Tuesday January 29, 2013 | 07:33 PM

WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus presented Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, with the U.S. Navy’s highest honor for public service on Tuesday in recognition of her work on naval issues.

Mabus presented the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award to Collins during a ceremony in the senator’s Washington office. The award praises Maine’s senior senator for her past work on the Senate Armed Services Committee and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Collins departed both of those committees earlier this year at the end of the 112th Congress.

“Her strong leadership as Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee greatly contributed to the quality of the United States' naval forces, continued support for quality of life for the men and women of the Department of the Navy, and assured the Navy-Marine Corps team was the most lethal in history,” reads part of the citation. “Senator Collins' tireless advocacy of shipbuilding programs assured the highest levels of readiness for our combat forces.”

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, also received the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award late last year from Mabus as she finished out the final days of her 34-year career in Congress. Both Snowe and Collins have worked to direct shipbuilding and maintenance contracts to Bath Iron Works and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, two of Maine’s largest employers.

Consisting of a medal and a certificate, the Navy award is a bit smaller than the roughly 3 1/2–foot-tall binnacle – or ship compass housing – that dominates one corner of Collins’ office. She received that award – the Congressional Sea Services Award – from the Navy League of the United States last year.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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