Magazine article National Defense

Senator Sounds Alarms about U.S. Shipbuilding Industry

Magazine article National Defense

Senator Sounds Alarms about U.S. Shipbuilding Industry

Article excerpt

The current pace of Navy shipbuilding could weaken a fragile industrial base, said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. Further, the Navy's focus on the Littoral Combat Ship could drain resources from the surface combatant fleet, she told the Surface Navy Association.

"At its worst, the cruiser-destroyer force will be ... 25 percent below the required number, making this shortfall the largest and longest shortfall of any class of ships.

If this administration is committed to maintaining high-end combat capability, this shortfall must be significantly mitigated, or better yet, eliminated in the future plans."

She questioned whether building an average of one-and-a-half destroyers per year would be enough to preserve the skills and jobs at shipyards such as Bath Iron Works in her home state. That procurement rate also could fail to stimulate competition between shipyards, she said.

Navy officials years ago set a goal of having a 313-ship fleet. The numbers of ships in each class have been shuffled since then. One revised benchmark of having 94 large surface combatants recognizes the growing need for ships able to perform a variety of missions such as ballistic missile defense, open ocean anti-submarine warfare and strike warfare, Collins said. …

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