WASHINGTON – A deal has been struck to build two more Navy guided-missile destroyers at Bath Iron Works.

Sen. Susan Collins said Tuesday that she had been informed of the agreement between the Navy and General Dynamics, BIW’s parent company, by Assistant Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley. The Navy and BIW confirmed the deal.

Negotiations had gone on for months amid concerns that potential defense cutbacks could hinder a deal.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said in a prepared statement that it’s been a “long, hard road” to reach agreement to build the second and third Zumwalt-class destroyers at BIW.

“The finalization of these contracts will ensure good-paying jobs for Mainers and quality ships for the Navy,” Snowe said.

BIW already is building the first of the massive destroyers, dubbed DDG-1000. The next two will be DDG-1001 and 1002.

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

Collins, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said there have been attempts in the House to cut funding for the destroyers.

“This is incredibly welcome news for Maine and is a testament to the highly skilled, hard-working men and women at Bath Iron Works,” Collins said in a prepared statement.

Stackley said in an email that “while we continue to complete final mechanics of the contract award, we can proceed with funding material and other work to keep 1001 and 1002 on track until actual contract award before the end of the fiscal year.”

Collins said in an interview Tuesday evening that negotiations were “extremely sensitive” and time-consuming. She said she was worried that in the current fiscal climate, money for the additional two destroyers could be lost, despite the Navy’s stated need for the ships.

On several occasions, Collins convened officials from BIW and the Navy in her Senate office to try to iron out details, and she also helped arrange visits by Navy officials to BIW. Snowe, a former member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and current member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also held meetings with Navy officials and BIW to work on a deal, according to Snowe’s office.

Another Maine lawmaker, Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, also has worked to safeguard the destroyer work at Bath.

According to Collins’ office, the ships in the DDG-1000 Zumwalt class are next-generation destroyers that will “triple naval surface-fire coverage as well as tripling capability against anti-ship cruise missiles.”

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:

[email protected]