Aug. 24--GROTON -- Electric Boat plans to lay off up to 500 employees in the coming months, in part due to the Navy's decision to scrap rather than repair the submarine USS Miami, according to the union that represents the workers.
EB also expected to repair the USS Springfield, a submarine that the Navy is now sending to the Portsmouth Navy Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, instead.
The Groton shipyard notified the state Department of Labor last week that 94 employees would be laid off Oct. 18 because of "a decline in contracted work." Last month EB management told 55 carpenters that they will be laid off Sept. 27.
Robert H. Nardone, EB's vice president of human resources, said the company has to align the employment levels with the workload "to ensure the future of Electric Boat."
"The projected workload is not expected to sustain current employment for the foreseeable future," Nardone said in a statement. "This notification is due in part to recent decisions, particularly regarding the USS Miami and USS Springfield, which have reduced the volume of work that Electric Boat can anticipate in the area of overhaul and repair."
Kenneth J. DelaCruz, president of the Metal Trades Council, said Friday he was told by the company recently that the shipyard plans to deliver layoff notices to between 450 and 500 people over the next few months because the repair side of the business is slowing. The total includes the 149 workers who have already received notices.
When asked about the future projections, company spokesman Robert Hamilton said EB is continuing to review its workload, and if any adjustments are necessary, the employees will be notified first.
The Navy announced earlier this month that the cost estimate for the Miami repairs had increased from $450 million to $700 million and, given the current fiscal constraints, top Navy leaders had decided to change course.
"We were hopeful that at least in the sub world, things would continue along on schedule," DelaCruz said. "But I think with the spending cuts and sequestration, everyone has just slammed the breaks on.
"When that happens, if there isn't any funding and there are no contracts, we get the blunt end of it."
The 94 workers who received layoff notices are electronics mechanics, electricians, shipfitters, temporary service technicians and welders.
More than 350 people were hired at EB late last year and early this year to work on the Miami (SSN 755) and to perform maintenance work on other submarines. The Groton-based submarine was severely damaged at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in May 2012 when a civilian worker set a fire on board during a planned 20-month overhaul.
Rear Adm. Richard Breckenridge, director of undersea warfare, said after the decision was announced that the Navy was looking for other projects that could be provided to EB to dampen the impact to the workforce. He said Wednesday he did not have anything specific to report yet, but the commander of the Naval Sea Systems Command is working out the details "to make sure that we do right by Electric Boat and distribute that work as best as we can."