Bath Iron Works Launches Its First Aegis Cruiser

A new era of Navy shipbuilding was ushered in at Maine's historic Bath Iron Works (BIW) yard recently with the launching of the Aegis guided missile cruiser Thomas S. Gates (CG-51), signalling BIW's entry into the Ticonderoga Class shipbuilding program.

The Maine shipyard currently has contracts for six Aegis cruisers, and will continue to bid for additional ships of the class. BIW also has been selected by the Navy to design and build the lead ship of the new Aegis guided missile destroyer class, the Arleigh Burke (DDG-51). This ship is scheduled for launching in 1988.

The Aegis cruiser/destroyer program is expected to extend to the turn of the century and perhaps beyond.

Bath Iron Works, a builder of Navy and commercial ships since 1884, looks to the Aegis program to replace the construction activity and employment generated by the Navy's FFG-7 guided missile frigate program that the yard initiated in the early 1970s. After designing and building the lead ship of that class, the Oliver Hazard Perry, BIW secured contracts for 23 additional FFGs. The last of those ships will be delivered this year.

The principal speaker for the Gates launching ceremony was Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr., who was Chief of Naval Operations when he retired from the Navy in 1974.

Since his retirement, Adm. Zumwalt has remained in the public eye as a spokesman for the maintenance of proper balance of power between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Other participants in the program included Sen. George J. Mitchell (D-ME); Vice Adm. William H.

Rowden, commander of the Naval Sea Systems Command; Vice Adm.

Joseph Metcalf I I I , deputy naval operations for surface warfare; Rear Adm. Donald P. Roane, deputy commander for surface combatants; Rear Adm. John F. Shaw, Aegis shipbuilding manager; and Capt.

William A. Rehder, supervisor of shipbuilding, conversion and repair, Bath.

The ship that was launched is named in honor of the late Thomas Sovereign Gates, Jr., former Secretary of the Navy (1957) and Secretary of Defense (1959) under President Eisenhower. After 14 months as Secretary of Defense, Mr.

Gates left the Pentagon and became president of Morgan Guaranty Trust. In 1965, he became the firm's chairman and chief executive officer.

He died in 1983 at the age of 77.

His widow, Mrs. Anne Gates, served as the ship's sponsor. Her granddaughter, Sarah C. Scott, was maid of honor.

For complete information on all Bath Iron Works facilities and services, Circle 24 on Reader Service Card

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 10,  Feb 1986 Virginia

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