WASHINGTON, June 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy will acquire at least nine new destroyers between this year and 2017 after General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls won contracts worth more than $6 billion for the shipbuilding project.
"These contract awards represent great value to the taxpayer and will ensure our warfighters have the ships and systems they need to prevail in any situation," U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said.
"By leveraging competition in the DDG 51 class shipbuilding program, these shipbuilders will continue their proud histories in delivering these highly capable ships to the fleet while meeting critical operational requirements for integrated air and missile defense capability."
General Dynamics Bath Iron Works was awarded a $2.84 billion contract for the design and construction of four DDG 51 class ships, one in fiscal 2013 and one each year 2015-2017, the Naval Sea Systems Command Office said. The award includes a contract option for a fifth ship, the Navy said.
Huntington Ingalls Industries was awarded a $3.33 billion contract for the design and construction of five DDG 51 class ships, one each in fiscal years 2013-2017.
Although the multiyear procurement awards are for nine ships, the Navy says it plans to buy the 10th ship as part of the acquisition program.
The Navy says it will work with Congress to "resolve funding shortfalls resulting from sequestration reductions" before contracting for the 10th ship.
Congress is generally disposed to support adding the ship, Defense News said on its website.
A Navy news release said the DDG 51 class shipbuilding program, in place since 1996, has been marked by "a competitive allocation strategy."
That strategy aims at securing reasonable prices while maintaining the industrial base.
Congressional approval for the multiyear procurement contracts has already resulted in savings of more than $1.5 billion, the Navy said. It has also enabled the shipbuilders and equipment manufacturers to plan their workloads more efficiently.
Mabus said he was "proud of the success of the DDG 51 program" and acknowledged congressional support. "This award enables stability in our industrial base and ensures the Navy and the nation get the most efficient and affordable build plan for these destroyers," Mabus added.
Huntington Ingalls says its multimission ship is good for a variety of operations from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control. DDGs are capable of simultaneously fighting air, surface and subsurface battles.
Details of jobs to be created as a result of the contracts were not immediately available.
The destroyers are being procured in a Flight IIA configuration, relying on a stable and mature infrastructure, the Navy says. Each ship's air and missile defense capabilities are set to be increased through spiral upgrades to the weapons and sensor suites.
Huntington Ingalls Industries, which has its shipbuilding division in Pascagoula, Miss., has delivered 28 DDG 51 destroyers to the Navy and currently has two more under construction.
"Our shipbuilders have a strong legacy of building DDG 51s, a class of ships that for decades has proven itself to be the workhorse of the Navy's fleet," the company's DDG 51 Program Manager George Nungesser said.