The US Navy has awarded a new $139.8m contract to BAE Systems for the upgrade and modernisation of its Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship, USS Tortuga (LSD 46).

The deal will see the company carry out a variety of restorative works on the 610ft-long vessel at its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, over a 16-month period.

It also includes a number of options, which if exercised would bring the cumulative value of the deal to $183.7m.

"Our previous experience with the ship and the outstanding skills of our employees and subcontractors will help us to return the ship back to the fleet in great shape."

BAE Systems is scheduled to begin the maintenance, modernisation and repair works on the USS Tortuga in January.

The arrangement will involve the installation of upgraded and advanced systems, as well as other enhancements on-board the navy vessel in order to extend its service life beyond 40 years.

The availability is expected to be completed in May 2019 following the reactivation of the vessel for operational service.

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By GlobalData

BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair vice-president and general manager Dave Thomas said: “Our employees and subcontractors look forward to working with the navy to perform the deep modernisation work to ensure the Tortuga remains a very capable amphibious combatant ship.

“Our previous experience with the ship and the outstanding skills of our employees and subcontractors will help us to return the ship back to the fleet in great shape.”

USS Tortuga was originally commissioned in November 1990 and has been part of the US Navy’s LSD / CG-class modernisation programme since last year.

The keel on the vessel was initially laid on 23 March 1987.

BAE Systems’ Norfolk shipyard secured a $17.7m contract to begin the upgrade work on the ship in May 2016.