Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Electric Boat to Look for Non-Submarine Work

Just got back from our trip to the wilderness, and am catching up around the house. Looks like not much news around the submarine front (which is normally good news) with the exception of this report from Newsday that discussed Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton potentially looking for civilian work. This will be problematic for them, since the skills required of the nuclear workers demand higher pay; asking these skilled workers to ask for less to do non-nuclear work (which EB will have to do to remain competitive) is likely a non-starter in the heavily-unionized yard. However, since there really isn't that much competition in SE Connecticut for these workers (other than the casino industry) it may fly...
I'll get around to answering comments after I get unpacked...

Going deep for a quick sprint...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a resident of southern RI, ex-employee of EB 77-80, ex-Boomer sailor (SSBN641, SSBN731) 80-86 and ex-employee in the defense industry I’ve seen a couple of expansions and contractions to EB, submarine construction and the supporting defense industry locally.

Back in the late 70’s EB was going full throttle with 688’s and Trident hulls, but even back then they were looking to get some commercial business. The OPEC embargo in the mid 70’s brought some off-shore oil exploration to the New England’s continental shelf, I believe the EB Quonset facility had did some repair work on the exploration platforms that visited Narragansett Bay back then. Environmental concerns for the off-shore fishery, the tragic loss of one of the oil exploration platforms in a New England gale and the stabilization of world oil markets ended the oil exploration industry locally. At about the same time General Dynamics (EB’s parent company) was closing its Quincy Shipyard which built LNG tankers. It appears subsidized foreign competition in the shipbuilding industry is brutal. So, I don’t think GDEB will have much of a stomach to compete for the limited commercial shipbuilding business. Especially, as you correctly assessed, the high labor costs associated with the skills required for nuclear submarine construction.

The 1980’s were a cool time to be on Subs with the Soviets reeling Ronald Reagan’s defense buildup. The Seawolf class program is an engineering product of that time and construction has ended with the USS Jimmy Carter, three hulls total. The Virginia class boats are the follow-on class but construction will be split between EB and Newport News shipbilding Co.. The Virginia class boats should provide about 5-10 years of new construction at best. After that it doesn’t look good for old EB.

The future prospects do not look good for EB, at least not to the Cold War levels of construction, unless, the Chinese start to become adventurous. What I’m seeing in the press lately (Check out Bill Gertz writing in the Washington Times) is that the Chinese have an aggressive Submarine construction program. Many of their new boats are copies or improvements over old Soviet designs. There’s nothing like a new potential threat to get the engineers and designers working.

I got out of submarines and the defense industry just when the Evil Empire started collapsing. EB is too much of an asset in our defense Industry for the Navy or the Politicians to let die. It will just operate in a scaled down capacity, commercial work or not, until we face another seapower challenge.

1/30/2005 10:15 PM


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