December 12, 2013

Pending budget deal could benefit Maine defense industry

The action would soften spending cuts that could help Bath Iron Works and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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click image to enlarge

In this photo made Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, the first-in-class Zumwalt, the largest U.S. Navy destroyer ever built, is seen at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. The two-year budget deal pending before Congress could benefit Maine’s defense industry

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations, recently warned that the uncertainty from sequestration – combined with the recent furloughs during the government shutdown – could have a “debilitating effect” on shipyards such as Portsmouth. affecting worker retention and recruitment.

“It’s inefficient and you lose productivity,” Greenert said last month. “You can’t hire people, so you can’t distribute your workforce. And you furlough them here and there. So they are going to go elsewhere.”

Bath Iron Works, which is owned by defense contracting giant General Dynamics, is still waiting to hear whether Congress will find several hundred million dollars to pay for a fifth Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51 destroyer at the shipyard.

General Dynamics officials were still waiting to see what happens with the budget and learn the details.

“It’s too early to speculate about what it means for our programs,” said Rob Doolittle, a company spokesman.

The sequestration cuts also threatened to eliminate up to a half-dozen F-35 fighter jets in 2014, military officials told congressional committees in late-October.

Pratt & Whitney manufacturers some of the parts for the F-35 fighters at the company’s North Berwick facility and subcontracts with several other suppliers in Maine, supporting more than 800 jobs that represent nearly $70 million in economic activity for the state.

A representative for Pratt & Whitney could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Kevin Miller can be reached at 317-6256 or at:

kmiller@pressherald.com

Twitter: @KevinMillerDC

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