MOBILE — U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) on Friday visited Alabama’s Port City, highlighted by a tour of Austal USA’s world-class shipbuilding operation.
“They gave us a good briefing,” the freshman senator advised, speaking to members of the media assembled directly across the Mobile harbor ship channel from Austal, with its facilities looming in the backdrop.
He noted his recent assignment to the Senate Armed Services Committee, adding that position “will really help us here in Alabama.”
“I’m excited about that,” Tuberville remarked. “So we wanted to come down and visit with them (Austal), [hear about] what they’ve done, [discuss] the past, the present and the future. And I’ll tell you, they’ve done some amazing things.”
“One of the big things they’ve done is they’ve taken people who have worked in fast food joints and restaurants and small businesses and put them in a field where they can do well financially,” he continued. “It’s amazing the training that they get.”
Tuberville praised Austal’s contributions to the Yellowhammer State and beyond.
“What they’ve done not just for Alabama but for the country and our national defense — we got a chance to watch how they build their ships and got to go on one that’s getting ready to be commissioned here in a few months,” the Republican added. “Very interesting, and we’ve got to continue to keep Austal here — not just for the people of Mobile and Alabama but for our country. What they do, they do it very well.”
Tuberville, through his Armed Services assignment, will be a part of the authorizing process that allows the Department of Defense to award ship construction contracts to the likes of Austal. This could have added importance past 2022, as U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) will no longer be leading the charge on the appropriations side of the military shipbuilding equation following his retirement.
“I’ve become good friends with Senator Shelby,” Tuberville told reporters. “We’ve had a lot of opportunity to sit around and talk [including on January 6 and during] the impeachment trial last week. I’m looking forward to learning from him. He’s done a lot for this state. I’ve asked him to stay, but he says it’s time for him to go.”
The Mobile stop came the day following Tuberville’s visit to the Wiregrass.
“And the port — Senator Shelby’s done a great job down [in Mobile supporting the port and the shipbuilding industry],” Tuberville said on Thursday.
He emphasized that the historic deepening and widening of the Port of Mobile “is going to raise our GDP.”
“There’s no telling how much our GDP will go up when they dredge the Port and we’re able to ship out cars,” Tuberville outlined. “We make a million cars a year and they all go out of Savannah right now. But they’ll eventually leave out of the Port of Mobile. And Senator Shelby has done a great job there.”
While in Mobile on Friday, Tuberville was asked no questions by members of the local media about the city, its shipbuilding industry or the port. In contrast, reporters asked eight questions about the events of and leading up to January 6, as well as the subsequent impeachment trial.
With that all in the rearview mirror, Tuberville stressed that the Senate needs to focus on “getting rid of this virus.”
“We’ve got to get back to work; we’ve got to get kids back in school,” he added. “That’s our main goal for the next three or four months.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn