WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Maine's two U.S. Senators joined a bipartisan group in Congress Wednesday in introducing the Supplying Help to Infrastructure in Ports, Yards, and America’s Repair Docks (SHIPYARD) Act of 2021.
According to a joint release sent out by the offices of Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Independent Sen. Angus King, the legislation would provide $25 billion to make investments needed to optimize, improve, and rebuild shipyard facilities, electrical infrastructure, environmental systems, and the equipment of public and private shipyards in the U.S. that support the U.S. Navy fleet.
The act would designate $21 billion for the Navy’s four public shipyards in Maine, Virginia, Hawaii, and Washington, $2 billion for major Navy private new construction shipyards, and $2 billion for Navy private repair shipyards.
The legislation aims to address a backlog of modernization, maintenance, and expansion projects the U.S. Navy has identified at public shipyards and provide the Navy flexibility to support capital improvement projects and other investments at yards that are critical to maintaining and growing the fleet. Projects identified by the Secretary of the Navy would include improvements to shipyard infrastructure, construction of new dry docks, and other items to enable these shipyards to keep pace with Navy needs for decades to come.
Among other provisions, Collins and King say the legislation would:
- Fully fund the Navy’s $21 billion Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP) at the nation’s four public shipyards in Kittery, Maine; Portsmouth, Virginia; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and Bremerton, Washington.
- Invest $2 billion in commercial repair shipyards, subcontractors and suppliers that maintain the U.S. Navy fleet, allowing the Secretary of the Navy to fund key upgrades and infrastructure modernization projects to address current and future maintenance needs.
- Invest $2 billion in commercial new construction shipyards, subcontractors and suppliers that build the U.S. Navy fleet, allowing the Secretary of the Navy to fund key upgrades and infrastructure modernization projects to meet current and future Navy capability and capacity needs.
- Provide all funds via the Defense Production Act, removing typical fiscal year constraints on appropriations and increasing flexibility to enable the Secretary of the Navy to accelerate contract awards.
“The importance of our naval assets to our national security and global stability has never been greater, which is why it is so critical that our defense industrial base has the capacity to build and maintain a larger fleet,” Collins said. “If we are serious about the United States competing against and deterring China, we have to consider our vital defense infrastructure. For example, the Navy has specifically identified a critical lack of dry dock capacity at our nation’s four public shipyards. I have long advocated for modernization of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Bath Iron Works in Maine to help the highly skilled employees continue to successfully carry out their essential missions in modern, streamlined facilities. Our bipartisan legislation would support infrastructure improvements at shipyards across the country to help reduce maintenance backlogs, increase safety and efficiency, and accommodate growth to counter China’s growing naval ambitions. As a member of the Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue to advocate for infrastructure projects at shipyards to keep our Navy strong.”
“Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Bath Iron Works play critical roles in both our nation’s national defense and Maine’s economy,” King said. “The contributions of these yards are absolutely essential to the Navy’s ability to operate, and create thousands of good-paying jobs across Maine - both on-site and with contractors who provide additional support. As the Navy seeks to grow its fleet to address an array of challenges across the globe, and the associated maintenance requirements continue to expand, it is absolutely essential that we provide these shipyards with the modern tools and technologies they need to meet growing demand. This bipartisan legislation will make much-needed investments in a critical part of our national security infrastructure – including adaptations to prepare for the potential impacts of climate change – ensuring that these storied yards will be able to continue to fulfill their important duties for decades to come.”
Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) also introduced the legislation, along with Reps. Rob Wittman (R-VA), and Mike Gallagher (R-WI).