BATH, Maine (AP) — Bath Iron Works employees have done such a good job getting caught up on the Navy's shipbuilding schedule that they're getting Christmas Eve off.
The extra holiday is a reward for getting the future USS Daniel Inouye ready for sea trials on Dec. 15, getting fabrication on schedule to ensure adequate supplies, and boosting the pre-outfit department shipbuilding rate to 1.5 ships per year by year's end, BIW President Dirk Lesko told workers in a memo.
“These near-term goals are part of a larger three-year plan to ensure BIW is delivering the shipbuilding velocity the Navy expects on our existing work and to position us to win new work,” Lesko said.
The pandemic and a two-month strike by production workers over the summer worsened existing delays in delivering ships to the Navy.
The delays were serious enough to knock the shipyard out of contention for a lucrative contract to build a new class of frigates, officials said.
Machinists Union Local S6 and shipyard management have been meeting with help from a federal mediator since the two-month strike ended in August to get on the same page when it comes to catching up on the production schedule.
Last month, the federal mediation service commended the union and managers for working together to address the problems.
Bath Iron Works is one of the Navy’s largest shipbuilders and is a major employer with 6,800 workers in Maine.
It’s one of two shipyards that build destroyers, the workhorse of the Navy fleet, which have the ability to provide air defense while simultaneously waging war against submarines and surface warships.