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Wisconsin-built warship bill sails through

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Associated Press and Gazette staff
December 22, 2010

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday approved the Navy's plan to buy 10 advanced combat ships from each of two shipbuilders in Wisconsin and Alabama.


That's good news for Wisconsin, where more than 2,000 jobs are expected to be added at Marinette Marine Corp. in Marinette.


It's also good news for Beloit's Fairbanks Morse Engine, which makes the diesel engines for the Marinette-built ships.


The legislation is part of a "continuing resolution" to keep the federal government open for business.


Sen. Herb Kohl's office said the Senate approved the plan Tuesday as part of the larger bill, which passed 79-16. The House cleared the bill on a 193-165 vote, and President Obama was expected to sign it later Tuesday night.


Kohl said the contract would produce 5,000 jobs statewide in addition to those at the Marinette shipyard.


The contracts are for littoral combat ships, a new class of speedy warship designed to operate in relatively shallow waters.


The Marinette shipyard has already produced one such ship, with another one nearing completion. The legislation authorizes 10 more.


Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., makes a different version of the ships. It also would get a contract for 10 ships to be built during the next five years.


The Navy originally was going to choose one of the competing designs, but on Nov. 3 it changed course and asked Congress for permission to order 10 from each design team.


The stated goal is to eventually have 55 littoral combat ships in the fleet.



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