Maine 2nd District Congressman Jared Golden on Wednesday announced that he secured an amendment to the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act authorizing the Navy to enter into a multiyear contract to build up to 15 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, beginning in the 2023 fiscal year.

“The provision is a significant win for shipbuilders at Bath Iron Works, one of two shipyards that builds the destroyers, as BIW currently has no contracted work for its over 6,800 person workforce beyond the current contract, which ends next year,” stated Golden’s office in a news release.

Golden introduced his amendment at the bill’s markup for the House Armed Forces Seapower Subcommittee. The bill also authorizes two Arleigh Burke destroyers the next fiscal year, a goal for the Maine House and Senate delegation.

“A new multiyear procurement would help provide the long-term stability necessary to maintain and train BIW’s large workforce at a critical time for the shipyard,” Golden said. “It takes 5-7 years to train a shipbuilder, and much of the shipbuilding workforce will reach retirement age in the next several years. The predictability afforded by a multiyear contract ensures that the nation will have a new generation of proficient, experienced shipbuilders for the coming years, which will be particularly important for BIW as the Navy seeks to develop a new class of destroyer over the next several years.”

Last week, Sen. Angus King announced that the Senate Armed Services Committee’s first markup of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act authorized $3.7 billion to fund the construction of two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, as opposed to President Biden’s previous call for just one ship.

The National Defense Authorization Act is an annual piece of legislation that directs how federal funds should be used by the Defense Department. It authorizes a certain amount of funding for military hardware, including ships for the Navy, but doesn’t determine what companies should get those contracts.

A multi-year contract for Arleigh Burke destroyers is considered critical to BIW’s “shipbuilding momentum and growing our workforce is critical to enabling BIW and our industry partners to support a smooth transition” to the next generation of destroyers that BIW hopes to build, said BIW President Dirk Lesko in a statement provided by Golden’s office. “We appreciate the strong support from our Congressional delegation.”

“The multi-year procurement is paramount to the future of the shipyard and industrial base, focusing on workforce stability, in which LS6 has collaborated with BIW by supporting investments in recruiting, training, and efficiencies. We are committed to this effort to prepare the next generation of shipbuilders and protecting job security for thousands of our members for years to come,” Chris Wiers, president of Local S6, the shipyard’s largest union said.

Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are made by just two shipyards — Bath Iron Works and Mississippi-based Huntington Ingalls — that compete for Navy contracts.

Although BIW has a backlog of 11 Arleigh Burkes to build in the next six years, most of which are under construction, the Bath shipyard called for a new multi-year contract in March to give the shipyard steady work while it waits for the Navy to create the next type of warship.

“Although planning is underway to transition to a new large surface combatant … that ship is not slated for construction until fiscal year 2027,” Lesko wrote in the report released March 16.

 

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