ME SEN: Tom Allen's Bath Iron Works debacle

Maine Democratic Senate candidate and 1st CD Congressman Tom Allen continues to exhibit his dire lack of leadership. Bath Iron Works is one of the biggest employers in Allen’s district, and is poised to lose a massive amount of work now that the Navy has acquiesced to the House’s version of a Defense Appropriations bill, and has scrapped the DDG-1000 program.

BIW was the lead yard for the new DDG-1000 program of next-generation destroyers, a program that Senator Snowe says the U.S. spent nearly $18 billion on research and development for. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved funding to continue the program, but the House Armed Services Committee did not. Maine Senator Susan Collins sits on the Senate committee, but Maine and BIW are un-represented on the House committee. This was not always the case: in 2003, Tom Allen chose to leave the Armed Services Committee, leaving BIW and Maine workers to fend for themselves.

Now the Navy has canceled the DDG-1000 program and will revert to the decades-old DDG-51 program on a limited basis. Tom Allen seems to be celebrating this development, when in fact BIW is facing a crisis. Allen’s position has shifted from full support of the DDG-1000 program three weeks ago, to the complete opposite position now that the Navy has trashed the program. In fact, his change of heart is remarkable, when looked at side-by-side.

On July 2, 2008, Allen and five other New England Congressmen wrote a letter to the chairs of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, strongly advocating for the funding of the DDG-1000 program. Here’s a quote:

“Not fully funding the program (DDT-1000) could set our nation and the U.S. Navy back an entire generation and threaten the skill-sets and knowledge-base of our highly dedicated shipbuilding and ship systems workforce.”

But just 3 weeks later, Allen directly contradicted this statement in a quote to the press:

“The DDT-1000 could lead to layoffs for workers,whereas with the DDT-51 — we’re building them now. It’s going to be more steady work. … There should be absolutely no layoffs.”

Here are more flip-flops:

On July 2, Tom Allen said:

“The DDG-1000 is designed to defeat current and anticipated future threats that existing combatants cannot.”

But on July 22, Tom Allen said:

“It’s about building a ship at significant costs that doesn’t answer the threats of the future.”

On July 2, Tom Allen said:

“Close to 10,000 jobs across the country could be negatively affected.”

But on July 22, Tom Allen said:

“I am confident that the return to the DDG 51 program will maintain a stable workforce at Bath for years to come.”

On July 2, Tom Allen said:

“Congressional action to delay or deny funding to this shipbuilding program will remove capabilities the Navy methodically determined as necessary to fight and win in littoral waters.”

But on July 22, Tom Allen said:

“The DDG 1000 really doesn’t meet the national security needs of the country”

Allen’s double-talk on this issue is astounding, and his pathetic dithering in the face of such a serious issue should enrage the workers at BIW and the voters of Maine in general.

This story is developing rapidly, we’ll check back in with more as it comes in.