Some Complain About Cruise Ship Plans

Critics are speaking out against last-minute congressional efforts to get the Navy to finish and use a pair of partly built cruise ships in a Mississippi shipyard.

The Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi was building two U.S. cruise ships for the first time in more than 40 years. Each was to hold 1,900 passengers.

But in October, the cruise company that ordered the vessels filed for bankruptcy and the taxpayers were forced to pay nearly $200 million because the government had guaranteed their loans.

Now Congress wants to spend more money on the ships, telling the Navy to "expeditiously pursue the possibility of acquiring the ships" to make naval forces more mobile.

The language was slipped into the defense appropriations bill at the last minute. Many in Congress did not see it.

The shipyard is down the street from Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott's home. He has pushed the Navy in the past to build some ships it did not need.

"You can't do this," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on the floor of the Senate last month. "This is outrageous. The company went bankrupt. There's two hulls sitting in the state of Mississippi."

Dan Koslofsky, a policy analyst with the Council for a Livable World, a watchdog group for nuclear weapons and the military, is also critical.

"It's not necessarily what they did that is so egregious, but how they did it," Koslofsky said. "This money could be better spent elsewhere on programs that would be more beneficial to our security."

Neither the shipbuilder, Northrop Grumman, nor the Navy would comment.

Sources at the Pentagon said the Navy will ask Congress for more money to study whether it can find a use for two cruise ships.

ABCNEWS' John Martin contributed to this report.

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