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King Urges Steady Procurement for Bath-Built Destroyers Which Serve as “Workhorse of the Navy”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) pressed top Navy officials on the importance of the DDG-51 to the Navy’s global operations. During a hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Seapower, Senator King emphasized that the DDG-51 is the “workhorse of the Navy”, and reminded the leaders that steady procurement is vital to ensure that shipyards like Maine’s Bath Iron Works can continue to thrive and make vital contributions to America’s national defense.

“I want to quote the Admiral sitting to your right, he said, ‘the Flight III DDGs are a ship we must have.’ My concern, which won’t be surprising to you, is that you’ve knocked out, I think, 4 ships in the future procurement. We’re okay through 2022 on multi-year – my concern is a gap,” said Senator King in the hearing. “And you take those ships out, we’re talking about a new large surface combatant, we all know they take longer than we expect, I just – help me understand this decision, because we’re – you know, China is vastly expanding their fleet, the DDG is the workhorse of the Navy… What concerns me is: if we have a gap in Flight IIIs and large-surface combatant takes longer, you end up with a capacity shortfall that could be in a crisis, could be a disaster.”

In response to Senator King’s questioning, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition James Geurts affirmed that he believes “If we’re going to compete and win at a global scale, it’s going to be on Flight III DDGs, [they] are going to be a firm backbone for that.”

Later in the hearing, Senator King stressed the importance of defense against hypersonic missiles and the need for the Navy to focus on continued research and development.

The Maine Delegation has continuously advocated on behalf of Bath-built DDGs, particularly following reports earlier this year that the Navy would make significant cuts in the construction of Flight III DDGs (Arleigh Burke-class destroyers). In January, Senator King joined U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) on a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, expressing their strong support for a larger Navy. Last month, Senator King joined the Maine Delegation in welcoming the Navy’s request for two fiscal year 2021 Bath-built Arleigh-Burke class (DDG-51) destroyers.

In addition to his committee work, Senator King serves on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, the Senate North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Observer Group, and the Cyberspace Solarium Commission. In addition to Assistant Secretary Geurts, witnesses at today’s hearing included Vice Admiral James W. Kilby, Deputy Chief Of Naval Operations For Warfighting Requirements And Capabilities; and Lieutenant General Eric M. Smith, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Deputy Commandant For Combat Development And Integration. 

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