BATH, Maine _ A number of protestors held signs and beat drums as a new warship was christened Saturday at Bath Iron Works.
The Navy's newest destroyer, the U.S.S. Peralta, is the 35th Arleigh-Burke class of missile-seeking destroyers built at the Bath shipyard.
"I'm here because I think our country is spending enormous amounts of money on militarism," said protestor Mary Ellen Quinn, co-coordinator of Pax Christi Maine, a Catholic peace organization. "And we're cutting people back with food stamps and we're cutting people out of the Maine Care system. They're not getting health care, they're not getting adequate nutrition, and yet we're building Aegis destroyers? It just doesn't make any sense."
The Aegis Combat System is a computer and radar system designed to track and guide warheads. Military spending currently tops $600 billion, about 16% of the total federal budget. The new ship was awarded on a bid of more than $679 million.
The ship is being christened the U.S.S. Rafael Peralta, in honor of Sgt. Rafael Peralta, a U.S. Marine killed in action when he shielded his team from a grenade during the Second Battle of Fallujah in 2004.
Members of Maine's congressional delegation and other dignitaries were expected to be on hand for the ceremony, including U.S. Senator Angus King, who sits on the Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.
Picketers attempted to deliver protest letters to lawmakers at the ceremony, but BIW officials did not allow them access. Officials took the letters to pass along to the delegation instead. In response, King spokesman, Scott Ogden said the following: "Senator King shares the vision of a more peaceful world, and, as he always does, he will review their letter and take their concerns into consideration."