Clockwise from top left, Chellie Pingree, Jared Golden, Susan Collins and Angus King. Credit: Composite photo | BDN

All four members of Maine’s Congressional Delegation are raising concerns about recent news reports that the Department of Defense is reducing its request for construction of DDG-51 destroyers from two ships to one in the next fiscal year.

In a letter to President Joe Biden Tuesday the delegation said the reduction would be a significant deviation from the current multi-year contract between the Navy and the two shipyards that build the class, including Bath Iron Works.

They said it would harm the shipyard industrial base and its workforce, which has been trying to increase capacity and efficiency over the past several years.

“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,” the statement said.

The statement also expresses concern that the reduction would send the wrong message to China and hinder the Navy’s ability to deter Chinese military and economic aggression in the future. The letter points out to the president that Congress directed the Navy to expand its current fleet of fewer than 300 ships to 355, which the delegation says is a threshold that China has already surpassed.

“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 Navy has not officially announced a reduction in its DDG-51 destroyer procurement, but is scheduled to release its budget later this month.