Wis. Lawmaker Fights for Future of LCS Program - WBAY

Wis. Lawmaker Fights for Future of LCS Program

Marinette -

After a report released this week detailing a Pentagon recommendation to order fewer Littoral Combat Ships, we hear more from one Wisconsin lawmaker vowing to fight to keep those ships coming out of Marinette Marine.

Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson says before next year's budget is presented, with the possibility of the U.S. Navy ordering 20 fewer combat ships, he's on a mission to make sure congress fully understands the Navy's commitment to the program.

Friday afternoon, Johnson toured Waupaca Foundry and met with Marinette and Menominee, Michigan business leaders. He addressed the source of the memo sent to the U.S. Navy earlier this month.

"The directive you're talking about came from a temporary interim deputy defense secretary and I'm not sure if she necessarily speaks for the Department of Defense," he said.

Johnson says part of his job now is to do all he can to keep the 1,400 jobs at Marinette Marine.

"Certainly working with senators to make sure they are fully informed of really how much the Navy really does value these ships. The Navy itself is still onboard with all 52," said Johnson.

Lockheed Martin, Marinette Marine's partner in supplying the ships, said yesterday the recommendation does not affect MMC's current contract to build 10 LCS.

That's something Marinette Mayor Denise Ruleau is glad to hear.

But the thought of what could happen as a result of a reduction of LCS orders does concern her.

"The long term effects would be Marinette Marine would be laying off employees at that point, and I'm certain and with that comes everything you know less in the economy," said Ruleau, adding that business will be down at grocery stores and entertainment, retail locations.

The 2015 federal budget proposal is expected to be released in February, so there is a chance the request could still be overturned or denied.

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