The Navy is considering extending by several months the delivery dates for the first two restart General Dynamics Bath Iron Works Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers (DDG-51).
A recent delivery schedule for the Burkes under construction, seen by USNI News, indicate the delivery dates for the two ships are under review by the service.
Sources told USNI News that BIW has requested pushing delivery of Rafael Peralta (DDG-115) from October 2016 to January 2017 and moving the delivery date of Thomas Hudner (DDG-116) from August 2017 to January 2018.
Respectively the ships would deliver three and seven months later than originally planned, according to sources familiar with the slippage.
The delays are understood to be — in part — due to yard resources and capacity directed toward the emerging three ship, $22 billion Zumwalt-class (DDG-1000) program as well as a shortage in specific skill sets in the yard.
Neither the Navy nor BIW would not comment specifically on the schedule delays when contacted by USNI News last week.
“Both the Navy and BIW are committed to collectively managing risks and controlling costs in order to deliver both DDG-1000 Class and DDG-51 Class ships to the fleet in the most efficient manner possible,” read a written statement from the Navy’s office of Research, Development and Acquisition (RDA).
A representative of BIW told USNI News the yard does not comment on ship schedules.
The two ships are part of the 2009 restart of the Navy’s DDG-51 line after the truncation of the DDG-1000 line to three ships and cancelation of the next-generation cruiser program (CG(X)).
Since DDG-51 work resumed in 2011, the Maine yard has had problems managing costs for the restart ships — evident in the price increase from the two restart ships to the Navy’s multi-year ship deal in 2013. According to the contract awards from 2011 to 2013, costs per-hull at BIW increased about $31 million from $679.6 to $710.8 million.
To compare, BIW DDG-51 rival Huntington Ingalls Industries Ingalls Shipbuilding shrunk about $31 million from its $697.6 million per-hull restart award to a price of $666.2 million per-hull in the 2013 multi-year award.
The news of the likely schedule slip comes as BIW is in the midst of negotiating a new deal with its workforce, according to a Sunday story from The Associated Press.
“[BIW] told Machinists Union Local S6 that it wants to negotiate contract changes by year’s end, instead of waiting until spring when the current labor contract expires, so it can shore up the framework for a labor pact to produce a competitive bid for Coast Guard Off-shore Patrol Cutters (OPC) in March,” read the story.
USNI News understands workforce capacity, particularly electricians needed for the complex electrical systems in the DDG-1000, have been partially responsible for the yard’s overall delays.
Management and labor has had been at odds as to how to solve the capacity issues for months. Shortly after BIW’s 2013 award, General Dynamics NASSCO president Fred Harris was appointed head of the Maine yard.
Harris has said repeatedly that if BIW does improve its efficiency and does not win the estimated $10.5 billion Coast Guard OPC program the yard may shed up to a third of its workforce.
“We have no other option,” he said during the christening of Peralta on Oct. 31.
“We must change.”