Re: “Federal watchdog flags issues with warships” (May 18, Page B1):

Living in a shipbuilding state, I’ve often wondered if Bath Iron Works could build one less warship and use the money to feed Maine’s hungry families. Turns out it would be a good idea, based on a story by Staff Writer Peter McGuire in last Saturday’s Press Herald.

In a stunning story that may have been missed by many, the General Accounting Office said two Zumwalt ships built at the shipyard at a cost of $8 billion each – seven times more than expected – do not have functioning weapons systems or a clear role in the Navy.

Inspectors found hundreds of “serious deficiencies” in the two ships in 2016 and last year, the GAO said. For one thing, the Navy has not found replacement ammunition for the ships’ main gun after deciding that the original ammo, at $800,000 per round, would be too expensive. “As a result, the guns will remain inoperable on the ships for the foreseeable future,” the report said.

The GAO says the problems were not BIW’s fault but the Navy’s for numerous design changes.

Did Sen. Susan Collins, a relentless champion of BIW, know about this when she grilled Navy officials recently on whether the Navy had enough ships in the Atlantic fleet? Of course she did. She mentioned design problems but didn’t say we have $18 billion worth of nonfunctioning ships sitting in Bath.

Meanwhile, one in six Maine children lives in poverty, one in 13 in extreme poverty, living on less than $840 a month for a family of three. And it’s getting worse.

Sen. Collins obviously didn’t create the BIW problem, and she can’t fix it. But she can, if she chooses, divert some of her attention to Maine’s hungry children. They truly need a champion.

Donna Halvorsen

South Portland


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