BAE Systems has received a new contract for the repair, maintenance and modernisation of the US Navy’s Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3).

The initial estimated value of this firm-fixed-price contract is approximately $294.7m, along with an additional option.

If the option is exercised, the ceiling value would increase to $340.3m.

According to this contract, the maintenance availability of LHD 3 will commence in April next year, after which the landing helicopter dock (LHD) ship will be drydocked at the company’s Norfolk shipyard. 

The ship will remain at the shipyard for around a year, starting from June 2023.

In order to prepare USS Kearsarge for drydocking, BAE Systems has already started the process of hiring new employees and some temporary workers for its Norfolk shipyard, which currently employs around 1,000 people.

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During this nearly 20-month-long period, BAE Systems will revamp the onboard living compartments of the ship’s crew, examine the LHD’s boilers as well as carry out extensive hull, tank and mechanical work on the ship. 

According to the company, the entire modernisation effort on this 29-year-old, 843ft-long vessel is expected to complete by January 2025.

BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair vice-president and general manager Mike Bruneau said: “The extended sustainment period onboard USS Kearsarge provides a great environment to apply BAE Systems’ substantial experience with ships of the same class and considerable production skills and supports job stability across our shipyard and supply base.

“Through our maintenance and modernisation efforts, the Kearsarge will be ready to deploy for many years to come.”

BAE Systems is also working to complete similar work on the lead Wasp-class LHD ship. The contract for USS Wasp’s (LHD 1) modernisation was awarded in 2020.