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USS Indiana to make Connecticut its home sooner than expected

Invited guests celebrate the christening of the Virginia-class submarine Indiana Saturday, April 29, 2017 at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia. The Navy’s newest submarine will make Groton, Connecticut its home after its Sept. 29 commissioning.

BILL TIERNAN/THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT VIA AP

By LINDSAY BOYLE | The Day, New London, Conn. | Published: August 3, 2018

GROTON, Conn. (Tribune News Service) — The Navy’s newest submarine will make Groton its home after its Sept. 29 commissioning, which U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., said is seven months earlier than originally planned.

Electric Boat already won a contract to perform maintenance on the USS Indiana, a Virginia-class, fast-attack submarine, beginning in November. The work will correct any defects found during so-called "shakedown" testing before the submarine is deployed.

Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia finished and delivered the submarine in June.

Courtney said last month that the maintenance work awarded to EB typically is done at the shipyard that delivers the submarine. If that had been the case, the submarine likely wouldn’t have come to the Naval Submarine Base until May 2019.

Courtney said Thursday that he believes the Navy chose EB for the work in part because its schedule in the fall is less busy than that of Newport News, both of which are private shipyards.

“I think will be a quicker turnaround in Groton,” Courtney said.

Courtney said the early “homeporting” of the Indiana means 138 military personnel will come to the area before expected and will be around for maintenance on the submarine.

“Obviously, we want to have that base at the highest level of occupancy,” he said. “That’s always a good thing for demonstrating the high military value of Groton, and it means we’re going to have a crew of sailors and officers that will be part of the community sooner rather than later.”

Courtney said using private shipyards for repair work helps ease the workload of the Navy’s public yards, which are operating at 20 percent overtime.

“That’s why we were so pleased when the Indiana got assigned to Connecticut,” he said. “That shows our advocacy is starting to show movement in a positive direction.”

Courtney said the maintenance work also will save the jobs of about 300 people — people who were hired to repair the aging USS Montpelier, a Los Angeles-class submarine. Work on the submarine is winding down ahead of the anticipated creation of 12 ballistic missile submarines known as the Columbia class.

"The construction schedule can have gaps," he said. “They don’t want to lose these guys and gals right after hiring them.”

Going forward, Courtney said he wants to fight for EB to land repair jobs for a couple other older attack submarines.

“It just creates stability at EB in terms of the workforce,” he said.

The Indiana will be commissioned in Florida’s Port Canaveral and will come to Groton shortly afterward.

©2018 The Day (New London, Conn.)
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