Is the Navy having some problems getting along with shipbuilder Northrop Grumman?Â Defense media overlooked some stern words–and a hand-carried letter–Congressman Gene Taylor (D-MS) delivered to SECNAV Mabus after a February 24 hearing on the Navy’s FY 2011 National Defense Authorization Budget Request.Â Here’s a rough transcript–of what sounds somewhat like an ultimatum:
“…Secretary Mabus, before you leave Iâ€™d like to hand-deliver to you a letter from myself, Senator Cochran (R-MS) and Senator Wicker (R-MS).Â A similar letter was delivered to Northrop Grumman last week.Â And it basically says that Congress has authorized and appropriated five shipsâ€¦and yet, for whatever reason, Northrop and the Navy have not come to terms and gotten those ships started.
The admiral has made an excellent case that he needs a bigger fleet.Â The Congress has already responded to that by authorizing and appropriating the money. We need to get going. And so I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s Northropâ€™s delay. I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s the Navyâ€™s delay. But there is a delay that needs to be addressed and Iâ€™m going to ask you to take a look at that. But again, thank all of you for your services and with that, this meeting is adjourned…”
What’s the deal here?Â Why all the foot-dragging? Is the delay just focusing on Northrop’s Gulf Coast yards?
At any rate, an exchange of letters is certainly not the sort of thing that happens when all is, ah,Â going well in the shipbuilding department.
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