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US Navy’s top officer applauds workforce at Bath Iron Works

BATH, Maine — The U.S. Navy’s top officer liked what he saw Monday during a tour of shipbuilder Bath Iron Works, praising the shipyard and its workforce for getting back on track after a strike last summer.

Adm. Mike Gilday, chief of naval operations, applauded the patriotism he saw in the workforce and described the shipyard founded in 1884 as a “national treasure” after touring ships under construction, and speaking to shipbuilders and shipyard leaders.

Ramping up construction of destroyers is important as the U.S. Navy faces growing competition from China and Russia.

“Bath is on a path here to begin delivering two ships by the end of the year. That’s a strong trajectory for Bath Iron Works. And it’s not without a lot of hard work during a pandemic to get to that point,” he said.

The General Dynamics subsidiary was more than six months behind schedule before a two-month strike by production workers last summer. The delays were serious enough to knock the shipyard out of contention for a lucrative contract to build a new class of frigates, officials said.

In this July 25, 2020 file photo, striking Bath Iron Works shipbuilders march in solidarity in Bath, Maine. (Robert F. Bukaty/AP)

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and independent U.S. Sen. Angus King, who joined Gilday on the tour, said shipyard managers and production workers are now on the same page.

Collins said she witnessed “an unprecedented cooperation” and King said there was “a new spirit of cooperation.”

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