MARINETTE, WI (WTAQ) - The head of the U.S. Navy says he'll do his best to make sure that 52 littoral combat ships get built and placed in service.
That's good news for the growing numbers of employees at Marinette Marine who are making the more refined style of ships.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus visited the plant Thursday, and saw four littoral combat boats that are currently under construction.
Questions have been raised about the design and performance of the initial ships -- which are designed to operate in shallow waters. The first ship made at Marinette cost $750 million.
Company CEO Chuck Goddard says it's been a learning process, and he expects the costs of the current boats to be reduced by half.
Mabus says there's always opposition when the Navy changes the style of its equipment. He defends the current design, saying the littoral ships are, "the future of the Navy, and the future of how we fight."
Goddard expects 157 more employees to be added, for a total of more than 1,500 in the next year.