NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The good news:
With a few sparks, a welder etched the initials of the ship's sponsor onto a steel plate, and, with that, the keel for the nation's 23rd Virginia Class submarine, to be known as the USS New Jersey, was truly laid.
There's talk of going from building two submarines per year to building three.
"Oh we absolutely support that," said Newport News Shipbuilding Vice President for Submarine Construction Dave Bolcar. "The goal of getting to 66 attack submarines is important to our nation. So, continually building them at the pace we're on supports that. We definitely support that additional support if it makes its way through Congress."
The New Jersey's Commanding Officer said the Virginia Class subs are an excellent buy.
"All the latest technology goes into there. They're fast. They're quiet," said CDR Joseph Spinks. "And they provide an amazing service to the U.S. Navy."
The bad news:
The Pentagon's 2020 budget calls for canceling the 2024 mid-life refueling and complex overhaul of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, sending it to retirement about a quarter century early.
That would be a big blow to the shipyard, which is counting on the 48 months of work, and the more than $4 billion the job would bring.
Members of Congress said today it's not a smart idea, and they plan to fight it.
"This was really dropped out of left field," said Rep. Donald Norcross (D-New Jersey). " And we have a lot of questions. Why is this a change? Why are we making this critical decision when all we've heard for the last four years is we need to ramp up, not, ramp down?"
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va., 3rd District) thinks the Truman decision will get over-ruled.
"They're trying to cancel the refueling, but I think when they do the arithmetic, the additional cost of laying them off and getting them back will be more than it's worth," he said. "And my sense is we will be doing that refueling."
This is far from being a done deal. Congress has until September 30th to complete work on the FY '20 budget.