The U.S. Navy has awarded Maine’s Bath Iron Works a $663 million contract to build the next destroyer in the resurrected Arleigh Burke program.
The new destroyer, DDG 116, is the fourth ship in the Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class construction-continuation program, the yard said in a release, and BIW is also under contract for the construction of DDG 115, the third ship in the program.
“All of us at Bath Iron Works are very pleased the Navy chose to build DDG 116 in Bath. This additional work will enable us to further refine our shipbuilding processes, reduce costs and maintain the level of Bath-built quality which the Navy expects from us,” said Jeff Geiger, BIW’s president. “We understand the importance of affordability in today’s challenging economic times and we’re committed to providing the Navy highly capable, affordable ships while maintaining quality Maine shipbuilding jobs that contribute to our national security.”
The Navy had been transitioning out of the Arleigh Burke program and toward the new Zumwalt line of destroyers. But the high, $3 billion-plus price tag of the Zumwalts played a role in the Navy’s decision to drastically scale back the number of those next-generation destroyers to only three – all of which will be built at BIW. Those three are to be used as test platforms for new technologies. BIW laid the keel for the first Zumwalt-class destroyer last November.
To maintain the fleet, the Navy turned back to the program that has been producing destroyers for decades – the Arleigh Burkes.
In a release, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said: “This funding is great news for BIW, its dedicated work force, and for the state of Maine. It demonstrates the importance of these ships to the Navy, the confidence the Navy has in BIW’s skilled work force, and the tremendous value of these ships to the American taxpayer. As always, Bath-built is best-built.”
With roughly 5,700 employees, BIW is one of the state’s largest private employers.