LCS Funding Brings House Armed Services Staff Director to Marine - WBAY

LCS Funding Brings House Armed Services Staff Director to Marinette

Marinette -

An influential member of the House Armed Services Committee toured Marinette Marine Tuesday alongside Wisconsin Congressman Reid Ribble.

Ribble, the Republican representing the 8th Congressional District, invited the committee's staff director, Bob Simmons, to Marinette before appropriations begin on the 2015 Defense Authorization Act for the Littoral Combat Ship program.

Marinette Marine is building half the Navy's contract; a shipyard in Mobile, Alabama is building the other half.

Calling today's tour with Marinette Marine, Naval and congressional officials "critical," Ribble said he "feels better" after Wednesday's talks.

"I wanted them to actually see the investment that's actually been made here," he told Action 2 News after the tour. "We need to make sure the Navy keeps their promises in response to the investment."

Ribble lobbied for appropriations to at least cover material requirements for current contracts as part of the 2015 legislation.

The Department of Defense wants to halt production of the LCS to 32 ships, 20 fewer than originally proposed.

Marinette Marine officials said in March conference call current contracts should keep work at the shipyard through 2018. And Monday Action 2 News reported Lockheed Martin is looking to market the LCS internationally.

"Now it's a matter of following this process through," Ribble said. "And the shipyard has some homework that they're going to be doing."

Access to the tour and meetings were closed to the press and an interview with Simmons wasn't granted.

But in a statement Claude Chafin, a spokesperson for the House Armed Services Committee said, "As we get ready to work to pass the Defense Authorization Act, first person oversight for some of our most critical defense facilities is very important."

Ribble said Simmons has already toured the Alabama facility, and Chafin added he's touring other critical defense facilities nationwide.

"There was a robust give and take between the shipyard, the Navy and myself," Ribble said.

Chafin said the Defense Authorization Act should be introduced before the House Armed Services Committee in two weeks and the lawmakers in the House should begin debate in mid-May.

"To actually get on site and see it was pretty critical," Ribble said. "Pretty important for them to see what has actually happened."

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