Courtney Statement on Navy Decision to Move USS Indiana Maintenance Availability to Electric Boat in Groton
(Washington, DC) – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney, ranking member of the House Armed Service Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Navy’s announcement that it will move an upcoming “post-shakedown” maintenance availability for the USS Indiana (SSN-789) to Electric Boat’s shipyard in Groton, CT. The project is estimated to sustain 250-300 jobs in the Electric Boat shipyard, which will alleviate workforce fluctuations that were projected in the yard earlier this year and reflects Courtney’s ongoing push for increased submarine maintenance work to be assigned to Electric Boat.
“Today’s decision to grant a key maintenance availability to Electric Boat reflects the value the Navy places in the private sector industrial base which has been critical in responding to the needs of the submarine force,” said Courtney. “This decision will help sustain key jobs and skills in the Groton shipyard as we prepare for a surge in submarine construction work. It also ensures that one of our newest submarines, the USS Indiana, will not delay its first deployment. This is good news for the hardworking men and women of Electric Boat and for the national security needs of the United States.
“In its decision today, the Navy is responding to the reality that our private shipyards must be a partner in addressing the shortfalls in submarine repair and maintenance needs. This has been the focus of my subcommittee over the last two years. One of the key moments leading to this decision was when I accompanied the Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer on his first trip to Groton on February 15, 2018. There he was briefed regarding a potential dip in work this fall that made the need to assign repair work to Electric Boat an urgent priority. Yesterday his assistant secretary called me to announce the Indiana decision which I deeply appreciated.
“This decision is hopefully the start of a new trend by the Navy to utilize private shipyards to shorten the gaps in repairs of the attack submarine fleet that both the Seapower committee and Readiness subcommittee has focused numerous hearings on during the 115th Congress.”
USS Indiana (SSN 789) is scheduled to be commissioned in September. The post-shakedown availability (PSA) is expected to begin in Groton in November.
Background on Rep. Courtney’s continued push for private sector submarine maintenance work
As Ranking Member 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.
- 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.