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Electric Boat targeting 3,050 hires this year in Connecticut and Rhode Island

Groton — In 2022, Electric Boat will seek to hire more than 3,000 workers at its facilities here and in Quonset Point, R.I., with more than half of them filling positions in Connecticut, Kevin Graney, the shipbuilder’s president, said Monday in delivering an online presentation to legislative leaders.

The projected 3,050 hires this year would surpass the 2,533 employees EB hired in 2021.

Graney gave a similar presentation last week — minus the hiring projections — to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

The 2022 hiring projections include 700 tradesmen at the Groton shipyard, 850 engineers and designers, 250 support personnel and 1,250 workers to ramp up operations at Quonset Point, where the first of the Columbia class of ballistic-missile submarines is being built in sections that will be shipped to Groton for assembly.

“Today’s extraordinary presentation once again projects another year of expansion and growth at Electric Boat — even in the middle of the pandemic,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, who participated in Monday’s briefing. “Kudos to management and labor for finding a way forward to meet the country’s call to build and repair our Navy’s undersea fleet.”

Courtney, chairman of the House Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, highlighted the recent passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2022, which authorized $13.4 billion in submarine-related production, maintenance, research and development. President Joe Biden signed the law last month.

Courtney also noted the role of the House Education and Labor Committee, of which he is a member, in boosting workforce development and apprentice programs vital to EB’s effort to hire and train its workforce.

“In eastern Connecticut, it’s been all hands on deck for nearly a decade to prepare for this boom in submarine work and the demand for skilled employees to support it — and for good reason,” he said. "As today’s presentation made clear, Electric Boat’s reach goes far beyond Groton, with employees and suppliers across the region and the state, making the impact of this growth felt far beyond the shipyard."

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, hailed the impact of EB’s hiring on Rhode Island’s economy.

“These new jobs are good news for the whole state and will help propel our economy forward while safeguarding our nation,” he said in a statement. “We worked for years and made key federal investments to lay the groundwork for this effort. We’ve got to keep working hard to capitalize on this opportunity to connect more people to good-paying, in-demand jobs and opportunities to build a career and strengthen our industrial base.”

EB, which has been building two Virginia-class fast-attack submarines a year in a partnership with Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia, already employs about 18,000 workers, roughly a third of whom reside in Rhode Island. EB is the largest private employer in both Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Graney said hiring activity for the Groton yard is picking up to support EB’s engineering overhaul of the USS Hartford (SSN-768), which arrived in Groton in June. At that time, EB was awarded a Navy contract modification to allow for a “smart start” approach to the boat’s maintenance, scheduled to begin next month. Hiring will continue to ramp up to support the Columbia- and Virginia-class work.

Amid the hiring, EB has sought to increase the diversity of its workforce, Graney said. Since December 2020, the number of its employees representing minority groups has increased by 11%. The number of Hispanic workers has increased by 19%.

EB also has seen a 7% increase in the number of women in senior leadership positions, Graney added, with women now representing 16% of senior leaders and 15% of the total workforce.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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