BANGOR, Maine — Senator Susan Collins says she—and Bath Iron Works officials—were "shocked" to hear the Navy wants to cut back the number of destroyers it will buy. If that decision stands, it could hurt jobs at BIW.
The news came on Thursday that the Navy is proposing to reduce the number of new DDG-51 destroyers by cutting orders for five ships, as a way to save money for other needs. Those Arleigh Burke-class ships are the specialty of Bath Iron Works, which is one of two shipyards that builds them.
A defense trade journal reported that the Department of Defense proposes eliminating more than 40 percent of the DDG 51 destroyers scheduled to be built beginning in 2021.
Defense News reported that a Dec. 16 memo obtained from the Office of Management and Budget would also reduce the size of the Navy's fleet by five ships to 287, instead of increasing it to the 355-ship fleet desired by President Donald Trump and written into the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.
Collins says the announcement is contrary to the Navy's previous plan to increase the number of ships in its fleet. The Senator said Monday she wants answers and says she and Senator King will push the Senate to keep the current schedule for building destroyers.
"Our Navy has never been more important given the turmoil we are seeing all over the world, and the buildup by China of its fleet. So I am hopeful if this truly gets incorporated into the President's budget, we will be successful in reversing it. But we are a long ways from knowing if the President will even accept this recommendation."
FULL SUSAN COLLINS INTERVIEW
Collins says she has already sent a letter with her concerns to the Secretary of Defense but has not had an answer so far.