The Navy has awarded a $49.7 million contract to Hawaii contractor Pacific Shipyards International to service up to three Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, including the USS Daniel Inouye, at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.
The contract also includes maintenance for the future USS Carl Levin and USS Frank Petersen, both of which are currently under construction.
“Our company founders began repairing ships here in Honolulu over 75 years ago, and we are proud to perpetuate their legacy of service and commitment,” the company’s CEO Iain Wood said in a Monday press release. “It’s an honor to be awarded this contract, made even more meaningful to our team that the first destroyer will be USS Daniel Inouye.”
The USS Daniel Inouye is named for Hawaii’s late senator, a Japanese American war hero and Medal of Honor recipient. The vessel is not yet fully operational and is currently operating from the General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Maine.
The Inouye was supposed to enter Navy service more than a year ago but has hit several production setbacks.
Most recently the spread of COVID-19 delayed production as it slowed work in shipyards across the country. Over the summer workers at the Bath Iron Works went on a nine-week strike protesting work conditions, but by December the Inouye began sea trials and the Navy officially accepted it into its inventory in March.
Even before the pandemic Navy leaders had spent years pushing for an overhaul of American shipyards. Many of the facilities are outdated and worn down, leading to a series of maintenance delays and backlogs as the Navy’s ships continue to endure wear and tear conducting operations around the globe.
Last week a bipartisan group of lawmakers proposed a $25 billion bill to upgrade shipyards around the country, including at Pearl Harbor. The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard is the state’s top industrial employer with as many as 6,000 workers.
“More than a recognition of PSI’s world-class capabilities, the contract award is a signal that Hawaii’s maritime industry is strong, creating quality jobs and helping to stabilize our state-wide economy,” PSI said in its press release.
The Arleigh Burke-class destroyers play a central role both in American naval combat and missile defense strategy. In November, the destroyer USS John Finn shot down a simulated missile over the Pacific in an exercise meant to simulate the defense of Hawaii.
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Kevin Knodell covers the military and veterans in Hawaii and the greater Pacific for Civil Beat as a corps member for Report For America, a national nonprofit that places journalists in local newsrooms.