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In boost for CT, key US House committee authorizes $1B to restore second attack sub

The General Dynamics ship building company in Groton, Connecticut, in a 2005 image. Submarine production at the facility received a $1 billion boost in a congressional draft spending bill, restoring a second Virginia-class attack submarine to be built by the company's Electric Boat division. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/TNS)

Submarine production at Electric Boat gets a $1 billion boost in a draft spending bill released by the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, which restores a second Virginia-class attack submarine to the fiscal 2025 defense budget in a rebuff to Pentagon spending plans.

The committee’s bipartisan decision to authorize a second attack sub, for which Groton, Connecticut-based Electric Boat is prime contractor, is consistent with previous year spending plans and was disclosed Monday when the committee released its version of the fiscal 2025 National Defense Authorization Act.

The Pentagon had departed from recent practice, cutting a second Virginia boat from the budget. Service officials said the money could be better spent speeding up submarine production by investing in shipyard manpower and supply chains.

Saving a second Virginia was a win for U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, whose eastern Connecticut district includes the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics. Courtney, ranking Democrat on the panel’s Seapower Subcommittee, has argued that elimination of a submarine sends the wrong message to thousands of companies in the submarine supply chain that have invested in labor, equipment and material in the expectation of steady procurement at a time when sub production is a defense priority.

Courtney said a two-per year Virginia funding pace also is needed if the Pentagon is to meet its obligation to sell three Virginia attack submarines to Australia beginning in 2032 under the trilateral AUKUS security agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

“Authorizing the second boat through incremental funding authority, which restores the two-per-year procurement rate and allows the Navy to contract for two submarines in FY25, will provide additional resources to ensure all suppliers are covered and increase the inventory of attack submarines for the Navy,” Courtney said.

Courtney said the committee determined “that cutting a submarine would damage supply chain growth by injecting procurement instability in the Virginia program” and that maintaining a steady production pace demonstrates “Congress’s ironclad commitment to fulfilling the AUKUS security partnership.”

The second submarine, which would be funded by an additional $1 billion in spending, still needs to clear the House appropriations committee. Earlier this month, Courtney collected signatures from 120 colleagues on a letter calling on appropriations leadership to fund two attack boats.

“Preserving a consistent production schedule is essential for shipyard and industrial base stability, and to meet the Navy’s operational requirements,” the letter said. “This is exactly why Congress has strongly supported and defended the consistent two-per-year build rate of Virginia Class attack submarines since 2011.”

If the draft holds up, it will be the fourth time Courtney has successfully bucked White House or Pentagon plans to drop the annual procurement pace for Virginia-class submarines from two to one.

During the George W. Bush administration, at the beginning of the Navy’s Virginia program, he succeeded in adding nearly $600 to the fiscal 2008 defense budget to support a two-ship pace. He pushed through similar measures in 2013 and 2020 during the Obama and Trump administrations, earning the nickname Two Sub Joe.

Electric Boat is the Navy’s prime submarine contractor and lead shipyard on both the Virginia attack and Columbia ballistic missile submarine programs. The Navy said it needs a dozen Columbias and 66 Virginias to carry out its mission, numbers that could keep shipyards and suppliers operating at old, Cold War production rates for decades.

Electric Boat is at the top of a submarine manufacturing and supply chain that has been hiring at a furious pace and investing billions of dollars in capacity in an effort to meet aggressive production goals designed to support AUKUS and contain Chinese expansionism. Electric Boat hired more than 5,000 last year and says it is on track to match that pace far into the future.

Decades of flat, post-cold war spending shrunk the U.S. fleet by half. It also depleted the ranks of welders, shipfitters and riggers who build ships at Electric Boat and its partner in the Virginia and Columbia programs, the Newport News Shipbuilding Division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.

To meet national defense and AUKUS targets, the Navy says it needs EB and Newport News to deliver two Virginias and one Columbia a year by 2028. Courtney has said Electric Boat is on pace to meet the Navy’s production targets and that cutting a ship from the budget will slow production in the long term.


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