BATH — Bath Iron Works President Dirk Lesko announced the shipyard has reached three production milestones after six months of work to recover from significant production delays.

“Over the past several months, members of the Joint Schedule Recovery Committee have been working together to identify our production challenges as a shipyard and find solutions to improve our ability to deliver ships on time,” Lesko wrote in a statement Wednesday. “Today, I am excited to announce that we are on track to achieve the three milestones we needed to meet in 2020 to begin schedule recovery across our backlog.”

According to Lesko, the USS Daniel Inouye will be ready for sea trials on Dec. 15. That Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, christened last summer, was initially scheduled to be delivered to the Navy almost a year ago.

Lesko also said the company was able to get fabrication on schedule, ensuring “downstream customers have the parts they need to do their work.”

The company also accelerated the pre-outfit department’s shipbuilding rate to 1.5 ships per year, which is on track to be achieved by the end of the year, Lesko said.

BIW’s Joint Schedule Recovery Committee was formed by the company and its largest union, Local S6 after the union went on strike for nine weeks this summer.

That strike, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbated existing production delays at the shipyard. After the strike ended, BIW spokesman David Hench told The Times Record the next two ships BIW is scheduled to deliver will be a year or more behind schedule.

Local S6 leaders released a statement Wednesday praising union members for their hard work over their last few months in the wake of a contentious strike.

“During the last few months, the Joint Schedule Recovery Committee, with significant input from deck plate mechanics, has been bringing new ideas to the table to address several ongoing operational issues at the shipyard,” Local S6 leaders wrote. “As a whole, we are progressing forward.”

Despite reaching milestones, Local S6 leaders warned the company still isn’t fully on time, but they’re prepared to continue working to deliver ships to the Navy on time. They wrote this “bring back the trust in our members and the United States Navy, thereby putting BIW in a position to win new work.”

Martin Callaghan, a federal mediator who worked with the company and union to resolve the strike this summer, wrote in a letter to both parties how impressed he is with their ability to work together.

“In my experience, the [Joint Schedule Recovery Committee] is one of the best examples of Labor and Management collaborating to achieve common objectives I have ever seen,” wrote Callaghan. “This is an accomplishment everyone in the shipyard should be proud of.”

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