BATH — Bath Iron Works has received an award to build a fifth Arleigh Burke-class destroyer as part of the $3.9 billion multi-year contract it received from the Navy in September.

The initial contract called for Bath Iron Works to build four DDG-51 destroyers, one each year from 2019 through 2022. At that time, BIW rival Huntington Ingalls of Mississippi was awarded $5.1 billion to build six of the destroyers, raising concerns about the future of the Bath shipyard.

The Navy held a separate competition for the additional destroyer as part of its effort to increase the size of its fleet, BIW said in a news release Friday.

“Bath Iron Works is privileged to continue producing state-of-the-art surface combatants for the longest running naval shipbuilding program in our nation’s history,” said Dirk Lesko, president of Bath Iron Works. “This award demonstrates the vital role the DDG-51 plays in the security posture of the United States and the confidence the Navy has in our shipyard to produce these important assets.”

Members of Maine’s congressional delegation praised the supplemental contract, which they said was worth $910 million.

“The Navy’s decision to build an additional DDG-51 at BIW is great news for the hardworking men and women at the shipyard,” said the joint statement from Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, and Rep. Chellie Pingree. “They can now spend the holidays with their families knowing that this additional ship will help keep the workload stable in the months and years ahead.”

“The Navy’s latest contract decision is a testament to the quality work being done at BIW to produce the backbone of today’s Navy,” they continued. “We are extremely proud to represent the best shipbuilders in the world right here in Maine and work together to support them in Congress.”

This isn’t the first time Bath Iron Works has been awarded an additional ship following a multi-year contract. When the Navy announced its previous multi-year contract in 2013, it awarded Bath Iron Works four destroyers and Huntington Ingalls five.

But in 2017, the Navy officially awarded Bath Iron Works a fifth destroyer after funding was appropriated with the advocacy of Collins, a Republican who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee. That destroyer, the future USS Gallagher, is currently in production at Bath Iron Works.

BIW is currently building five Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and one Zumwalt-class destroyer at its shipyard, while it has five more Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in its backlog.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer has been a mainstay of Bath Iron Works since it started building them in 1988. As part of the Trump administration’s plan to achieve a 355-ship Navy in the next 30 years, the Navy announced in May that it would be extending the service life of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers by five to 10 years. The announcement dampened hopes that the goal of a 355-ship Navy would lead to an increased demand for new ships and an increased workload for Bath Iron Works.

The Arleigh Burke program was supposed to end in the mid-2000s, with the Navy planning to replace it with the more advanced Zumwalt-class destroyers. The new destroyers featured a stealth design, tumblehome wave-piercing hull, all-electric integrated power system and advanced gun system. But that plan was scrapped and the Navy ended up ordering just three Zumwalt-class destroyers, all of which were awarded to Bath Iron Works.

Bath Iron Works has delivered two of the three stealth destroyers, and the third was recently floated into the Kennebec River via the shipyard’s Land Level Transfer Facility, where work on the vessel continues dockside. That vessel is expected to be delivered to the Navy in 2020.

The Zumwalt-class destroyers have faced a number of issues as the Navy prepares to incorporate them into the fleet.

The first ship in the class, the USS Zumwalt, broke down in the Panama Canal while traveling to its homeport of San Diego, and had to be towed through the canal. That same vessel had suffered an engineering issue just before it was commissioned when crew members found a saltwater leak in its propulsion system. The ship was repaired in both instances and is currently in San Diego.

The future USS Michael Monsoor, the second of the three destroyers, had to have its $20 million Rolls-Royce engine replaced this summer when an inspection revealed the rotor blades had been damaged. The engine was replaced with a spare, and the ship has since departed Bath and arrived in San Diego for its commissioning next month. Experts have noted that mechanical failures are expected on a new class of ship, such as the highly advanced Zumwalt-class destroyers.

In addition to the mechanical issues, the Zumwalt-class destroyers currently don’t have any ammunition for their main guns, the two 155-millimeter Advanced Gun Systems. The Navy scrapped plans for the rocket-powered Long Range Land Attack Projectiles designed for the guns because they cost $800,000 per round. The Advanced Guns Systems will only be on three vessels and the Navy has had difficulty finding an affordable option for ammunition because it can’t take advantage of economies of scale.

Following the decision to limit the Zumwalt-class production line to just three destroyers, the Navy restarted the Arleigh Burke program and began working with Bath Iron Works to upgrade the design of the ships.

In addition to building Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, Bath Iron Works is bidding to build the Navy’s next class of frigate. BIW is working on a design with the Spanish shipyard Navantia, and if the shipyard wins that contract it could be awarded up to 20 frigates to build. The winning shipyard is expected to be selected in 2020.

[email protected]

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.