By Congressman Bradley Byrne
Recently, reports began surfacing of the possibility that the United States Navy could cut its order of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) by 20 vessels. These ships, built in part by Austal USA right here at home in South Alabama, represent over 4,000 jobs in our community and huge investments in capital. A cut in this order would affect the livelihood of thousands of South Alabama families at a time when many are still struggling.
Not only are these ships the pride of South Alabama, they represent the future of the United States Navy. The Secretary of the Navy himself, Ray Mabus, called the cutting-edge LCS ships the backbone of our future fleet. As the way we fight the enemy changes and evolves, so must the face of our military – to a smarter and more adaptable force. These ships are designed for close-range, quick and surgical strikes. I believe the LCS has a necessary and important role to play in our future fleet.
This is why my recent appointment to the House Armed Services Committee is a critical victory for jobs in South Alabama. Although different government entities have the ability to weigh in on the direction of our Navy, ultimately Congress will decide the best way forward for this important program. These ships are built on time and within budget by our workers in South Alabama. From my position on the House Armed Services Committee, I am already having conversations with our committee leadership about the importance of this program to South Alabama as well as to the future of the United States Navy.
We have a fight ahead of us. This will take great effort and skilled negotiation in order to achieve a positive result. But I am encouraged. As a community we are united behind this project. We have leaders who are committed to working with me to address this issue in Washington. With your support, I will make our case passionately to the powers that be and I will not give up. I believe that we will be successful in preserving this program because we have a strong case to make. I look forward to building coalitions to aid in our fight and to preserving these important jobs for South Alabama, and for the future of our Navy.