WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins announced today that the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved $1 billion toward the construction of an additional DDG-51 destroyer. The funding is part of the 2016 Defense Appropriations Bill which must now be considered by the full Senate. If the funding bill becomes law, the additional destroyer would likely be built at Bath Iron Works.
A member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Collins requested the funding toward the additional DDG-51 to help meet combatant commander requirements for destroyers across the globe. This bill affirms the strategic importance of our Navy and shipbuilding programs by appropriating incremental funding for an additional ship beyond those included in the current multi-year procurement contract.
As of January 2015, the Navy had 279 ships, well short of the goal set by the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan which calls for the United States to have 304 ships by 2020. The additional investments in this bill will grow the Navy’s shipbuilding capabilities at a time when the Navy fleet is in high demand to protect national security interests worldwide.
“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. “The power of presence cannot be taken for granted or ignored, which is why the investments for destroyers funded by this bill are so necessary. The equation is simple: fewer ships means less presence, less security at home, and less security around the world.”
“Nearly half of the world’s population lives less than 60 miles from the sea, and with ninety percent of global trade carried by sea, even those who live in landlocked areas are dependent on the world’s oceans,” Senator Collins continued. “The value and importance of our naval assets to security and stability have never been greater.”
During a March Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the fiscal year 2016 funding request for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, Senator Collins questioned top Navy officials about a 2002 agreement that is intended to ensure a fair allocation of work to sustain the two surface combatant shipyards that build Navy ships. Navy Secretary Mabus noted the importance of the DDG-51 multiyear procurement stating that multiyear projects are among the most effective in keeping costs low and the industrial base stable.
Senator King, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, successfully advocated for the authorization of incremental funding toward an additional DDG-51 destroyer last month. As a result, the National Defense Authorization Act, which currently is being considered by the Senate, includes authorization for an additional $400 million in DDG-51 funding.
Beyond allocating funding toward an additional destroyer, the bill provides funding for many other programs that benefit Maine, including:
- $443 million in funding toward the DDG-1000 program underway at Bath Iron Works to bring advanced capabilities to the Navy fleet. In a recent Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert discussed the DDG-1000, referencing the ship as a “quantum leap” in its capabilities.
- Language directing the Navy to induct classes of no fewer than 100 apprentices in the Naval Shipyard Apprentice Program at each of the four public naval shipyards. This program at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, which Senator Collins toured recently with Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, is vital to the workforce. Senator Collins has been a longtime advocate for this program.
- Increased funding for Defense Production Act Purchases, including $7.27 million for the construction of a Secure Hybrid Composite Container and the creation of a pilot production line in the United States. The University of Maine Composites Center, with funding from the Department of Homeland Security, has developed a shipping container in response to secure shipping guidelines established under the SAFE Port Act of 2006.
- $77.4 million toward the research and development of blast resistant materials, which is conducted in part by the University of Maine’s Composites Center.