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General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corporation (GD - Analyst Report), performed the keel laying ceremony of DDG 1001, the second ship amongst the planned three-ship Zumwalt class of guided-missile destroyers.

The laying of the keel implies the ceremonial beginning of the construction of a vessel. A structural keel is a beam around which the hull of a ship is built. The keel unit is the heavily outfitted mid-fore body section of the ship that weighed 4,400-ton.

The DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer is the U.S. Navy's next-generation, guided-missile naval destroyer. Going forward, these destroyers will help in creating a new generation of advanced multi-mission surface combat ships. These ships will consist of a low radar profile, an integrated power system and a total ship computing environment infrastructure.

Originally, 32 ships were planned and later the number was reduced to 10 and then to 3 ships. In late 2005, the program entered the detailed design and integration phase which involved almost every major defense contractor of the likes of Raytheon Company (RTN - Analyst Report), Northrop Grumman Ship Systems − which was then a part of Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC - Analyst Report), Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMT - Analyst Report) and many others. The keel laying for the first ship was performed in Nov 2011.

The Zumwalt-class destroyers are in high demand. Even before the completion of production of the first next generation DDG-1000 class destroyer, it has begun receiving orders for the same. Recently, Bath Iron Works clinched an $18.0 million contract for the modification of the first DDG-1000 Zumwalt class guided missile destroyer. The contract is an extension of the original $3.1 billion maintenance and support deal that the company received in 2008.

These types of contracts will enable General Dynamics to continue to lend its expertise and resources for supporting the building and maintenance of the vessel.

General Dynamics is engaged in mission-critical information systems and technologies; land and expeditionary combat vehicles, armaments and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and business aviation. The company is equipped to build nuclear-powered submarines in the U.S. Its revenue exposure is spread over a broad portfolio of products and services that will keep the overall growth momentum steady.

However, like all defense majors the future prospects of the company is tied to the U.S. defense budget. The company presently retains a short-term Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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