Why Connecticut’s “Submarine Century” matters

This past August, during our annual family vacation on the shore, I took my six-year-old and three-year-old sons to the Submarine Force Museum in Groton. My kids, especially my older boy, marveled at the tight quarters of the Nautilus and had fun peering through the museum periscopes. I was extremely proud to be able to give them a better sense of their state’s maritime and military history, and to give them a window into how honored I feel to represent southeastern Connecticut.

Arguably, no product has been more closely associated with our state than the submarine. That’s why this year I’m so excited to celebrate our state’s “Submarine Century,” marking the 100th anniversary of Connecticut’s Naval Submarine Base New London and the Naval Submarine School. For me, though, celebrating our Submarine Century this year means more than just acknowledging our past; it’s about committing to the promising future of Connecticut manufacturing.

Back in April, I spent time working at Electric Boat, job shadowing the men and women who work on the subs day and night. I arrived in Groton at 6:30 on a Monday morning after my hour-plus ride from my home in Cheshire. Immediately, I underwent extensive safety training, and then spent the day working side-by-side with welders, electricians, and quality-control professionals. It’s one thing to sit in meetings talking about why this work is so important to our national security. But there’s nothing like standing side-by-side with the men and women who build and test the best submarines in the world to help you make that case.

Connecticut is going through a surge in advanced manufacturing. I saw it firsthand working on the sub, and I see it as I tour dozens of manufacturers across the state. This boost is incredibly encouraging. I’m working hard in the U.S. Senate to support it. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’m pushing for maximum funding to keep producing two Virginia Class subs each year, and getting ready to ramp up for the replacement of the behemoth Ohio Class boats.

We just got some good wins on that front in next year’s federal budget. Also, as the leader of the Buy American movement, I recently passed legislation that will crack down on the Department of Defense’s ability to award military contracts to overseas companies instead of American firms. And we are winning more workforce training funding for Connecticut than ever before, thanks in part to the work of the southeastern Connecticut business community’s partnership with our community colleges.

When you’re in open water, you have a keen sense of where you’ve been, but your focus is always on what’s next. Connecticut’s Submarine Century celebration should follow that course – honor the past, and push us to work harder to secure our state’s maritime manufacturing future.

Senator Murphy, D. Conn, is a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee. Connecticut’s Submarine Century runs from October 2015 to October 2016. Residents looking for more information are encouraged to visit http://www.ctsubmarinecentury.com/



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