Trump's Naval Academy Commencement Address Needs A Fact Check

He said the military was getting a "big" pay raise for the first time in 10 years and that new ships were coming "soon". Neither is true.
Posted at 4:56 PM, May 31, 2018

President Donald Trump gave the commencement address at the United States Naval Academy late last month, and during his 35-minute speech, he made a few claims that require a fact check. First, pay raises for the military.

"We just got you a big pay raise, first time in 10 years. We got you a big pay increase, first time in over 10 years. I fought for you. That was the hardest one to get," Trump said.

This is not true. Military service members did get a raise, but it wasn't the first one in 10 years. The last year service members didn't get a pay bump was 1983. Before that, it was 1961.

Trump also said: "We are rebuilding our defense industrial base to forge American iron, aluminum and steel — which, by the way, we just put tariffs on when it comes in from other countries. We're taking in a lot of money now, our country. They pay that big beautiful tariff, it goes right into rebuilding new ships."

The money from tariffs goes to the National Treasury, and from there Congress and the president together decide how to spend it.

"We have now the lowest number of ships that we've had since World War I," Trump said. He promised: "Very soon you are going to get to 355 beautiful ships, 355. That's almost a couple of hundred more ships. So you will be around for a long time."

The Navy has 283 ships. It plans to have 355 ships by the early 2050s or potentially sooner. But either way, that's not "very soon." Also, 283 to 355 is an increase of 72 ships, not "almost a couple of hundred."