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June 1, 2021

Maine's congressional delegation opposes budget cut that could reduce work for BIW

Courtesy / General Dynamics Bath Iron Works The USS Daniel Inouye, a Burke-class destroyer, was behind schedule when it was delivered to the Navy.

Maine’s congressional delegation is expressing strong opposition to President Joe Biden’s proposed federal budget, which would eliminate building a Navy warship of the type Bath Iron Works supplies.

The 2022 budget draft, released Friday, reduces expenditures for two previously planned Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to funding for a single ship.

The Navy would receive $211.7 billion for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts Sept. 1. That total is almost a 2% increase from the 2021 budget of $207.1 billion.

However, the Navy’s 2022 budget for shipbuilding would decrease by $700 million to a proposed total of $22.6 billion for a total of eight ships. Under Biden’s plan, the U.S. would continue to operate 296 warships.

BIW and the Mississippi yard of Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (NYSE: HII) are the only two builders of the Burke-class (DDG 51) guided missile destroyers. Over 60 of the ships are now in service, and BIW has produced 37 of them including the first one, which launched in 1989. BIW completed its most recent Burke destroyer in 2019.

The Pentagon’s current shipbuilding plan, released last year, called for expanding the Navy fleet to 355 by the early 2030s.

In a news release Friday, Maine’s delegation urged Biden to budget toward that goal.

“The DDG 51s are the workhorses of the Navy, and play a vital role in our national defense. By reducing procurement for this critical ship, the Administration would be slowing the Navy’s efforts to reach its target fleet size of 355 ships and hindering our ability to confront China’s military aggression and economic misconduct,” read a joint statement from U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, and U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine 1st District, and Jared Golden, D-Maine 2nd District.

“Additionally, the reduction to only one destroyer would be a major deviation from the previously agreed-upon multiyear contract for Naval procurement, which would destabilize our nation’s shipyard industrial base, threaten the skilled workforce that builds these ships, and undermine the long-term health of this important sector of national defense.”

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget Rear Adm. John Gumbleton said that budgeting for eight ships a year won’t allow the U.S. to meet the target of 355.

“All things being equal, if you have a 300-ship Navy and a 30-year life, you have to recapitalize it 10 per year and so eight is not going to do it,” he said in a recent press briefing.

Each of Maine’s congressional members pledged to advocate for a budget increase. Collins and King hold seats on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Armed Services Committee, respectively. Pingree is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, and Golden is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

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