The $1 trillion-plus spending bill Congress is expected to approve this week includes tens of millions of dollars in new funding for the Navy’s submarine program, keeping production on track to increase to three submarines a year, but sharply increasing the demand for skilled workers.
A third submarine would be a huge boon to Electric Boat, the Groton-based subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp. and a major employer in eastern Connecticut, which already has ramped up hiring to prepare for construction of the Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarine in 2021.
Submarine production is scheduled to shift from two Virginias to one Virginia and one Columbia in 2021. But U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, says he’s optimistic that schedule will be accelerated to two Virginias and one Columbia a year.
“The goal obviously is not to have that dip [in production],” said Courtney, whose district includes Electric Boat and many of its suppliers.
The appropriations bill that will be voted on this week, which funds the government through the end of September, includes $85 million for advanced procurement funding to order parts and streamline production of the Virginia-class fast attack submarine.
“The $85 million that we got in the budget … basically helps with the effort” to increase submarine production to three a year, Courtney said. A final decision on the rate of submarine production is expected this year or next.
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