Kittery, ME—U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) and Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) hosted Acting U.S. Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker in Maine today. They toured facilities at Bath Iron Works and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and met with leadership and employees.
“I am delighted that Acting Secretary Harker was able to join us today to visit the best shipyards in the country and honor Harvey C. Barnum Jr.,” said Senator Collins. “Despite the challenges of the past year, the hardworking employees at BIW and PNSY continued to answer the nation’s call to keep our Navy strong and ensure our brave sailors and submariners are able to defend our nation and return home safely. As a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I look forward to working with the Navy to continue to invest in the workforce and facilities at BIW and PNSY as well as increase the size of our Navy fleet.”
“For generations, workers at Bath Iron Works and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard have played a major role in our national security. Today, I joined my colleagues to give the Acting Secretary of the Navy a firsthand look at Maine’s continued commitment to this vital work,” said Senator King. “From the keel laying ceremony for the future USS Harvey C. Barnum Jr. to conversations with the shipyards’ leaders and employees, today’s visits to BIW and PNSY facilities highlighted the skill and dedication of Maine’s shipbuilders. I’m grateful for the Acting Secretary’s visit, and I am committed to working with him and the Administration to strengthen our national defense and maximize the talents of our shipbuilders.”
“From Kittery to Bath, Maine’s shipbuilders deserve our celebration for their world-class work. It was a pleasure to join Senators Collins and King in hosting Acting Navy Secretary Harder to show him the country’s best shipyards,” said Representative Pingree. “I was particularly humbled to recognize the namesake of the USS Harvey C. Barnum and his family at the keel laying ceremony, and with the expertise of Bath workers, I know this vessel will live up to his legacy. As a Mainer, I’m proud to represent the shipbuilders at Bath Iron Works and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and I look forward to continuing advocating on their behalf in Washington.”
At Bath Iron Works, Senators Collins and King, Representative Pingree, and Acting Secretary Harker participated in the keel laying ceremony for the USS Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (DDG-124). Retired Marine Corps Colonel Barnum, the ship’s namesake, was also present. Colonel Barnum was awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War for his actions on December 18, 1965, when he took over command of a rifle company after its commander had been killed, reorganized it for defense, and successfully evacuated it after destroying the enemy.
Following their visit to the main shipyard in Bath, the members of the Delegation and Acting Secretary Harker toured BIW’s Outfit Fabrication Facility in East Brunswick and the BIW Training Academy at Brunswick Landing. The group then traveled to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, where they toured the Structural Shop Learning Center, visited the site of the future Paint, Blast, and Rubber Facility, saw maintenance being conducted on the USS Texas, and received updates on the modernization of Dry Dock #1, including the ongoing Dry Dock #1 Super Flood Basin project.
Last month, Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Jared Golden (D-ME) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, urging them to provide unequivocal support to the long-standing and congressionally mandated requirement for a larger and more capable Navy fleet.
Thomas Harker assumed duties as the Acting Secretary of the Navy Jan. 20, 2021. Previously, he was performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). The visits to BIW and PNSY were part of Acting Secretary Harker’s review of New England shipyards.