The Senate has passed the country’s annual defense funding bill, 89-10, which may be a boon to Bath Iron Works.

The National Defense Authorization Act — or NDAA — authorizes funding for three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, the main type of warship constructed at the Bath shipyard.

The House passed its version of the NDAA last week on Dec. 8, and the bill now goes to President Biden soon for his signature.

“BIW appreciates the tireless work of our Congressional delegation in support of our shipbuilders and strengthening the Navy fleet,” wrote BIW spokesperson David Hench in an email to The Times Record. “This was a big effort, and measures that improve the predictability of ship construction enable us to make significant investments in the shipyard and in hiring and training the next generation of shipbuilders who are building ships to respond to today’s emerging threats.”

This year’s defense bill authorizes $4.9 billion for three new Arleigh Burke-class destroyers for the fiscal year 2022, which runs from Oct. 1, 2021, to Sept. 30, 2022. Only two shipyards build that class of ship, Bath Iron Works and Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi. Those shipyards usually compete to bid on construction of the vessels, with the Navy traditionally splitting contracts between the two.

Maine Sen. Angus King, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the bill “will help Bath Iron Works plan its future and continue to build the highest-quality ships, sustaining local jobs and ensuring that our Navy has the tools they need to accomplish their missions across the globe.”

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The bill also includes a 2.7% pay raise for military service members and the defense department’s civilian workforce, 12 weeks of parental leave for military personnel and new national cybersecurity policy provisions.

The bill also authorizes tests for the next generation of destroyers that will succeed the Arleigh Burke-class later in the decade.

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery may also benefit from the bill’s passage. The NDAA authorizes $250 million for the next increment of a dry dock project and $225 million in additional authorization to be used for the project. The bill also authorizes billions of dollars for ship depot operations that may also benefit the submarine yard.

Funding in the bill may also benefit companies with a presence in Maine, such as Pratt & Whitney, whose North Berwick factory manufactures the F-35 advanced fighter jet’s engine, and Hunting Dearborn in Fryeburg which supports the F-35 and the CH-53K helicopter.

“For more than 60 years, the Senate has put aside differences to pass a bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act to improve America’s national security, support our service members, and strengthen Maine communities,” King said. “Despite some early setbacks, I’m proud that we could continue the tradition this year to pass a bill that will make our nation safer and stronger.”

Though the House passed its version of the initial NDAA in September, the Senate failed to pass its version of the bill so the groups could meet, iron out the details between the two and send it to the president. After the Senate stalled on approving its version of the NDAA, House and Senate defense leaders were forced to negotiate a last-minute compromise bill that could get passed before the end of the year.

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In an interview last week, Maine 2nd District Congressman Jared Golden, a member of the House Armed Services Committee that helped create the compromise NDAA, said including three Arleigh Burkes in the annual bill “seemed impossible” earlier this year.

The president’s draft of the bill called for only one ship that Golden warned would break the government’s contract with BIW, and could have led to layoffs at the shipyard.

This year’s bill, however, includes provisions from an amendment authored by Maine Sen. Susan Collins with new reporting requirements when the Department of Defense proposes to break a multiyear ship procurement contract.

“Every year for the past six decades, Members of Congress have fulfilled one of their most important responsibilities — ensuring our national security — by passing the NDAA and setting the policy for our nation’s military priorities,” Collins said.

“This legislation will support the brave men and women of our armed forces by supporting pay increases and expanding parental leave. Additionally, the NDAA will support hardworking Mainers at BIW, PNSY, Pratt & Whitney, and elsewhere across the state who make invaluable contributions to our defense. The Senate’s passage of this bill comes at a critical time for our national defense as the country faces proliferating threats around the world.”

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