- Associated Press - Sunday, December 6, 2015

BATH, Maine (AP) - The Navy is taking steps to build another destroyer at Bath Iron Works, which is good news for a shipyard scrambling to keep its workforce busy in the coming years.

The Navy announced an initial procurement contract for an amphibious transport dock to be built at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi. Under a long-standing agreement, the Navy agreed to build a sixth Arleigh Burke-class destroyer at Bath Iron Works.

“Consistent with the ‘swap agreement,’ the Navy will award Bath Iron Works a corresponding DDG-51 ship. This ship would be in addition to the currently contracted multiyear ships, subject to congressional authorization and appropriation,” said Capt. Thurraya Kent, a Navy spokeswoman.

Bath Iron Works is in the midst of early negotiations with its union.

The company says it needs concessions to place a competitive bid for Coast Guard cutters in the new year. Without it, the company has warned of workforce cuts of more than 1,000 jobs. The shipyard currently has about 6,000 workers.

Maine’s congressional delegation has been lobbying for the extra ship for Bath Iron Works under a “memorandum of understanding” that dates to 2002. The agreement calls for the Navy to award a destroyer to the Maine shipyard for each San Antonio-class amphibious ship built at Ingalls.

While the Navy got the ball rolling on the new ships, Congress must come up with the funding. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins said the national security argument for the extra ships is “compelling.”

“The DDG-51s have been real workhorses for the Navy and building more of them at BIW is a smart investment,” U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree said in a statement.

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