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November 16, 2017

BIW bidding on $19B Navy contract involving new class of frigates

Courtesy / Bath Iron Works
Courtesy / Bath Iron Works
Bath Iron Works christened the Navy guided-missile destroyer, Thomas Hudner, on April 1 in a public ceremony at the Bath shipyard. The Bath shipyard, which is owned by General Dynamics Corp., is one of six companies to bid on a multi-billion-dollar contract to build a new class of frigates for the U.S. Navy.

Bath Iron Works is one of six companies to bid on a multi-billion-dollar contract to build Navy frigates.

If BIW succeeds in landing the contract, it would return a type of work not done in Bath since the 1980s — though it would be a vessel now loaded with high-tech features.

The Portland Press Herald reported Wednesday 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 bid was originally reported by Inside Defense, an online trade journal.

Frigates, which are less expensive than destroyers and cruisers, patrol in low-threat areas, are equipped with air defense operations, anti-surface warfare combat and electromagnetic or electronic warfare missions, the Press Herald reported.

BIW confirmed Wednesday it would submit a design proposal by the Dec. 18 deadline. The Navy put out a request for proposals on Nov. 7.

The Times Record reported that BIW President Dirk Lesko said BIW teamed with a Spanish company on the bid, which would 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."

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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