Sen. Susan Collins, right, along with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, center, and Sen. Angus King, left at Bath Iron Works in 2021. Kathleen O’Brien / Times Record file photo

President Biden on Tuesday signed a funding package into law that includes money for an additional warship that could be built in Bath.

The $1.5 trillion omnibus funding package was passed by the Senate on March 10, after gaining House approval days earlier.

The package also includes $475 million to support a dry dock modernization project at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery. It contains $250 million for military construction for the dry dock requested in the Navy’s budget request, as well as an additional $225 million in funding for the dry dock that was identified as the Navy’s top military construction unfunded priority.

The dry dock now can only accommodate Los Angeles-class submarines and when that class is from service in the 2030s, delaying submarine maintenance projects through 2040, according to the office of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

The funding package provides $3.68 billion, $1.66 billion above what was sought in the Defense Department’s budget request, for construction of an Arleigh Burke-class warship, according to a statement released by Collins.

Collins, a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, said the guided missile destroyers were “now all the more important given Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”


Prior to the invasion, the Navy deployed four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, three of which were built at BIW, to the U.S. 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. The Navy would not confirm whether the deployment was connected to the Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian border at the time.

Craig Hooper, CEO of Themistocles Advisory Group, a Maryland-based national security advisory firm, told The Times Record in February that the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers were designed to face off against the Russian military.

“The (Arleigh Burke destroyer) was designed at the height of the Cold War, and optimized to take on the Russians, so they are perfect to handle any old Russian ships and subs that might be out there trying to serve as a distraction as NATO focuses on Russian aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere,” Hooper said.

Arleigh Burkes are built exclusively at two shipyards: Bath Iron Works and Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi. They are the only ship built by BIW, now that the third and final high-tech Zumwalt-class destroyer departed the shipyard in January after its completion.

“These ships are the workhorses of our Navy, key to our national security and to our defense industrial base,” said Maine 2nd District Congressman Jared Golden, a member of the member of the House Armed Services Committee and vice chairperson of the panel’s Seapower Subcommittee. “After a year of work with my colleagues in the Maine delegation, we are proud to have successfully beat back the administration’s misguided proposal to cut DDG-51 shipbuilding. Instead, we’ve delivered funding to build two destroyers, guaranteeing one that will be built at Bath.”

The Navy identified the restoration of the destroyer cut from the budget as its number one unfunded priority, indicating the Navy still believes it required the ship, but budgetary constraints forced the service to prioritize other programs in its formal budget request, according to Collins’ office.


Collins called the Biden administration’s initial proposal to cut the vessel “flawed.”

“The administration’s proposal to reduce defense funding in real terms and eliminate the procurement of a DDG-51 (Arleigh Burke) was unwise and signaled weakness to Russia as well as China at a dangerous moment in history,” Collins stated. “In addition, cutting the construction of a destroyer could have created an imminent workload cliff for Bath Iron Works, which could have led to a loss of jobs and a setback in productivity gains.”

BIW is one of the state’s largest companies, employing around 7,000 workers in 2021.

A four-year contract ending this year called for two ships annually to be split between BIW and Huntington Ingalls.

Restoring funding for the ship may mean the Navy will fulfill its requirements under a multiyear contract that expires in the 2022 fiscal year.

The Office of Naval Intelligence estimated that the Chinese Navy had about 360 ships in 2020, and China is expected to have a 400-ship fleet in 2025, according to Collins’ statement. Today, the United States Navy has 294 battle force ships.


In February, Maine and Mississippi lawmakers sent a letter to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro urging him to include funding for three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in the president’s naval budget for next year.

In the letter to Del Toro, the delegates emphasized the importance of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to national security and the impact shipbuilding has on the local economies.

The delegates also asked Del Toro to develop a multi-year contract for 15 Arleigh Burkes to be built over five years to help bolster the Navy’s fleet.

Tuesday’s signing of the omnibus defense spending bill comes after Biden in late December signed this year’s defense bill, authorizing $4.9 billion for three new Arleigh Burke-class destroyers for the 2022 fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1, 2021, to Sept. 30, 2022.


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