Sen. Angus King questioned U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro about the Navy’s future, the threat of hypersonic missiles and hinted at Bath Iron Works’ role in the future of naval security during a Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday afternoon.

King asked Del Toro about the status of DDGX, the next generation of Navy destroyers intended to follow the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and short-lived Zumwalt-class destroyer designs.

“We can’t let that falter because the first ship in class ships tend to be very expensive,” King said. He went on to ask whether collaboration on the “design and conceptualization” of the new destroyer between the Navy and shipyards that could build the ships — notably Bath Iron Works and its main competitor, Ingalls Shipbuilding of Mississippi — was still a priority.

“Not only is there a priority, but we are actually living it right now,” Del Toro responded, adding that the partnership was key to ensuring that the design of the ship doesn’t outpace the technology they want to place on it.

King also asked about the threat posed by hypersonic missiles developed in Russia and China and how the U.S. can be prepared to defend its fleet against those threats.

Del Toro said giving U.S. ships countermeasures against such weapons was “one of [his] top priorities.


“Well, I hope that it’s an urgent priority, not just a priority, because the core of our deterrence is our projected sea power, [but] we have to be able to defend it. If we can’t, the deterrent goes away,” King said.

“We just lifted the first advanced gun system on the Zumwalt just last week, sir,” Del Toro responded. “It’s moving along well.”

“Where was the Zumwalt built again?” King asked, tongue in cheek.

“Bath, Maine, sir,” Del Toro replied with a chuckle.

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