Groton shipyard Electric Boat has completed a $19 million overhaul of its main construction building, a move that the company says will streamline production and secure jobs.
Heavy equipment rolls off a new freight elevator onto a massive concrete and steel platform overlooking a submarine under construction in Building 260, the big green shed that’s the center of many activities at Electric Boat. Before these platforms and elevators were installed, temporary scaffolding had to be erected around each sub, and workers had no easy way to bring large amounts of gear where they were needed. Program manager for the upgrade is Harry Haugatal.
“By having all this equipment in very close proximity to the ship, they’re able to prevent themselves walking the quarter mile all the way back to their shop, retrieving the piece of material and come back to the boat," said Haugatal. "So that’s the simple way of improving their efficiency.”
The new platforms also mean each submarine can be constructed within a single bay, rather than being moved around several times during final assembly. Also included in the building makeover, improved lighting, new rolling doors at the ends of the shed to conserve energy and keep out the weather, and a revamped tool crib that allows workers to pick up the equipment they need without spending precious minutes in line. According to Shipyard President John Casey, efficiencies are key to the industry’s future.
“These kinds of investments in shipbuilding ultimately result in additional jobs, and of course jobs are exactly the kind of stimulus our economy needs at this particular point in time.”
Congressman Joe Courtney, whose second district includes Electric Boat, was present for the ceremony to mark the completion of the work.
“What I believe this structure really represents is the future of Connecticut," Courtney said. "It’s a strong signal that shipbuilding is going to be part of our future for a long time to come. The collaboration of the federal government, the Navy, Electric Boat I think provides model for how we solve the economic problems that we have here today.”
EB says the investment in building 260 will save more than $80 million on the construction of the remaining Virginia class submarines, and supports the Navy’s plan to double production by 2011.