Thursday, March 08, 2007


The House Armed Services Committee's Seapower & Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee will open its hearing on the future of the Virginia-class submarine at 2 p.m. this afternoon. The issue here is when does the U.S. Navy increase submarine production from one- to two-per year. The Navy has that scheduled for 2012. Connecticut's congressional delegation has been lobbying to have that timetable moved up to 2008 or 2009.

Navy officials will testify first, followed by EB President John Casey and others.

Adding her voice to the discussion today is Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who submitted written testimony through U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney's, D-2nd District, office. Courtney, a member of the committee, requested today's meeting and he will have his own remarks later.

Here's what the governor had to say in her testimony:

“As the Governor of Connecticut I am, of course, interested in the jobs the two Virginia-class submarines would bring to our state. But equally important is my concern that the failure to move to two submarines per year will result in layoffs that could, in turn, affect the capability of our industrial base to continue to design and build these magnificent ships.
“By delaying, for over a decade, the initial planned increase in production to two ships per year, the Navy has forced Electric Boat to layoff thousands of highly skilled workers. It's time to turn this around! We need to build two submarines a year. But will we find that our finest submarine designers, engineers and builders are not here to do the job?

"The stealth and lethality of submarines makes them unique as a class of ships. They also play a special role in the Global War on Terror. If you need proof of the value of submarines after the Cold War, ask any special operations forces personnel their preferred method of clandestine insertion: The answer is always a submarine because of its stealth.

"Submarines are a critical part of our intelligence network. The secret successes of the submarine force against terrorist targets are rarely reported. But the Navy’s decision to open a counter-terrorism center at Sub Base New London should give you a clue as to where the action is in today's fleet.

Governor Rell noted in her testimony that both Committee Chairman U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) and Ranking Member Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) had visited Groton-based Electric Boat. The Governor extended an offer to the other committee members to visit the nation’s premier submarine builder at any time.

Citing the stress long deployments can have on the families of sailors, the Governor said she is proud of the support Connecticut gives military families but said such stresses would be reduced if more submarines were available to handle the numerous current demands.

Governor Rell also noted the reports of increased submarine construction in other nations, including China, and the continuing threat of terrorism.

"Submarines have the stealth, agility, mobility, persistence and firepower to meet our nation’s security needs,” the Governor testified. “The Congress needs to apply our tax dollars to funding two Virginia-class submarines per year and I hope that the subcommittee will encourage them to do just that.”


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