Aug. 26 (UPI) -- General Dynamics will build two ships for the U.S. Navy under a $1.08 billion contract announced by the Defense Department.
The company's National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. subsidiary, headquartered in San Diego, will build the sixth and seventh ships in the Navy's Expeditionary Sea Base program, the Pentagon announced on Friday. The deal includes an option to build an eighth ship, which would push the contract's value to $1.63 billion.
The vessels are regarded as seagoing platforms used across a broad range of military operations supporting multiple operational phases.
"ESBs have proven to be affordable and flexible," Kevin Graney, president of General Dynamics NASSCO, said in a press release. "As the fleet has gained experience with the platform, we have worked with the Navy and Marines to develop even more capabilities and mission sets."
Acting as a mobile sea base, the ships, originally called Mobile Landing Platform Afloat Forward Staging Bases, are part of the critical access infrastructure to support deployment of forces and supplies. Their design is modeled after Alaska-class crude oil carriers, another General Dynamics NASSCO product.
The first two ships in the program were started in 2011. The USNS Montford Point was launched in 2012, and the USNS John Glenn was launched in 2013.
The contract announced on Friday is a fixed-price-incentive modification to a prior contract. Most of the work will be performed in San Diego, with January 2025 targeted as the completion date.