September 7, 2017

AMSC gets Navy contract for ship protection system

Grant Welker
AMSC, which will soon move out of its large Devens headquarters to a smaller facility a few miles away, has secured a Navy contract and hopes for further work.

Devens company AMSC, an energy grid planning and engineering company, has been awarded a Navy contract to install a ship protection system for a planned transport dock ship.

The system will provide the ship with mine protection and reducing its energy consumption by more than half of more typical systems, AMSC said Wednesday. It will be installed on the USS Fort Lauderdale, a San Antonio-class ship that's 684 feet long and 105 feet wide and can carry up to 800 personnel, according to AMSC.

AMSC executives have recently said that it expects a windfall from future Navy work.

AMSC is confident thanks to a contract the company signed with the Navy in May. The deal provides up to $8.4 million worth of engineering and technical services, but possibly more importantly, makes AMSC a so-called sole source, meaning it has an inside track to future contracts for the same type of ship protection-system work.

The Navy has a lot of potential work on the horizon, with the federal government wanting to expand the Navy fleet by nearly 30 percent, according to AMSC.

It plans 55 new small combat ships in the next 30 years, each of which could bring $3 million to $5 million in revenue, according to AMSC. There could be another 23 slightly larger amphibious vessels that could bring in $5 million to $15 million each to the company.

If the Navy adds more destroyers or aircraft carriers, it would bring a greater windfall. A destroyer, of which the Navy calls for 66 new orders, would bring $5 million and $15 million, AMSC said. An aircraft carrier - there could be an additional six - would bring $20 million to $25 million.

AMSC has reason to think it's likely to receive a cut of that work. A Navy request for information, an early procedural step before issuing contract work, said it intends to turn to AMSC to assemble high-temperature superconducting wiring because it is the only company that can meet its requirements.

The company, formally American Superconductor Corp., has had losses in each year except one since 1998. Last year's net loss was $27.4 million.

AMSC recently said it will move from its longtime home in Devens to a space about one-fourth of the size nearby in Ayer. It laid off about 30 employees, or 8 percent of its workforce, this spring.

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