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  • Writer's pictureASSA Staff


Washington, D.C. March 7, 2024 - The American Shipbuilding Suppliers Association (ASSA) presented the 2024 Honorable Thad Cochran Leadership Award to U. S. Congressman Trent Kelly, Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee for the House Armed Services Committee. He is recognized for his deep dedication and commitment to supporting and maintaining a stable domestic shipbuilding supplier industrial base. He was presented the award during the ASSA Annual Congressional Fly-in by ASSA President & CEO, Roger Camp, Director of Strategic Development for Surface Warfare and Missile Defense for General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems.

"Chairman Kelly has demonstrated his support for providing resources, especially ships, to our Navy / Marine Corps team. This includes advocating for Amphibious ship Multi-year procurement to support 31 ships, two-aircraft carrier block buys to maintain the centerpiece of our Carrier Strike Groups, and workforce development funding. Tools like these help our shipbuilding industrial base while enabling the Dept of Navy to be good stewards of our taxpayer dollars," said Camp.

ASSA established this annual award to honor the leadership of the late Senator Cochran for his unwavering support to those large and small businesses that provide the technologies and components necessary to build Navy and Coast Guard ships, which are critical to U.S. national security. 

Camp said, “This award is ASSA’s highest honor, and we believe Congressman Kelly demonstrates commitment to ensure our Navy has the resources required to maintain its fleet size and even improve capacity and capability to pace the threat. His leadership has been essential to getting advanced procurement funding for ships which enable shipyards and ASSA members to better plan work-flow and work force employment.”

"I am honored to receive The Honorable Thad Cochran Leadership Award. This recognition is not just about me, but it reflects the hard work, dedication, and the unwavering support of the American Shipbuilding Suppliers Association. Our shared commitment to enhancing our naval force and bolstering the domestic supplier industrial base is crucial for our national security and economic prosperity. I remain dedicated to advocating for policies that strengthen our defense capabilities and ensure the vitality of our nation's industrial backbone. Together, we are building a stronger, more resilient future for our country," said Congressman Kelly.

Congressman Kelly has represented the First District of Mississippi since 2015. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi and law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law. In 2010, he received his master’s degree in strategic studies from the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.In Congress, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, serving as Chairman of the Defense Intelligence & Overhead Architecture Subcommittee. He also serves on the House Agriculture Committee. 

Congressman Kelly has spent 38 years in the Mississippi Army National Guard as a Combat Engineer and is currently serving as a Major General. In 1990, he mobilized for Desert Storm as an Engineer Second Lieutenant. In 2005, he deployed as a Major to Iraq with the 155th Brigade as the Operations Officer of the 150th Engineer Battalion. From 2009 to 2010, he deployed as a Lieutenant Colonel to Iraq as the Battalion Commander of Task Force Knight of the 155th Brigade Combat Team and commanded over 670 troops from Mississippi, Ohio, and Kentucky. He has received two Bronze Stars, the Combat Action Badge, the bronze, silver, and gold de fleury medals, and numerous other federal and state awards for his service.

As the 2024 recipient of the Honorable Thad Cochran Leadership Award, Congressman Kelly joins an august group of Congressional leaders dedicated to improving opportunities for domestic shipbuilding suppliers.  The award was first established in 2017 and presented to Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01).  In 2018, the Honorable Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin was recognized. The Honorable Joe Courtney (CT-02) was the 2019 recipient, and in 2020 the award was presented to The Honorable John Garamendi (CA-03). In 2021, the Honorable Donald Norcross (NJ-01) received the award. In 2022, the award was presented to Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01). In 2023, the Honorable Roger Wicker from Mississippi received the award.

ASSA is a member driven, national organization, advocating for the American Shipbuilding Supplier Base to the U. S. Congress, Navy, Coast Guard, and shipbuilders to ensure the long-term stability of the U. S. national maritime industry.


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