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Electric Boat gets early repair work for one of Navy's newest submarines

The recently christened Virginia-class submarine Delaware is the 18th Virginia-class submarine built as part of the teaming agreement with General Dynamics Electric Boat and the ninth to be delivered by Newport News.

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By JULIA BERGMAN | The Day, New London, Conn. (TNS) | Published: January 5, 2019

GROTON, Conn. (Tribune News Service) — Electric Boat will do the initial maintenance work on the future submarine Delaware, the Navy announced Friday.

The work, which was slated to go to Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia, will sustain about 300 jobs at EB's Groton shipyard, said U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District.

"This announcement isn't just good news for Electric Boat, it's good news for our submarine force," Courtney said in a statement released Friday evening.

U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy also touted the news.

“This smart decision by the U.S. Navy is a win-win for Connecticut jobs and our national defense," the Connecticut Democratic senators said in a joint statement Friday evening. "Electric Boat’s skilled and talented workforce in Groton is ready to go to address the critical submarine maintenance backlog. Submarines are critical to our nation’s undersea superiority, and not only must we build more submarines, but we must ensure the efficient and timely maintenance of those already in the fleet."

"We will continue to fight for additional maintenance work to be assigned to Electric Boat,” Blumenthal and Murphy pledged.

A spokeswoman for EB did not immediately return a request for comment Friday night.

Recent reports from the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office looking at the cost and distribution of submarine repair work "have underscored the urgent and growing need for the Navy to better utilize our private sector shipyards to ensure that our submarines — both new boats like Delaware and the existing fleet — get the timely maintenance and modernization they need," Courtney said in his statement.

The Delaware, like other Virginia-class attack submarines, was built jointly by EB and Newport News, which finished the submarine and is expected to deliver it to the Navy this year. More than 10,000 employees from EB and Newport News have worked on Delaware's construction since it began in September 2013.

Usually, the shipyard that delivers the submarine does the maintenance work to correct any defects found during so-called "shakedown" testing before a submarine is deployed.

The Navy opted to have EB do the maintenance because Newport News doesn't have the capacity. The work is expected to start in late 2019 or early 2020, and last three months.

A November 2018 report from Government Accountability Office called on the Navy to develop a plan to better distribute submarine repair work between public shipyards and private shipyards. That followed a September 2018 report from the Congressional Budget Office that found it's less costly to do submarine maintenance work at the private yards versus the public yards.

Courtney, who is in line to chair the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, which makes key decisions about Navy programs, said Friday that he will "continue to press the Navy to fully utilize our public and private shipyards to reduce submarine idle time, eliminate repair delays, and help the industrial base as it ramps up" construction on a new fleet of 12 ballistic-missile submarines known as the Columbia class.

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