PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Shipbuilders at Bath Iron Works learned Monday that they've won a contract for an extra warship, winning two out of three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to be built under a restart of the program.
The Navy previously agreed to award one ship apiece to Bath Iron Works and to the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi, but the contract for the third ship was to be awarded on the basis of a competitive shootout. The Navy announced Monday that Bath was the low bid for the third ship.
"This is great news and it's a real tribute to the workers at Bath Iron Works that they were able to prevail in this competition," said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a member of the Armed Services Committee.
Bath currently has contracts to build all three of the next-generation Zumwalt destroyers, and was awarded $1.8 billion earlier this month for the final two ships in that production run.
Because the Zumwalts are so expensive, the Navy decided to go back to building tried-and-true Arleigh Burkes, which are less costly. Bath and Huntington will be awarded $680 million apiece for the first two Burkes. The third ship will bring Bath an additional $665 million, said Collins, R-Maine.
Bath shipbuilders were caught by surprise by the announcement. They were expecting one ship but weren't expecting to learn so soon about the additional ship.
Maine's congressional delegation said the Navy's announcement will serve to shore up work for the coming years for the shipyard's 5,400 workers.
"This has not been an easy year for workers at BIW, with so much up in the air about contracts and funding," said U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Portland. "I hope this gives them some more security in knowing there will be enough work to keep them busy."
These three ships will be the first under a restart of the Arleigh Burke destroyer program, which dates to the 1980s when the first ship was delivered.
The Arleigh Burke warships have proven to be so versatile that the Navy has been modifying them for use for ballistic missile defense. Eventually, the Navy plans to seek bids for a revised Flight III version of the ship that will include many additional improvements.