Bath Iron Works. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

Washington is poised to continue to fund shipbuilding at Bath Iron Works in both the short- and long-term, Sen. Angus King announced Wednesday.

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s markup of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act includes legislation that would authorize a multi-year contract for up to 15 DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, according to King. BIW, one of two shipyards in the country that builds the vessels, is currently in the final year of its previous multi-year procurement agreement with the Navy.

“It’s important for the basic infrastructure of shipbuilding,” King said of the multi-year contract, which provides stability for the shipyard.  “But it’s also important for the taxpayers; everybody knows that if you buy things in bulk you get a better price.”

The markup also includes funds for two DDG-51s in the upcoming fiscal year, according to a press release.

Last week, at the christening ceremony of the future USS John Basilone at BIW, Sen. Susan Collins called for the construction of more warships in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

King agreed the war in Ukraine heightened the urgency around this year’s version of the annual defense bill.

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“We talk abstractly about threats from potential adversaries,” he said. “But here’s a case where there’s nothing abstract about it.”

The Armed Services Committee’s markup also includes provisions that will help the Bath shipbuilder transition to building next-generation warships, King announced. The bill will encourage the Navy to collaborate with BIW as it develops the DDG(X) program to avoid potential delays in construction in future years.

“We can’t have a situation where the DDG program ends, and then a year or two later the new program, the DDG(X) program, scales up, because then you have a trough in employment,” King said. “My concern is to avoid that deadly trough of 2,000 or 3,000 jobs at BIW.”

The bipartisan Senate Armed Forces Committee voted 23-3 last week to bring the $857 billion defense bill to the Senate floor.

The House Armed Services Committee is expected to vote on its version of the National Defense Authorization Act early Thursday morning, according to a press release from Rep. Jared Golden, who successfully lobbied to include funds for a third DDG-51 destroyer.

While the proposed defense bill includes many other measures that will impact Mainers, including pay increases for military service members and reports to evaluate cyberthreats to election security, King said he’s especially happy to help secure funds for BIW.

“I feel very fortunate to be able to advocate unreservedly for BIW because these ships that they build are absolutely essential to our national defense,” he said. “They are truly the workhorse of the navy.“

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