By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, announced that he helped secure authorization for the construction of three Littoral Combat Ships in the final version of the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. The NDAA was released today.
“Securing the authorization for three more Littoral Combat Ships is a big win for Southwest Alabama and the thousands of people who work at the Austal shipyard in Mobile. Just as important, it is good news for the U.S. Navy because it means we will have more highly-capable ships added to the fleet,” Congressman Byrne said in a statement.
“Securing the future of AL jobs has been my top priority in Washington. I’ve been working hard, as Alabama’s representative in conference negotiations on naval readiness, and was proud to deliver authorization of three Littoral Combat Ships, which will keep production lines in Mobile very busy, and keep the U.S. Navy on the cutting edge!” U.S. Sen. Luther Strange (R) said on social media.
“My office is constantly working to maintain and support our shipbuilding industry,” Byrne said, “And I could not be prouder that we were able to overcome challenges in the Senate to get three ships authorized. I want to thank Chairman Mac Thornberry for his help and support of the LCS program, and I look forward to supporting the bill when it comes before the House for a vote.”
“Alabama’s men and women in uniform, and the researchers and manufacturers who support them, are truly the pride of our state,” Sen. Strange said. “With today’s vote, I ensured that Alabamians will continue to play a pivotal role in keeping the United States safe and secure. From the shipyards of Mobile to the launch pads of Huntsville, I am proud to work alongside Senator Shelby in representing the grit behind the finest fighting force in the world.”
The Independence class version of the LCS is built by Austal USA in Mobile.
Since the House and Senate passed different versions of the NDAA, a conference committee was established to work out the differences. The House bill authorized the construction of three LCS while the Senate version only authorized two LCS. The final version negotiated between the House and the Senate authorizes the construction of three LCS.
Earlier this year, Congressman Byrne warned that the Senate-version of the NDAA failed to adequately support the LCS program and could have resulted in layoffs at the Austal shipyard.
4,000 Alabamians are direct employees of Austal, and thousands of other jobs are indirectly tied to the shipyard.
The Houses and Senate agreed to increase military pay by 2.1 percent; they also agreed to increase the size of the armed forces by 20,000 troops.
The defense budget approved by the conference committee now has to go back for votes on the floors of both the House and Senate. The House could vote as early as next week. Congress still has to hash out methods to pay for the budget. The current Continuing Resolution (CR) will expire December 8 so the Congress has to pass an actual budget or a new CR..
Congressman Bradley Byrne is the vice-chairman of the House Seapower Subcommittee. He represents Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.