U.S. Flight III Destroyer Multiyear Deal Grows to 10 Ships, 3 Hulls Awarded in FY 2023

August 15, 2023 5:35 PM
The future Flight III Arleigh Burke USS Ted Steves (DDG-128) launches at Ingalls Shipbuilding in August. HII Photo

The Navy is set to buy 10 Flight III Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyers over the next five years after the service elected to award an extra Fiscal Year 2023 option ship to Ingalls Shipbuilding, USNI News has learned.

This month Naval Sea Systems Command awarded three detailed design and construction contracts for destroyers as part of a five-year deal to build the ships – two to HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding and one to General Dynamics Bath Iron Works.

The first two contracts were awarded to Ingalls and HII in conjunction with the announcement of the multiyear deal on Aug. 1, a Navy official told USNI News on Tuesday. An additional option was awarded to Ingalls on Friday.

Under the current options, Bath Iron Works was awarded the future USS Thomas Kelley (DDG-140), which was named by Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro in January. Ingalls was awarded DDG-141 and DDG-142.

“We are grateful for this additional destroyer and we are honored to do the work we do. We look forward to the ongoing partnership with the Navy and our industry partners in continuing to deliver this important capability for our country,” Ingalls president Kari Wilkinson said in a statement to USNI News.

With Friday’s contract option, Ingalls will build seven ships and BIW three between now and FY 2027. There are five additional options the Navy could award between now and FY 2027 to build a total of 15 destroyers.

As part of the last defense budget, Congress has authorized the Navy to enter into the 15 hull multiyear contract.

The contract announcements did not include the cost of the awards.

In a roundtable with reporters on Aug. 2, Jay Stefany, who is performing the duties of the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition (RDA), told USNI News that the service did not intend to release the contract amounts for the program since the two yards will compete for the remaining options.

The latest cost estimate for Flight III is about $2 billion for each hull. About half of that cost goes to the shipyards for constructing the hull, while the remainder covers government-furnished equipment like the AN/SPY-6 air and missile defense radar.

With the current options exercised, the estimated total cost of the multiyear contract is about $20 billion with about half going to the shipyards for HM&E costs, based on USNI News estimates.

The 2018 contract lays out the distribution of the hulls between Ingalls and BIW, with Ingalls building more hulls. At the time, Ingalls was awarded $5.1 billion for six Burkes and BIW $3.9 billion for four. Divided evenly, Ingalls built their ships for $850 million a hull and BIW for $975 million a hull.

The uneven split between the two yards reflects that BIW is behind on its hull deliveries, while Ingalls will have excess capacity at its Mississippi yard following the near-completion of the Legend-class National Security Cutter line, several defense officials have told USNI News since the initial announcement.

BIW delivered USS Carl M. Levin (DDG-120), a Flight IIA destroyer, in January. The ship was commissioned in June. The Maine yard laid the keel for its first Flight III, Louis H. Wilson (DDG-126), in June. Bath is working on destroyers Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (DDG-124),  John Basilone (DDG-122), Patrick Gallagher (DDG-127), Quentin Walsh (DDG-132) and William Charette (DDG-130), USNI News previously reported.

Ingalls delivered the first Flight III, Jack Lucas (DDG-125), to the Navy in June. Four Flight III destroyers are at its yard in Pascagoula: Ted Stevens (DDG-128), Jeremiah Denton (DDG-129), George M. Neal (DDG-131) and Sam Nunn (DDG-133). Ted Stevens was launched last week.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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