Virginia lawmakers urge Navy to support shipbuilders during pandemic

Navy

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Sept. 28, 2018) The final piece of the underwater hull of the future aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) is lowered into place at Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding. John F. Kennedy is the second Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier and the second aircraft carrier to be named after the 35th president. The 1,096-foot hull is longer than three football fields and more than 3,000 shipbuilders and 2,000 suppliers from across the country are supporting construction of the ship. The christening for John f. Kennedy is scheduled for late 2019. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries by Matt Hildreth/Released) 180928-N-N0101-110

WASHINGTON (WAVY) — More than a dozen lawmakers from Virginia have joined forces to request the U.S. Navy support the shipbuilding and ship maintenance industrial base.

The lawmakers wrote a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Navy James Guerts asking him to ensure the safety of workers remains “the highest priority.”

Those signed on the letter include Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA), U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, and Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Ben Cline (R-VA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA).

“We believe that the private shipbuilding and ship maintenance industrial base is performing a vital public function during this pandemic and should remain open for business, sustaining employment and providing products and services which contribute to our Navy’s recapitalization and readiness,” they wrote in the letter. “During these challenging times, we are particularly concerned about the shipbuilding and ship repair enterprise and safety of our ship workers.”

The lawmakers also asked the Navy support expeditious contractual agreements between the shipbuilding industry and the military to make sure the partnership “fully alleviates the negative impacts” on workers and companies by COVID-19.

Related:

Here is the letter in-full:

The Honorable James F. Geurts
Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development, and Acquisition)
1000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, DC 20350-1000

Dear Mr. Geurts

We are writing to express strong support for the shipbuilding and ship maintenance industrial base. Because of our support of this critical but fragile industry, we are deeply concerned about their viability during the national emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We applaud the actions you directed in your March 20 memorandum and encourage your continued engagement on contracting issues which may arise as the shipbuilding and ship maintenance industrial base works through the pandemic.

We believe that the private shipbuilding and ship maintenance industrial base is performing a vital public function during this pandemic and should remain open for business, sustaining employment and providing products and services which contribute to our Navy’s recapitalization and readiness. During these challenging times, we are particularly concerned about the shipbuilding and ship repair enterprise and safety of our ship workers.  We would ask your support for the following items:

  • We request your support in ensuring that the safety of our shipworkers remains the bedrock of any future discussion with additional contractual adjustments provided to alleviate any hazards experienced by workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Similar to the authority provided by section 3610 of the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136), we request your support with expeditious contractual adjustments between Navy and industry to ensure a healthy partnership that fully alleviates the negative impacts, to both workers and shipyards, associated with COVID-19 relief. 
  • Pursuant to section 4003 of the CARES Act, we request your support to expediting access to loans and loan guarantees provided that could be used to assist the shipbuilding and ship maintenance industrial base.
  • To ensure continued small business participation in ship repair, your assurance that previously programmed continuous maintenance availability will continue.
  • To ensure a sustained industrial base, development of the LHA-9 acquisition effort and use of the FY19 LHA-9 Advanced Procurement monies to accelerate construction of an additional large deck amphibious ship.

We would like to thank you for your leadership of Navy acquisition during this critical time for our Navy and our nation. We look forward to continuing to work with you on providing for our future fleet with a strong, robust, and resilient shipbuilding and ship maintenance industrial base.

Sincerely,

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