Navy officials said that the government should reinstate funding in a proposed defense spending plan that would allow the military branch to buy an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer.
The Times Record reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said funding for the destroyer should be reinstated in the Defense Department’s proposed $715 billion budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year for national security reasons and to protect “U.S. industrial base in shipyards like Bath Iron Works” after U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, questioned him Wednesday during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
King pointed out that Bath Iron Works is one of two shipyards in the U.S. that builds that particular kind of destroyer and that omitting funding for it would send a “shudder throughout the U.S. industrial base.”
“It’s unprecedented, in my experience, that a multi-year has been breached, which would actually cost the government money in penalties,” King told the defense secretary.
In 2018, the Navy signed a five-year contract with Bath Iron Works to purchase two destroyers per year from it. The shipyard is facing a backlog of ships due to production delays stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and a workers’ strike last summer, according to the newspaper.
The cut in the budget was meant to free up money to buy newer capability ships, according to House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces chair U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Connecticut.
The Times Record reported that Vice Adm. James Kilby said the omission of funding for the second destroyer had largely been an affordability issue.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Rep. Joe Courtney’s first name.