By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, October 31, 2017, the Moore for Senate campaign suggested that Doug Jones would not be a reliable vote for the littoral combat ships that Austal builds for the U.S. Navy in Mobile.
The Moore campaign said in a release: “Doug Jones is scary for Alabama’s defense industry; would turn Mobile shipyard into a ghost town.”
The Moore campaign said that, “The Obama presidency was often a frightening time for Alabama’s defense companies and military installations. In his 2017 defense budget proposal, President Barack Obama wanted to cut the total number of Littoral Combat Ships in the Navy from 50 down to 42. Austal USA Shipyard near downtown Mobile is one of only two sites in the nation that builds the Littoral Combat Ships. According to a report by al.com, President Obama’s proposed cuts to the Littoral Combat Ships fleet would have put ‘thousands of jobs in Mobile at risk.’”
“President Obama’s hollowing out of the military put thousands of Alabama jobs at risk and hampered the ability of the U.S. military to respond with maximum effectiveness to threats around the globe,” Moore remarked on Tuesday.
“Doug Jones, a proud delegate for Obama in 2012, as a senator would be a disaster for Alabama’s defense industry and the U.S. military,” Moore Campaign Chairman Bill Armistead said. “Doug refuses to say how he will support the military and American interests around the globe, yet he is proud to admit that he will stand with Planned Parenthood. Doug Jones has his priorities upside down and he can’t be trusted on national security.”
Chairman Armistead said, “A West Point graduate and a Vietnam veteran, Judge Moore will fully support the Littoral Combat Ships fleet built in Mobile and he will protect the 117,000 Alabama jobs associated with the defense industry.”
The Littoral Combat Ship is a new class of multipurpose warships that are small enough to operate effectively close to shore.
Lockheed Martin and Austal both hold separate contracts to build different versions of the LCS. Each class of LCS offers special capabilities for the Navy. The Austal version is an all aluminum trimaran design while the Lockheed Martin built class of LCS’s are a more conventional design.
The two classes were originally designed to compete against one another for a single LCS contract, but the Navy found that both were effective and the two designs were so different that having both offered the Navy advantages to just selecting one contractor to give the entire LCS project too. The LCS is reminiscent of the massive fleet of small destroyers and destroyer escorts that the Navy operated during World War II and for decades thereafter. As destroyers gained more missions and more capabilities they have grown bigger over the years. Modern destroyers are as big as and are more capable than many classes of World War II era cruisers. While today’s destroyers remain the backbone of the Navy’s deep water fleet, the Navy realized that there was a need for smaller classes of ship which can operate in the shallower waters close to shore where the action is to support special forces and amphibious units while also being able to combat naval mines, pirates, fast attack craft, and other contingencies.
The program was threatened during the second term of President Barack Obama; but the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Defense were divided on the issue of the LCS’s. The Republicans in Congress, Alabama’s Senators: Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions strongly objected to then Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s plan to cut the number of LSCs ordered.
Sen. Richard Shelby said in a statement at the time, “The Obama Administration has once again demonstrated that it is tone-deaf when it comes to national security with this reckless proposal. The LCS is critical to our Navy’s ability to respond to current and future threats across the world, and we cannot threaten our military’s ability to execute future operations with this powerful warfighter.”
Then Sen. Jeff Sessions said, “This would be a monumental error and must not stand. It would overrule the long-settled priorities of the Navy. The LCS has been a top priority for the Navy for almost 20 years, has been supported by the last six Secretaries of the Navy and every Chief of Naval Operations since Admiral Vern Clark, and has had strong bipartisan Congressional support every year. This is troubling not just for the 4,000 hardworking Austal employees in Mobile, but also for the future of our Navy and our national security. The Navy and DOD have for years praised LCS as crucial to our future naval warfighting capabilities, and a necessary component of the surface warfare community.”
During the last decade Democrats have supported defense cuts. President Donald Trump has vowed to “Make America Great Again” and has committed to rebuilding the Navy and other armed services.
The Special Election will be on December 12.