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Source: BIW president out after 'violating corporate policy'

Citing industry sources, The Lexington Institute CEO Loren Thompson said Dirk Lesko resigned from Bath Iron Works after violating 'a specific rule'

BATH, Maine — Editor's note: The video above aired April 7, 2022.

The abrupt departure of Bath Iron Works President Dirk Lesko on Thursday came after Lesko violated corporate policy, industry analyst Loren Thompson said Friday.

Citing industry sources, Thompson, CEO of The Lexington Institute in Arlington, Virginia, and a frequent contributor to Forbes about the defense industry, told NEWS CENTER Maine that Lesko's resignation "had nothing to do with performance or personal behavior."

"Dirk violated corporate policy, a specific rule, and that was deemed sufficient for a parting of the ways," he said, declining to comment further.

A memo Thursday to employees said only that Robert E. Smith, executive vice president of BIW parent company General Dynamics, had "assumed direct responsibility" for the shipyard until a permanent replacement was chosen.

BIW spokesman David Hench and General Dynamics spokesman Jeff Davis declined to comment on Friday. Union officials also have remained silent.

Lesko has served as president since November 2016 after serving as general manager. He worked at BIW for more than three decades.

Lesko was at the helm of the shipyard during a nine-week strike in 2020, as BIW's largest union, representing 6,700 shipbuilders, battled with the company over a new contract.

His resignation comes two weeks after the U.S. Navy appointed a new Supervisor of Shipbuilding at BIW. On March 25, Capt. David Hart relieved Capt. Joseph Tuite as the commanding officer of the facility that oversees shipbuilding at the Bath yard and others.

A spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) had no comment on Friday.

The shipyard remains in good hands, according to Jay Korman, managing director of The Avascent Group in Washington, D.C. With the long lead time of the Navy's environment, "it's hard to turn the company on a dime for any reason."

When similar organizations have lost leadership suddenly, "it does send shock waves through the executive ranks, but it tends to be kind of business as usual for the workforce as long as there's a succession plan in place," he said. "It's not as destructive as it seems. There's no reason to panic. I'm sure that in the lead up to this decision, the company, the board of directors, and others have thought of what the replacement plan looks like."

On Friday, work continued at the shipyard, including engineering and design work on changes required to install hypersonic weapons on three Bath-built Zumwalt-class destroyers.

BIW continues construction on the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers the future USS Carl M. Levin (DDG 120), John Basilone (DDG 122), Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (DDG 124), Patrick Gallagher (DDG 127), Louis H. Wilson Jr. (DDG 126), and William Charette (DDG 130).

And with the Navy planning another multi-year purchase of DDG 51s, built only by BIW and Ingalls Shipbuilding, more ships are likely headed to Bath.

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