Leaders To Discuss Possible Sub Base Cuts

By Adam Benson

The Bulletin

February 17, 2012
Norwich, Conn. — With Congress poised to vote next month on whether to authorize another round of military base closings, state and regional leaders are preparing to meet with federal lawmakers about what it could mean for Eastern Connecticut.

Next week, the Sub Base Coalition Steering Committee will sit down with U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District; state commissioner of military affairs Robert Ross; and others for a briefing on what reductions could mean for the naval submarine base in Groton.

The committee is an arm of the Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region, or seCTer.

Courtney said Friday he hopes reductions to any military facility can be avoided. He pointed to a recent strategic plan issued by The Pentagon that places a greater emphasis on undersea warfare over the next decade.

“I think it would be foolish for anybody to make a flat prediction, but when you look at the pre-eminent position of the Navy in this new strategic review, Groton has many powerful arguments that it should be an enduring base,” Courtney said. “Having said that, we’ve been through this process before, so you have to stay hypervigilant.”

In 2005, the Department of Defense recommended closing the Groton submarine base and transferring its personnel and ships to locations in Georgia and Virginia.

John Markowitz, seCTer’s executive director, led the fight to save Groton’s base.

That’s why the mere mention of a new round of base closures has drawn such concern — and opposition — from stakeholders in Connecticut.

The sub base pumps an estimated $3 billion into the state’s economy, and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta praised the work being done at Electric Boat shipyard in Groton during a November visit.

All that prompted U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., to call the latest base reduction proposal “dead on arrival.”