Courtney Welcomes Newly Commissioned USS South Dakota to the Fleet
New London, CT – Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, today addressed hundreds at the commissioning of the USS South Dakota - the Navy's newest Virginia-class submarine - in New London. In his remarks, Courtney highlighted the capability and skill of the crew aboard the USS South Dakota, as well as the trend towards a younger, more millennial workforce at Electric Boat.
Congressman Courtney's remarks from the commissioning, as prepared for delivery, are below:
"Good morning. As the Congressman representing the ‘Submarine Capitol of the World,’ it is a great honor to welcome today’s guests to southeastern Connecticut and the 17th commissioning of the Virginia-class program, the USS South Dakota.
“It is particularly special to welcome our friends from South Dakota – the new governor, Kristi Noem, my former House colleague, Senator Rounds from the Senate Armed Services Committee, and South Dakota’s new member of Congress Dusty Johnson. Senator Blumenthal, our senior Senator of course is here and Connecticut’s new Governor Ned Lamont and his wife Annie are here for their first commissioning – I want to quickly add that though it may be their first commissioning, it’s not Ned’s first visit to the Groton shipyard. His frequent trips here in the last five months shows the base and the yard rank high on his priority list for his administration.
“The presence of Navy leadership, Vice Admiral Richard and Deputy Assistant Secretary Allison Stiller, is a powerful statement today of the importance to the Navy of this milestone event. And to the Virginia-class team – America’s most successful Navy shipbuilding program represented by Jeff Geiger, EB’s amazing leader, and Huntington Ingalls CEO Jennifer Boykin – bravo on
another mission accomplished on time and within budget.
“Our most special guest of course is the ship sponsor Deanie Dempsey and her distinguished husband General Dempsey – her joyful, spirited presence at the keel laying, christening and today’s commissioning augers well that she will be a loyal and supportive shipmate for South Dakota for years to come.
“In celebrating the commissioning of the boat before us, we mark the end of its birth. Construction of South Dakota has been five years in the making since it was authorized by Congress in fiscal year 2013 and production began that same year.
“Those five years have been a time of great change at the EB shipyard. Last month, Jeff Geiger reported that since 2013, the workforce has grown from 11,500 to 17,050. Even more striking,
the proportion of EB employees in Connecticut and Rhode Island between the ages of 22 and 37 has skyrocketed from 30% to more than 50%. This rise of the millennial generation emerging to lead Electric Boat’s important work for the country is a powerful rebuttal of cynics and naysayers that American manufacturing and technological excellence are a thing of the past. Instead what we are witnessing here is a young, talented workforce that will be a pillar of growth, innovation and prosperity for the economy for years to come.
“This generational shift is happening in our military as well. Commander Litty’s crew is populated with a new generation of smart, highly trained sailors and officers operating a submarine that is breaking new ground in its capabilities. You can honestly call South Dakota ‘America’s First Millennial Submarine’ from construction to operation.
“Before long, Commander Litty will assume his place as Captain Litty, and he and his crew will go on to do great things for our nation, proudly carrying the name of South Dakota.
“Congratulations to all who helped make this day possible, and thank you for all you do for our Navy and our nation.”