BATH, Maine — The Government Accountability Office on Monday denied appeals by Huntington Ingalls Industries and VT Halter Marine to reopen bidding on a U.S. Navy contract for the design and engineering of a new fleet of Coast Guard cutters, clearing the way for Bath Iron Works to move forward with about 18 months of work.
In February, the U.S. Coast Guard awarded Bath Iron Works a $21 million contract for preliminary design work for offshore patrol cutters. Bollinger Shipyards Lockport LLC in Lockport, Louisiana, and Eastern Shipbuilding Group Inc. in Panama City, Florida, also secured contracts, for a total award of $65 million. The three shipyards remain in competition to build the new line of cutters.
Construction for the 25 ships could be worth up to $11 billion, U.S. Naval Institute News reported.
But Huntington Ingalls Industries, which owns Ingalls Shipbuilding and VT Halter Marine Inc., both in Pascagoula, Mississippi, filed protests with the Government Accountability Office, arguing that they should not have been eliminated from the competition.
“That stopped everything,” BIW spokesman Jim DeMartini said in April.
On Monday, the GAO denied the protests.
DeMartini said Thursday that design work would begin again in earnest in early July and last about 18 months.
“Obviously we’re pleased that the GAO’s review is complete, and we’re also pleased with the decision to uphold the decisions of the Coast Guard in regard to this phase of the project,” DeMartini said. “We’ll submit our proposal for the next phase and find our way into the building of ships for the Coast Guard.
Construction on the cutters is scheduled to begin in the 2017 fiscal year.
The new cutters are designed to “replace the aging fleet of 210-foot and 270-foot medium endurance cutters, which are becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and operate and are, in many respects, technologically obsolete,” according to the Coast Guard’s website.