“This contract means submarine production at Quonset is on course and full speed ahead. The additional work at EB’s facilities in Quonset is good news for job growth and economic growth in Rhode Island,” said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower. “Building submarines is a real team effort and our workers and facilities in Rhode Island make critical contributions. The awarding of this contract is a testament to their skill and success. These submarines are a great value in terms of their cost-effectiveness and ensuring continued U.S. superiority in our undersea capabilities. I will continue working hard to ensure the Navy maintains a steady, two-a-year production rate.”
Due to the budget uncertainty created by sequestration and the need for stopgap spending bills, the Block IV contract was endangered last year. However, Reed worked to include a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act to support a two-per-year production rate for new submarines.
Reed, who also serves on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, worked to include $5.8 billion for the Virginia-class submarine program in the 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill, including two submarines in 2014, and advance procurement funding for two ships planned in 2015. He also helped authorize $1 billion to continue development and design of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine replacement.
The Navy purchases Virginia-class submarines in blocks, and Block III is currently in production. The first block of four Virginia-class submarines - the Virginia, the Texas, the Hawaii, and the North Carolina – are already in service. The second block includes six vessels - the New Hampshire, the New Mexico, the Missouri, the California, the Mississippi, and the Minnesota – that are also in service. The third block includes eight submarines, beginning with the North Dakota and the John Warner, which are nearing completion, and the Illinois and the Washington, which are still in the early stages of construction. In the coming decades, the Navy plans to build a total of 30 of these attack submarines.
The current block of submarines measure about 377 feet long, can carry a crew of 138, and have stealth capabilities to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles, deliver special forces, and carry out surveillance on land and sea.
Electric Boat recently signed a new 25-year lease to remain at the Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown and plans to invest $150 million in upgrading their facilities in Rhode Island. Reed has worked for years to help fund improvements on and around the Quonset Business Park to help attract and retain business in the area.
EB currently employs about 2,800 workers in Rhode Island and projects they will hire an additional 600 people this year and as many as 3,000 employees at Quonset by 2020 to help build submarines. EB employs almost 12,000 people in the region, including at facilities in Groton and New London, Connecticut.