Trump adds third submarine to Pentagon spending request, a potential boon for Electric Boat and southeastern Connecticut
In a potential boon for Connecticut’s defense industry, the Pentagon upped its spending request Monday from two Virginia-class submarines to three per year starting in 2020, responding to pressure from Congress and the Navy.
The submarine funding is part of a $750 billion annual defense budget that is expected to be unveiled next week by President Donald Trump and submitted to Congress.
It comes less than three months after Joe Courtney, the congressman for eastern Connecticut and now-chairman of the House Seapower Subcommittee, sent a letter to then-Defense Secretary James Mattis urging the Pentagon to step up sub production.
Courtney’s district is home to Groton-based Electric Boat, one of the two main contractors that build the nuclear-powered fast attack submarines, as well as Naval Submarine Base New London. There are 17 Virginia-class submarines currently in service, each costing about $3.25 billion.
Courtney told The Courant Monday that an additional submarine will help smooth out the peaks and valleys of production at Electric Boat, which he said is cyclical. In the current geopolitical climate, he said, it’s critical for the U.S. Navy to modernize and expand its fleet of submarines.
“In the South China Sea in the high north in the Atlantic, we’re going to be playing zone defense rather than man-to-man with the Russian and Chinese navy,” Courtney said. “There’s no question there has been a strong push within the Navy. They recognize this is the one platform where they have the biggest shortfall. No one can dispute the facts.”
The Democrat stopped short of crediting Trump for the submarine buildup, however.
“Eight months ago, his administration was actively lobbying against it,” Courtney said. “The change occurred just because the facts overwhelmed any plausible opposition to it. He doesn’t own this. The push for a larger Navy has roots back in the prior administration. I realize that narrative is out there. It’s hard to overcome sometimes the presidential megaphone.”