WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) secured Senate passage of provisions from their Service to the Fleet Act in the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act to support $636 million for a major infrastructure overhaul of the Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Maryland. Having passed the House last week, the annual defense bill now goes to President Biden to be signed into law.
After introducing their Service to Fleet Act to provide the necessary funding to modernize the Yard’s infrastructure, in June, the Senators fought successfully to include it in the Senate Commerce Committee’s Coast Guard Authorization Act. This larger package with the Coast Guard Yard funding authorization has been included within the FY23 NDAA. Passage of this legislation will formally authorize the Coast Guard’s plan to upgrade its facilities; Congress will then need to approve funding for the plan through annual appropriations legislation.
“We are proud of the Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Maryland, where generations of Marylanders have serviced and built the fleets of the Coast Guard and other branches of our armed services. I have been proud to work with Senator Van Hollen to secure long-overdue infrastructure investments,” said Senator Cardin. “Inclusion in the NDAA reflects the critical role The Yard continues to have in our national security.”
“The Coast Guard Yard is an essential national asset. It is the Coast Guard’s sole shipbuilding and major repair facility as well as a critical economic driver for Maryland, directly and indirectly creating thousands of good paying, skilled, union jobs. We know the Yard and the hardworking men and women who keep it running need the proper infrastructure and equipment to continue to provide top notch support for our nation’s homeland defense, which is why we’re working to deliver the funds to modernize their World War II-era facilities,” said Senator Van Hollen. “Sending this legislation to the President’s desk is a major win for Maryland,and we will keep fighting to ensure the Coast Guard Yard is equipped to support a 21st century fleet.”
Senators Cardin and Van Hollen introduced the Service to the Fleet Act in June 2022 to make funding available for the Coast Guard to carry out its infrastructure modernization plan for the Yard. The bill authorizes the Appropriations Committee to provide up to $636 million for this purpose in future funding legislation. These resources will better equip the Coast Guard to service new classes of larger and more technologically-advanced ships while improving conditions for the workforce. The Yard’s infrastructure modernization plan includes right-sizing facilities, repositioning work sites and project resources, increasing the productive capacity of the various shops, and streamlining transport systems, among other improvements. The Senators then wrote to Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) – the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, respectively – urging them to include these provisions in the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022.
At the urging of Senators Cardin and Van Hollen, the Service to the Fleet Act provisions were included in the Coast Guard Authorization Act, which was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee in September. A bipartisan group of members of the House and Senate negotiating the final FY23 NDAA then agreed to attach the Coast Guard Authorization Act to the annual defense bill.
The Coast Guard Yard has been in operation since 1899 and serves as the U.S. Coast Guard’s only shipbuilding and major repair facility. The Yard employs 2,200 full-time personnel and is a critical national security asset that supports not only the Coast Guard’s fleet but also the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), among other federal government agencies. However, the infrastructure at the Yard was built almost entirely during World War II and is outdated for 21st century operations and future missions.