BATH, Maine — Bath Iron Works competitor Huntington Ingalls Industries announced Wednesday that it would close the Gulfport, Miss. facility that builds composite deckhouses for two DDG-1000 stealth destroyers being built at Bath Iron Works.
The announcement comes less than a month after the U.S. Navy awarded Bath Iron Works a $212 million contract to build the deckhouse and helicopter hangar for the third and final DDG-1000 destroyer.
Industry trade publication Defense Daily reported Thursday that the Navy’s decision to award the contract to BIW forced Ingalls to close the facility.
All three of the Zumwalt-class DDG 1000s, stealth destroyers that the Navy since has discontinued because of their cost, are being built at BIW. Ingalls built the deckhouses for the first two stealth destroyers, the DDG 1000, the future USS Zumwalt, which is nearing completion; and the DDG 1001, the future USS Michael Mansoor, due in late 2014 or 2015.
The deckhouses for the first two Zumwalts were built of composite, but BIW will build a steel deckhouse for the DDG 1002, the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson.
In a statement, Huntington Ingalls president and CEO Mike Petters announced that the Gulfport Composite Center of Excellence will close May 2014.
“Due to the reduction in the Zumwalt-class [DDG-1000] ship construction and the recent U.S. Navy decision to use steel products on Lyndon B. Johnson [DDG-1002], there is both limited and declining Navy use for composite products from the Gulfport Facility,” he said.
The closure means 427 employees of the composite facility will be laid off or transferred.
The facility will complete work on a Navy LPD (amphibious transport dock) warship before closing.
Navy spokesman Chris Johnson said in August that the Navy turned to Ingalls for the first two deckhouses because during the initial design, “we needed a lower weight alternative to steel, and the composites met that requirement.”
As the Navy built the first ship, however, studies indicated that steel deckhouses were feasible, and the Navy asked both companies to continue studying and submit proposals. Bath Iron Works submitted the lowest-cost proposal, for a steel deckhouse, and was awarded the contract.
Ingalls spokeswoman Jerri Fuller Dickseski said Friday that the company would incur about $59 million in cost to close the facility, including severance pay.
Dickseski declined to disclose the percentage of Ingalls’ work completed at the facility.
Neither Johnson nor BIW spokesman Jim DeMartini would comment Friday on the closure of the Gulfport facility.
Ingalls is BIW’s only competitor to build DDG-51 destroyers for the Navy. In June, BIW secured four, and possibly five contracts to build DDG 51 destroyers — versus the five awarded to Ingalls.
BIW subsequently announced proposed plans to build a new $32 million outfitting hall, as well as a blast and paint facility, to allow the company to become more efficient and remain competitive to win with Ingalls in securing future work.