Electric Boat's Groton shipyard. Electric Boat
Electric Boat’s Groton shipyard. Electric Boat
Electric Boat’s Groton shipyard. Electric Boat

Washington – Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday pledged tens of millions of dollars in state funds, loans and tax breaks to help Electric Boat ramp up for increased submarine production in Connecticut.

The state has promised to spend $20 million dredging the Thames River so the defense contractor can build the new Columbia-class nuclear ballistic submarines, which are larger than the Virginia-class attack subs that also are built by Electric Boat in Connecticut.

Malloy also promised to spend $8 million to help train skilled workers for the shipyard, which plans to grow its workforce by 1,881 by the year 2034.

Electric Boat also plans to invest another $852 million in its shipyard and more than double its $250 million in annual spending with Connecticut-based suppliers and subcontractors.

“Since the American Revolution, the Provision State has earned its reputation as the Submarine Capital of the World, thanks to our ingenuity and ceaseless resolve,” Malloy said in a statement announcing the new state help to Electric Boat. “Our state’s partnership with General Dynamics Electric Boat will ensure that thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs continue to grow for years to come.”

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) agreed to provide other incentives. Those include a $35 million loan for machinery and equipment, with the possibility of forgiveness for some or all of that loan based on Electric Boat’s spending and employment record.

A Virginia-class attack submarine General Dynamics Electric Boat

The state also is offering Electric Boat up to $20 million in tax breaks for new capital investment and construction at the shipyard. That includes a new dry dock that, along with the dredging of the Thames River, will allow for launching of the new Columbia-class submarine.

“This investment provides crucial support for the workforce development and facility expansion that will help Electric Boat grow, increase its economic contribution to the region, and continue to deliver the world’s most capable submarines to the U.S. Navy,” EB President Jeffrey Geiger said. “It will also improve our competitive position, help us to secure additional work in the future, and solidify the region’s title of Submarine Capital of the World.”

The Navy has agreed to continue the two-a-year production rate for the Virginia-Class submarine, is ramping up the Columbia-class program, and is expected to soon sign a five-year agreement with EB for the new nuclear ballistic submarines.

Congress also has increased spending on the nation’ sub program. The 2018 fiscal year budget includes $2.1 billion in advanced procurement money for “industrial base expansion” aimed at preparing Electric Boat’s suppliers and subcontractors for the increasing work at the shipyard.

Congress also approved a little more than $3.3 billion to continue the two-a-year pace of construction of the Virginia-class subs and $861 million for planning and design of the Columbia-class sub this year.

The Navy plans to begin construction of the first Columbia-class sub in 2021, at a cost of more than $6 billion.

The federal government has provided Connecticut with millions of dollars to help train skilled workers for Electric Boat. The last large grant — $6 million — helped set up the Eastern Connecticut Manufacturing Pipeline, whose website encourages the unemployed and underemployed to sign up for short-term training to work at Electric Boat. “No experience necessary,” the website says.

Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said those federal funds have run out, prompting the state to pledge $8 million to continue worker training.

He said the new dry dock at the shipyard “is going to be huge,” and construction would begin soon.

Courtney also said the money the state spends to help Electric Boat will have a “multiplier effect,” that will result in new jobs and revenues to the state.

But two Republican legislators from southeastern Connecticut raised questions. Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, and State Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, said Connecticut needs to “stand tall,” in support of the state’s defense industry.

But, they said in a joint statement, “We have concerns about what message is being sent to main street Connecticut by the state incurring more debt and the budget implications this may have in the future.”

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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