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Courtney Welcomes U.S. Navy “Smart Start” Contract Award to General Dynamics Electric Boat for Initial Maintenance Work on USS Hartford

June 4, 2021
Press Release

NORWICH, CT—Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, welcomed a new U.S. Navy “Smart Start” contract award to Groton’s General Dynamics Electric Boat (EB) for initial maintenance work on the USS Hartford (SSN-768). Maintenance work on the USS Hartford represents one of the largest submarine maintenance availabilities ever executed by EB. Although the majority of maintenance availability is expected to begin in 2022, the Smart Start contract award will allow the shipyard to get an early start on the project, reducing risk to the availability while continuing to grow the workforce in Groton in preparation for upcoming construction on the new Virginia-class Payload Module and Columbia-class submarine programs. The Smart Start contract award is valued at $63.8 million.

“America is going to lean heavily on the work of our U.S. Navy as our national security priorities pivot towards the Indo-Pacific and the Arctic, which will require a higher rate of submarine deployments at a time where public shipyards are facing huge backlogs, requiring private yards to fill the breach,” said Chairman Courtney. “Today’s $63.8 million contract award is another endorsement of the critical value that EB and other private yards contribute to the readiness of our submarine fleet. We’ve heard time and again that submarines are the most important resource in the Navy’s toolbox, and last year the House voted in bipartisan fashion to keep submarine production at a steady two-per-year clip. This year, President Biden’s budget request proposed the largest investment in our undersea fleet since the 1980s. The Navy’s decision to award the new Smart Start contract award to EB is a vote of confidence in Groton’s skilled workforce capability, the work they do to build and maintain our submarine fleet, and in the important role they’ll continue to play.”

In August of 2020, Chairman Courtney announced that the Navy had awarded the planning contract to EB for the future maintenance availability of the USS Hartford. Click here to read more.

Last week, the annual bipartisan budget negotiation process began when the Biden Administration submitted its FY 2022 budget request to Congress. The President’s budget proposal provides strong support for the U.S. Navy—it requests what would be the largest investment in America’s undersea fleet since the 1980’s, and it includes $710 million to fully fund the remainder of the maintenance availability for the USS Hartford in FY 2022.

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. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report requested by Courtney and members of the House Readiness Subcommittee outlining severe delays in addressing 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.

In 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.