Navy Destroyer

An Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is christened at Bath Iron Works on Aug. 1, 2009. Robert F. Bukaty / AP file photo

The U.S. Navy has approved at least $34 million for a host of Bath Iron Works employee programs, including slashing the job training timeline from five years to three, paying for 85 housing units and offering free bus service.

Sen. Susan Collins, vice chairperson of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Defense Subcommittee, announced the funding Tuesday. She requested it be included in the 2023 Defense Appropriations bill.

“The crews of the Bath-built DDG-51 destroyers defending commercial shipping in the Red Sea today serve as vivid reminders of how important it is that the United States maintain a robust shipbuilding capability to support the U.S. Navy,” Collins said in a statement, referring to several Bath destroyers that have shot down a host of missiles and drones launched against Israeli-bound shipping vessels by Hamas-supporting Houthi forces in Yemen in recent weeks.

BIW employs about 6,500 workers and has 12 destroyers in various stages of production.

Collins said the new funding will increase the number of workers trained at BIW apprentice academies, provide new workers with on-the-job instruction to reduce the training timeline from five years to three, fund 85 new housing units for workers to be closer to the shipyard, add 150 more year-round child care slots for BIW workers, offer free bus services for BIW employees in the Bath and Brunswick areas, and pay for other “retention improvement activities.”

“This support will have a major impact on our ability to attract, train and retain the skilled workforce we must have to meet the nation’s security needs,” BIW said in a statement. “Our ability to field the workforce of the future will help us fulfill our mission to build the world’s most advanced surface combatants.”


Reducing the training timeline will involve expanding personalized and small-group mentorship programs. Other details, like the location of the new housing units, were unclear.

“These workforce investments are aimed at strengthening the backbone of BIW, which is the thousands of dedicated workers who build the world’s most capable combat surface ships,” Collins said.

The senator’s announcement Tuesday came on the heels of the new federal defense bill signed by President Joe Biden last month. Collins and the rest of Maine’s congressional delegation voted for the bill, which authorizes funding for two destroyers, one of which is scheduled to be built at BIW. The bill also includes funding authorization for a long-sought-after parking garage at the shipyard.

The lawmakers cited the war in Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas war and China’s growing fleet as reasons to continue investing in destroyers, which cost about $2 billion and are the only ships BIW produces.

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