Bath Iron Works has been awarded a $14.9 million contract to design a next-generation frigate for the U.S. Navy.

The shipyard was one of five companies awarded identical contracts to submit conceptual designs of a new guided-missile warship, called the FFG(X).

The Navy will use the designs to develop specifications for final design of its frigate, according to U.S. Sens. Susan Collins. R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District.

The design contract includes options that could bring the total award up to $22.9 million. The contract is expected to end in June 2019.

“Every day, the hardworking men and women at BIW prove that Bath built is best built,” said Sens. Collins and King in a joint statement Friday. “The design contract awarded today reflects the Navy’s confidence in the ability of BIW’s skilled employees to deliver high-quality ships that are essential to our national security.”

A final request for proposals will be released next year, with a contract for up to 20 vessels in 2020.

“The contract to create a conceptual design for the FFG(X) is a huge opportunity for BIW that could lead to enough work to keep the shipyard busy for years,” Pingree said in a statement. “I’m glad BIW will have the chance to show yet again the skills and expertise that we have here in Maine. I have no doubt that the shipyard’s design will be a strong one and highly competitive in this process.”

BIW spokesman David Hench declined to comment on the contract Saturday.

Other competing firms are Austal USA, based in Mobile Alabama; Huntington Ingalls Industries, in Pascagoula, Mississippi; Lockheed Martin, in Baltimore, Maryland; and Fincantieri Marinette Marine, a Marinette, Wisconsin, subsidiary of Fincantieri, an Italian shipbuilder.

BIW, a General Dynamics subsidiary, has partnered with Navantia, a Spanish company, to design the frigate. Approximately 81 percent of work on the contract will be completed in Bath, with 10 percent done in Spain and 9 percent in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, according to the Navy.

The FFG(X) is smaller, cheaper and less capable than destroyers and cruisers, and the new model is designed for anti-air, anti-submarine and surface operations, according to a 2017 report from the Congressional Research Service. The ships will not include new weapons or systems.

The Navy wants to buy one ship in 2020, one in 2021, and two more every year until 2030, according to the research service. The estimated cost of each ship is $950 million.