In response to question from Senator Collins, Secretary Mabus announced today that the balance of funding needed for additional DDG-51 Destroyer will be included in Navy’s Unfunded Priorities List for 2017
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Washington, D.C.—In response to a question from U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus stated this morning that the balance of funding needed to fully fund the construction of an additional DDG-51 destroyer, that is highly likely to be built at Bath Iron Works, will be included in the Navy’s Unfunded Priorities List to Congress for FY 2017. This annual Unfunded Priorities List to Congress lays out the items that the Navy wants, but was unable to include in the White House budget proposal.
Last year, following successful advocacy from Senators Collins and Angus King, Congress allocated $1 billion—about two-thirds of the cost—toward the construction of the additional DDG-51 destroyer. Senators Collins and King recently sent a letter to Admiral John Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations, urging the Navy to include the balance of funding needed to complete construction of this ship, which is needed fulfill critical naval missions around the world.
In today’s hearing, Senator Collins asked Secretary Mabus why the Navy’s spending request for the next fiscal year didn't include the balance of funds for this additional DDG-51 destroyer.
In response to Senator Collins’ question, Secretary Mabus stated that “the DDG-51 is, as you know, one of the backbones of our fleet” and that “the remaining funds, a little over 400 million dollars – is on our unfunded priorities list,” and “one of the very top funding priorities.” Secretary Mabus also outlined that the reason the funding wasn’t included in the President’s FY 2017 budget was that the Navy's budget plan was finalized before Congress passed the omnibus spending deal that funded the additional destroyer.
Secretary Mabus also stated to Senator Collins that he looks forward to working with Congress to get the destroyer under contract to ensure that the third DDG-51 “is a ’16 ship and not a future ship.”
“Our destroyers are the workhorses of the Navy, and I am proud of the highly skilled, hardworking men and women at Bath Iron Works who continue to deliver the highest quality ships for our nation’s sailors,” said Senator Collins. “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. 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.”
“Secretary’s Mabus’ testimony is tremendously encouraging. 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,” Senator King said. “With rising tensions across the globe, an additional Destroyer would help bolster the Navy’s fleet, increase our presence around the world, and project American power. I am very pleased to hear that the Navy considers building this ship a top priority, and I will continue to work closely with Senator Collins and the Administration to see that Congress provides the necessary funds to do so.”
Senators Collins and King work together in support of Bath Iron Works from their respective positions on the Appropriations and Armed Services Committees. As a member of Armed Services, Senator King works to ensure that critical shipbuilding funding is authorized through the National Defense Authorization Act, a yearly bill that authorizes funding and directs policy for the Department of Defense. And as a senior member of Appropriations, Senator Collins works to make sure the authorized funds are then actually appropriated to shipbuilding priorities. Through this joint effort, the Senators are able to prioritize shipbuilding throughout the funding process.
As of March 2, 2016, the Navy had 272 deployable battle force ships, well short of the goal set by the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan which calls for the United States to have 308 ships by fiscal year 2021. This investment will help to grow the Navy’s combat capabilities at a time when the Navy fleet is in high demand to protect national security interests worldwide.