Bloomberg is reporting that the Defense Department is expected to request a single Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the Biden administration’s next fiscal year budget. The current contract between the Navy and shipyards, including Bath Iron Works, called for two surface combat ships during the next fiscal year.
Bloomberg reported May 18 on the reduction in destroyers in the Pentagon’s $715 billion budget.
In response to the Bloomberg report, Maine’s delegation of Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden, wrote to President Biden and issued a statement noting the reduction in shops “would be a significant deviation from the current multiyear contract” between the Navy and the shipyards.
“We are deeply concerned that such a reduction in expected procurement would harm the large surface combatant shipyard industrial base and its talented workforce, which have made great progress working to increase capacity and efficiency over the past several years. Since agreeing to a five-year multiyear procurement contract in 2018, industry had planned for a procurement rate of at least two ships per year through next fiscal year,” the Maine Delegation wrote. “Stability and predictability are crucial to maintaining a healthy shipbuilding industrial base, which the Navy has identified as a “national security imperative that must be steadily supported, and grown, to maintain a skilled workforce.”
“We are also concerned that such an action would send the wrong message to China and hinder our Navy’s ability to adequately deter Chinese military aggression and economic coercion in the future. As you observed in your first speech to Congress last month, the United States is ‘in a competition with China and other countries to win the 21st Century.’” the Maine Delegation continued. “If the United States is to safeguard its future, we must continue to make vital investments in our military and especially our Navy.”
BIW, along with Mississippi-based Huntington Ingalls, is one of two shipyards that make the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer.
Under the Trump administration and a Congressional mandate, the Navy was to expand the number of surface ships from a little less than 300 to 355, in part, to keep pace with China’s growing navy.
This story will be updated.