placed blame on Obama for not showing more leadership toward ending the cuts.

Romney explained how he’d more actively use the American military to influence events in the Middle East during his speech Monday. He said increasing the Pentagon’s budget is part of that as a strong military prevents war.

Romney criticized Obama for his handling of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. He said it was wrong for the president to blame the attack at first on an anti-Islamic You tube video that unleashed large scale protests across the Middle East.

“This latest assault cannot be blamed on a reprehensible video insulting Islam, despite the administration’s attempts to convince us of that for so long,” Romney said.