Demand Rises for Connecticut Submarine Manufacturing Workers as Navy Considers Outsourcing – Hartford Courant

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A workforce training program in eastern Connecticut has doubled the number of classes of potential employees for Electric Boat and its suppliers facing US Navy manufacturing delays for an increasing number of submarines, especially the next-generation Columbia class which is a top military priority.

The Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board, which manages a manufacturing training pipeline, is offering 50 courses this year, more than double a previous record of 24, said Mark Hill, president of the workforce organization. ‘work. A class typically consists of 12 students learning welding, pipefitting, sheet metal, and other skills.

“The demand has been huge,” he said.

Electric Boat, a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp., said in January that it plans to hire more than 3,000 workers this year, a 20% increase from 2021, as US military strategy faces growing threats from China and Russia.

To meet its deadlines, the Navy is reportedly considering using private shipyards for some construction work.

Janes’s source reported last week that Rear Admiral Scott Pappano, director of the strategic submarine program, told a forum that the navy may need to resort to “strategic outsourcing” to build one Columbia-class submarine and two Virginia-class submarines per year.

Outsourcing would involve moving some of the construction to yards that have not traditionally done naval nuclear submarine work, he said.

In an emailed statement, Electric Boat said it was working closely with the Navy to increase manufacturing capacity, “both internally and through strategic sourcing.”

U.S. Representative Joe Courtney, D-2, whose district includes Electric Boat’s Groton Shipyard, said “all the construction action” is currently taking place at Electric Boat’s Quonset Point, RI, site and shipbuilding partner Huntington Ingalls Industries in Newport News, Va.

Modules for the Columbia are being built at Quonset Point and sent by barge to Groton, said Courtney, president of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces. subcommittee that oversees the Navy.

As much as $750 million is already being spent on submarine parts and components made outside Electric Boat shipyards for the Columbia program, Courtney said.

“It’s a matter of timing, to get things done,” he said.

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For decades, US military strategy has focused on ground warfare, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. More recently, the policy has shifted to submarine warfare, forcing Electric Boat and other Navy suppliers to pivot quickly.

The Submarine Industrial Base Council said the low-rate production of submarines over the years has “resulted in a fragile industrial base with many single or sole suppliers.”

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Electric Boat’s Groton Shipyard will continue to be the prime contractor.

“He’s going to take responsibility for meeting the schedules and delivering the subs on time and on budget, which they did,” he said. “No work leaves Groton.”

The Pentagon fears Electric Boat could produce two Virginia-class submarines a year, Blumenthal said.

“They can do it. There’s no doubt in my mind that they can do it,” he said.

Stephen Singer can be reached at [email protected]

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