Bath Iron Works president to take helm of Connecticut shipyard

Bath Iron Works President Jeffrey Geiger and U.S. Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, speak at Bath Iron Works in February.
Bath Iron Works President Jeffrey Geiger and U.S. Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, speak at Bath Iron Works in February. Buy Photo
Posted Sept. 18, 2013, at 3:08 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 18, 2013, at 5:32 p.m.

BATH, Maine — General Dynamics, the parent company of Bath Iron Works, announced Wednesday that Bath Iron Works President Jeffrey Geiger will leave BIW in November to become president of General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Conn.

Frederick Harris, president of General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, will continue in that role and also serve as president of BIW, according to a statement from GD Marine Systems executive vice president John Casey.

Mike Mulligan, currently president of General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, will remain as vice president of that corporation and will become vice president and general manager of BIW.

The changes will take effect on Nov. 4.

“This transition is an opportunity for us to review how General Dynamics’ surface-ship businesses operate, to ensure we are capturing all possible efficiencies as we support our primary customer, the U.S. Navy,” Casey said in a statement. “Fred Harris, as president of NASSCO over the past seven years, has led his team in identifying and implementing creative ways to cost-effectively deliver state-of-the-art surface vessels. I’m confident that he, Mike Mulligan, Kevin Graney and the teams at Bath Iron Works and NASSCO will find new opportunities to gain additional efficiencies across these already high-performance organizations.”

Shipbuilding industry analyst Jay Korman of The Avascent Group said Wednesday that the management shift bodes well for both BIW and NASSCO.

“On both those accounts, they have very highly capable people,” Korman said. “Geiger proved himself at Bath Iron Works … and Fred turned things around at NASSCO. I think they’ve shown the management that they have the talent to carry all three organizations forward for the foreseeable future.”

BIW spokesman Jim DeMartini on Wednesday referred questions to General Dynamics corporate headquarters. General Dynamics spokesman Rob Doolittle said the changes indicate “a great faith in each of these business managers.”

Geiger, 52, became president of BIW in 2009. He joined BIW in 1984 as a production planner and eventually oversaw all engineering, design, material procurement, planning, quality control, strategic planning, communications and business development at the shipyard, according to General Dynamics.

Geiger replaces current GD Electric Boat President Kevin Poitras, who will retire. Poitras has been president since May 2012.

In a statement Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins congratulated Geiger on his appointment as president of GD Electric Boat but said she would miss working closely with him.

“His departure is, however, a great loss to the men and women of Bath Iron Works,” Collins said, in part. “Jeff is an extraordinary leader who had come up through the ranks at BIW and had worked in the shipyard for nearly 30 years, earning the respect of the workers, the Navy, and the Maine congressional delegation.”

U.S. Sen. Angus King, in a prepared statement, thanked Geiger and wished him luck. Of Harris and Mulligan, he said, in part, “Their vast depth of leadership experience will surely benefit the shipyard in the years to come.”

Mulligan, 50, became president of GD Armament and Technical Products in November 2006. He spent 20 years at GD Electric Boat in a variety of positions in design, development and production of nuclear submarines.

“This is really about bringing together all the best thinkers about surface combatant ship construction we have at General Dynamics,” Doolittle told the Bangor Daily News.

Dan Dowling, president of Local S6 of the Machinists union, the shipyard’s largest labor union, said Wednesday that it is too early to guess what the implications for workers would be, but that the change in management has raised some questions, including how Harris “handles a bargaining unit in an organized workforce.”

Dowling said BIW and NASSCO bid simultaneously for after-delivery work on destroyers, and he wondered how the new management arrangement — with Harris to lead both BIW and NASSCO — would affect the Bath shipyard.

“Whenever you get a new boss in an organization, there’s always some anxiety or questions,” he said. “Nobody’s really terribly excited or concerned or any extreme type of emotions. It just raises concerns. Like any type of administration change, you have to ask yourself, ‘Where are we headed?’”

BIW manufactures primarily DDG-51 and DDG-1000 destroyers for the U.S. Navy, while Doolittle said NASSCO builds auxiliary ships — supply ships for such vessels as aircraft carriers — as well as the more recent mobile landing platform class, and some commercial tankers.

“There’s a lot of innovation in both of these organizations, and this is really about turning it up to the next level so we can continue to be responsive to our primary customer, the U.S. Navy, and continue to deliver ships as cost-effectively as we possibly can,” Doolittle said.

However, Dowling said both General Dynamics companies bid simultaneously for after-delivery work on ships, which raises questions about how the new arrangement will affect the workload.

Also on Wednesday, General Dynamics announced that Kevin Graney, vice president of operations at NASSCO, will become vice president and general manager of NASSCO.

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