Bath Iron Works employees offer thanks to Collins

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BATH — Bath Iron Works staff and a table covered by more than 1,000 letters to her, with many more signatures, greeted U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Tuesday when she entered a meeting room at the shipyard’s largest union.

Collins was in Bath to meet with BIW President Fred Harris and tour the Zumwalt, the first in a line of three Zumwalt-class destroyers being constructed at the shipyard. The Zumwalt is to be christened April 12, and delivered to the U.S. Navy next year.

But first Collins received the letters of thanks for her efforts on behalf of the shipyard and its DDG-51 and DDG-1000 work.

“We know how hard you work for us, and we do appreciate it,” Local S6 President Jay Wadleigh told Collins as she viewed the letters.

Following a round of applause, the senator said, “that’s an impressive stack. … I can’t tell you how much that means to me. Thank you so much.”

Collins, a senior member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, told the workers that she is pleased to be their “advocate in Washington,” assuring them that “I will continue to work hard for you, because you work hard for the Navy and our nation.”

She said she considers the past year a good one, boding well for workforce stability at the shipyard “for at least the next four years.”

The U.S. Senate late month approved a bill that funded the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year, and that bill – signed by President Obama Jan. 17 – appropriates $100 million for a fifth DDG-51 vessel to be built at BIW, according to Collins’s office.

The DDG-1001, the future U.S.S. Michael Monsoor, is nearly 70 percent complete, and planned to be delivered to the Navy in 2016, according to BIW spokesman Jim DeMartini. The third vessel in the line, the DDG-1002, to be called the U.S.S. Lyndon B. Johnson, is in the early stages of construction and could be delivered in 2018.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, right, met Tuesday with BIW President Fred Harris and toured the Zumwalt, the first in a line of three Zumwalt-class destroyers being constructed at the shipyard. But first she received more than 1,000 copies of a letter of thanks for her work on behalf of the shipyard, signed by more than that number of BIW employees. Jay Wadleigh, president of BIW’s largest union, is with the senator.

The Zumwalt, the first in a line of three Zumwalt-class destroyers being built at Bath Iron Works, is to be christened April 12 and delivered to the U.S. Navy next year.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.