Electric Boat Poised To Hire 1,350 For Groton Sub Work

Electric Boat Poised To Hire 1,350 For Groton Sub Work

Norwich Bulletin, January 11, 2017

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GROTON - The president of Electric Boat on Monday painted a rosy picture of the submarine manufacturer's future as design and construction on a new fleet of attack subs is poised to ramp up.

At a legislative breakfast at the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa in Groton, President Jeffrey Geiger said the company plans to hire 2,000 new employees this year, including 1,350 for its Connecticut facility.

Geiger said the hiring comes as construction on Virginia-class vessels continues in Groton and at Newport News, Va., at a rate of two per year. Plans are also in place to begin building Columbia-class subs - set to replace the older Ohio-class types - in 2020. He said 80 percent of the prime contracting work on the Columbia models will be done in Groton, with the remainder handled at the company's Quonset Point facility in Rhode Island.

The company has 15 subs under contract and 11 being built.

"This means a huge amount of work for Electric Boat," Geiger said. "It's a great opportunity, but we also feel the weight of our responsibility to deliver."

Geiger said the company expects to grow its overall workforce of 14,000 to about 18,000 by 2030. He said company sales held steady at approximately $5 billion in 2016.

Geiger cited a recent naval force assessment study that recommended building up the Navy's fleet from 308 ships to 355, a jump that also called for adding 40 percent - or 18 - new attack submarines to the current contingent.

"But getting the employees for this kind of skilled work doesn't happen naturally," he said. "We need to scale up."

Workforce development issues back to top

Geiger said the company's "pipeline program," a series of local workforce development initiatives in places like Danielson's Quinebaug Valley Community College has helped attract qualified applicants, but lawmakers warned funding is not guaranteed.

"We've all heard the transition team for the incoming (presidential administration) has the same targets and goals," U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney said. "But the federal discretionary funding for these (pipeline) programs is coming to end in 12 to 18 months. We must continue these efforts to ensure that (Electric Boat) and other manufacturers in our state have access to the skilled workforce they need to keep up with the demand in the years ahead."

Geiger said the company also has a "major expansion" of its Groton facilities planned in the coming years.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a member of the Senate's Appropriations and Foreign Relations committees, said while the United States has "enjoyed the supremacy of the seas" for decades," that designation is not inevitable.

"Our adversaries, especially China, are catching up and are light years ahead of where they were," he said. "We cannot make up their largesse with quantity, but we can with quality."