Presidential Visit - M/b>President Donald Trump made an official visit to Marinette on Thursday, June 25 to recognize Fincantieri Marinette Marine and its workforce for the tremendous job they are doing building the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) and to talk about the new $5.5 billion contract the shipyard received to build 10 new FFG-X guided missile frigates for the Navy. President Trump spoke for approximately a half hour about the program and a history of Marinette Marine. Trump is the first sitting president to visit Marinette County and the City of Marinette. Top Photo: Jan Allman, Chief Executive Officer of Fincantieri Marinette Marine, gives the opening address and welcomes President Trump. Bottom Photos: President Trump speaks to the over 800 people in attendance.
Marinette Marine Employees, Ships Draw Praise From President TrumpIssue Date: July 1, 2020
Despite minimal advance publicity about exactly how or when President Donald Trump would arrive for his visit to Marinette Marine on Thursday, June 25, streets leading to the shipyard were lined with people hoping to get a glimpse of the historic first-ever visit of a sitting president to Marinette County and the City of Marinette.
Trump's visit included a tour of the shipyard and some of the vessels built there, as well as a half-hour address to an invitation-only outdoor gathering of approximately 800 Marinette Marine employees, state and local officials and members of the media with one of the current under-construction vessels as a backdrop.
Air Force One, with President Trump aboard, landed at Austin Straubel Airport in Green Bay at approximately 1 p.m. on Thursday. He then flew by helicopter to the Twin County Airport. His arrival at the shipyard was scheduled for 3:45 p.m.
Fincantieri Marinette Marine workers have been constructing Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) vessels for the United States Navy, and in April the Department of Defense awarded the firm a $795 million contract to build the first ever FFG-x guided missile frigate for the United States Navy. This is a new class of vessel, and the contract includes an option to build nine additional ships in Marinette over the next 15 years, which could eventually make it worth as much as $5.5 billion. After that, ship builders may compete for contracts to construct another 10 frigates.
Marinette Marine and partner Lockheed Martin won the contract for the first Freedom-class LCS during the George W. Bush administration, followed by additional orders and contract modifications throughout the Obama and Trump administrations. Construction of those LCS vessels, including the future USS Marinette, is still underway.
The shipyard in Marinette was visited by Vice President Mike Pence in November.
Pre-screening for those invited to President Trump's appearance at the shipyard on Thursday began at 12:30 p.m. for the scheduled 3:45 p.m. arrival. Face coverings were required, and no political attire or signs were allowed. Admission was by invitation only, and advance responses were required.
Before his formal address President Trump toured shipyard facilities, and boarded some of the vessels being built there. Later he described the quality of vessels being built for the military as being like a yacht.
When time for the formal program arrived Trump was introduced by Jan Allman, Chief Executive Officer of Fincantieri Marinette Marine. Allman told the group Marinette Marine is focused on giving the navy the toughest warships for its future fleet, "...the next generation guided missile frigate...It will be a game changer...Our sailors deserve it because tomorrow's battles will not be won with yesterday's ships."
Allman thanked legislators from both sides of the political aisle for their help in getting the contacts. They included Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin, Congressman Mike Gallagher of Green Bay, and State Rep. John Nygren, of Marinette.
"I'm thrilled to be here with you on this incredible summer day in Wisconsin on the edge of the beautiful Lake Michigan ... with the legendary workers of Marinette Marine," Trump declared at the start of his half-hour address.
"You're going to to be so busy.." he said. "For more than 75 years, the workers of this shipyard have built some 1,500 of the finest and most fearsome vessels ever to sail. You've kept our sailors safe and our Navy strong. Every single day you prove that American workers are the best in the world and now you're going to do things like you've never done before," he continued.
"Moments ago, I walked the length of the majestic Freedom-class combat ship that many of you have been pouring your hearts and souls out for over a year. Soon, that ship will be commissioned into the most powerful fleet in human history. We're building up the Navy. We'll have 350 ships," Trump said, adding the Navy fleet had been down to a World War One level before his administration began building it up.
