The Navyâ€™s chief of operations has praised the work of Groton shipyard Electric Boat, and talked of the importance of maintaining the skilled workforce there, even as they drive down costs.
Admiral Gary Roughead toured the shipyard Thursday, taking in work to the latest Virginia class sub, the USS New Hampshire.Â The Admiral opened the valve to flood the graving dock where the boat is berthed, putting her in the water for the first time.Â He spoke of the importance of the recent funding that will see the yard sharing in production of two submarines per year in 2011.
"For me, getting to two boats a year is important for force levels.Â Because submarines are not a weapon of the Cold War as many people may think, submarines are very relevant today.Â They span the range of mission from the very high end of the most sophisticated levels of warfare to supporting operations in the war on terror."
Roughead said he was impressed with the efforts made by EB to bring down the cost of each submarine â€“ he wants to see the final cost at two billion dollars per boat â€“ down from two and a half billion it cost to build the USS Hawaii, the most recent sub to be commissioned.
"The ships that we buy are very expensive â€“ we can buy more if they are not as expensive, so the efforts that are being made to bring costs down are absolutely critical."
Electric Boat executives have said that the yard still faces uncertainty in the future for both its design team and its waterfront workforce in the years until 2011.Â It may end up relying on repair work to maintain skills at the yard, but Admiral Roughead was non-committal on the Navyâ€™s plans to send more maintenance work to the Connecticut yard, saying budgets have not yet been finalized.
Â Listen to the Admiral's entire press conferance.