The Day – Defense production expansion could help region’s submarine industry

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President Joe Biden’s decision last week to expand defense production capacity could help the region’s submarine construction industry, which has been hit hard by supply chain issues. and manpower.

The Navy and the shipbuilding industry reported just this month that they were facing supply chain issues, gaps and delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as labour, production, supply and space issues. Electric Boat President Kevin Graney has repeatedly said in public statements during the pandemic that the company has a low workforce due to the coronavirus, while the hiring of new employees is also slowing the process of construction. Suppliers also have their own labor issues, according to Electric Boat and the White House.

“I find that action to expand the domestic production capacity of these supply chains is necessary to avoid a shortage of industrial resources or critical technology elements that would seriously impair national defense capability,” Biden said. in a memo released by the White House on December 21. “Ensuring a robust, resilient and competitive national defense industrial base that has the capability, capability and manpower to meet the Virginia-class submarine submarine combat mission is critical to our security national.”

According to the Defense Production Act, or DPA, which the White House invoked to expand production of Virginia-class submarines, presidents generally may, in order to “create, maintain, protect, expand, or restore capabilities national industrial base essential for national defence”, purchase “a critical industrial resource or technological item for government use or resale”, encourage “the extraction of critical and strategic materials” and “the development of of production”, among other actions.

Biden has used the DPA for other pandemic-related issues, including vaccine production and test distribution. It classifies this as a pandemic-related issue, as it has affected the supply chain and slowed production of submarines, which are “essential to national defence”.

Virginia-class submarines are being built at the rate of two per year, although Congress is considering increasing that number to “something more than two boats per year”, according to the Congressional Research Service.

“Scaling up production of Virginia-class attack submarines will enable the U.S. Navy to fulfill its missions of keeping sea lanes open for global communication and commerce, strengthening diplomatic partnerships, and develop a strong submarine warfare capability,” the Department of Defense said in a statement. Release. “Through the DPA, the U.S. Navy can make key investments with manufacturers and suppliers executing the underwater shipbuilding plan.”

Le Day reported in June that problems with parts of the Navy’s Virginia-class submarines failing faster than expected could lead to more work for private shipyards such as Electric Boat.

“It’s not every day that the President of the United States points out the importance of the production capacity of a particular program like the Virginia Class subroutine,” U.S. Representative Joe Courtney, D- 2nd District. “Clearly this is part and parcel of a strategic review that has been underway for the past year by the new administration that recognizes that our submarine mission is critical to our national security.”

Courtney noted that the new $770 billion defense bill, signed by Biden last week, contains money to help EB address labor, supply chain issues and production capacity.

“Biden’s order aligns with the defense bill, which just passed both houses,” Courtney said. “Biden is kind of trampling on how important and essential this whole production system is, while not losing ground.”

Courtney said about 6,000 vendors power the Virginia-class program, noting that number needs to grow so that “you don’t have a part for a sub where there’s only one vendor because it’s is quite fragile. If that company goes bankrupt or just stops producing, you’re kind of stuck.

He also highlighted the benefits of the Asia-Pacific Security Pact between the UK, US and Australia.

“The pact has opened another door in terms of additional work at Groton because Australia has less than 30 million people and they have no experience in terms of nuclear propulsion technology,” he said. “The UK and the US have submarine building programs, and there is no doubt that they will be part of Australian production, which is still a long way off – there is an analysis of 18 months in course right now.”

s.spinella@theday.com

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