2016-03-03 / Front Page

Funding for destroyer a priority

Navy boss speaks at hearing; BIW likely builder of ship
Times Record Staff


U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus confirmed on Wednesday that the Navy’s unfunded priorities list will include the remaining funds for a third DDG-51 destroyer, a ship that is expected to be built at Bath Iron Works.

The Navy’s list, which is annually prepared for Congress, includes items that were not included in the White House budget proposal.

During a Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, asked Mabus how he would prioritize the need for the ship and his plans for getting it under contract.

Congress had appropriated $1 billion toward the construction of the DDG-51 destroyer last year, which covers two-thirds of the cost.

Mabus said the reason why funding was not included in the president’s budget this year was “mechanical,” as the Navy’s budget was finalized at the Pentagon before Congress had passed the omnibus spending deal that funded the additional destroyer.

“The DDG-51 is, as you know, one of the backbones of our fleet — it brings amazing capability, particularly the ones we’re building now,” Mabus said on Wednesday.

He noted that the ship was “one of the very top funding priorities,” and hoped to get the vessel under contract soon, as “it’s a ’16 ship and not a future ship.”

“In a time of serious budget constraints for our Defense Department, today’s announcement from Secretary Mabus affirms the critical national security requirement of this additional destroyer and underscores the importance of our Naval assets to the security and stability of our country,” Collins said in a press release following the hearing. “The power of presence cannot be taken for granted or ignored, and we will continue to work to ensure this additional destroyer that is highly likely to be built at Bath Iron Works is fully funded.”

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, also weighed in on the news.

“Secretary Mabus’ testimony is tremendously encouraging,” he said in a press release. “The Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are the workhorses of the Navy, and no one builds them better than the hardworking men and women at Bath Iron Works.”

Leaders at BIW’s Local S6 Union could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. Efforts to reach BIW spokesman Matt Wickenheiser were also unsuccessful by press time.


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