WASHINGTON — Two more companies have been added to the five already approved to take part in the US Navy's Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) program, a $2.5 billion, multi-year effort to upgrade ship-and-shore-based computer networks.

In a late Thursday contract announcement, the Navy said CGI Federal Inc., of Fairfax, Virginia, and DRS Laurel Technologies of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, were each being awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to produce a single CANES system.

The Navy's initial CANES production contracts announced Aug. 20 left CGI Federal and DRS Laurel Tech out of the mix, but approved the other five vendors who submitted bids. Both companies protested, and the Government Accountability Office, in its protest decisions announced Dec. 10, partially sustained CGI Federal's protest and denied that of DRS Laurel Tech.

The Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), which administers CANES, was not required to award contracts to both protesters, but in the end each was brought into the fold.

"It was found in the best of interests of the program to allow all 7 vendors to participate," SPAWAR spokesman Steve Davis said late Thursday. "It helps to ensure the schedule is on track to reach full deployment."

The two companies join BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services, Inc.; General Dynamics C4 Systems; Global Technical Systems; Northrop Grumman Systems Corp.; and Serco, Inc. in the CANES production pool.

While more than $2.5 billion is available for CANES systems through 2022, each vendor is guaranteed to produce only one firm fixed-price destroyer-based system. "After that, all 7 compete for any future task or delivery order" based on price, performance, and quality, Davis said.

Although the vendors were prohibited from working on the new contracts until after the protests were resolved, the program hasn't suffered, according to Davis.

"The CANES program remains on track to meet its acquisition milestones," he said Thursday. "There has been no impact by the protests to the CANES program's ability to achieve its full deployment decision."

Mike Mount, a spokesman for DRS Technologies, noted in an email that CANES "is a very important program for the Navy and we look forward to being a part of it."

CGI Federal did not respond immediately to after-hours press queries.

The CANES tactical electronic network is intended to provide a foundation to improve and upgrade ships and shore installations for many years.

"CANES represents an essential element of the Navy's modernization plan, including the enhancement of our afloat cybersecurity posture and increased operational effectiveness," Davis said last year.

At least ten 10 destroyers and the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan already have been fitted with CANES or are having the upgrade done. Installations continue on three carriers, one amphibious assault ship, seven destroyers, one dock landing ship and two cruisers, according to SPAWAR.

The Navy expects that about twenty to thirty 20 to 30 ships per year will be upgraded.

Email: ccavas@defensenews.com

Twitter: @cavasships