WASHINGTON — Will it be a trifecta for shipbuilding on the Mississippi Coast?
Just when the Coast shipbuilding community was feeling good about U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., getting a seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee and U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Bay St. Louis, being the House seapower panel’s chairman, along comes the White House with a surprise — former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus’ nomination as secretary of the Navy.
“It is almost unheard of for the Navy secretary, the chairman of the House seapower subcommittee and a key player in the Senate to all hail from the same state,” said defense expert Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute. “Any way you look at it, having Mississippians in such key positions is very beneficial to the state.”
The Navy secretary will make key decisions on production, acquisition and sales and the lawmakers in each chamber have critical oversight and budget power over shipbuilding.
“We want to enhance the ability of Mississippi to continue building ships, in particular keeping our 10,000 Mississippians employed on the Gulf Coast,” said Wicker, who was just named to the Senate’s seapower subcommittee. “To me, it’s a great opportunity and, I think, a plus that Chairman Gene Taylor chairs the House subcommittee. I think we’re in a good position as a delegation.”