Electric Boat to Cut Jobs

The U.S. Navy has informed submarine builder 'Electric Boat' that future submarine repair work will be directed to publicly operated shipyards.

As a result, Electric Boat, a division of General Dynamics, will cut from 1,900 to 2,400 jobs. Most of the jobs will be cut in Connecticut, but between 500 and 600 jobs will be cut from its Rhode Island facility. Electric Boat, a division of General Dynamics Corp., employs 11,800 people.

President John Casey said the decision to cut 20 percent of his work force next year was a "despicable task," but said the future of the company is at stake.

Navy shipbuilding orders have been slowing, and current projections show the nation's submarine fleet dwindling from the mid-50s to as low as the 30s. Electric Boat has contracts to build nine submarines by 2014. But sub advocates have been pressing the Navy to increase production. If that happens, the shipyard may be able to ramp back up and hire more people.

Recently, the Navy informed Electric Boat that submarine repair will go to public shipyards. The Pentagon tried unsuccessfully to close the shipyard in Kittery, Maine, leaving the Navy with more shipbuilding and repair capacity than it expected.

There are four publicly run shipyards in the country. Kittery is the closest and commanders there were already talking about hiring hundreds of new workers.

The Navy's decision means Electric Boat, which frequently repairs and upgrades the ships it builds, will not be able to bid on that work. The last two repair projects the company is bidding on are the 'USS Miami' and the 'USS Toledo.'

Governor M. Jodi Rell said she would fight the job cuts, and in a letter to Navy Secretary Gordon England saying it does not make sense to exclude EB from competing for contracts.