Marinette Marine Builds Combat Ship While DOD Considers Cuts - WBAY

Marinette Marine Builds Combat Ship While DOD Considers Cuts

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The U.S. Navy's Littoral Combat Ship program has created thousands of shipbuilding jobs in Wisconsin. However as a keel laying ceremony Wednesday celebrates the beginning of the next ship being built at Marinette Marine, there's concern the program could come to an early end.

The LCS 11 keel is the first of 71 modules that once assembled, in about 18 months, will become the USS Sioux City. The keel laying ceremony celebrates the beginning of construction, a tradition said to bring a vessel good luck and divine protection which are twoIwo things the entire Littoral Combat Ship program is in need of.

"Right now from a Navy perspective, they're standing by a 52 ship class of LCS's," says Joe North, Vice President for Lockheed Martin.

That was the plan, but now the U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary wants to slash that number by more than a third, which would significantly affect Lockheed Martin, Fincantieri and Marinette Marine.

"We've built up this work force and we want to keep this workforce employed.  There's over 2-thousand people that come in the gates every day here," says Chuck Goddard, the president and CEO of Marinette Marine.

They are counting on the Littoral Combat Ship's merits to win over the Department of Defense.

"In the world of tightened budgets, it is the least expensive warship being built today," says North.

Not only does an LCS sell for a mere $360 million, it takes the place of three different vessels.

"There really is no other ship like this in the world the modularity of it, the flexibility," says Goddard.

"Within 72 hours, it can go from a surface ship to an anti submarine ship or mine counter measures," says North.

Unless they hear otherwise ...

"Our plan is to just keep building these ships," says North.

And hope the centuries old keel laying tradition brings the luck they need.

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