The Department of Defense announced that they would back off a previously announced Navy proposal to conduct a winner-take-all competition between shipyards for the construction of the next generation destroyer DD(X).
According to the President's fiscal year 2006 budget, Northrop Grumman (NOC)
Ship Systems in Pascagoula, Mississippi, was scheduled to build the first three DD(X) destroyers, with Maine's General Dynamics (GD)
Bath Iron Works shipyard building two additional ships.
However, changes to the shipbuilding budget triggered the Navy to explore a revised bidding process that would have created a winner-take-all competition between Northrop Grumman and Bath Iron Works.
Congressman Gene Taylor (D-MS), co-chairman of the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus, said, "We've known all along that a single-source shipyard for DD(X) is a bad idea."
"You're looking at a situation where one shipyard would likely be forced out of business. Then you're left with one place in the entire United States to build surface combatants," Taylor continued. "I just can't see how permanently limiting our ability to produce ships can be good for national security."
In March, Taylor and forty-two other members of the bi-partisan Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus sent a letter to President Bush to warn him of the long-term negative consequences that a winner-take-all contract bidding process would have on shipyards and Navy force structure. The Caucus also urged the President to execute the DD(X) program as outlined in his FY2006 budget request, with Northrop Grumman and Bath Iron Works splitting work in design and ship construction.
Taylor warned, "I'm optimistic, but cautiously optimistic. We've taken a step in the right direction on the DD(X) issue, but we're still faced with a shrinking Navy fleet. There's a lot of work to do to ensure that the United States maintains its naval superiority well into the future."
A senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, Taylor co-chairs the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus with Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis (R-VA). Davis and Taylor founded the Caucus in January 2005 as a forum for members of Congress to discuss the shipbuilding issues that impact their districts. The Caucus enables members to work together in a unified effort to support increased shipbuilding efforts for a strong Navy capable of protecting America's vital national interests for years to come