The U.S. Navy recently assigned contracts totaling more than $6 billion to two shipbuilders for a total of nine new Arleigh Burke-class destroyers (DDG 51s), and an optional tenth vessel.

Huntington Ingalls Industries' Ingalls Shipbuilding division earned a fixed-price incentive, multiyear contract to build five destroyers (DDG 51s), an assignment totaling $3.33 billion.

General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works division drew a similar, $2.8-billion contract to build four of the destroyers, with an option for a fifth ship.  

The DDG 51s are a series of guided missile destroyers built to host the Aegis Combat System, a computer- and radar-guided, integrated naval weapons system that tracks and guides warheads to destroy enemy targets. In addition to anti-aircraft systems, the ships have anti-submarine and anti-surface weapon capabilities.

Named after the first vessel of the series, Arleigh Burke-class destroyers havean overall length of 505 to 509 feet, and displacements ranging from 8,315 to 9,200 tons. Each one carries more than 90 armed missiles in addition to their tracking and guidance systems.

Huntington Ingalls Industries designs, builds and maintains nuclear and non-nuclear ships for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. It already has delivered 28 DDG 51 destroyers to the Navy, and two more are 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," stated DDG 51 program manager George Nungesser. "This contract award and, importantly, the Navy's structuring of the program, increases our momentum in realizing efficiencies generated from true serial production."

The multi-year procurement allows Ingalls to buy bulk material and move the skilled workforce from ship to ship.

Bath Iron Works has two DDG 51 destroyers in production at its shipyard in Bath, ME, along with three ships from the forthcoming Zumwalt-class of destroyers.

The new contract "adds four ships to our workload in a fiscally challenging and highly competitive environment, and provides a clearer picture of our near-term future," stated Jeff Geiger, president of Bath Iron Works. The option to build a fifth ship in the series, if exercised, would bring its total value to approximately $3.5 billion.