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October 28, 2010

Senators make plea for full funding for destroyers

U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe this week sent a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee urging them to strongly insist upon the funding levels for the DDG-1000 and DDG-51 destroyer programs included in the FY2011 Defense Appropriations bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. While the Senate Appropriations Committee fully funded both shipbuilding programs as requested by President Obama, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense made cuts of $108 million in the DDG-1000 program and $54 million from the DDG-51 program. Neither the full House nor the Senate has considered the FY2011 Defense Appropriations bill.

"Every dollar in the President's budget request for the DDG-1000 program and the DDG-51 restart is necessary to ensure the timely and cost-effective delivery of these ships to the Navy," said Senators Collins and Snowe. "The House cuts create two more hurdles for the Navy as it seeks to complete funding for the DDG-1000 program and restart the DDG-51 program. In addition, these cuts only add to the uncertainty for our nation's shipbuilders, including Maine's dedicated workers at Bath Iron Works."

The Senators say that the Navy's modernization plan for its large surface combatant fleet relies upon the DDG-1000 and DDG-51 programs. The text of the letter is below:

Dear Chairman Inouye and Vice Chairman Cochran:

As part of his Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11) budget request, President Obama requested funding for the DDG-1000 and DDG-51 programs at $186.3 million and $2.9 billion respectively. Thanks to your leadership, the Senate Appropriations Committee fully funded the President's request; however, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense (HAC-D) made cuts to both programs. Therefore, we are requesting that, during negotiations with the House, you strongly insist on the Senate's position and fully fund the DDG-1000 and DDG-51 accounts in the FY11 Defense Appropriations bill.

The HAC-D proposes to reduce FY11 funding for DDG-1000 program closing costs from the President's Budget request of $186.3 million to $77.5 million on the basis that cost savings exist because of the removal of the Volume Search Radar (VSR) from the DDG-1000 design. Although Dr. Ash Carter, the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, did remove the VSR from the DDG-1000 design as part of his Nunn-McCurdy certification in June, the President's FY11 request for DDG-1000 did not include funding for the volume search radar; the purpose of the FY11 funding was for program completion costs only. In addition, Dr. Carter's decision to remove the VSR from the DDG-1000 design was intended to allow the Navy to reinvest the resulting savings into the DDG-1000 program, not to allow the Navy or Congress to direct the cost-savings toward another program.

The HAC-D also proposes to reduce funding for the FY11 request of $2.922 billion for the DDG-51 by $53.7 million. Because these ships represent two of the initial ships in the DDG-51 program re-start, it is critical that the final bill fully fund the Senate position for the DDG-51 shipbuilding program to demonstrate Congress's commitment to the ship swap and the DDG-51 restart. As long time supporters of a 313-ship Navy and our nation's shipbuilding industrial base, you understand the importance of maintaining continuity as the Navy and the specialized complex surface combatant shipbuilding industrial base work through the re-start and the continuation of the DDG-51 procurement program.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and for your continued dedication to ensuring our brave men and women in uniform have the ships necessary to defend our nation.

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