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    Sunday, April 14, 2024

    Senate panel approves more than $10 billion for submarine production

    The Senate Armed Services Committee advanced an approximately $850 billion defense budget bill, which contains provisions aimed at Connecticut's defense manufacturing industry, for fiscal year 2023 on Thursday.

    Parts of the proposed budget, which will now go before the full Senate, would invest in Connecticut’s submarine industry.

    Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who is a member of the Armed Services Committee, said in a statement released Thursday that the bill will “keep our country secure and our state’s economy strong.”

    “Particularly important is the solid, strong support for new submarines, and helicopters — made by the world’s finest workforce here in Connecticut,” he said in the statement. “They are at the core of our commitment to national defense in a deeply dangerous world. This measure also advances significant support to Ukraine, which I championed, providing arms to defend against Russia’s brutal assault. I will push for swift passage by the full Congress.”

    The bill proposes almost $6 billion for continued construction and design of the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines, including $531 million for workforce development.

    Electric Boat held a keel-laying ceremony earlier in June to mark the beginning of construction for the submarine District of Columbia (SSBN 826), the first of its new namesake class of boats. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, who delivered the ceremony’s keynote address, said at the time that Columbia-class submarines “will be the cornerstone of our national security” and will represent 70% of the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal.

    “The Columbia now is the largest single shipbuilding program in the Navy’s budget,” U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said at the ceremony. “Its production facilities have transformed the skylines of Quonset Point, Groton and Newport News. The dramatic hiring in southern New England over the last decade has elevated Electric Boat to the position of the number one private employer in both Connecticut and Rhode Island, which will continue into the 2030s.”

    The bill advanced out of committee Thursday also stipulates about $4.5 billion to fund two Virginia-class submarines and more than $2 billion to fund the building of future boats. Congress already passed, and President Joe Biden signed, an omnibus bill with $12.5 billion for submarine procurement, repair work and research and development, all at Electric Boat in Groton, earlier this year. That bill funds the two-per-year build rate of new Virginia-class submarines in 2022 and beyond, providing $35 million for shipyard and industrial base improvements.

    The Senate Armed Services Committee legislation also contains $207 million in industrial base analysis, more than $1 billion in support, acoustic and communication equipment, more than $1 billion for submarine research and development, including $105 million “in advanced submarine system development that will continue innovations in Virginia, Columbia and future submarines,” according to a news release from Blumenthal’s office.

    “Blumenthal worked to secure the Navy Workforce Shipbuilding Development Initiative that requires any awarded contract to include workforce development,” the news release reads. “This effort will provide government and private matching contributions that can be used for the creation of housing, transportation and support services for worker relocation and retention, expansion of local talent pipeline programs, investments in outreach to middle and high school programs, attraction and retention bonuses, facilities dedicated to workforce development and on-the-job training for key manufacturing skills.”

    The committee’s bill includes funding to assist Ukraine in defending itself against the Russian attack — more than $1 billion for security assistance, production of an artillery rocket system and stinger and javelin missile production. The bill funds production of helicopters, supports the National Guard, money for night vision systems for soldiers, de-mining assistance for Ukraine, the security of Israel and reforms to support survivors of military sexual assault, among other provisions.


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