House Passes Defense Bill Golden’s Maine Shipbuilder, National Defense Provisions
WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives passed the annual defense authorization bill late last night, including several measures won by Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) to protect Maine shipbuilders at Bath Iron Works (BIW) and the future shipbuilding workforce, strengthen national defense, and support American servicemembers. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and vice chair of the panel’s Seapower Subcommittee, Golden helped write the legislation and advance it through a markup earlier this month.
Crucially, the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed by the House includes Golden provisions that would authorize the Navy to build three DDG-51 destroyers — ships that are built at BIW — in 2022 and start a multi-year procurement contract for up to 15 DDG-51 ships.
“After the administration slashed shipbuilding for DDG-51 destroyers in their budget request earlier in the year, we had our work cut out for us in this year’s defense bill. The reduction put at risk both the future of shipbuilding jobs at BIW and our Navy’s ability to respond to national security threats over the next decade,” Golden said. “After months of hard work, the defense bill the House passed this week represents a full turnaround from the administration's proposal. We are one step closer to a big victory for Maine shipbuilders, American servicemembers, and our national security priorities.”
Golden’s multi-year procurement provisionwould help provide the long-term stability necessary to maintain and train the large workforce at BIW, which currently has no contracted work after next year and could face steep layoffs without consistent contracts. The predictability afforded by a multiyear contract for DDG-51 destroyers ensures that the nation will have a new generation of proficient, experienced shipbuilders, which will be particularly important for BIW as the Navy seeks to develop a new class of destroyer over the next several years.
The DDG-51 shipbuilding provisions would be a significant reversal of fortunes for Maine shipbuilders and the country’s national security after the Biden Administration proposed that just one of the ships be built. Golden and his colleagues in the Maine delegation led the effort to restore authorization for a second ship, and Golden cosponsored an amendment in the House Armed Services Committee markup to raise the level of spending authorized in the bill and add a third ship. A timeline of Golden’s work on the issue can be found here.
The Congressman worked to include a number of other Maine priorities in this year’s House NDAA, including:
- Authorization for critical tests on the energy plant for the DDG(X) destroyer program. The DDG(X) is expected to succeed the DDG-51 later this decade and the tests should result in schedule and budget savings for the program;
- Creation of a pilot program to use mass timber - including cross-laminated timber - products in military construction;
- Maintaining the priority training and funding status of the KC-135, the principal aircraft of the Maine National Guard;
- Funding to support defense industrial skills and technology training at the Roux Institute;
- Authorization for advanced research at the University of Maine, such as advanced manufacturing, polar research, and thermoplastics for military vehicles; and
- A study to learn from the transitions of previous classes of new ships, such as the Zumwalt, and apply those lessons to the future transition from the DDG-51 to the DDG(X).