Gates wants to give destroyer contract to Bath

BATH, Maine (AP) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates is proposing that General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works build all three of the next-generation destroyers.

Bath is already building the first of the stealthy DDG-1000 destroyers, and the second is being built by Northrop Grumman in Mississippi.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins says the proposed budget would take away one ship from Northrop Grumman and award it - along with a third ship - to the Bath shipyard.

Collins says the Navy preference to build all three ships in Bath would help to stabilize the work force as well as lower costs for the ships. The two defense contractors are negotiating terms of severing the Northrop Grumman contract. The proposal also would require congressional approval.

The following statement was issued earlier today by officials at Northrop Grumman concerning the contract recommendation.

"The DDG agreement is a result of partnering with the Navy to allocate and reallocate the surface combatant workload within the shipbuilding industry. The intent is to allocate construction responsibilities to ensure shipyard workload stability, stabilize and minimize cost risk for the DDG 1000 Program, provide for an efficient re-start of the DDG 51 program, facilitate performance improvement opportunities at the shipyards, and maintain the sources of supply for future Navy surface combatant shipbuilding programs. This is aligned with the Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding strategic objective to reduce cost by allowing us to capture the value of series production, economic order quantities and production engineering. "

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)