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Updated: January 3, 2024

Bath Iron Works awarded $34M for workforce attraction and retention

big cranes and other machines near water FILE PHOTO / TIM GREENWAY Bath Iron Works was awarded more than $34 million for six new workforce initiatives.

The U.S. Navy has approved funding of more than $34 million to help Bath Iron Works expand its workforce.

BIW said in a news release Tuesday that the money will support a variety of initiatives aimed at hiring and retaining employees, including:

  • Increasing the number of workers trained at BIW apprentice academies;
  • Providing new workers with on-the-job training at the shipyard to reduce the training timeline from five years to three years;
  • Funding 85 new housing units for BIW workers closer to the shipyard;
  • Providing 150 additional year-round child care slots for BIW workers; and
  • Providing free bus services for BIW employees in the Bath and Brunswick areas.

BIW, part of Reston, Va.-based General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD), ranks as Maine’s fourth-largest private sector employer in the 2024 Mainebiz Book of Lists, with around 6,000 employees.

The company has other recruiting programs in the works, including a collaboration with the Army’s Partnership for Your Success program. It helps soldiers prepare for a career after the Army by connecting them with employers who understand the skills, discipline, and work ethic that military service members bring.

Earlier this year, BIW was working with Western Maine Transportation Services in Auburn to expand commuter bus transportation between Lewiston and Bath, in order to make it easier and more affordable for residents of Lewiston, Auburn and Lisbon Falls to get to jobs at BIW.

The money for the latest program was included in the Fiscal Year 2023 Defense Appropriations bill at the request of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and is part of a larger initiative to improve the shipyards that build the Navy’s destroyers.

“The crews of the Bath-built DDG-51 destroyers defending commercial shipping in the Red Sea today serve as vivid reminders of how important it is that the United States maintain a robust shipbuilding capability to support the U.S. Navy,” said Collins.  “These workforce investments are aimed at strengthening the backbone of BIW, which is the thousands of dedicated workers who build the world’s most capable combat surface ships.”

BIW, whose roots date back to 1884, has built dozens of the DDG-51, Arleigh Burke-class destroyers for the Navy since the 1980s.

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