Maine Sen. Angus King, left. and Montana Sen. Jon Tester, chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, speak outside Bath Iron Works following a tour of the shipyard on Friday, Jan. 7. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

Maine Sen. Angus King introduced Bath Iron Works to Montana Sen. Jon Tester, chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, touting the skill of Maine’s shipbuilders during a tour Friday.

King said he invited Tester to the shipyard to witness what it takes to build an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the warship BIW is known for building for the Navy, as well as “the best relationship that I’ve seen between the unions and the company in my 45 years in this region and working with Bath Iron Works.”

“We saw the way these ships come together – the complexity, the skill that goes into them, the challenges of a relatively young workforce, the training that has to go on – but what we saw was a great spirit,” said King. “Bath is doing a great job of both recruiting new talent and training them, and we’re working to ensure the future of this shipyard.”

Tester said he wanted to learn more about what goes into building the Navy’s warships after taking on the chairman position of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee about a year ago.

Tester echoed King and commented on the teamwork and talent he witnessed, adding “Maine and the nation can be proud of this facility.”

“This shipyard and the people that work here I’d classify as critical infrastructure for the United States,” said Tester. “If we’re going to compete with our pacing threat of China, we have to have these facilities put forth the warships we need to defend this country. It’s important that Congress does its job, the Navy does its job, and Bath Iron Works does its job, and those three need to work together to make sure that we’re doing right by this country into the future.”

The Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee oversees all federal funding for the Department of Defense, including funding the Navy receives to have more warships built at shipyards like BIW. Maine Sen. Susan Collins is a member of the subcommittee.

King described Tester as “the guy that writes the checks.”

The pair spoke briefly and didn’t take questions from the media as they were continuing on to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery Friday afternoon.

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