WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy has signed a $14.9 billion contract with shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls for two Ford-class aircraft carriers, the Navy announced Thursday evening.

By buying two carriers simultaneously, the Navy expects to save $4 billion, according to a Navy release.

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer hailed the deal as a team effort and said the contract will create stability for the skilled workforce and create savings as a result.

“Focusing on optimizing construction activities and material procurement, the team was able to achieve significant savings as compared to individual procurement contracts," Spencer said in the release. “One contract for construction of the two ships will enable the shipbuilder flexibility to best employ its skilled workforce to design once and build twice for unprecedented labor reductions while providing stability and opportunities for further efficiencies within the nuclear industrial base.”

The carriers were previously reported to cost about $24 billion, and the the Navy projected it would save about $4 billion by contracting for two Ford-class carriers.

A release from the office Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee Seapower subcommittee congratulated the Navy for closing the deal.

“This dual buy means even larger savings than projected for taxpayers and the certainty that our industrial base needs to retain and hire the employees who create the highest quality products for our sailors," Wittman said. "For Virginia it means thousands of reliable jobs and community development for the next decade and beyond. As one of the largest Navy shipbuilding contracts ever, I am proud to have led this effort and look forward to its success.”

The Navy notified Congress in December of its intention to proceed with the two-carrier buy.

David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.

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