History

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 a brass and iron foundry established in 1826.

Brigadier 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 vessel delivered by BIW 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 1995.

In terms of modern US Navy surface combatant programs, 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 most capable class of AEGIS guided missile destroyers. We still build Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) Class destroyers to this day.

Under General Dynamics’ ownership, BIW teamed 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 enable the company to offer improved 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 legacy our shipbuilders bear with pride.

A more granular look at Bath Iron Works’ history is contained in our shipyard retrospective. Below is a timeline of major milestones in the company’s progress.

Year Event
1826 Bath Iron Foundry is founded on Water Street in Bath, Maine
1865 Brigadier General Thomas Worcester Hyde, a civil war hero, purchases C. Bartlett Foundry and renames it Bath Iron Foundry
1872 General Hyde changes the name Bath Iron Foundry to Bath Iron Works
1884 The company is incorporated and becomes Bath Iron Works Ltd.
1888 General Hyde acquires Goss Marine Iron Works
1890 Passenger steamer Cottage City is the first hull delivered by Bath Iron Works Ltd.
1893 USS Machias, a patrol gunboat, is the first BIW-built US Navy ship
1894 City Of Lowell is the first BIW-built commercial steel vessel
1895 General Hyde creates Hyde Windlass Co., which built ship machinery
1901 BIW is acquired by United States Shipbuilding Trust, which fails a year later and BIW declares bankruptcy while still continuing its operations
1905 John S. Hyde, eldest son of General Hyde, purchases BIW from bankruptcy court
1906 USS Georgia, the only BIW-built battleship, is delivered
1917 BIW is sold to a syndicate of Maine investors upon the death of John Hyde
1925 BIW declares bankruptcy and operations are idled. Plant equipment is sold at a public auction and the company is sold to Keyes Fiber Co.
1927 BIW is purchased by William S. Newell and a group of investors, business is restarted as BIW Corporation
1939-1946 BIW delivered 89 destroyers to the US Navy (19% of DDs built during WWII)
1940 BIW Structural Fabrication Facility (Harding) is built in East Brunswick, ME
1940-1945 BIW builds two new shipyards in South Portland, ME which later merges into one company (New England Shipbuilding Co.), building a total of 274 liberty ships
1942-1945 BIW delivered 67 destroyers over 3+ years (1156 days), an average of 1 ship every 17 days
1955 First of a new class of Navy destroyers, USS Forest Sherman, is delivered
1956 BIW opens first Structural Assembly Building
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
1971 BIW completes first section of Main Assembly Building and installs 220-ton level-luffing No.11 Crane
1973 BIW wins competition to design and build lead ship of the FFG Oliver Hazard Perry Class
1975 Bath Industries, Inc. changes its name to Congoleum Corporation
1977 Lead ship of a new class of US Navy guided missile frigates, USS Oliver Hazard Perry, is delivered
1981 BIW completes third and final section of the Maine Assembly Building that included a new panel line
1983 The BIW Portland Ship Repair Facility is opened in Portland, ME
1984 Tanker Falcon Champion is the last BIW-built commercial ship delivered
1985 BIW wins competition to design and build lead ship of DDG 51 Arleigh Burke Class
1986 BIW is acquired by Gibbons, Goodwin, Gibbons, Green, van Amerongen Ltd; principal shareholder is 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
1989 BIW opens the Outfit Fabrication Facility
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 is purchased by General Dynamics Corp.
1998 Groundbreaking for Land Level Transfer Facility (LLTF)
2001 Dedication ceremony for Land Level Transfer Facility (LLTF) and the Manufacturing Support Center (MSC)
2001 BIW Launches Mason (DDG 87), the last ship to slide down the inclined ways at BIW
2003 BIW details design subcontract for DD(X) Phase III program
2006 Navy announces DDX Program renamed DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class
2006 BIW awarded contract to complete class detail design of Zumwalt (DDG 1000) class destroyers
2008 BIW awarded construction contract for DDG 1000 lead ship of Zumwalt Class
2008 BIW opens the Ultra Hall, a large new climate controlled facility on the LLTF, capable of constructing ship sections weighing over 4,000 tons
2010 US Navy announces that DDG 51 Arleigh Burke class construction will be restarted and DDG 1000 Program will be limited to three hulls (all built by BIW)
2011 Keel laid for Zumwalt, lead ship of DDG 1000 class
2012 Fabrication begins for first of the DDG 51 restart ships, Rafael Peralta (DDG 115)
2012 Heaviest crane lift recorded at BIW – DDG 1000 Deckhouse (4 Cranes/1000 tons)
2016 Zumwalt (DDG 1000) is delivered to the Navy
2020 Fabrication begins for BIW’s first Flight III Arleigh Burke class destroyer Louis H. Wilson Jr. (DDG 126)