PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. and SAN DIEGO, May 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- General Dynamics NASSCO, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), announced today that it has entered into a contract with an affiliate of American Petroleum Tankers (APT), a company majority owned by funds managed by Blackstone on behalf of its investors, for the design and construction of four 50,000 deadweight ton LNG-conversion-ready product carriers with a 330,000 barrel cargo capacity. The contract includes options to build four additional ships. Construction of the first tanker is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2014, with deliveries scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2015, continuing through 2016. The four-ship APT contract will add up to approximately 800 jobs at NASSCO during construction and more than 165 seagoing union jobs during the operation of the vessels. The 610-foot-long tankers are a new "ECO" design that offers improved fuel efficiency and incorporates the latest environmental protection features, including a Ballast Water Treatment System. All of the ECO-class tankers will be constructed at the NASSCO shipyard in San Diego. This contract builds upon the strong relationship NASSCO and APT developed during the construction of five State-class product carriers from 2007 to 2010. The ships will be designed by DSEC, a subsidiary of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) of Busan, South Korea. DSEC's ECO design achieves improved fuel efficiency through several features, including a G-series MAN ME slow-speed main engine and an optimized hull form. The tankers will have dual-fuel-capable auxiliary engines and the ability to accommodate future installation of an LNG fuel-gas system. The ECO-class tankers represent the continuation of NASSCO's successful partnership with DSEC, which was a partner on the five APT State-class product tankers and currently is contributing to two LNG-powered containerships for TOTE Shipholdings, Inc. Fred Harris, President of General Dynamics NASSCO, said, "By continuing to bring the most economical and environmentally sound technology to Jones Act operators, these ECO tankers show our continued commitment to be one of the most innovative shipyards in America. I am pleased to renew our partnership with APT on this exciting new program. Along with TOTE, this is the second return customer we have welcomed back to NASSCO within the past six months, which speaks to the high-quality workmanship of our skilled workforce." The construction and operation of the new vessels are aligned with the Jones Act, which requires that ships carrying cargo between U.S. ports be built in U.S. shipyards.