Feb. 14, 2008: Bath Iron Works wins a $1.4 billion contract to build the first ship in the U.S. Navy’s newest class of guided-missile destroyers. The Zumwalt, or DDG 1000, is expected to be delivered in 2014.

The contract is expected to help BIW avoid layoffs when construction of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers is complete.

The Zumwalt program originally was supposed to result in the production of 32 ships at a cost of about $1.34 billion each, but cost increases prompt the Navy to reduce the number of ships. By the time the first Zumwalt is christened in 2014, the number of Zumwalt-class ships planned has been reduced to three, at a cost of about $7 billion per ship when development costs are included.

Aside from the ballooning budget, several other problems – engine testing difficulties, labor disputes at the shipyard and the fact that the Zumwalt is incomplete when delivered – bedevil the project. The Navy decides to continue to order Arleigh Burke destroyers instead.

In December 2019, the Department of Defense proposes reducing the number of new Arleigh Burke-class ships planned for 2021-2025 from 12 ships to seven.

Joseph Owen is a retired copy desk chief of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. He can be contacted at: jowen@mainetoday.com.

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