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December 21, 2017

BIW bidding on major multi-ship contracts for FY 2018 and beyond

TIM GREENWAY
TIM GREENWAY
Bath Iron Works is bidding on two major multi-ship U.S. Navy contracts that will be decided in 2018.

Bath Iron Works is bidding on two major multi-ship U.S. Navy contracts that will be decided in 2018: A new class of 20 frigates with an estimated value of $15 billion or more and the next multi-year contract for the Arleigh Burke-class of guided missile destroyers in which the Bath shipyard will be competing against Huntington Ingalls for at least 10 ships.

Bangor Daily News reported that BIW President Dirk Lesko, in an end-of-year video message posted on the company's Facebook page, told employees the shipyard "turned a corner" in 2017 and was headed in the right direction.

"We've seen a year of improvement in safety, quality, schedule and cost — our first in quite awhile," Lesko said in the video. "This is significant because it demonstrates that we've turned a corner and we're now moving in the right direction. We need to build on that momentum in 2018. We need to stay focused on what it means when we say 'Bath built is best built.' … There is no more capable group of individuals than the men and women of BIW In 2017, I saw us work hard to better support one another and as a result, we improved. We need to continue that, and we will."

BDN reported that the Navy's RFP for at least 10 Arleigh Burke destroyers would be issued next month, and that the contracts would be disbursed two-per-year in fiscal years 2018-2022. That round could include an additional five destroyers, if Congress authorizes the additional ships, BDN reported.

BIW was also slated to submit a conceptual design by Wednesday for the Navy's new FFG(X) frigate program, a new class of ships that would be smaller than the Arleigh Burke and Zumwalt destroyers and would perform multiple missions for the U.S. Navy. In November, the Portland Press Herald reported that the estimated price of the Navy's new guided-missile frigate could range up to $950 million, making a contract to build 20 of the vessels worth $19 billion.

The Times Record reported at that time that BIW would partner with Navantia SA of Spain to use a hull designed by the Navantia shipyard as its parent-design.

"Bath Iron Works evaluated many U.S. and foreign designs suited to the FFG(X) requirements and found that the family of frigates designed and built by Navantia is an ideal match," Lesko said in a statement reported by the newspaper. "We look forward to continuing the productive relationship we have had with Navantia for nearly 40 years."

BDN reported that the Navy will announce the concept design for the frigate program during the second quarter of fiscal year 2018, with the contract for the entire class of 20 ships expected to be awarded to a single builder in FY 2020.

Between the mid-1970s and 1987, BIW built 26 Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates for the Navy. Since then, the shipyard has focused on building guided-missile destroyers in the Arleigh Burke class as well as three Navy "stealth" destroyers funded in the Zumwalt class.

BIW is a significant employer in Maine, with 5,700 employees.

BIW is owned by Falls Church, Va.-based General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD), which has nearly 100,000 employees at sites worldwide. In addition to BIW, General Dynamics owns an ordnance-and-tactical systems site in Saco.

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