Courtney moves to increase sub production

Washington — In defiance of President Obama, who wants to slow the production of submarines to save money, a House Armed Services panel voted Thursday to require the Navy to buy one more submarine than the Pentagon wants.

Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, inserted that provision into a bill that would authorize defense spending in 2013.

The Virginia Class submarines are built at Electric Boat in Groton. That production has funneled billions of federal dollars to the defense contractor — and kept thousands of jobs in the state.

But earlier this year, Obama submitted to Congress a defense budget, at the Pentagon’s request, that would reduce the number of subs built in 2014 from two to one.

After that, through 2019, Electric Boat would build two submarines a year.

“While temporary, the interruption of the sustained two submarine production rate would increase program costs and leave the Navy with one fewer submarine than previously planned,” Courtney said.

The lawmaker, who sits on the House Armed Forces Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, saidthe fact remains that a steady submarine production rate today will ensure that the Navy has the submarine force structure it needs in the future and that our industrial base will remain stable.”

Also on Thursday, the Armed Services panel approved another measure that would bar the Pentagon from holding another round of base closings next year. But pressure is expected to  increase on Congress next year to agree to another base closing round.

The defense authorization bill requires approval of the full House, and another vote in the Senate.

But authorizing defense spending has bipartisan support and is expected to win final approval later this year.