By DAVID SHARP, Associated Press
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ The president of General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works is leaving to take the top job at the submarine division, Connecticut’s Electric Boat, while the top executive at the defense contractor’s West Coast shipyard will assume duties as president of both shipyards in Maine and California, officials said Wednesday.
Jeffrey Geiger, who has been president at the Bath shipyard for four years, will oversee the christening next month of the first-in-class Zumwalt, the largest destroyer ever built for the U.S. Navy, before moving to Electric Boat in November, officials said. He’ll replace 61-year-old Kevin Poitras, who’s retiring.
Frederick Harris, president of NASSCO in San Diego, will become BIW’s next president as well, putting the two shipyards that produce surface warships under his leadership.
The moves were among several executive shifts in General Dynamics’ shipbuilding division.
“This transition is an opportunity for us to review how General Dynamics’ surface-ship businesses operate, to ensure we are capturing all possible efficiencies as we support our primary customer, the U.S. Navy,” said John P. Casey, executive vice president of General Dynamics Marine Systems, to whom Geiger and Harris report.
Harris hasn’t decided whether his primary office will be in Maine or California. “He’ll have an office in both shipyards and split his time as required by the operations of the yards,” said GD spokesman Rob Doolittle.
Having both shipyards that produce surface ships reporting to the same president will ensure that both yards are using the same practices deemed to be the best and most effective, Doolittle said.
Harris, 68, holds degrees from Maine Maritime Academy and Babson College in Massachusetts. He joined the company in 1973 as a senior engineer on the trident ballistic missile submarine program, and became president of NASSCO in 2006.
Poitras started his career at Electric Boat in 1973 and became president in May 2012. Like Harris, he’s a Maine Maritime Academy graduate.
Geiger, 52, joined Bath Iron Works in 1984, and moved up the ranks. He has served as president since 2009, overseeing a tumultuous time as the shipyard began construction of the stealthy Zumwalt, a 600-foot-long warship that the Navy once tried to spike because of its cost before truncating the program to just three ships.
Despite concerns about its cost, the first Zumwalt is both on time and on budget. Geiger is also credited with maintaining stability during a time of Navy spending cuts.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said she’ll miss working with Geiger.
“Jeff is an extraordinary leader who had come up through the ranks at BIW and had worked in the shipyard for nearly 30 years, earning the respect of the workers, the Navy, and the Maine congressional delegation,” she said.
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