Bath Iron Works officials have opted not to formally protest the Coast Guard’s decision to award a multi-billion dollar cutter contract to a Florida shipyard.

Under federal rules, BIW had 10 days to file a protest challenging the Coast Guard’s selection of Eastern Shipbuilding Group of Panama City, Florida, to build the first nine of a new class of offshore patrol cutters. The total 25-ship contract has an estimated value of $10.5 billion, and BIW officials were hoping the cutter contract could help the shipyard maintain workflow and employment levels as the pace of Navy-related work slows.

Representatives from General Dynamics-owned BIW met with Coast Guard officials to discuss the contract decision about a week after the announcement.

“Following that debriefing, we made the decision not to protest,” BIW spokesman Matt Wickenheiser said. He declined further comment Thursday.

BIW competed for the cutter contract against Eastern Shipbuilding and Bollinger Shipyards, both of which are smaller, non-unionized yards. While Bollinger currently builds ships for the Coast Guard in addition to commercial vessels, Eastern Shipbuilding only does commercial work. BIW, by contrast, only builds complex Navy destroyers costing anywhere from $1.8 billion to $4 billion apiece, depending on the class of ship.

BIW officials had described the Coast Guard contract as a “must-win” for the shipyard as it faces a slowdown in destroyer work for the Navy. Although company officials have declined to elaborate on the potential impacts of the Coast Guard decision , BIW President Fred Harris had said the shipyard could be forced to shed as many as 1,200 jobs – out of a current workforce of more than 6,000 – without the Coast Guard work.

Under a formal protest, the Coast Guard would have made public details of the competing companies’ bids, including the price per ship. Those figures would not be disclosed otherwise.

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