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The Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Detroit (LCS 7) pulls into Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for fuel and provisions.
The Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Detroit (LCS 7) pulls into Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for fuel and provisions. (Anderson W. Branch/U.S. Navy)

(Tribune News Service) — Five Hampton Roads shipyards are on the short list for what could be billions of dollars’ worth of maintenance and repair work on the Navy’s eight littoral combat ships based out of Mayport, Florida.

The award of several multiple contracts for a combined total of up to $2.255 billion means the yards, along with three in Jacksonville, Florida, and one in Mobile, Alabama, will be able to bid for whatever dry-docking, emergency maintenance, preventive or planned maintenance, corrosion control or assessments the ships need over the next years.

Fincantieri Marine Systems North America of Chesapeake and BAE Systems Jacksonville Ship Repair LLC won places on a shortlist for futures work that could amount to as much as a combined total of $1.3 billion, the Naval Sea Systems Command said.

Colonna’s Shipyard Inc. in Norfolk; East Coast Repair & Fabrication, in Portsmouth; Epsilon Systems Solutions Inc., in Portsmouth; and Tecnico Corp., in Chesapeake, along with the Austal USA yard in Alabama and the General Dynamics NASSCO and North Florida yards in Jacksonville, were awarded contracts for up to a combined total of $965 million.

In addition, Valkyrie Enterprises Inc., a Virginia Beach technical services firm, and two similar businesses in South Carolina and Alabama won multiple award contracts for work on the Mayport ships that could be worth a combined total of up to $499 million.

Because the contracts are for an uncertain amount of work on indefinite schedules, the value to any one yard is not set. Each shipyard is set to receive $10,000 this year, however.

The Freedom class littoral combat ships based in Mayport are small warships designed to carry out several different missions. The first, USS Freedom, was commissioned in 2008 and is scheduled to be decommissioned later this year. Three more are to be decommissioned next year, after between five and 10 years of service.

The Navy has said modernizing the first Freedom and Independence class littoral combat ships so that they match improvements on more recent vessels could cost $2.5 billion, and that decommissioning them would free up funds in a tight budget for other shipbuilding priorities.

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