NORTH KINGSTOWN, RI – The workload at Electric Boat’s (EB) Quonset Point submarine building facility is scheduled for a major increase.
The U.S. Navy and Electric Boat’s parent company, General Dynamics Corp., recently signed an historic $22.2 billion contract for nine additional high-tech Virginia-class submarines. This represents the largest shipbuilding contract in U.S. Navy history. And Congress will soon send President Trump a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020 that includes $8.4 billion for the Virginia-class submarine program, as well as $2.25 billion to fully support the Columbia-class (Ohio-class Replacement) program, including an additional $123 million to support submarine industrial base expansion.
U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, led efforts to include this funding in the NDAA. Reed says that together, the contract and the NDAA, will mean more work at EB’s expanding Quonset Point facilities; more business for local suppliers; more good-paying jobs coming to Rhode Island in the near future; improved savings for taxpayers and the U.S. Navy; and new next-generation stealth submarines that are absolutely critical to America’s national defense.
Today, Senator Reed visited Electric Boat to thank the workers who build these submarines and contribute to America’s security.
Saluting Electric Boat’s workers, Reed stated: “You build the guts of these boats and provide our nation with a strategic, technological advantage. Thanks for the great work you do. Your skill, dedication, and ingenuity is unmatched and absolutely essential to producing the best, most advanced submarines in the world. These submarines are a constant strategic deterrence to our adversaries. I am proud of the role Rhode Island workers play in their design and construction.”
The $22.2 billion contract - known as Block V - orders the production of nine submarines through 2029, with the option to build a tenth if the nine come in on time and on budget and Congress approves additional funds. That would push the value of the contract above $24 billion.
“The Navy’s historic submarine contract charts the right course, and the NDAA means work can go full throttle to keep building two boats per year. Electric Boat estimates it will need to hire about 1,500 more workers here in Rhode Island to keep pace with demand. That is good news for the state and the result of many years of hard work. It is also good news for small manufacturers and local suppliers and vendors that do business with Electric Boat,” said Reed. “I will continue working to ensure we have a good pipeline of well-qualified workers to fill these jobs and get the work done in a timely and efficient manner to open the door for a tenth submarine, which I believe the Navy needs. A robust submarine fleet is vital to our current and future national security, and the continued construction of two Virginia-class subs per year will prevent the loss of fast attack capabilities.”
Electric Boat currently employs about 17,000 workers, including just over 4,000 in Rhode Island. And EB projects its Rhode Island workforce will grow to 5,500 by the year 2025.
To help keep up with the demand for skilled workers, Senator Reed authorized $8 million in the NDAA to support submarine industrial base workforce training and education initiatives. This funding could help the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT) continue its partnership with area schools, Electric Boat, and other employers to train the next generation of employees in the highly-skilled trades needed for submarine construction.
“I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure we can attract jobs and business to the state and will continue working with Governor Raimondo and others to ensure we have a strong pipeline of skilled workers to fill these jobs,” said Reed.
Last year, Electric Boat broke ground on a 1-million-square-foot, $800-million multi-year expansion of its manufacturing facilities at Quonset Point. Senator Reed has worked for years to help fund improvements in and around the Quonset Business Park to help attract and retain business in the area.
For photos and specifications of Virginia-class submarines, visit: http://www.gdeb.com/about/oursubmarines/virginia/