Courtney Hosts U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro for First Official Visit to General Dynamics Electric Boat
GROTON, CT—On Friday, August 27th, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) joined Kevin Graney, President of General Dynamic Electric Boat (EB), to welcome Secretary of the U.S. Navy Carlos Del Toro to EB’s Groton shipyard. Rep. Courtney is the Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, which has jurisdiction over all U.S. Navy shipbuilding, and he and his colleagues recently began bipartisan work on the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This year’s NDAA will seek to deliver on President Biden’s FY 2022 shipbuilding budget request for submarines—a request that represents the largest investment in America’s undersea fleet since the 1980s.
Last Friday was Secretary Del Toro’s first visit to EB since being confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 7th. Today, he had a chance to see firsthand the strategic importance of the Groton shipyard, including its strong workforce, progress on submarine programs like the Columbia- and Virginia-classes, and the state-of-the-art facilities at EB that make Groton the Submarine Capital of the World.
“I was glad to welcome the Secretary of the Navy for his first official visit to the Groton shipyard, to see our impressive manufacturing workforce up close,” said Chairman Courtney. “The shipbuilders and engineers in Groton are some impressive men and women, trending younger and younger each year, and EB has the state-of-the-art facilities and excellent processes in place to build the world's finest submarines—and to stay safe while doing it, even during the ongoing COVID pandemic. This is the workforce the Navy will rely on to help build our next-generation undersea fleet, and it was good for Secretary Del Toro to have a chance to see firsthand the strategic value of our Groton shipyard. I’m looking forward to working closely with him on the challenges facing the U.S. Navy.”
President Biden’s budget proposal includes $6.4 billion for construction of two Virginia-class submarines and advanced procurement for future submarines. It also includes $4.6 billion to continue work on the Navy’s next-generation class of submarine, the Columbia-class.
In 2008, Rep. Courtney helped secure the first-ever funding for design and concept studies of the Columbia program. In 2015, he championed the creation of the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund (NSBDF), which has provided DOD with additional flexibility and authority to fund Columbia-class throughout the years. In 2019, Courtney helped break ground at Electric Boat’s new South Yard Assembly Building, the new production facility designed specifically for the construction of the Columbia-class. In June 2020, he helped announce the award of Columbia-class construction to EB.
Courtney has worked closely with regional stakeholders like the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB) for years to help strengthen the region’s manufacturing workforce. EWIB has been instrumental in preparing the region’s workforce to take on new opportunities from shipbuilding, to emerging jobs in the offshore wind industry, to heavy machinery manufacturing, and more. EWIB’s MPI was established to identify underemployed adults, veterans, and others to contribute to the manufacturing and submarine supply-chain industries. As of 2020, the MPI has exceeded all goals and expectations—the federal registered apprenticeship program has placed over 1,700 people in jobs, including 447 at EB. In 2019, the MPI received national recognition as an award-winning job training skills program from the U.S. Department of Labor.
As a senior Member of the House Education and Labor Committee, Courtney has also helped lead the effort to reinvest in and reauthorize federal registered apprenticeship programs like the MPI for the first time in nearly 85 years. On February 5th, Courtney helped pass H.R. 447, the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 with strong bipartisan support. The bill would authorize more than $3.5 billion to create one million new apprenticeship opportunities over the next five years, and would make historic investments in workforce training to counter the sharp rise in unemployment due to the pandemic. The National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 would expand access to Registered Apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeship programs. It would also yield a projected $10.6 billion in net benefits to U.S. taxpayers in the form of increased tax revenue and decreased spending on public-assistance programs and unemployment insurance.