May 19, 2021
Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Jared Golden (D-ME) sent a letter to President Joe Biden expressing concern about recent media reports that the Department of Defense (DoD) is only expected to request a single DDG-51 Flight III destroyer in the administration’s budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. This would be a reduction from the two destroyers that were previously projected, and it would be a significant deviation from the current multiyear contract between the Navy and the two large surface combatant shipyards, including Bath Iron Works.
“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.”
The delegation emphasized that America is not keeping pace with China on shipbuilding, and a reduction in large surface combatant ships would hinder our military’s ability to compete for years. Congress mandated that the Navy expand its current fleet of fewer than 300 ships to 355 ships, a threshold that China has already surpassed.
Senators Collins and King hold seats on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Armed Services Committee, respectively. Congresswoman Pingree is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, and Congressman Golden is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Click HERE to read the full text of the letter.