Shipbuilding has been a way of life along the Kennebec River in Bath, Maine, since 1762, when the sailing ship Earl of Bute was launched on the site of present day Bath. The Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard, located on the west bank of the Kennebec, just south of downtown Bath, is the namesake of an iron foundry established in 1826.
Brevet General Thomas W. Hyde, US Army (Ret) took over the foundry in 1865, following service with the 20th Maine Regiment during the Civil War. Nearly two decades later, he incorporated his diversified marine business interests as Bath Iron Works, Limited in 1884, before expanding into shipbuilding with the acquisition of the Goss Marine Iron Works in 1888.The first BIW-built vessel was a coastal passenger ship named Cottage City built for the Maine Steamship Co. Since the completion of Hull #1 in 1890, BIW has been awarded more than 425 shipbuilding contracts, including 245 military ships (mostly destroyers and frigates for the US Navy) and over 160 private yachts and commercial vessels. BIW became a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Dynamics in September 1995.
In terms of modern US Navy surface combatant programs -- ones where BIW ships are still in service -- the Lead Ship construction contract for the Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG 7) Class of guided missile frigates was awarded to BIW in 1973, and 24 of these surface combatants were delivered over the next 15 years.
In 1982, the Navy selected BIW as second-source shipbuilder for the Ticonderoga (CG 47) Class of AEGIS guided missile cruisers. The company went on to win contracts for eight of these warships, delivering the final one in 1993. In 1985 BIW won the competition for detail design and construction of USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) , the Lead Ship for the Navy's newest, most capable class of AEGIS guided missile destroyers. BIW has delivered the lead ship and 30 follow ships, with delivery of the final follow ship under the most recent contract expected in 2011. The US Navy has announced that it will acquire further Arleigh Burke class vessels during the next decade.
Under General Dynamics' ownership, BIW solidified its industry leadership position by teaming with the City of Bath and the State of Maine to support a long-term capital investment plan. With the first phase of modernization completed in 2001, BIW began building ships in its new state-of-the-art facility. These improvements ($320 million so far) enable the company to offer unprecedented productivity, quality and affordability to our customer. Further applications of lean manufacturing techniques and advanced modular construction are planned, and the yard has switched to 3D computer-aided design for its latest ships. BIW is building the first of the DDG 1000 class of destroyers, Zumwalt, using these advanced technologies.
BIW is a yard with a history, and a bright future. Throughout Navy circles - and especially with their current and former crews - it's generally recognized that 'Bath Built Is Best Built' a phrase first heard in the early 1900s, and every bit as true today as when it was first said.
Below is a timeline of major milestones in the company's progress.
|1826||Bath Iron Foundry is founded on the Kennebec River, Maine|
|1865||General Thomas Worcester Hyde, a civil war hero, purchases Bath Iron Foundry|
|1882||Goss Marine Iron Works is founded nearby|
|1884||General Hyde renames Bath Iron Foundry as Bath Iron Works and incorporates company|
|1888||New England Shipbuilding Company, with General Hyde as an investor, acquires Goss Marine Iron Works|
|1888||BIW acquires New England Shipbuilding Company|
|1890||Steamer Cottage City is the first BIW-built hull|
|1893||USS Machias, a gunboat, is the first BIW-built US Navy ship|
|1894||City Of Lowell is the first BIW-built commercial steel vessel|
|1901||BIW is acquired by United States Shipbuilding Trust|
|1905||John S. Hyde, eldest son of General Hyde, purchases BIW|
|1906||USS Georgia, the first and only BIW-built battleship, is delivered|
|1917||BIW is sold to a syndicate of Maine investors upon the death of John Hyde|
|1925||BIW is sold at a public auction, operations are idled|
|1927||BIW is leased by William S. 'Pete' Newell and a group of investors, company is incorporated again|
|1940||Second BIW facility, the Hardings plant, is built in East Brunswick, ME|
|1940-1945||82 destroyers are built at Bath during WWII, totaling more than the entire Japanese wartime output|
|1955||First of a new class of Navy destroyers, USS Forest Sherman, is delivered|
|1967||Bath Industries, Inc. is established as a holding company for BIW, Pennsylvania Crusher and the Hyde Windlass Co.|
|1968||Bath Industries, Inc. acquires Congoleum-Nairn, a manufacturer of home furnishings|
|1975||Bath Industries, Inc. changes its name to Congoleum Corporation|
|1977||Lead ship of a new Navy class of guided missile frigates, USS Oliver Hazard Perry, is delivered|
|1983||Floating dry dock is opened in Portland, ME|
|1984||Tanker Falcon Champion is the last BIW-built commercial ship delivered|
|1986||BIW is acquired by Prudential Insurance|
|1987||Final Oliver Hazard Perry class ship, USS Kauffman, is delivered|
|1987||First BIW-built guided missile AEGIS cruiser, USS Thomas Gates, is delivered|
|1991||The lead ship of a new Navy class of guided missile AEGIS destroyers, USS Arleigh Burke, is delivered|
|1993||Final BIW-built AEGIS cruiser, USS Lake Erie, is delivered|
|1995||Bath Iron Works becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Dynamics|
|1996||Awarded contract under an Avondale Shipyard-led alliance to build four of the Navy's new dock landing ships, the San Antonio class (LPD 17)|
|1998||Groundbreaking for Land Level Transfer Facility (LLTF)|
|2001||BIW hosts dedication ceremony for Land Level Transfer Facility (LLTF) and the Manufacturing Support Center (MSC)|
|2001||BIW Launches Mason (DDG 87). She's the last ship to slide down the inclined ways|
|2002||Realignment of DDG 51 and LPD 17 construction contracts|
|2003||BIW subcontract for DD(X) Phase III program|
|2006||Sampson (DDG 102) is first vessel christened on Land Level, prior to translation into dry dock|
|2007||BIW awarded $250M to complete class detail design of Zumwalt (DDG 1000) class destroyers (the former DDX)|
|2008||BIW opens the Ultra Hall, a huge new climate controlled facility on the LLTF, capable of handling ship sections the size of the full girth of the Zumwalt hulls. Units weighing over 4,000 tons can be assembled in this giant building.|
|2009||After some initial pilot construction to validate fresh techniques, full-scale production of sections of the first DDG 1000 begins at the Hardings plant in Brunswick|
|2010||US Navy announces that the Arleigh Burke hull form will be the choice for its destroyers through following decade and beyond.|
|2011||BIW christens Michael Murphy (DDG 112) in May, and shifts focus to DDG 1000 program. Work begins on demolishing the old inclined shipways mid-yard and converting the zone to a level area for unit pre-outfitting and materials storage.|