A Jobs-Deficits-Defense Trifecta at U.S. Naval Shipyard

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October 27, 2011

By Nathan Hodge

Deficits, jobs and defense are shaping up as a single issue on Capitol Hill: In recent days, opponents of military spending cuts have issued dire warnings about potential job losses that would result if additional budget reductions are imposed on the Pentagon.

And those issues are likely to be front and center Friday, when Rep. Howard McKeon (R., Calif.) chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, pays a visit to Newport News, Va.

Newport News is the home of the sole U.S. shipyard that builds nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. As The Wall Street Journal reported, the yard faces major uncertainty as the Navy weighs plans to delay building additional carriers. And additional defense cuts could also have an impact on things like the construction of nuclear subs, which are also made at the yard.

Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc., the owner of the yard, announced that Rep. McKeon will tour the yard Friday, accompanied by other members of the Virginia delegation. They will get a chance to see the USS Gerald R. Ford, a new supercarrier under construction. They will also get to see the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, currently undergoing a complex overhaul.

Carriers are a big-ticket item for the Defense Department: the Navy reckons that the Ford-class vessels will cost roughly $11 billion each. But it also means jobs. Around 20,000 people are employed by Huntington Ingalls at Newport News.

(c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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