Military $$

When a joint House/Senate sub-committee last week approved $369.2 billion in defense appropriations, in the mix was several hundred million dollars earmarked for Kitsap County.

The largest funding portion goes toward the continued and future overhaul of two Trident submarines at PSNS in Bremerton.

Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, said $1.2 billion was provided in the bill to continue conversion of four older Trident submarines to conventional SSGNs boats. The USS Ohio is scheduled to complete its 30-36 month conversion at PSNS in 2005 — just about the time the USS Michigan makes the jaunt from Subase Bangor to Bremerton for its overhaul.

The Ohio is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in 2006 and to reenter active service in 2007.

“The SSGN issue was his baby,” Dicks spokesperson George Behan said of his boss’s efforts to land the Trident overhauls at PSNS. “Two years ago he got that $460 million put in for the overhauls and he did that personally and single-handedly. Without that happening two years ago, we would not be where we are today.”

Reached on Tuesday in Washington, D.C., prior to a trip to Iraq this weekend, Dicks said the defense money means one thing — continued jobs.

“I’m pleased about the entire package,” Dicks said. “This allows us to maintain the workforce at 8,500 at Puget (PSNS),” Dicks said.

Dicks is a senior member of the House Defense Appropriations sub-committee, the panel that hammered out the final version of the defense spending bill.

The bill includes a 4.1 percent pay raise for military personnel and another $128 million for combat/hazard duty pay — increases Congress approved earlier in 2003.

The bill also funds a 4.1 percent pay increase for DoD civilian employees — but that money awaits separate approval by Congress and President Bush.

“That pay increase will help for the long term and the short term,” Dicks said.

The bill increases production by the Raytheon Corp. at Keyport of the MK-54 lightweight torpedo. The program would receive $42.6 million — $8.4 million more than requested by the Navy.

The Navy predicts 1,000 MK-54s will be used by surface ships and P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft. Dicks said additional torpedoes are destined for sale to foreign countries.

Other Kitsap Navy programs were also funded in the bill which must still pass muster in the full House and Senate before President Bush signs it. Such approval is normally a formality after Dicks sub-committee hammered out details of the massive $369.2 billion bill.

Included in the bill:

l Pier 3 renovation at PSNS for revamping the entire fender system: $6 million

l Two high-tech laser and metalworking contracts for Extrude Hone Corp. in Bremerton: total $7.4 million

l Support for the NW Environmental Resource Center, run by Concurrent Technologies Corp: $4.9 million.

l Engineering apprentice programs at NUWC Keyport and Subase Bangor: $2.5 million

“All those contracts help,” Dicks said.

Especially the private contracts.

“We hope this will help grow these companies,.” Dicks said.

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