EB President Poitras Confident of Submarine Shipyard’s Future

(l-r) Kevin Poitras, President, Electric Boat, confers with Andrew Maynard, State Senator, and Jack Shea, Government Liaison, Electric Boat.

(l-r) Kevin Poitras, President, Electric Boat, confers with Andrew Maynard, State Senator, and Jack Shea, Government Liaison, Electric Boat.

story & photos
by John Stratton

EB is growing, EB is hiring, EB is safe, EB is generous to local charities.

And… EB is dependent on funding stability in the government to allow it to press forward with existing and proposed programs in submarine production and design.

So summarized Electric Boat’s president, Kevin J. Poitras, at a January 15 Legislative Breakfast at the Mystic Marriott that drew some 200 legislators and staff members to hear  an update on the company’s plans, viewed as crucial to the region’s economy.

Electric Boat currently has 11,926 employees, and it “hired 1,260 people last year in all areas of our business,” he said. Poitras pointed out a multiplier effect in the local economies: “for every job created at EB,” he said, “1.5 other jobs are created in the community” to support the workers and their families.

He went on to detail the company’s shipbuilding and maintenance projects, pointing with pride to the USS Mississippi, delivered in 2012 “one year ahead of schedule, and $64 million under budget,” and to the North Dakota, another Virginia class submarine, which is “aiming at delivery in record time and under budget.”

Performance like this, Poitras said, puts the company in good stead for the next series of submarines to be authorized, including design engineering of 12 ships to replace the aging fleet of Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. The Ohio replacements, he said, are an intense engineering and construction effort that will yield the “first new design in 20 years and will serve until 2080.”

Kevin Poitras, right, responds to reporters’ questions on “the future of EB.”

Kevin Poitras, right, responds to reporters’ questions on “the future of EB.”

Another major project underway is the $450 million restoration of the USS Miami, which suffered a severe fire at the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Navy yard. Others are modernizations of pre-existing Virginia-class vessels; the design of two “virtual submarines” which will serve as dockside training facilities; and a number of advanced projects that will shape submarine use for generations.

The result, he predicted, is “a substantial new demand for trade labor to support future demand.”  That process requires the hiring of 300 workers in the immediate future, and another 500 engineers and trades per year through 2020 at EB sites, topping out at about 16,000.

Currently, some 2,800 designers are stationed in the ex-Pfizer campus in New London, with that number slated to increase to a maximum staffing of 3,300 at that relatively new site.

The work underway there represents “the future of EB,” the company president concluded, as he thanked Connecticut and Rhode Island legislators for “congressional support of Electric Boat submarine programs.”