Marinette Marine Thinks Long-Term on LCS Contract and Congress - WBAY

Marinette Marine Thinks Long-Term on LCS Contract and Congress

Kaukauna -

Lobbying reaches a critical stage in the next few weeks on Capitol Hill over the future of the Littoral Combat Ship. Next week House members are expected to vote on how many ships to fund as part of the 2015 Defense Authorization Act. The appropriation process will then begin.

Lawmakers, from Governor Walker to Wisconsin's congressional delegation, have been fighting for full funding.

"I think there's a very compelling argument that I've tried to make to members of Congress and the administration that the littoral ships are some of the most efficient for federal taxpayers dollars," Walker said Monday.

The governor, along with Marinette Marine President and CEO Chuck Goddard, attended an expansion ground breaking at Team Industries in Kaukauna. The pipe fabrication company is one of about 100 in Wisconsin making parts for the ship.

"Companies like Team Industries are absolutely important for us to build LCS on time," Goddard said in an interview with Action 2 News.

Last week the House Armed Services Committee voted to fully fund two ships in 2015 along with advanced procurements for two more. The Navy's original proposal would have fully funded all four. Furthermore the Department of Defense has announced it wants to make 20 fewer ships than the Navy originally proposed. Half are being made at Marinette Marine, the other half at a shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.

"You've got to have a long-term view on that," Goddard said. "LCS has always been a controversial program in terms of the scrutiny that it gets, and yes you have to expect it. It's part of their responsibilities is to look at the programs."

Wisconsin Republican Congressman Reid Ribble considers two fully funded ships a success, considering some in Congress want to eliminate funding completely.

"The next step in this journey is to begin to work with the appropriations process," he said Monday. "There are members of Congress that come from congressional districts that either didn't get a contract or have a risk of loosing some type of construction contract in their district, and they're going to want to take money from this program, LCS, and put it to their program."

Goddard said the message he's relayed to his employees is to keep performing and producing ships on time.

"You have to remember we are the shipbuilder," he said. "What we do is build the ship. There's things that have to do with the operational aspects really aren't ours to answer."

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