U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) Monday announced a $497.0 million military shipbuilding contract award to Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula to construct the seventh National Security Cutter (N.S.C. 7) for the U.S. Coast Guard.
Cochran said the Department of Homeland Security is amending an existing contract with Ingalls to provide FY2014 appropriations to construct NSC 7. Cochran serves on the Senate appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security.
“National Security Cutters provide the Coast Guard with vessels that improve its ability to protect the nation’s coasts and waterways from terrorism, human trafficking, drug smuggling and other maritime threats. This award affirms the good work being done by Mississippi shipbuilders to modernize the Coast Guard fleet,” Cochran said.
“Combined with advanced appropriations provided by Congress for the purchase of long lead time materials, this contract should ensure that NSC construction can proceed economically and without disruption. The purchase of long lead time material to ‘keep the line hot’ will result in a direct savings of $40 million,” he said.
Monday’s contact notification modifies an existing contract that in June 2013 provided $76.8 million to Huntington Ingalls Industries to procure long lead time materials for production of NSC 7. Cochran was instrumental in obtaining funding desired by the Coast Guard, but not requested by the President in FY2013, including some $77 million in long lead time materials funding for NSC 7 during consideration of the FY2013 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill. The FY2014 funding being awarded this month has been enabled by Cochran’s insistence on keeping production in Pascagoula on time and efficient for taxpayers.
“We’ve had to fight the administration in behalf of the men and women of the Coast Guard, and today’s news demonstrates the effectiveness of the Congress in prioritizing spending for the right things,” Cochran said.
At a subcommittee hearing on March 12, Cochran questioned Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson about the ongoing budget constraints on Coast Guard procurement and acquisition accounts. The FY2015 budget recommends $1.08 billion for acquisitions and improvements, a 27 percent decrease from FY2014 funding levels. The budget request does, however, include funding to complete construction of N.S.C. 7 and to begin the procurement of parts for the eighth N.S.C.