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October 11, 2002

NASSCO gets extension of LHA/LHD mainenance contract
National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO), a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, says it has been awarded a two-year extension on a contract for the phased maintenance of the five San Diego-based LHA and LHD class ships for the U.S. Navy. A seven-year contract with an option for the additional two years was originally awarded in December 1997.

NASSCO is the prime contractor and is teamed with Southwest Marine, Continental Maritime Industries San Diego, and Pacific Ship Repair and Fabrication to accomplish the additional work. Five maintenance and repair availabilities, including two drydockings at NASSCO, are encompassed by the contract.

The LHAs and LHDs are the primary landing ships for the Marine Expeditionary Units. They forward deploy marines, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, combat vehicles, and supplies to areas of vital U.S. interest world-wide. The five LHA/LHD ships home-ported in San Diego during the contract period are the USS TARAWA (LHA-1), USS BELLEAU WOOD (LHA-3), USS PELELIU (LHA-5), USS BOXER (LHD-4) and USS BONHOMME RICHARD (LHD-6).

Richard Vortmann, NASSCO's president, said, "This contract extension is a tribute to the performance of the strong San Diego team that is meeting the long-term maintenance and repair needs of these complex ships at the lowest cost and shortest schedule. The LHA/LHD contract has been a win-win for the crews of the ships and their families, the Navy, and the ship repair industry in San Diego."

Prior to the 1997 Phased Maintenance Contract, LHAs and LHDs on the West Coast were sent to the Navy shipyards in Long Beach or Bremerton, Washington, for up to nine months of overhaul, forcing their crews to either relocate or be away from home for extended periods of time.

Vortmann said the advantages of this long-term maintenance contract include continuity in staffing for the shipyards, more orderly planning and purchasing, and the transfer of lessons learned between ships, all leading to efficient production and lower costs for the Navy. While the extension does not carry a dollar amount, Vortmann said work on the contract to date has averaged approximately $100 million a year.

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