The United States Senate will vote today to move forward on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the bill that governs United States Department of Defense for the upcoming year. The NDAA includes a provision that maintains support for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, which employs thousands of Wisconsin workers and contributes millions of dollars to our state economy. Senator Baldwin has been a strong advocate for the LCS program for years and helped ensure inclusion of the LCS language in the NDAA.
"Wisconsin is home to one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the nation, including a strong shipbuilding industry with a history of success providing ships for our nation's defense," Baldwin said. "I have fought for this program because it employs thousands of hardworking Wisconsinites and positively impacts not only the local community but has a ripple effect across the state, boosting our made in Wisconsin economy."
The U.S. Navy has contracted with Lockheed Martin who contracted with Marinette Marine to build a total of 12 Littoral Combat Ships in Wisconsin by 2019. Marinette Marine has just completed production of their third ship, the USS Milwaukee, which is being launched today in Marinette. Five additional ships are currently in some stage of production. Previously in danger of being cut under sequestration, the NDAA helps secure the funding for four ships to be built at Marinette, two in 2014, and two in 2015.
"On behalf of MMC and our great mid-western employees who contribute so much to our nation's security by building the Freedom class Littoral Combat Ship, I want to express deep gratitude to Senator Tammy Baldwin for her exemplary leadership," said Chuck Goddard, CEO of Marinette Marine Corporation. "In particular, the role she played in preserving the current 20 ship Block Buy from attacks was key in avoiding delay and harm to this critical program so needed by our warfighters. Senator Baldwin's hard work in the Senate enabled a compromise amendment that leaves the current Block Buy in place and allows MMC to continue constructing the LCS, and expanding our workforce to help us build the U.S. Navy's ship of the future."
According to Marinette, the LCS program has brought over $137 million to the Wisconsin economy already, while supporting well over 2,000 jobs at more than 240 separate businesses in the state.
The bipartisan NDAA, which Congress has passed every year for 52 years, gives guidance to the Pentagon for all of its actions, conduct and spending for the year. This year's bill contained other provisions Senator Baldwin has fought for as well. These included: maintaining the possibility that the 55,000 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs) serving as replacements for the Marine Corps' and Army's Humvees will be built in Oshkosh, Wis.; strengthening health, education and employment benefits for veterans; combating sexual assault in the military; authorizing the Medal of Honor for Wisconsinite First Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing for acts of valor during the Civil War's Battle of Gettysburg; authorizing the award of the Purple Heart to victims of the Fort Hood terrorist attack, six of whom were from Wisconsin; and ensuring that the Wisconsin National Guard can retain its important role in supporting American military operations worldwide.