BATH — The Navy has authorized spending more than $66 million this year for Bath Iron Works to design and engineer upgrades to its fleet of ships.

If the contract remains in effect for the expected five years, it will be worth more than $370 million for BIW’s design and engineering divisions. All of the work will be done at the shipyard’s facilities in Bath and Brunswick.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced the modernization contract Monday night.

“The Arleigh Burke class continues to be a workhorse for the Navy and maintaining and modernizing the ships will help keep the top notch workers at BIW on the job,” Pingree said in a news release.

“With this contract, BIW will continue to plan for how these ships, which are critical to our national security, will be maintained and repaired so that they reach the end of their planned service lives,” Collins said.

BIW spokesman Jim DeMartini said it’s good news that the shipyard will be funded to design and engineer upgrades to the frigates and destroyers it built years ago.

“We’re not doing any labor on the ships. It’s all engineering and design work, and in some cases we will be fitting the materials,” DeMartini said.

The Navy destroyers in line to be modernized will remain in their home ports while BIW designers and engineers work on their upgrades, he said.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]