The following is Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Research, Development & Acquisition Sean Stackley's statement on the Avondale shipyard
Today, the Navy is announcing our intentions to help sustain the shipbuilding capability in Louisiana to foster an environment of continued open competition within the shipbuilding industry.
It is critical that the nation maintains a healthy shipbuilding industrial base, able to meet the needs of the Navy as we increase our rate of construction in this decade. A skilled workforce, modern facilities, workload, and competition are the cornerstones of affordability in shipbuilding. The three initiatives being announced today are measures within the Department of the Navy's ability to support the shipbuilding industrial base in Louisiana; to help preserve the skilled workforce that has built ships at Avondale for the U.S. Navy for three quarters of a century, to improve shipbuilding facilities across the state, and to provide greater opportunity to compete for future Navy work.
First, the Navy intends to work with the state of Louisiana, University of New Orleans, New Orleans Metal Trades Association and Delgado Community College to invest up to $10 million to sustain apprentice training and higher education in support of the maritime industry.
Second, the Navy will award contracts for approximately $6 million in Katrina funding towards infrastructure improvements at Textron, Swiftship and MetalShark shipbuilding facilities to increase productivity and competitiveness. These funds, when matched with contractor investments will bring approximately $10 million to improve productivity and competitiveness at these Louisiana shipyards.
Third, the Navy has proposed accelerating production of the double-hulled fleet oiler T-AO(X) from 2017 to 2014 in its Fiscal Year 2012 budget submission. This would allow the Navy to acquire this important capability three years earlier while bringing greater stability and promoting competition in the shipbuilding industry.
Now specifically for Avondale and the state of Louisiana, the Navy is committed to ensuring that Northrop Grumman efficiently and affordably completes LPD 23 and LPD 25 at Avondale in order to maintain a skilled workforce in place for any potential buyers.
Further, the Navy will work with Northrop Grumman and the state in preserving the current Avondale facilities and in preserving plans to upgrade these facilities should a future owner compete for and win future Navy work. In the event that Avondale transfers to a different owner, the Navy is also prepared to provide an agreement, in accordance with the Shipbuilding Capabilities Preservation Act, that would assist in making the yard more competitive for commercial shipbuilding work.
These Navy initiatives strive to build upon the great gulf coast maritime industrial base, critically important to our execution of our 30 year shipbuilding plan, in order to enhance the capability, competition and affordability for future shipbuilding programs like the second Littoral Combat Ship builder in 2012, T-AO(X) in 2014 and LSD(X) in 2017.
I want to expand on the topic of TAO(X) for a minute. Since Secretary Mabus took office, we have been discussing the need to increase our shipbuilding budget, to make shipbuilding more affordable, and seeking ways to increase and expand competition. We took the first steps with the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Submission where we averaged 10 ships a year across the FYDP. We knew there were industrial base challenges with that 30 year shipbuilding plan, particularly in the auxiliary ship area. The acceleration of TAO(X) from FY17 to FY14 that is being announced today today meets the full spirit and intent of the 1990 Oil Pollution Act while addressing a particular industrial base concern and is in concert with the CNO's 313-ship force structure requirement. To be absolutely clear, we will compete this program and are in the process of kicking off the Analysis of Alternatives to frame thosee requirements