The future of Huntington Ingalls Industries’ composite manufacturing facility in Gulfport, Miss. is in question following a decision by the U.S. Navy to build the deckhouse for the third Zumwalt-class destroyer (DDG-1000) from steel instead of composites.
On Friday, Naval Sea Systems Command announced General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) won a $212 million fixed-price contract to build the deckhouse at its Maine shipyard for the planned Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002).
“The composite design was initially required to meet weight requirements. Subsequent to the award of DDG-1000 and 1001 superstructures, sufficient weight removal allowed for the opportunity to provide a steel superstructure, which is a less costly alternative,” NAVSEA officials said in a Monday statement to USNI News.
After the completion of the second deckhouse for the planned Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) the Gulfport facility’s only Navy contract will be for the construction for composite masts for HII’s San Antonio-class (LPD-17) amphibious warships. HII said the construction of the masts plans to be completed early next year.
“We are disappointed that we will not build the composite deckhouse and hanger for DDG-1002 , but we are committed to working closely with the Navy to complete our work on DDG-1001 by the first quarter of 2014,” HII officials told USNI News on Monday.
The Gulfport facility built the first two 1,000-ton deckhouses for the Zumwalts as well as four hulls for the Osprey-class mine hunter ships briefly used by the Navy before the service abandoned the program in favor of the mine hunting systems based on the littoral combat ship. The facility had planned to build U.S. Coast Guard vessels before the service decided to go with steel instead.
After the completion of the San Antonio masts the outlook of the composite manufacturing in Gulfport is still unclear.
“We’re currently evaluating the future utilization of the facility based upon the U.S. Navy’s decision,” HII officials told USNI News.
According to information from the city of Gulfport, the facility employed up to 730 workers in 2011.