General Dynamics Bath Iron Works
General Dynamics Bath Iron Works Company Overview
Shipbuilding has been a way of life along the Kennebec River in Bath, Maine, since 1762, when the sailing ship Earl of Bute was launched on the site of present day Bath. The Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard, located on the west bank of the Kennebec, just south of downtown Bath, is the namesake of an iron foundry established in 1826.
Brevet General Thomas W. Hyde, US Army (Ret) took over the foundry in 1865, following service with the 20th Maine Regiment during the Civil War. Nearly two decades later, he incorporated his diversified marine business interests as Bath Iron Works, Limited in 1884, before expanding into shipbuilding with the acquisition of the Goss Marine Iron Works in 1888.The first BIW-built vessel was a coastal passenger ship named Cottage City built for the Maine Steamship Co. Since the completion of Hull #1 in 1890, BIW has been awarded more than 425 shipbuilding contracts, including 245 military ships (mostly destroyers and frigates for the US Navy) and over 160 private yachts and commercial vessels. BIW became a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Dynamics in September 1995.
In terms of modern US Navy surface combatant programs -- ones where BIW ships are still in service -- the Lead Ship construction contract for the Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG 7) Class of guided missile frigates was awarded to BIW in 1973, and 24 of these surface combatants were delivered over the next 15 years.
In 1982, the Navy selected BIW as second-source shipbuilder for the Ticonderoga (CG 47) Class of AEGIS guided missile cruisers. The company went on to win contracts for eight of these warships, delivering the final one in 1993. In 1985 BIW won the competition for detail design and construction of USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) , the Lead Ship for the Navy's newest, most capable class of AEGIS guided missile destroyers. BIW has delivered the lead ship and 30 follow ships, with delivery of the final follow ship under the most recent contract expected in 2011. The US Navy has announced that it will acquire further Arleigh Burke class vessels during the next decade.
Under General Dynamics' ownership, BIW solidified its industry leadership position by teaming with the City of Bath and the State of Maine to support a long-term capital investment plan. With the first phase of modernization completed in 2001, BIW began building ships in its new state-of-the-art facility. These improvements ($320 million so far) enable the company to offer unprecedented productivity, quality and affordability to our customer. Further applications of lean manufacturing techniques and advanced modular construction are planned, and the yard has switched to 3D computer-aided design for its latest ships. BIW is building the first of the DDG 1000 class of destroyers, Zumwalt, using these advanced technologies.
BIW is a yard with a history, and a bright future. Throughout Navy circles - and especially with their current and former crews - it's generally recognized that 'Bath Built Is Best Built' a phrase first heard in the early 1900s, and every bit as true today as when it was first said.