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Electric Boat President: Business Is Good

Annual legislative breakfast paints good picture for the submarine maker's future

will hire 300 more engineers this year and temporarily layoff fewer than 200 yard workers at its Groton facility, company President John Casey told a roomful of legislators Tuesday morning.

The brought together town leaders, state representatives and senators, and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney and Sen. Richard Blumenthal for Casey’s State of the Company address.

It was a pretty rosy picture that Casey painted for the group.

“The (business) outlook is very positive,” Casey said. “We have to hire 300 more engineers in the first half of the year. We will have a temporary reduction on the Groton waterfront until June, and then we will bring them back. It is a pleasure to stand before you and present this to you. This is great for the company, our communities, and our country.

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Casey said after the speech that fewer than 200 yard workers are expected to be laid off, and they will be brought back – and possibly more hires added – when submarine maintenance and modification work picks up after the summer.

Casey also said that EB’s acquisition of the former Pfizer complex in the Fort Trumbull section of New London was “going really well and has exceeded our expectations. Two-thirds of the facility is occupied; we have about 2,000 (employees) there. We have dramatically reconfigured the interior and made it more efficient.”

One New London employee told Casey it was “as if I had died and gone to heaven” to work in that complex.

Overall, EB spent $85 million in 2011 expanding its facilities in Groton and Quonset Point, R.I., Casey said.

In reviewing the company’s business for 2011 and beyond, Casey noted that 61 percent of the business is associated with the Virginia class of submarine, 28 percent is connected to design and engineering and 6 percent is tied to maintenance and modernization of existing subs. That 6 percent is important, he added, because it keeps workers’ skills sharp.

Of the Virginia class subs, eight have been delivered to the Navy and two more are set for delivery, the Mississippi being the next. There are another 8 ships in the class set for production.

In 2011, Casey said, EB “started construction on two ships, a major milestone.” He thanked Connecticut’s Congressional delegation for its “tremendous support and tireless efforts to ensure these programs stay funded.”

Casey said in addition to the business of building submarines, the company is deeply involved in the creation of technology. “We want to work ahead on technology and programs that might to come to fruition for five, 10, or 20 years,” he said, noting that projects like these will help keep EB in business for the long term.

Challenges in the future include the “the potential for $600 billion to be cut (over the next 10 years). If that were to happen, all bets would be off.”

Afterwards, Courtney said the Obama administration’s latest defense strategy is good news for Electric Boat and that he will work to make sure that funding for EB stays intact in the next federal budget go-round.

“It is an amazing accomplishment,” he said of EB’s current status. “They have kept the industrial base and now they are poised to grow.”

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