BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair last week won a $294.8 million contract to upgrade one of the Navy’s Wasp-class amphibious assault ships to accommodate the F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
The contract, announced on Friday, is worth up to $340 million for the Norfolk, Va., yard to upgrade USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) so the amphib can field the U.S. Marine Corps’ fifth-generation fighter, USNI News understands.
“The extended sustainment period onboard the USS Kearsarge provides a great environment to apply BAE Systems’ substantial experience with ships of the same class and considerable production skills, and supports job stability across our shipyard and supply base,” Mike Bruneau, BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair general manage and vice president, said in a company news release. “Through our maintenance and modernization efforts, the Kearsarge will be ready to deploy for many years to come.”
BAE projects starting the availability in April and finishing it in January of 2025.
“Starting in June, the 843-foot-long ship will be drydocked for nearly a year at BAE Systems’ Norfolk shipyard,” the news release reads. “The shipyard will perform extensive hull, tank, and mechanical work, rehabilitate all crew and embarked Marine living compartments onboard, and inspect the ship’s boilers.”
Kearsarge in October came back from a deployment to Europe.
USS Wasp (LHD-1), the lead ship in the class, is currently at BAE’s repair yard for its own modernization period.
BAE’s Norfolk yard is also helping to upgrade the Navy’s aging Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers. USS Vicksburg (CG-69) is at BAE as part of the cruiser modernization program meant to extend the ship’s service life.