BATH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The President of Bath Iron Works says the shipyard has to continue to cut costs and be more efficient in order to win new contracts from the Navy.
Just last week, BIW signed contracts to build two new destroyers. Those ships had been in the planning stages for several years. BIW President Dirk Lesko said Friday they now must focus on the next series of contracts, to ensure continued work for a new generation of shipbuilders.
Lesko has worked at Bath Iron Works for 28 years and took over as President in January. He told NEWS CENTER BIW workers are still the best shipbuilders in the world, but also said the world of Navy contracts is demanding much greater efficiency than ever.
The first of the unique Zunwalt class of destroyers built at Bath went far over budget and ended up well over a year behind schedule. Lesko said they learned from that first ship, and that the following two ships in that class are being built at significantly lower cost because they are using "millions of man hours less labor." He said the company must do the same thing with the new generation of DDG51 destroyers it is building. He said the goal must be on achieving great efficiency and high quality.
"Looking at what we do, not In the context of how we have done it," said Lesko, "but how others are doing it, and comparing ourselves to that honestly. How can we do it better? How can we be world class? Because if we are world class we have excellent security."
Lesko said the company is currently working on two Zumwalt destroyers and three DDG-51's, with three more waiting to be built.
He said those contracts will keep people working into the next decade. What happens after that will depend on the new round of negotiations for a multi-year, multi-ship contract. Those talks between Congress, the Navy and BIW- and its competitor- are expected to start next year.