It has been 10 years since a member of the president's Cabinet visited Bath Iron Works.
That will end on Friday when Defense Secretary Robert Gates visits the shipyard and spends time meeting with workers and assessing the shipyard's capabilities.
Gates, whose plane will land at the nearby Brunswick Naval Air Station, will be accompanied by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who invited him to the state, and other members of Maine's congressional delegation.
Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe has a scheduling conflict and might not be able to attend.
In a telephone interview Wednesday night, Collins said Gates' visit is important to the shipyard's future because he will have a major say in how many Navy destroyers are built – and where – in the years ahead.
Gates, who has never visited BIW, is recommending in his upcoming budget that Bath build all three DDG-1000 destroyers – the only ships to be built in a new line of surface combatants known as the Zumwalt line – before embarking on construction of more Arleigh Burke destroyers.
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