PITTSFIELD -- General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems has received a $227 million submarine modernization contract at the same time changes have been proposed to another U.S. Navy program for which the work is performed in Pittsfield.
According to the Navy Times, the Secretary of Defense has directed the Navy to cut its overall purchase of Littoral Combat Ships by 20 vessels to 32.
As its source, the Navy Times cited a Defense Department memo that had been issued after the Pentagon received its final fiscal 2015 budget guidance from the White House. However, a Navy source in the same story said the decision to cut the LCS program, "isn’t yet a done deal."
In 2010, General Dynamics received a contract from the Navy to build 10 LCS class ships. The communications and surveillance systems for those ships are being constructed at General Dynamics’ plant in Pittsfield. The contract was originally expected to bring 200 jobs to the Berkshires. General Dynamics is one of the county’s largest employers.
General Dynamics spokeswoman Jessica Howe referred word of possible cuts to the LCS program to the U.S. Navy. A spokeswoman for the Navy said all the items in the Navy’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year won’t be finalized until March 4.
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, said he is monitoring the situation.
"While cuts in the Defense Department budget are inevitable, I intend to work with my colleagues in the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation to minimize their impact on our state," Neal said.
"The economic consequences could be significant so we are being preemptive," he added. "I intend to have our voice heard in the debate."
The Navy originally announced that it planned to build 52 LCS ships from designs conceived by two companies, Lockheed Martin and Austal USA. The work in Pittsfield is being done for LSC ships that are being assembled at Austal USA’s plant in Mobile, Ala.
The submarine initiative actually consists of two contracts worth $226.7 million that General Dynamics received from the Navy’s Strategic Systems Program for continuing efforts to modernize and repair the training and support equipment for both the United States and United Kingdom’s ballistic missile submarine and SSGN fleets. The work helps the Navy address obsolescence, reduce overall submarine lifecycle costs and enhance operational capabilities, according to General Dynamics.
Since 2008, work on the repair contract has been performed in Pittsfield where the Navy’s SSP office and General Dynamics have an electronics repair facility.
"These contracts are a testament to our 50-year legacy of delivering high quality mission-control solutions to the U.S. Navy," said Mike Eagen, the vice president of Critical Mission Systems for General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in a statement.
How the new submarine contract will affect employment levels at General Dynamics in Pittsfield could not be determined as of press time.
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