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Navy shipmaker is on a hiring spree as US military strategy faces Chinese and Russian threats

Participants at a groundbreaking in September 2019 for General Dynamics Electric Boat's south yard assembly building in Groton examine a model of the Columbia class submarine. (Brad Horrigan/Hartford Courant/TNS)

Submarine manufacturer Electric Boat said Monday it plans to hire more than 3,000 workers this year, a 20% increase over 2021 as U.S. military strategy faces rising threats from China and Russia.

“Our need to hire is persistent and it will continue as far as the eye can see,” Kevin Graney, president of Electric Boat, a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp., said at the manufacturer’s annual legislative briefing.

EB, with shipyards in Groton, Connecticut, and Quonset Point, Rhode Island, has been on a hiring spree for years in what Graney called a “once in a generation” expansion building Virginia-class attack submarines and ramping up construction of the next-generation ballistic submarine, the Columbia.

“The demand for submarines from my perspective has never been greater,” he said. “I want to make sure the audience understands and spreads the word: Electric Boat is hiring.”

With nearly 18,000 employees, EB is the largest private employer in Connecticut and Rhode Island. About 62% are Connecticut residents and 32% live in Rhode Island.

EB has delivered 19 Virginia-class submarine, accounting for 62% of sales. Nineteen more submarines are in backlog, Graney said. The Columbia-class submarine accounts for 28% of sales that will rise in the next decade to equal sales from Virginia-class ships.

By the end of the decade revenue at EB will double to about $15 billion.

Rep. Joe Courtney, whose district includes EB’s Groton shipyard, said Congress and President Joe Biden have authorized $13.4 billion this year in submarine related production, maintenance, and research and development.

U.S. military strategy seeks to overwhelm adversaries in an “asymmetric advantage” with nuclear powered submarines equipped with nuclear-tipped missiles.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. presence in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean is “very, very meaningful” as Russian leader Vladimir Putin threatens military action against Ukraine.

“Undersea warfare, because we’re talking about the Mediterranean and about the Black Sea as potential areas of tension and conflict, is very much in play even though it isn’t directly involved in the confrontation in eastern Ukraine,” he said.

Courtney, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said Russia is staging military exercises at the site of its northern fleet that includes its submarines.

“There’s no question that our undersea fleet is going to be very busy at this very tense moment and is definitely going to play a big role in terms of making sure that whatever possible conflict may emerge that it does not escalate into something more serious,” he said.


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