He thanked the leadership team of Fincantieri Marinette Marine for welcoming him, including Allman; Fincantieri Marine Group President and CEO Dario Deste, and Vice Admiral Rick Hunt, as well as Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President Stephanie Hill.
"We are honored to have the President here in Marinette," said Deste. "It means so much to the men and women who put their hearts and souls into building tremendous warships for this country. We are grateful of the President, Congress and the Navy for their continued faith and confidence in our ability to give them the world's greatest frigate."
Trump noted Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, "a legend on Wall Street," was with them, and added, "...and he's putting his magic to work. Our economy is coming back at a level that nobody ever imagined possible... We're doing great!"
Trump mentioned that the identified number of coronavirus cases in the United States has gone up, but the number of deaths has gone down. He attributed that to increased testing, and said the United States actually has one of the lowest mortality rates connected with the pandemic. He noted that ventilators to treat the disease are being built in this country now, and likened building ventilators to building ships: "They're complicated to make, they're big, they're expensive. And we're making now thousands a week and we're helping many other countries."
Trump thanked Nygren, State Rep. Mary Felzkowski of Irma, and Marinette Mayor Steve Genisot for their welcomes.
"We're here today to celebrate the resounding victory for all of you, for Wisconsin, for the United States military, and for our entire nation. Our nation is very proud of Wisconsin," Trump declared. He said not so long ago, he future of this shipyard was looking bleak..down to 44 people, and getting ready to close... and then a lot of good things came along."
Trump recalled people had been saying manufacturing would never come back to America, and declared, "Well, it did come back. And it came back big.... we were doing great. And we'll now do even better. We're going to have a better year next year, I think, than almost any year in our history."
Tump noted that the April contract for Marinette Marine is part of his administration's colossal $2.5 trillion rebuilding of the United States military. To critics saying this is out of budget, he declared, "There is no budget when it comes to our military because ... we don't want the wrong people running up the front lawn of the White House, right?"
He said the United States now has the greatest missiles in the world, the greatest rockets, the greatest ships..."...the greatest of everything. And, you know, the beautiful thing about it, it's all made in the USA. It's made by you and your counterparts!"
The massive deal worth up to $5.5 billion, if all 10 of the ships are built, "...will put this shipyard to work constructing some of the fastest, most advanced, and most maneuverable combat ships anywhere on the ocean. I hear the maneuverability is one of the big factors that you were chosen for the contract. The other is your location in Wisconsin, if you want to know the truth," Trump went on.
"This contract will support your 1,500 full-time employees, and it will also enable you to hire another 1,000 people all across the shipyards in Wisconsin. It's one of the biggest contracts you've ever seen in the state....An estimated 15,000 additional new jobs will be created through the Wisconsin supply chain," he declared, adding that is not a supply chain going through China or other countries."
"American workers like you are a national treasure," Trump went on. "You are indeed victory at sea... Your patriotism cannot be outsourced. Your eight decades of industrial heritage cannot be replicated anywhere in the world. That's why we're protecting our defense and our defensive industrial base, which we're building up stronger and stronger and stronger..." he continued.
"People don't realize the talent that we have. And we started getting away from it. We started not building in the Navy. We haven't built enough ships. The ships that they were building, they looked terrible. I changed designs. I looked at it. I said, "That's a terrible-looking ship. Let's make it beautiful. It'll cost you the same, and maybe less.' You know, sometimes, you can make it look great for less money. I said, "This is not a good-looking ship. Let's change the design of it.' And I got people in, and we looked at different designs... You can build beautifully, and it costs you sometimes less money."
He described the model they gave him as , "...like a yacht with missiles on it, okay?"
"As long as I'm your President, America will never lose that shipbuilding talent or capability. It won't lose that excellence or the expertise of the men and the women of Marinette Marine. We'll never lose that," Trump pledged. "And we'll always live by two simple rules: Buy American and hire American." He said the first-in-class FFG(X) will not just be a win for Wisconsin workers; it will also be a major victory for our Navy.
"The stunning ships will deliver the overwhelming force, lethality, and power we need to engage America's enemies anywhere and at any time. And with that, we don't want to engage. But you know how you don't have to engage? When you build a product like you're building right there. When you build product like that, you don't have to," he continued.
