NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (AP) — U.S. Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite and members of Congress visited submarine construction operations in Rhode Island and Connecticut on Friday.
Braithwaite, who was appointed by President Donald Trump earlier this year, visited General Dynamics Electric Boat’s facilities at Quonset Point in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, as well as in nearby Groton, Connecticut.
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, said the tour, which was closed to the media, was an opportunity for the Navy head to get a firsthand look at the sophisticated facilities that’ll be making the Navy’s next generation of submarines.
Last year, the Navy signed a more than $22 billion contract to build up to ten Virginia-class submarines at Groton and Quonset Point, according to Reed’s office.
The Navy and General Dynamics also reached agreement this summer for the construction of the first Columbia-class nuclear ballistic submarines, which will be built in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Virginia, the office said.
Reed, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said preparations are already underway at Quonset for the official start of work on the submarines in October.
The Navy is replacing its aging fleet of 14 Ohio-class nuclear ballistic submarines with 12 Columbia-class subs, according to Reed’s office. The project is expected to cost about $110 billion, or roughly $9 billion per boat.
The first of the new Columbia-class subs is expected to be in the water by 2027, and Rhode Island hopes to produce a new one each year for decades to come, Reed said.
Electric Boat, one of the state’s biggest employers, has spent roughly $800 million to upgrade and expand its Quonset Point facility, which is on the site of a former naval base. The location also produces about two Virginia-class subs a year, according to Reed.