More than two weeks after the abrupt resignation of former Bath Iron Works President Dirk Lesko, shipyard officials remain tight-lipped about the reason for his departure. 

Lesko, a 30-year veteran of the Bath-based shipbuilder, resigned April 7. 

Former Bath Iron Works President Dirk Lesko Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

A two-sentence company memo sent to employees said Lesko’s resignation was effective immediately, and that he was being replaced temporarily by another executive until a permanent successor is found.

“Dirk Lesko has resigned as president of Bath Iron Works. Robert E. Smith, General Dynamics executive vice president for Marine Systems, has assumed direct responsibility for Bath Iron Works pending appointment of a permanent replacement,” the company said in a statement.

BIW, owned by Virginia-based defense contractor General Dynamics, has not explained the reason for Lesko’s sudden resignation and has declined to comment further. Lesko has not made any public statement.

Tim Suitter, spokesperson for the shipbuilders’ union IAMAW Local S6, also declined to comment following Lesko’s resignation. He could not be reached for comment Friday. The union represents roughly 4,300 BIW workers.


One analyst speculated that Lesko’s departure may have come as a surprise to BIW leadership and could have been prompted by a disagreement with General Dynamics over a recent commitment to boost BIW workers’ pay. Another, citing an industry source, said that Lesko violated a company policy “concerning delegation of authority” but could not say what that might be.

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins visited the shipyard Monday with Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden and U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday. During a brief news conference, Collins commended Lesko for his years of service and said she will miss working with him. 

“Dirk Lesko poured his heart and soul into this yard,” she said. “He cared deeply about the men and women of Bath Iron Works and about delivering the best-built ships possible to the United States Navy.”

Lesko became president of BIW, which builds warships for the U.S. Navy, in 2016.

BIW is one of Maine’s largest employers, with nearly 7,000 workers at its Bath shipyard and production facilities in Brunswick.

Lesko’s resignation was made public on the same day that union leadership announced a memorandum of agreement concerning “historic” midterm wage adjustments.

“To reach a midterm wage adjustment of this magnitude is something that all parties should be proud of,” IAMAW Local S6 wrote in a letter to members. “We are at a critical juncture with BIW. We need to prove we are the best shipbuilders in the world by delivering ships on time and on budget. That will greatly improve our negotiations strength headed into contract negotiations in August 2023.”

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