Trump said when he became president this nation had a very old and very tired military, with planes up to 50 years old. with this new ship, each frigate will boast a 32-cell vertical missile launcher "to take American justice to any foe, if necessary, on air, land or sea," Trump declared, adding that the ship will field the most advanced air research and air search radar capability in naval history, 30 times more powerful than the previous generation... And it will carry an MH-60 Seahawk helicopter and an unmanned MQ-8C Fire Scout drone."
"Through your sweat, skill, and devotion, the workers of this shipyard will forge the future of the United States Navy," Trump went on. He said they were going to be spending a lot of money on renovation and expansion of the shipyard, "We have other things coming. And you'll fashion the ultimate symbol of American power and American prestige. Wherever the FFG(X) cuts across the horizon, it will go as a 7,500-ton message to the world that American might is second to none!"
The president then paused to recognize "just a few of the hardworking patriots who are helping to bring these monumental ships to life," and then named Production Manager Gary Ihde, a 17-year Marinette Marine employee and the third generation of his family to work there.
Ihde said he had started in the trades at the shipyard, and through hard work and dedication transitioned into management. He continued, "These employees in front of you are here to build the best ships possible. The sense of pride felt when a ship gets launched or goes out in trials is like nothing else. These men and women breathe life into steel. Through hard work, long hours, and dedications, these individuals give the American warfighter the ship he or she needs and deserves!"
"Mr. President, Wisconsin thanks you, the city of Marinette thanks you, and Fincantieri Marinette Marine thanks you," Ihde concluded.
Trump then introduced Tyler Cahill. Invited to speak, Cahill said he is native to the Marinette area, a former second class petty officer in the United States Navy "Seabees," an Afghanistan war vet, a hockey coach, and a quality coordinator here at Marinette Marine.
"When I first moved back to Marinette and started here as a welder in 2012, I would've never imagined how far my career and community would grow," Cahill declared. "The shipyard is a lifeline to the community and a driving force behind its economic growth. In major part due to the LCS program and the newly awarded frigate contract, I've seen young families move to the area, friends open new local businesses, and a beautiful new sports facility opened to be utilized by the local hockey kids that I get to coach...None of this would have been possible without these contracts. So, once again, Mr. President, I would like to say thank you in allowing us to continue supporting our nation's Navy," he concluded.
Trump said under his administration the United States has invested the $2.5 trillion in all of the greatest equipment in the world, "... and it's all made here, right in the USA. And a lot of it is going to be made in Wisconsin, outside of this facility also." he said he signed a new law creating something very important to him - the sixth branch of the U.S. military: the Space Force, which he termed, "a very big deal."
He mentioned getting other member nations in NATO to pay their fair share toward protecting the world, which he called great news for American workers and taxpayers, and added, "As part of Saudi Arabia's effort to fulfill its own defense obligations, last year the Kingdom placed a $1.3 billion order for four new vessels made by your great company. So, you know the vessels, they're getting built right now. And we felt very strongly that this is where it should be, and we gave them a strong recommendation, and they followed it. That's very good."
Trump continued, "Since 1942, when your company was founded to build five wooden barges for World War Two, this small town in Wisconsin has raised up one of the premier shipbuilding enterprises anywhere on Earth. And if you come back here in five years, you'll see one of the top places anywhere in the world.
"You should take immense pride in what you've done and those before you " in many cases, your fathers and your grandfathers. In many cases, your fathers are alive and very proud of the job you're doing. I met three people whose fathers worked here...Your tradition of excellence has given America two classes of combat ships, the Coast Guard cutters that patrol our maritime borders, a state-of-the-art icebreaker, which is incredible..." He advised workers to get their sons and daughters ready to work at the shipyard, "because jobs will be there for a long, long time."
"The workers of this shipyard and the people of this state have always prospered and persevered by holding fast to our shared American values," Trump went on. "In this country, we honor work. We celebrate great craftsmanship.... And we salute the dignity and nobility of the American worker."
