Electric Boat: ‘Workforce is Our Weapon’


Expansion at Groton-based General Dynamics Electric Boat is not slowing down. 

As the submarine manufacturer marks 125 years in business, president Kevin Graney said the company plans to hire 5,200 employees between Connecticut and Rhode Island this year. 

Graney spoke to local municipal leaders and legislators during the company’s annual legislative briefing in Mystic Feb. 22 highlighting the strength of the workforce development pipeline programs in the area. 

“I believe this is the secret weapon we have,” Graney said. 

Those programs must continue to expand to increase the number of students in the pipeline.

Graney said the hiring trend should continue for at least the next decade as the submarines play a central role in our national defense strategy. 

‘Quality Carries Us’

Each class of submarines is evolving to support the U.S. Navy’s needs. 

The Columbia-class submarine overtook the Virginia-class submarine in terms of business this year, bringing in 40% of Electric Boat’s $9.5 billion in revenues. 

“This continues to be our number one in the nation’s number one strategic priority,” Graney said.

“Secret weapon.” Electric Boat president Kevin Graney speaking at the Feb. 22 briefing.

“There are days when I walk into our facility and just look at the size of the ship and I’m still amazed by it.” 

As for the Virginia-class submarine, employees are incorporating new weapons, sensors, and improved stealth features to allow the Navy to operate more complex missions. 

“We hear words like ‘eye watering’ and ‘game changing’ based on what we’ve been able to do,” Graney said.  

Critical Supply Chain

The timelines to deliver ships on time is crucial, making every stage of development important. 

“Our suppliers are absolutely critical to us,” Graney said 

Graney said the company continues to invest in supporting the supply chain, which spans across 49 states. 

Electric Boat awarded $31 billion to 2,700 suppliers over the past five years. Of that, $2 billion went to 351 Connecticut companies. 

Electric Boat awarded $2 billion to 351 Connecticut supply chain companies over the past five years. 

Expansion efforts and support from the U.S. government will keep those awards high. Graney said they budgeted $226 million for suppliers this year.

“It is great to see the commitment to Connecticut companies,” CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima said.

“It is critical that we ensure these small businesses have the resources and workforce they need to support their operations and continue to grow.”

Talent Pipelines

That support comes in the form of making the state more affordable and growing the workforce. 

Graney applauded the existing work of workforce development programs across the state. 

“When I look at my counterparts down in Newport News, they wish they had the pipelines that we have.” 

Electric Boat works closely with the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board, Connecticut Department of Labor, Ella T Grasso Technical High School, Quinebaug Valley Community College, the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance, and Three Rivers Community College. 

Graney’s goal is for 20% of the trade employees the company hires to come from high school.

According to EWIB, of the 945 Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative hires in 2023, 909 went to Electric Boat. 

Graney said the company is starting to expose students to the world of shipbuilding as early as elementary school.

This year, Graney’s goal is for 20% of the trade employees the company hires to come from high school.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT 2) said the workforce development programs are not going unnoticed in Washington.

He said Congress recognized the importance of the programs and the investment that should be made for our national defense.


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