The U.S. Senate voted Thursday night to pass an $858 billion defense bill that includes provisions vital to the immediate and long-term stability of Bath Iron Works.

“This is a big deal,” Sen. Angus King said. “BIW is coming out very well.”

Both King and Rep. Jared Golden, who respectively serve as members of the Senate and House Armed Services committees, played significant roles in shaping the bill, which will function as a blueprint for defense spending in 2023.

The legislation authorizes the Navy to purchase up to three DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers next year, the only warship Bath Iron Works currently constructs. The Bath shipyard is one of two in the country that builds the vessels.

“I am proud to have supported a bill that fortifies our nation’s security, ensures our men and women in uniform have the pay they deserve, and provides consistent work for our Navy’s skilled shipbuilding workforce,” read a press release from Golden, who successfully lobbied for funding for a third DDG-51 in June. “The DDG is in a class of its own and so are the men and women at Bath Iron Works who make these ships.”

King praised BIW Thursday for its outsized impact on Maine’s economy. According to a recent analysis from the University of Southern Maine, the shipyard supported more than $1.8 billion in economic output in 2021.


The defense bill, which passed the House with strong bipartisan support last week, authorizes a contract for up to 15 DDG-51s over five years. Along with provisions intended to support a smooth transition from the current generation of destroyers to the next-gen DDG(X) program, the multi-year procurement deal will help ensure BIW continues to see a steady flow of work, King said.

“That will maintain a stable employment base at BIW,” he said. “You can’t turn that capacity off and on. You can’t drop from 6,000 to 3,000 and then say, ‘Well, we need more welders,’ and expect them to turn up — especially in this economy.”

King noted statewide housing and child care shortages continue to challenge the shipyard’s ability to attract and retain workers, but he expressed confidence in BIW President Chuck Krugh’s ability to address those problems.

“What encouraged me was he’s spending a lot of time out on the deckplates,” King said. “He’s not a sit-around-the-office guy. He’s listening to the workers and working with them, building trust.”

Other key provisions of the bill provide $800 million in aid to Ukraine’s war effort, raise service member salaries by 4.6% and establish the Bureau of International Cyberspace Policy at the U.S. Department of State, a cybersecurity measure King said would help address “our greatest vulnerability.”

The bill also ends the Pentagon’s COVID vaccine mandate for active service members.

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