He said Americans look out for one another, look out for everybody, "We're loyal to one another, and we love our families. We want our families taken care of. We want our families to prosper. We want our community to prosper. This community was not prospering. With all that talent, they weren't prospering. And now you're all working and doing something that you love."
He told being asked what nation was hardest to deal with, and replying: "... the Democrats in the USA."
Trump concluded by predicting a great third quarter for this year, and one of the greatest economies ever next year. "We stand tall, we stand strong, and we always stand proud of the United States of America. With the help of everyone here today, this shipyard will continue to prosper, this state will continue to thrive, and this nation that we love will climb to new heights of glory and to greatness. And that's what's happening right now."
"So I want to thank everybody at this amazing yard. I want to thank the grandparents and the parents who put you here. They're very proud of you. Some are looking down on you right now. They're looking down from heaven, and they're very proud of you. They're very, very proud. And I'm also very proud of you," Trump said before leaving the podium.
In a prepared statement, Marinette Mayor Steve Genisot declared the City of Marinette was honored to welcome President Trump, and added, "We appreciate the President's support of the recently awarded $5 billion Navy shipbuilding contract to Marinette Marine. Our community will continue to see significant growth of up to 1,000 new manufacturing jobs which will also impact hundreds of suppliers throughout Wisconsin. We will see years of growth as a direct result.
"With this growth will come an even higher priority for affordable housing for current and new workers and we will work with federal and state programs such as Opportunity Zones to find creative housing solutions," Genisot's statement concluded: "Again, I thank President Trump for his support in bringing good paying jobs to Wisconsin and years of growth to our community."
Before leaving the Green Bay airport for Marinette, Trump spent an hour in a Town Hall interview with Fox News Commentator Sean Hannity, who then accompanied the group to Marinette. That program was aired nationwide at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Those selected to participate in the Town Hall meeting began arriving at 5 a.m., although doors to the hangar did not open until 10 a.m.
After the president's visit, Nygren, who co-chairs the Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance released a statement declaring, "I was honored to greet President Donald Trump and welcome him to Marinette for his visit to Marinette Marine." He noted that Vice-President Pence visited Marinette Marine last November and White House Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, Peter Navarro, visited in May of 2019, and declared, "The Trump Administration's commitment to northeastern Wisconsin and Marinette Marine is unmatched."
Nygren has led the charge in Wisconsin to bring Marinette Marine to the forefront of shipbuilding worldwide and help secure the highly competitive Navy contract to build frigate warships, which was awarded in April.
In February, Nygren met with the President's advisor on trade and manufacturing to advocate for Fincantieri Marinette Marine as a partner for the U.S. Navy and the importance of Wisconsin jobs.
Actions championed by Nygren and supported by Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature provided $29 million in Harbor Assistance grants that will be used for dredging, construction, and capital equipment associated with Fincantieri Marinette Marine's facilities improvements. Those planned improvements made construction of the heavier ship at Marinette feasible. Also in the budget, Rep. Nygren helped guide $2 million in workforce training grants for Marinette Marine through the Joint Committee on Finance.
"With over 160 suppliers around the state, an employment impact of over 5,400 jobs, and a $4.4 billion economic impact in Northeastern Wisconsin alone, it's clear how much Marinette Marine means to Wisconsin. Today's visit illustrates just how much Marinette Marine means to our nation," Nygren declared.
He thanked President Trump for his visit and his commitment to Marinette Marine, and thanked Marinette Marine "for its dedication to making northeastern Wisconsin a great place to work, live, and raise a family."
In a statement issued after the President's visit, 8th District Rep. Mike Gallagher of Green Bay declared, "Today, President Trump saw firsthand the hard work and unparalleled skill of the workforce at Fincantieri Marinette Marine. Under his leadership, the United States is committed to rebuilding our Navy, and this visit makes clear he understands the important role the men and women in Marinette will play in helping the country achieve that goal. Our work here is just beginning, and I have no doubt that just as the President delivered on his promise to Marinette, Marinette will deliver on its promise to build the best ships in the world."
Gallagher, who himself has a military background, had accompanied Pence on his November visit to the Marinette shipyard, but was not part of the president's visit. He and his wife had become parents of their first child the previous day.
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