Congressman Jared Golden yesterday secured an amendment to the FY22 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that authorizes the Navy to enter into a multiyear contract to build up to 15 DDG-51 destroyers beginning in FY2023.
The provision is a significant win for shipbuilders at Bath Iron Works (BIW), one of two shipyards that builds the destroyers, as BIW currently has no contracted work for its over 6,800 person workforce beyond the current contract, which ends next year.
Golden introduced his amendment at the NDAA markup for the House Armed Forces Seapower Subcommittee. The subcommittee, on which Golden serves as vice-chair, passed the congressman’s amendment unanimously.
The bill also authorizes two DDG-51s in FY 2022, a priority Golden and his Maine delegation colleagues have pushed for for months.
This Multiyear Procurement contract will deliver DDG-51 Flight III ships to the Navy over the next five years, ensuring that we have the large surface combatant fleet that we need to remain competitive in the short term,” said Golden.
A new multiyear procurement would help provide the long-term stability necessary to maintain and train BIW’s large workforce at a critical time for the shipyard.
It takes 5-7 years to train a shipbuilder, and much of the shipbuilding workforce will reach retirement age in the next several years. The predictability afforded by a multiyear contract ensures that the nation will have a new generation of proficient, experienced shipbuilders for the coming years, which will be particularly important for BIW as the Navy seeks to develop a new class of destroyer over the next several years.
“A multi-year contract for DDG-51 Flight III destroyers that allows us to continue building our shipbuilding momentum and growing our workforce is critical to enabling BIW and our industry partners to support a smooth transition to the DDG(X) large surface combatant. We appreciate the strong support from Congressman Golden to secure this important amendment, and we remain grateful for the continued support from our entire Congressional delegation,” said Dirk Lesko, President, Bath Iron Works.
Golden’s amendment grants the Secretary of the Navy the authority to enter into one or more multiyear contracts for the procurement of up to 15 Arleigh Burke class Flight III DDG-51 destroyers.
Navy leadership has already indicated their desire to enter into a new multiyear contract for the DDG-51 and consistently cite the ships as versatile, dependable, and an indispensable part of the nation’s fleet.
Earlier this year, the Biden Administration proposed cutting DDG-51 shipbuilding in their presidential budget request, a move that would have put the Navy in an breach of its contract with BIW.
If signed into law, the congressman’s amendment would mark a stunning turnaround in the outlook for the DDG-51 after the administration proposed cutting a ship from the program earlier this year and a confirmation of the long-term utility and value of the destroyers.