General Dynamics Electric Boat broke ground today on a 200,000 square foot facility at its Groton shipyard, the company's biggest expansion in 45 years.

Slated for completion in early 2023, the massive facility will house production of the U.S. Navy's next generation Columbia-class nuclear submarine.

Electric Boat groundbreaking
Electric Boat president Jeffrey Geiger (center) leads the groundbreaking ceremony for the company's new South Yard Assembly Building in Groton.

"These are the busiest times we've seen in a generation," said company president Jeffrey Geiger.

"The facility we break ground on today will enable Electric Boat to deliver the U.S. Navy's number-one acquisition priority—the Columbia class—our nation's next-generation fleet of ballistic missile submarines."

Electric Boat has orders for 42 Virginia class and 12 new Columbia class submarines to be delivered over the next 20 years.

When assembly of the Columbia line begins in 2023, it will mark the first time the company has worked on two submarine classes at the same time.

Groton Expansion

Electric Boat is building two Virginia-class attack submarines each year while designing the Columbia line, which will replace the Navy's aging Ohio-class submarines.

The new South Yard Assembly Building is part of an $850 million expansion at the Groton shipyard.

"These are the busiest times we've seen in a generation."

Electric Boat's Jeffrey Geiger

Geiger said the company will invest more than $1.7 billion to modernize and upgrade its facilities in Groton, New London, and Quonset Point over the next decade.

Some of the Columbia manufacturing work will be handled at Electric Boat's Rhode Island facility, with the Groton yard handling final assembly.

Workforce Surge

The South Yard building will house 1,400 employees working on the Columbia submarines.

Electric Boat has hired about 14,000 new employees over the past eight years and employs over 17,000 people in Groton, New London, and Quonset Point.

U.S. Representative Joe Courtney, whose district includes Groton, said today Electric Boat is on a "knife-edge schedule" to deliver the Columbia submarines.

"What we're doing here is not really just about the regional economy," Courtney said.

"It’s something extremely important to the country and we should all, all be proud of that."