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    Tuesday, July 23, 2024

    Navy will award Electric Boat maintenance work on newest Virginia-class sub

    Groton — The Navy will award a contract to Electric Boat for initial maintenance work on the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine Indiana, a decision that U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said will help EB avoid a projected dip in employment at the end of the year.

    Like other Virginia-class submarines, the Indiana was built in a partnership between EB and Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia. Newport News finished and delivered the submarine, which is scheduled to be commissioned in September.

    Navy officials were weighing whether to send the Indiana to Newport News or Electric Boat to correct any defects found during so-called "shakedown" testing before it is deployed.

    Courtney, the ranking member of the House Armed Service Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, said Navy officials told him Friday that they had chosen Electric Boat, an unusual choice because that kind of maintenance usually is done at the shipyard that delivers the submarine.

    The decision to send the Indiana to Groton will keep up to 300 jobs at the EB shipyard during a time that employment there was expected to dip temporarily as work on projects like the overhaul of the USS Montpelier wind down and before the shipyard ramps up work on new Virginia-class submarines and building the new fleet of 12 ballistic missile submarines known as the Columbia class, Courtney said Friday.

    The move "reflects the value the Navy places in the private sector industrial base which has been critical in responding to the needs of the submarine force," Courtney said in a statement. "This decision will help sustain key jobs and skills in the Groton shipyard as we prepare for a surge in submarine construction work."

    Electric Boat officials anticipated a lull in repair work and have said that getting maintenance contracts helps it sustain its workforce during ups and downs in its employment needs.

    "The Navy’s decision to assign the post-shakedown availability for the submarine Indiana to Electric Boat’s Groton shipyard represents an important element in the overall effort to stabilize the company’s waterfront workload and sustain the skills and capabilities of the shipbuilders who perform that work," EB spokesman Dan Barrett said in an emailed statement.

    The Navy weighed that projected dip in deciding to award the maintenance contract to EB, said Courtney, who, with the rest of Connecticut's congressional delegation, has pushed the Navy to divert submarine maintenance work to the private shipyards in Groton and Newport News instead of adding to backed-up maintenance schedules at the Navy's public yards.

    Courtney said he visited EB with Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer and other Navy officials, where they discussed the anticipated dip in employment and emphasized that sending more submarine repair work to the private shipyards would help them maintain an experienced workforce.

    The post-shakedown work on the Indiana will begin in November and last for six months.

    m.shanahan@theday.com

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