Multiple top Navy officials said the one future Arleigh Burke-class destroyer cut from the president’s budget should be reimplemented, for the sake of both national security and to protect US industrial base in shipyards like Bath Iron Works, after being questioned by Maine Sen. Angus King in hearings this week.

In a Thursday hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee focusing on the Department of Defense budget, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told King the government plans to buy the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer cut from President Biden’s defense budget in 2023.

King said the reduction from the previously planned two to only one Arleigh Burke “sent a shudder through the industrial base,” such as BIW, one of only two shipyards in the county that builds that type of warship.

“It’s unprecedented, in my experience, that a multi-year has been breached, which would actually cost the government money in penalties,” King told Austin. “I think it has importance beyond just the one ship, but the symbolism of breaking a multi-year and also pulling back on our commitment to increasing the capacity of the Navy is, I think, a very important priority.”

King made a similar argument before Vice Admiral James Kilby and Frederick Stefany, acting assistant secretary of the navy for research, development and acquisition in a Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower hearing Tuesday.

King argues the reduction from one Arleigh Burke to two is a “terrible precedent and signal to the American industrial base to reach a multi-year, which has already been assumed, contracted for, and moving forward.”

“That would actually cost the government something like $30 million just to do that,” he said.

King said cutting the one ship is in direct opposition to the country’s need to grow the Navy to rival adversaries like China, whose navy outweighs the US’s.

Kilby confirmed the lost ship is at the top of the Navy’s Unfunded Priorities List and said the reduction was “largely an affordability decision and a regret from the Navy that we couldn’t afford that second ship.”

Stefany said both BIW and it’s rival, Mississippi-based Huntington Ingalls, “have come out of COVID-19 and are performing well” and he worried about the cut ship “breaking the momentum.”

“The workforce has got their act together, Bath came out of that strike and their cost and schedule performance are much improved over the last couple years so I don’t want to break that momentum,” said Stefany. “Going forward, we the Navy absolutely want to do another multi-year procurement similar to the one we just did for 2023-2027, but beyond that, we’re working to feather-in the (Arleigh Burke) and DDGX, (the new type of ship the Navy is working on designing.)”

Last week, Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney, chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, said his subcommittee is working to restore the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer cut from Biden’s defense budget.

“This budget is retiring some old large surface combatants in big numbers,” Courtney said after touring Bath Iron Works facilities with Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden last week. “If we’re going to divest older capability ships to free up money to invest in newer capability ships, you have to make sure you do the second part, and this budget doesn’t do that.”

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