NEWPORT, RI – As part of his years-long effort to strengthen Rhode Island as a leading defense innovation hub, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is helping SENEDIA bring together some of the nation’s top defense experts, policymakers, academic, technology, labor, and industry leaders, and innovative small businesses in Newport, Rhode Island at the end of the month for the ninth annual Defense Innovation Days.

Buoyed by more than $6 billion in recent U.S. Navy contracts to build next-generation submarines that originate at Electric Boat’s manufacturing facilities in Quonset Point, Rhode Island’s defense sector is growing.  The Ocean State is also home to the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport, Naval Station (NAVSTA) Newport, and the Naval War College.  These facilities, along with leading academic research institutions and a network of suppliers and small businesses, are contributing to a booming defense industry that is boosting Rhode Island’s economy and leading to advancements in technology and innovation.

Reed says this year’s three-day conference, which runs from August 28 to 30, will feature an array of defense-related exhibits, research projects, and renowned speakers. Prominent headliners scheduled to address the forum include U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro and current Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Lisa Franchetti, who has been nominated to be the head of the U.S. Navy.  If her nomination were to advance and be confirmed, Admiral Franchetti would become the first woman to be a military service chief and the first female member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  However, at this time, due to a blanket hold on merit-based military nominations by U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), no military flag officers are able to be confirmed.

In addition to speeches by Reed, Del Toro, and Franchetti, conference attendees will have the opportunity to hear from a range of featured speakers, including:

Nickolas H. Guertin, the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) Director, Operational Test and Evaluation.  Mr. Guertin has been nominated to become the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition.

Vice Admiral William Houston, commander of the nation's Atlantic submarine fleet, and Rear Admiral Jonathan Rucker, program executive officer for attack submarines, will be on a panel together to discuss the trilateral security agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States known as AUKUS. 

Dr. William LaPlante, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment; as well as the U.S. Coast Guard’s Rear Admiral John Mauger, Commander, First Coast Guard District; and Brigadier General David C. Trybula, Deputy Commanding General, Combat Capabilities Development Command/Senior Commander, Natick Soldier Systems Center.

“As a result of years of federal investment and improved infrastructure, Rhode Island’s defense industry is booming and we are seeing more private sector investment in the state.  I am committed to ensuring that more good-paying jobs and businesses come to Rhode Island.  This event continues to grow and highlight Rhode Island as a hub of excellence when it comes to undersea technology, including developing and building cutting-edge submarines,” said Senator Reed.  “SENEDIA has done an outstanding job putting this event together and it has really grown over the years.  It offers industry leaders an opportunity to highlight technological advances they are making and a chance for thought leaders to showcase the future of our undersea technology ecosystem.  Rhode Island’s defense sector creates jobs and makes America more secure.  It also reduces our dependence on foreign supply chains and foreign sources of equipment and critical components.  So we want to keep the momentum going and I look forward to another successful Defense Innovation Days in Newport this year.”

Rhode Island’s defense sector supports 34,068 jobs (6.9% of total employment) and generated $7.6 billion in economic output for the state.  This represents 10.7 percent of the state's total economic output, according to a recent economic impact study released by SENEDIA.

Molly Donohue Magee, Executive Director of SENEDIA said: “We are grateful to Senator Reed for his principled leadership atop the Senate Armed Services Committee and the critical work he does on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.  Over the years, Senator Reed has been instrumental in helping us to attract top officials from the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy, and other defense leaders to Defense Innovation Days.  This has become a nationally-renowned event and a unique opportunity for defense leaders to network and discuss defense priorities and learn more about the significant role this region has in supporting national security.”

Last year, Senator Reed helped SENEDIA secure a $20.4 million contract extension from DOD to continue efforts to coordinate a robust regional workforce development partnership that will serve as a pipeline to help connect workers with employment opportunities across the submarine industrial base.

Not only do these jobs sustain the defense cluster in Rhode Island and across New England, they also support additional jobs in other sectors of the region’s economy.  According to the SENEDIA study, in New England, “every 100 direct jobs created in the private defense industry support an additional 102 jobs in other sectors of the region’s economy.”