August 21, 2020 Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, welcomed U.S. Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite to Groton for a tour of General Dynamics Electric Boat (EB). Rep. Courtney invited Secretary Braithwaite to visit Groton for a tour of operations at EB as the shipyard works to sustain the two-a-year build rate of Virginia-class submarines and prepares to begin work on the next-generation Columbia-class submarine program.
“I’m grateful to Secretary Braithwaite for accepting my invitation to visit Groton for a chance to see the impressive work underway at the shipyard, including the brand new facility that will house Columbia submarine construction later this year,” said Chairman Courtney, following the tour. “Since he was confirmed earlier this year, I’ve had the chance to discuss the importance of our undersea capabilities and the industrial base that supports them. Eastern Connecticut’s manufacturing sector has seen an impressive run of success recently, and so much of it is thanks to the talented men and women at the shipyard in Groton. What Secretary Braithwaite saw today was a shipyard that is in the midst of an exciting generational change as it prepares for the ramp up in work ahead – and he saw first hard that that they are up to the task.”
Secretary Braitwaite’s visit to the shipyard today comes as Electric Boat is preparing to begin work on the new Columbia-class submarine program, which was awarded to the yard in June. In addition, Congress is continuing its work on the annual defense authorization and appropriations bills, through which Courtney has led efforts to restore the second 2021 Virginia-class submarine and ensure stability at the shipyard.
As Chairman of the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, Courtney has oversight of Navy programs including shipbuilding and submarine construction.
Background on Courtney’s efforts to restore a second 2021 Virginia-class submarine
In recent months, Courtney had taken a lead role in Congress in restoring the second 2021 Virginia-class submarine that was removed from the President’s budget request in February. The Navy subsequently listed full restoration of the second 2021 Virginia-class submarine as its top unfunded budget priority for next year.
In March, Courtney led a letter with 111 other Members of Congress urging the House Appropriations Committee to support restoration of the second submarine. The 112 members that joined this request represent 32 states, over 14,000 suppliers, and over $10 billion in manufacturing and support activity in the submarine supply chain.
During hearings this year before the House Armed Services Committee and the Seapower Subcommittee, Navy officials confirmed to Courtney that there is industrial base capacity to support the second submarine, that doing so reduces risk in the ramp up on Columbia construction, and that not restoring the submarine in 2021 will make it challenging to replace that submarine in a future year.
In July, Courtney led the House in passing defense authorization and appropriations bills support full restoration of a second 2021 submarine. Specifically, the House bills provide $6.8 billion to procure two Virginia-class attack submarines—about $2.5 billion more than the White House’s budget request, aimed at restoring the second 2021 Virginia-class submarine. The Senate defense authorization bill includes only $472 million above the request, for a total of $4.6 billion, for long lead materials for a future additional submarine. The Senate has not yet proposed its version of a defense appropriations bill.