State to Give Navy $3.2M to Build Facilities at Groton
By Dan Cohen
Defense Communities 360
December 17, 2010
For the second time in a little over a year, the state of Connecticut has offered to pay for new facilities at Naval Submarine Base New London. The state’s most recent offer of a $3.2 million gift, which the Navy has just accepted, will pay to construct a training kitchen for culinary specialists and a building to house a submarine bridge training simulator.
“This is just the next chapter in the partnership we’re building with the Navy,” said Bob Ross, executive director of the state’s Office of Military Affairs.
In September 2009, the Navy accepted a $7.7 million gift from the state to build a diver support facility and a new boiler at the sub base. Both sets of projects are intended to increase the installation’s military value and are part of a larger state initiative to invest in a facility that provides unique capabilities to the Navy and a $3 billion annual economic impact for Connecticut.
The Groton base is the homeport for attack submarines and hosts the Navy’s submarine school, and is a neighbor to the Electric Boat facility where submarines are built, providing synergies the Navy cannot replicate anywhere else, Ross said. The state’s investment supports national defense and the region’s economic base. “It really preserves a national treasure,” he said.
The effort stems from the near miss Connecticut suffered in 2005 when the Pentagon recommended the sub base be closed before state and local official successfully argued that the BRAC Commission drop the installation from the closure list. The base also had been targeted in an earlier closure round.
In contrast to the projects the state funded last year, which will sustain the base’s operating infrastructure, the training galley and submarine bridge trainer will bolster the installation’s training capacity, Ross noted. The projects had been included on a list of needs the Navy shared with state officials.
The facility to train sub-based culinary specialists will cost $740,000 and will consist of a full-size replica of a Virginia-class submarine’s galley. The building to house the submarine bridge trainer will cost $2.5 million. The Navy is funding the cost of the interactive simulator used to train officers and submariners in navigation.
Last year, it took nine months for the state and Navy to hammer out the details of an agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the $7.7 million gift for the diving support facility and boiler. This time the process only took three months, Ross said, now that the Navy already was familiar with the rules governing its ability to accept gifts. “The next time it could be faster,” he said.
The Navy will carry out the design and construction of the projects.
Connecticut’s investments in its military infrastructure began with a $10 million incentive package — including loans and grants — it awarded the Electric Boat shipyard to help rebuild two depot-level dry docks, a project that cost a total of $65 million. The BRAC 2005 Commission had suggested such an upgrade was critical to the functioning of the sub base, Ross said. In the two years since the dry docks were rebuilt, the company has completed $375 million in submarine maintenance work.
“[The funds] kept subs, families and work here,” he said. “It was a very good outcome for our local economy.”
The $10.9 million in projects Connecticut is paying for at the sub base comes from $40 million in state bond funds set aside to enhance the military value of the sub base. The state also awarded Electric Boat $15 million toward the cost to purchase a new headquarters in New London, leaving almost $15 million to invest in infrastructure.
Ross said he will continue to look for attractive projects the state can support. But there’s no rush right now.
“I want to see these projects come to fruition or come real close, before settling on the next ones,” he said.