General Dynamics Electric Boat has hired more than 720 employees so far this year at its Quonset Point facility in North Kingstown and is looking to add hundreds more in the next few months.
The hiring push is part of previously announced expansion plans that could eventually nearly double the current 3,300 Rhode Island workers.
“We’re looking to hire 300 to 400 more,” said Jason Vlaun, Electric Boat’s manager of human resources at Quonset Point. “The bulk of the people will be coming in this month and next month, with a little bit of hiring to be done throughout the rest of the year.”
Electric Boat started the year with about 2,700 employees at the Rhode Island location. After the usual attrition, Electric Boat expects to end the year with about 3,500 employees, said Vlaun.
“We’ve been hiring continuously since 2010, and 2014 has been our largest year for hiring in the last few years,” said Vlaun. “This is probably the biggest hiring we’ve done in over 20 years.”
The ramping up in staffing reflects Electric Boat’s continuing government contracts for work on submarines.
“I think this is pretty much the last push to bring our staffing level up to support our work on two Virginia-class subs per year, and some other projects,” said Vlaun.
The future workload got a major boost when the U.S. Navy ordered the largest number of boats ever in a single contract in April. Electric Boat, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, was awarded a $17.6 billion contract for the construction of 10 additional Virginia-class submarines, at two ships per year over a five-year period.
Electric Boat also has other contracts spurring the ramp-up in hiring, including work on two training ships being replaced and in the longer term, construction of modules for the Ohio Replacement Program, to replace the aging fleet of Ohio-class submarines, which launch Trident missiles. The last of what’s called the Trident subs was delivered in 1997.
After a leveling off at the end of this year, followed by six or seven years of about 250 hires annually to make up for attrition, Electric Boat plans to again ramp up hiring for the next phase of work for the Ohio Replacement Program, eventually reaching about 6,000 employees, similar to the facility’s peak employment several decades ago, said Vlaun.
The new jobs at Electric Boat’s Quonset facility are primarily in the skilled trades, including entry-level positions.