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U.S. defense chief Chuck Hagel to visit Bath Iron Works

Chuck Hagel
YURI GRIPAS | REUTERS
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Posted Nov. 12, 2013, at 10:44 a.m.
Bath Iron Works
Bath Iron Works Buy Photo

BATH, Maine — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will visit Maine’s warship construction plant, Bath Iron Works, later this month.

Hagel is scheduled to attend the Halifax International Security Forum, where he will give opening remarks, from Nov. 22 to 24. He announced Friday that he’d visit BIW during the same trip.

Bath Iron Works is celebrating its recent launch of the USS Zumwalt, the first of three planned DDG-1000 guided missile destroyers, which Business Insider called “the US Navy’s most intimidating creation yet.” Zumwalt was launched in late October, about five years after construction began. Its patrol is expected to begin in 2015.

Each of the three DDG-1000s will be built in Bath.

Hagel was invited to visit BIW by U.S. Sens. Angus King, an independent, and Susan Collins, a Republican, during his confirmation hearing earlier this year. The senators said they were “delighted” by his decision to tour the shipyard.

Hagel “will have an opportunity to meet its highly skilled, hardworking men and women,” they said in a joint statement. “We know the secretary will be impressed by BIW’s talented workforce and the recently launched DDG-1000, both of which are invaluable assets to U.S. national security and the Navy’s mission around the world.”

BIW recently announced two waves of layoffs, during which 39 pipefitters and more than 80 other workers across several trades will lose their jobs in November. In September, 42 insulators and pipe coverers also lost their jobs.

The shipyard has said labor adjustments such as the announced layoffs are a result of the cyclical nature of the shipbuilding industry. With much of the work on the Zumwalt recently completed, and few orders on the horizon, the layoffs were unavoidable, the company claimed.

Bath Iron Works is a subsidiary of General Dynamics, one of the world’s largest defense contractors.

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.

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