Bath, Ingalls Agree to Navy’s Surface Combatant Plans
On April 6/09, in his FY 2010 budget preview, American defense secretary Robert M. Gates said that:
“…in this request, we will include funds to complete the buy of two navy destroyers in FY10. These plans depend on being able to work out contracts to allow the Navy to efficiently build all three DDG-1000 class ships at Bath Iron Works in Maine and to smoothly restart the DDG-51 Aegis Destroyer program at Northrop Grumman’s Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi. Even if these arrangements work out, the DDG-1000 program would end with the third ship and the DDG-51 would continue to be built in both yards.
If our efforts with industry are unsuccessful, the department will likely build only a single prototype DDG-1000 at Bath and then review our options for restarting production of the DDG-51. If the department is left to pursue this alternative, it would unfortunately reduce our overall procurement of ships and cut workload in both shipyards.”
Well, that was fast…
Agreements have been reached, and must be ratified by Congressional approval. The strong support of Rep. Gene Taylor, who chairs the House Armed Forces Seapower subcommittee, makes that approval very likely.
Under the agreements, Northrop Grumman’s Ingalls yard in Mississippi will continue building DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class destroyers, exact configuration to be determined, beginning with 2 in FY 2010. They will also become the lead design yard for the program, taking over from Bath Iron Works. At present, Ingalls is finishing DDG-105 Dewey and DDG-107 Gravely, and building DDG-110 William P. Lawrence.
Ingalls has a lot more work to keep them busy. The yard also builds the Coast Guard’s frigate-sized National Security Cutters, and some LPD-17 Class ships. They are about to deliver LHD 8 Makin Island, and will be the shipyard for the new LHA-6 America Class escort carriers.
The 3 Graf Spee sized DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class “destroyers” will be built at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Maine, which has already made program-related investments in advanced shipbuilding technologies. Northrop Grumman will continue to build the ships’ radar-deflecting composite “deckhouse” that encloses the structures on top of their hulls, but the move would essentially revert the program to the Navy’s original “winner take all” approach. Congress had originally balked at that provision, and insisted on a dual-yard strategy, despite estimates that this would add $300 million to the cost of each ship.
While building the DDG-1000s, Bath Iron Works will continue work on DDG-108 Wayne E. Meyer, DDG-109 Jason Dunham, DDG-111 Spruance, and DDG 112 Michael Murphy, with the last Arleigh Burke Class ship due for delivery in December 2010. Once the DDG-1000 ships are complete, the current notion is that Bath Iron Works would restart its own DDG-51 production line. This assumes that a growing need to reduce America’s deficits won’t result in sharp cuts to American defense programs, including shipbuilding, by the time the DDG-1000s are done in 2012 or so.
Updates and Developments
April 13/09: Defense News reports details of the agreement between the US Navy and its 2 shipyards for major surface combatants.
The deal reportedly includes a provision for Northrop Grumman’s shipyard in Avondale, LA to continue building LPD-17 San Antonio Class amphibious transport docks. Unfortunately, that shipyard has displayed severe and consistent quality problems building the first 2 ships of class.
Under the agreement, the FY 2010 budget would fund the second half of the 3rd Zumwalt Class ship [DDG 1002], and the Arleigh Burke Class DDG 113, with full ballistic missile defense capabilities instaled at the outset. That a departure, because all previous BMD ships in the US Navy have been refits of existing vessels. DDG 113 will be built by Northrop Grumman at Ingalls in Mississippi. That would be the first DDG-51 destroyer ordered since 2002, and it would be followed by orders for similar ships in FY 2011: DDG 114 (Northrop) and DDG 115 (Bath Iron Works).