BATH, Maine – Bath Iron Works landed two more contracts for Arleigh Burke-class warships Monday which will add to an already robust amount of Navy construction enjoyed by the shipyard.
Members of Maine’s congressional delegation said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced the contracts late Monday afternoon. BIW spokesman James DeMartini said the announcement took shipyard officials by surprise at about 5:15 p.m.
“We were expecting an announcement by the end of the month but today we weren’t quite ready,” said DeMartini late Monday evening. “My first priority is always to tell the employees then everyone else comes next.”
The decision affirms recent speculation that more Arleigh Burke contracts were on the verge of being announced. The restarted Burke line is in lieu of the more expensive DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers. The Zumwalts will be discontinued after three ships, which are also being built in Bath.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said she fought on behalf of BIW last year by opposing a continuing resolution, which is a temporary measure meant to continue funding the government until Congress can agree on a permanent budget.
“These ships were in jeopardy if the Navy would have been forced to operate under a long-term continuing resolution,” said Collins in a release. “Today’s contract award of the DDG-115 is evidence of the fact that the Congress recognized the importance of funding these ships.”
That the ships were awarded to BIW said something about the Maine shipyard’s importance to the Navy, said Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.
“For 127 years, Bath Iron Works has stood out as an irreplaceable national resource and the Navy’s purchase of these Bath-built Arleigh Burke Destroyers in addition to their recent purchase of the DDG-1001 and DDG-1002 ships affirms that fact,” said Snowe in a press release.
On Sept. 15, the Navy awarded contracts worth up to a combined $2 billion for the second and third ships in the Zumwalt line, which will be delivered over the next several years. The contracts awarded to BIW on Monday were for a DDG-115 for $680 million and an option for a DDG-116 at a value of $665 million. The option means that the second ship is contingent on Congress appropriating the money in its 2012 budget.
U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, both D-Maine, said in a joint statement Monday that BIW’s low bid for the ships helped it prevail over Huntington Ingalls Industries of Pascagoula, Miss., which is the only other shipyard that builds the Arleigh Burkes. Ingalls on Monday was awarded a contract for a DDG-114 at a value of $698 million. Both shipyards have other DDG-51s under construction.
“This will help ensure a steady flow of work at the shipyard,” said Pingree. “Once the DDG-1000s are finished at Bath Iron Works, the DDG-51 is going to be the yard’s bread and butter for years ahead.”
“This is another important step ahead for Bath and the entire region’s economy,” said Michaud.
DeMartini said the Arleigh Burkes and Zumwalts will be built side by side at the shipyard.
“We can see stability in our workload for the near future,” he said. “This is a very welcome addition to our backlog.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story implied that the decision to discontinue the Zumwalt series was made recently. That decision was made in 2009.