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Courtney Statement on Navy Decision to Award USS John Warner Maintenance Availability to Electric Boat in Groton

March 6, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Navy’s announcement that it has awarded an upcoming emergent maintenance availability contract for the USS John Warner (SSN-785) to Electric Boat in Groton, CT.

“Today’s announcement by the Navy is another endorsement of the value that private shipyards contribute to the readiness of our submarine force,” said Congressman Courtney. “At a time when our public shipyards are operating above capacity and attack submarines continue to sit idle waiting for repairs, private yards like Electric Boat are ready to take on emergent work when needed. The Navy’s decision today is a strong vote of confidence in Groton’s skilled workforce capability.”

Background on Rep. Courtney’s continued push for private sector submarine maintenance work 

As Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Services Subcommittee, Courtney has continuously pressed Navy officials about shortfalls in submarine maintenance and the need to utilize available private sector capacity to assist.

  • On November 19, 2018, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report requested by Courtney and members of the House Readiness Subcommittee outlining severe delays in address attack submarine maintenance requirements. Among its findings, the GAO reported that “attack submarine maintenance delays are getting longer and idle time is increasing,” and identified shifting more repair work from the public to private shipyards as a way to mitigate future shortfalls.
  • On September 12, 2018, in response to a request from Representative Courtney, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an analysis showing that between 1993 and 2017, after adjusting for missing or incomplete overhead costs, the average costs of submarine repair availabilities at private shipyards were 38 percent lower than at public shipyards.
  • In a June 14, 2018 hearing, Representative Courtney questioned Vice Admiral Moore, the Commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, on the specific steps the Navy is taking to follow through on its previous statements that it would provide additional submarine repair work to private shipyards to ensure the health of the submarine industrial base, including Electric Boat. Moore told Courtney in that hearing “I think you're going to see, here, in the relatively short term, we're going to come to some decisions that would -- would move -- was going to move some submarine work into the private sector in that timeframe to address your concerns.”
  • In an April 12, 2018 hearing, Representative Courtney challenged Vice Admiral Moore on whether there was a disparity between Naval Sea Systems Command’s approach to managing the health of the ship repair industrial base that disadvantaged private shipyards including Electric Boat. In response, Moore told Courtney that the Navy has not properly planned for submarine maintenance needs with industry.
  • In a March 20, 2018 hearing, Representative Courtney discussed the fiscal, management, workforce benefits of returning to the “one shipyard” policy which more closely integrated the management of submarine repair work across public and private shipyards, including Electric Boat. Vice Admiral William Lescher, the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations who oversees planning and budgeting, agreed that providing additional work to the private shipyards would ease the burden on overloaded public yards.
  • On February 15, 2018, Representative Courtney accompanied Secretary of the Navy, Richard V. Spencer, and James Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition on a trip to Electric Boat’s facilities in Groton, CT and Quonset Point, RI. During their visit, Representative Courtney pressed Navy officials on the issue of repair workload and workforce levels across both EB facilities. He noted that while significant new work is coming to the Electric Boat as part of the Columbia-class program, assigning additional submarine repair work to the shipyard would maintain a consistent, experienced workforce at EB-Groton and ensure EB can execute the coming ramp up in new construction work associated with the Columbia-class program. Secretary Spencer visited Eastern Connecticut following an invitation Representative Courtney extended during a meeting in November 2017 during which the issue of additional submarine repair work for Electric Boat was also discussed.