Maine Politics

From the Piscataqua to the St. John

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


The Portland Press Herald today has an editorial examining the need for Bath Iron Works from the standpoint of national security.

Though the needs of today's war on terror might focus on other military equipment, that's not to say the needs of a future war wouldn't include more naval vessels. The conflict in Bosnia, for instance, had a strong need for planes in the air. Who's to say a future conflict wouldn't require lots of ships in the sea?

It also would cost the Pentagon more money to re-establish a shipbuilding program if it eliminates one now.

Say, for instance, that it cut funding for DD(X) destroyers to the point where only the facility in Mississippi could stay open. The skilled labor at Bath Iron Works would be eliminated, too, and those workers would move on to other things.

What if, some years later, the Pentagon finds it necessary to boost its destroyer fleet? If it would even be possible, it would cost more to bring those workers back to BIW or to train new, less-skilled employees.

Also, what if, God forbid, an attack should occur at the one facility that makes all the destroyers for the Navy's fleet?

Bath Iron Works shouldn't be kept open for the purpose of saving jobs. It should be kept open, however, for the purpose of saving lives.

One Arleigh Burke Class AEGIS Destroyer, of which Bath currently produces one or two a year creating around 6,400 jobs for skilled craftsmen, costs the equivalent of 3 days in Iraq.

Three days from now, 137 people will be laid-off at BIW.

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