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BIW announces 58 more layoffs; Navy secretary to visit

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BIW announces 58 more layoffs; Navy secretary to visit

BATH — Word Wednesday that the secretary of the Navy will visit Bath Iron Works next week came only days after the shipyard announced a second round of upcoming layoffs.

BIW's June 5 announcement of 58 temporary layoffs followed word of 67 layoffs on June 1. The layoffs, effective June 19, are within the shipyard's largest union, Local S6, and affect preservation technicians, BIW spokesman Jim DeMartini said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is scheduled to tour BIW on Monday morning, June 15, then visit the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard that afternoon. U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, announced the visit on Wednesday.

Pingree said she plans to speak with Mabus about efforts to maintain a commissary at Brunswick Naval Air Station following the base's 2011 closure.

"When Defense Secretary Gates visited BIW last month I took the opportunity to press our case for keeping a commissary in the Brunswick area," Pingree said. "And I plan to do the same with Secretary Mabus."

BIW's latest round of layoffs were again blamed on a workload gap between the DDG 51 and DDG 1000 destroyers.

"We are, unfortunately, anticipating a series of temporary layoffs in different trades throughout the summer and into the fall until the volume of DDG 1000 production increases," DeMartini said. "Beyond that, we cannot predict with any degree of accuracy the size, frequency or duration of the layoffs."

DeMartini added that the shipyard's performance over the past five to six years "significantly reduced" what might have been a larger impact during the transition between DDG 51 and 1000.

"We regret these actions are necessary and will continue to do everything we can to minimize further effects on our work force," he said. "Looking forward, our workload is expected to ramp up after a four- to six-month period and remain relatively stable for the next several years which is why we can consider these to be temporary."

The shipyard is currently under contract for only the first of three DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class vessels, but it is expected to build all three and is scheduled to deliver the first to the U.S. Navy in 2013.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.