Bath Iron Works announces 130 layoffs

FILE - In this May 22, 2009 file photo, workers at Bath Iron Works watch from an upper deck on an Aegis destroyer during a visit to the shipyard from Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Portland, Maine. The shipyard announced on Monday, June 1, 2009, that there will be an undisclosed number of layoffs over the next six months because of a long-anticipated gap in work during the transistion to the next-generation destroyer. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, file)
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
FILE - In this May 22, 2009 file photo, workers at Bath Iron Works watch from an upper deck on an Aegis destroyer during a visit to the shipyard from Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Portland, Maine. The shipyard announced on Monday, June 1, 2009, that there will be an undisclosed number of layoffs over the next six months because of a long-anticipated gap in work during the transistion to the next-generation destroyer. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, file)
By Matt Wickenheiser, BDN Staff
Posted Jan. 07, 2011, at 8:33 a.m.

Bath Iron Works told its employees Friday that it would be laying off about 130 workers effective Jan. 21.

The news follows a similarly sized layoff announced at Fairchild Semiconductor in South Portland earlier this week.

According to a statement from BIW President Jeff Geiger, the layoffs at the Bath shipyard are due to an anticipated reduction in design work for the DDG 1000, the next-generation destroyer for the U.S. Navy.

“We’re now beyond the peak of the DDG 1000 design effort, and the high demand for these resources is declining,” Geiger said. “In anticipation of this, we have worked hard to generate additional engineering and design opportunities, thereby enabling us to reduce the total number of employees affected by today’s announce-ment.”

Geiger added that the layoffs reflect BIW’s need to adjust staffing levels in response to the budget environment its sole customer — the Navy — finds itself in.

“Our customer is buying fewer ships and is under severe budget pressure,” Geiger said. “Competition for those ships is intense, and the need for us to be affordable has never been greater. As difficult as today’s action is, I must act now to adjust resource levels to the available work and ensure we remain affordable and poised to compete and win future contracts.”

According to the statement, both union and nonunion employees are losing their jobs. After the layoffs, the company will employ roughly 5,570 workers.

Geiger noted that the size of the work force ebbs and flows in the shipbuilding trade as various specialties are needed on contracts. In June 2009, the company laid off production workers while it also was hiring engineers and designers to work on the DDG 1000 line.

“That situation is now reversed as the ship has transitioned into full production,” Geiger said. “Over the past year, we have increased our production staff by over 700 people.”

A top builder of Navy surface warships, the shipyard has redoubled its efforts in recent years to branch out into new areas to supplement its Navy work and to keep shipbuilders busy.

Bath has bid on fast-response Coast Guard cutters and a high-speed vessel for the Army and the Marines, but other companies won those contracts.

Its latest disappointment came with a change in Navy procurement strategy that effectively shuts the shipyard out of bidding on future contracts for a small, speedy vessel called the littoral combat ship. The change, approved by Congress last month, caught many lawmakers and shipbuilders off guard.

The shipyard isn’t giving up on landing non-Navy work.

The Coast Guard is planning to build larger offshore cutters, and Bath Iron Works intends to compete for the initial design contracts later this year, BIW spokesman Jim DeMartini said.

As for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt, the first of the 600-foot-long ships is several years away from completion. The Zumwalt, which will have massive firepower to support troop landings on shore, features composite materials, an unconventional wave-piercing hull, and a smaller crew than conventional warships.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bath Iron Works told its employees Friday that it would be laying off about 130 workers, effective January 21.

The news follows a similarly sized layoff announced at Fairchild Semiconductor in South Portland earlier this week.

According to a statement from BIW President Jeff Geiger, the layoffs at the Bath shipyard are due to an anticipated reduction in design work for the DDG 1000, the next-generation destroyer for the U.S. Navy.

“We’re now beyond the peak of the DDG 1000 design effort and the high demand for these resources is declining,” said Geiger. “In anticipation of this, we have worked hard to generate additional engineering and design opportunities, thereby enabling us to reduce the total number of employees affected by today’s announcement.”

Geiger added that the layoffs reflect BIW’s need to adjust staffing levels in response to the budget environment its sole customer — the Navy — finds itself in.

“Our customer is buying fewer ships and is under severe budget pressure. Competition for those ships is intense and the need for us to be affordable has never been greater,” Geiger said. “As difficult as today’s action is, I must act now to adjust resource levels to the available work and ensure we remain affordable and poised to compete and win future contracts.”

According to the statement, both union and non-union employees are losing their jobs. Following the layoffs, the company will employ roughly 5,700 workers.

Geiger noted that the size of the work force ebbs and flows in the shipbuilding trade, as various specialties are needed on contracts. In June 2009, the company laid off production workers, while it was also hiring engineers and designers to work on the DDG 1000 line.

“That situation is now reversed as the ship has transitioned into full production,” said Geiger. “Over the past year, we have increased our production staff by over 700 people.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/01/07/business/bath-iron-works-announces-130-layoffs/ printed on July 14, 2014