Oct. 24, 2007: The Navy says its Arleigh Burke-class of destroyers, some of which were built at Bath Iron Works in Maine, need about $59.8 million worth of upgrades to their bows because they tend to sustain structural damage when fully loaded and traveling in rough seas.

A Navy spokesman says defense industry reports of “serious structural defects” appear to be exaggerated, however. The ships are fully capable of carrying out their missions, he said, and the repairs should assure the Navy that it will get the full 35 years of life expectancy out of them.

The bows on ships under construction are strengthened, and those recently delivered are upgraded after shakedown cruises. The rest of the fleet will be retrofitted during docking opportunities, the spokesman says.

BIW built the first Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The shipyard was unaware of the defect until 2003, a shipyard spokesman says. The ships were built to Navy specifications, but the standards didn’t match the force of actual sea conditions, he says.

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at islandportpress.com. To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]

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