BATH, Maine — Defense Secretary Robert Gates is proposing that General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works build all three of the next-generation destroyers.

Bath is already building the first of the stealthy DDG-1000 destroyers, and the second is being built by Northrop Grumman in Mississippi. Maine Sen. Susan Collins says the proposed budget would take away one ship from Northrop Grumman and award it — along with a third ship — to the Bath shipyard.

Collins says the Navy preference to build all three ships in Bath would help to stabilize the work force as well as lower costs for the ships.

The two defense contractors are negotiating terms of severing the Northrop Grumman contract. The proposal also would require congressional approval.