BATH  — Maine’s Bath Iron Works and Alabama’s Austal USA are ending their partnership, allowing Austal to compete on its own for the next contract to build fast and agile warships for the Navy.

Austal plans to bid as prime contractor for the first two ships in an anticipated 10-ship buy by the Navy. Overall, the contract for littoral combat ships could be worth nearly $5 billion to the winner. In 2012, the Navy plans to award another five-ship contract that must go to a different builder.

By breaking up their team, Bath Iron Works would be able to bid on the second contract.

Currently there are two competing versions of the ship. With its new contracts, the Navy wants to build 55 of one version of the ship.