WASHINGTON — The Navy and General Dynamics, the parent company of Bath Iron Works, have signed contracts for BIW to build two more guided-missile destroyers for as much as $2 billion.

After months of negotiations and concerns that potential defense cutbacks could hinder a deal, news came in late July that an agreement had been reached for BIW to build the second and third Zumwalt-class destroyers.

BIW is building the first of the ships, DDG-1000. The next two will be DDG-1001 and 1002.

Maine’s members of Congress, Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe and Democratic Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, got calls today from Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus informing them that the final construction contracts have been awarded.

Collins has said that BIW’s work on the three ships will total more than $3 billion. The shipyard employs about 5,300 people, with most now working on the DDG-1000.

Snowe’s office said Mabus put the total value of the contracts for the two new ships at $1.8 billion to $2 billion, with delivery dates of 2015 and 2018.

“These contracts are key to maintaining the skilled work force at BIW while meeting the requirements of the Navy,” Collins said in a prepared statement.

Snowe said in a statement, “This award once again confirms that Maine’s iconic shipyard remains the premier builder of ships for the United States Navy.”

In a joint release, Pingree and Michaud said the contract is good news for workers, who can feel more secure about their future.

Michaud and Pingree said they have been pushing for the Navy to complete negotiations and for Congress to come up with funding for the ships.

Although not directly related, the contract signing came a day after the Senate Appropriations Committee, on which Collins serves, provided $453.7 million to the DDG-1000 program for 2012, according to Collins’ office.

After the Zumwalts are completed, BIW will return to building an updated version of the Arleigh Burke destroyer.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at:
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