Plans for construction of the Navy's next-generation destroyer at Bath Iron Works
and a Mississippi shipyard remain on track, Pentagon officials said Monday as they sent next year's budget request to Congress.
Unlike past years, when the destroyer program and other shipbuilding projects have been targeted for cuts, the fiscal year 2008 budget stays the course for the sleek new ships.
The budget requests $3.5 billion to complete construction of the two lead Elmo Zumwalt class destroyers, with one to be built at BIW and the other at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, Miss.
After the lead ships are built, the two shipyards are expected to compete for future contracts. The Navy plans to contract for one destroyer each in 2009, 2010 and 2011, for a total of five ships. Each ship will cost the Navy more than $3 billion.
The Navy has renamed the destroyer the DDG-1000. It was previously known as the DD(X). The ship is the successor to the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke class destroyers that are now being built by BIW and the Mississippi yard.
The DDG-1000 is a multi-mission surface combatant that will be highly automated and equipped with sophisticated weaponry and radar devices. The crews will be about half the size of those on DDG-51 destroyers.
The submission of the budget request to Congress is the first step in a long process of consideration by lawmakers, which will culminate with enactment of a final defense bill later
In recent years, the destroyer program has come under heavy attack by top Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee. The budget for the destroyers has been slashed, with funds later restored by the Senate.
With Democrats now in charge, the Maine delegation is expecting much more favorable treatment during the upcoming budget cycle.
Source: The Record