A rendering (F101) of an F100 class frigate built by Spanish firm Navantia, which is partnering with Bath Iron Works to develop a design for a new class of frigate for the U.S. Navy. Credit: Courtesy of Bath Iron Works

BATH, Maine — The U.S. Navy pegged at $1.3 billion the cost of the lead ship in a class of frigates Bath Iron Works is expected to bid on, with nine subsequent vessels to be delivered by fiscal year 2024 at a cost of no more than $950 million each.

In February 2018, BIW was among five companies — alongside Austal USA, Fincantieri Marine, Huntington Ingalls Industries and Lockheed Martin — to be awarded $15 million contracts to modify an existing “parent” design that has been tested at sea to create a conceptual design for the new frigate.

The Maine shipyard will partner with Spanish ship designer Navantia on its design.

The estimated cost of the lead ship was released Wednesday as part of the Navy’s $205.6 billion fiscal year 2020 budget request.

Earlier this month, the Navy issued a draft Request for Proposals for the frigates, which is open to any shipbuilder that can meet the Navy’s requirements, including that the new frigate be based on an existing U.S. or allied “parent” ship.

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The Navy expects to award the contract near the end of this year. In January, the Navy said $950 million will be the “threshold” cost of follow-on frigates, but that they hope to bring the cost down to $800 million.

According to the draft RFP, the lead ship would be delivered 72 months after contract award, with options for nine additional ships to each be delivered 65 to 71 months after contract award. The Navy expects to build a total of 20 FFG(X) ships.

The Navy has said the frigate will relieve larger ships from “the stress of routine duties during operations other than war.”

The construction contract would reportedly be worth about $15 billion to the company that wins it.

BIW, which held the lead ship construction contract for the Oliver Hazard Perry class of guided missile frigates, delivered 24 of the vessels between 1973 and 1988. The Maine shipyard is well-positioned to bid for the contract of 20 new frigates, which will be awarded to a single builder, according to analysts and a Congressional Research Service report.

BIW spokesman David Hench declined recently to comment when asked if the company would bid on the project, but a flyer handed out by the company at the Surface Navy Symposium in January states that BIW’s design is based on the F-100 parent design “which is proven in-service in the navies of Spain and Australia and is evolved from the U.S. Navy’s FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry class.”

The budget also requests $5.3 billion in funding for three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one more than was awarded by the Navy in the most recent multiyear procurement contract. A Navy spokeswoman on Tuesday did not immediately respond when asked whether the third ship would be awarded to Bath Iron Works or Huntington Ingalls Industries, the two shipyards that build DDG 51s for the Navy.