April 09, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) urged U.S. Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer and Admiral John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, to find opportunities to collaborate with the U.S. Coast Guard to increase our ability to intercept drug shipments being transported into the United States by sea.
“I’d like to start my questioning with a plea….Of the hundred-percent [of drug shipments] that we have intelligence on, we’re only able to interdict twenty-five percent because of lack of maritime assets,” said Senator King. “Since this hearing started, twelve Americans have died of overdoses. Our country is under attack. People are dying. People are dying in my state – one a day. Please, see if you can find a way to allocate [Littoral Combat Ships] or other maritime assets to work with the Coast Guard to interdict those drug shipments. It is inexcusable that we know of a drug shipment and can’t do anything about it because of a lack of maritime assets… this is a heartfelt request to try to do something that’s within our power to do.”
Also during today’s hearing, Senator King expressed his appreciation for the Navy’s efforts to provide the data requested by Senator King regarding the two deadly 2017 collisions involving the USS Fitzgerald and the USS McCain. The data followed up on a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing earlier this year, during which Senator King pressed Admiral Philip Davidson on specific ways to prevent fatal collisions in the future. Senator King concluded his recognition of the Navy’s efforts with a request for the leaders to continue to provide, on a quarterly basis, data related to Navy efforts to avoid future collisions.
Senator King ended his questioning by returning to his focus on cybersecurity – urging Navy leaders to ensure that their private sector partners are fully defending themselves from cyberattacks – particularly subcontractors, who can often have smaller operations and may be more vulnerable. Today’s questioning continues his effort to make sure the military’s private sector partners are secure; last month, he raised the subject with leaders of United States Transportation Command and United States European Command during an Armed Services hearing, and in February Senator King took part in a Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) hearing on cybersecurity where he emphasized the need for urgent action. During that hearing, Senator King questioned James Robb, President and CEO of North American Energy Reliability Corporation, about the dangers of foreign equipment in America’s energy grid, and urged Mr. Robb to recommend red teams to America’s utilities.
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator King is recognized as a thoughtful voice on national security and foreign policy issues in the Senate. In addition to his committee work, he serves on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, the Senate North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Observer Group, and the Cyberspace Solarium Commission.