No one is sure where the still-choppy regional economy is heading, but Electric Boat sees only smooth sailing ahead, with plans to add several hundred manufacturing jobs over the next two years and growth projections through 2020.
“We’ll be seeking a variety of workers, from welders, pipe fitters and machinists to engineers,” company President John P. Casey said at a Jan. 10 ceremony opening Electric Boat’s new 146,000 square-foot “Bay 4” production facility in North Kingstown.
The company plans to hire 250 more workers by the end of 2012, and another 250 by the end of 2014, at the Quonset Point facility in North Kingstown.
Casey also said about 300 engineers will need to be hired at the company’s Groton, Conn., production plant over the next year. The Groton facility must deliver finished submarines in two-year cycles and thus experiences slightly fluctuating production. Casey said that at times Groton might be forced to temporarily lay off about 150 employees, who would then be rehired within a few months.
“I can’t remember a time where the outlook has been as good as it is now,” he said.
“We have seen difficult economic circumstances over the last several years in Rhode Island,” said Democratic U.S. Sen. Jack F. Reed, who attended the opening, “but today is a day to celebrate.”
About 3,600 Rhode Islanders work at the two Electric Boat facilities. The company estimates that 550 employees have been added to the North Kingstown location over the last two years. Currently, 2,300 Rhode Islanders work in North Kingstown and 1,300 commute to Groton. Electric Boat is based in Groton and is a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp., in Falls Church, Va. The company is the lead design authority for the Virginia-class submarine.
Electric Boat has developed three product lines; Virginia-class submarines; maintenance and modernization of existing submarines and the Ohio-class, submarine-replacement program. “We have about 11,000 [workers at North Kingstown and Groton] that participate in these activities,” Casey said.