General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) is a subsidiary of
General Dynamics Corporation. It has been the primary builder of submarines for the United States Navy for more than 100 years. The company's main facilities are a shipyard in
Groton, Connecticut, a hull-fabrication and outfitting facility in
Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and a design and engineering facility in
New London, Connecticut.
The company was founded in 1899 by
Isaac Rice as the Electric Boat Company to build
John Philip Holland's submersible ship designs, which were developed at
Crescent Shipyard in
Elizabeth, New Jersey. Holland VI was the first submarine that this shipyard built, which became the
USS Holland when it was commissioned into the United States Navy on April 11, 1900—the first submarine to be officially commissioned. The success of Holland VI created a demand for follow-up models (A class or
Plunger class) that began with the prototype submersible Fulton built at Electric Boat (EB). Some foreign navies were interested in John Holland's latest submarine designs, and so purchased the rights to build them under licensing contracts through EB; these included the United Kingdom's Royal Navy, the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Imperial Russian Navy, and the Royal Netherlands Navy.
During the World War I era, the company and its subsidiaries (notably
Elco) built 85 submarines via subcontractors and 722
submarine chasers for the US Navy, and 580 80-foot motor launches for the British Royal Navy. After the war, the US Navy did not order another submarine until
Cuttlefish in 1931. During World War II, the company built 74 submarines, while Elco built nearly 400
PT boats, and Electric Boat ranked 77th among United States corporations in the value of World War II military production contracts. In 1952, Electric Boat was reorganized as
General Dynamics Corporation under
John Jay Hopkins. General Dynamics acquired
Convair the following year, and the holding company assumed the "General Dynamics" name while the submarine-building operation reverted to the "Electric Boat" name.
Electric Boat overhauls and undertakes repair work on fast attack class boats. The company built the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines and Seawolf-class submarines, as well as others. In April 2014, EB was awarded a $17.8 billion contract with Naval Sea Systems Command for ten Block IV Virginia-class attack submarines. It is the largest single shipbuilding contract in the service's history. The company builds the submarine along with Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding. The boats of Block IV Virginias will cost less than Block III, as Electric Boat reduced the cost of the submarines by increasing efficiency in the construction process. The submarines of this type will build on the improvements to allow the boats to spend less time in the yard.
1980s Structural Welding Defect Coverup
In the early 1980s, structural welding defects had been covered up by falsified inspection records, and this led to significant delays and expenses in the delivery of several submarines being built at EB shipyard. In some cases, the repairs resulted in practically dismantling and then rebuilding what had been a nearly completed submarine. The yard tried to pass the vast cost overruns directly on to the Navy, while Admiral
Hyman G. Rickover demanded from Electric Boat's general manager P. Takis Veliotis that the yard make good on its "shoddy" workmanship.
The Navy eventually settled with General Dynamics in 1981, paying out $634 million of $843 million in
Los Angeles-class submarine cost-overrun and reconstruction claims. As it happened, the Navy was also the yard's insurer, liable to compensate the company for losses and other mishaps. The concept of reimbursing General Dynamics under these conditions was initially considered "preposterous," in the words of Secretary of the Navy
John Lehman, but the eventual, legal basis of General Dynamics' reimbursement claims to the Navy for the company's poor workmanship included insurance compensation. Veliotis was subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury under racketeering and fraud charges in 1983 for demanding $1.3 million in
kickbacks from a subcontractor. He escaped into exile and a life of luxury in his native Greece, where he remained a fugitive from U.S. justice.
Gardiner, Robert, Conway's all the world's fighting ships 1906–1921 Conway Maritime Press, 1985.
The Defender: The Story of General Dynamics, by Roger Franklin. Published by Harper and Row 1986.
Brotherhood of Arms: General Dynamics and The Business of Defending America, by Jacob Goodwin. Published 1985. Random House.
The Legend of Electric Boat, Serving The Silent Service. Published by Write Stuff Syndicate, 1994 and 2007. Written by Jeffery L. Rodengen.
International Directory of Company Histories Volume 86 under General Dynamics/Electric Boat Corporation, July 2007; pp. 136–139. Published by St James Press/Thomson Gale Group.
Who Built Those Subs? Naval History Magazine, Oct. 1998 125th Anniversary issue, pp. 31–34. Written by Richard Knowles Morris PhD. Published by The United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Md. Copyrighted 1998.
The Klaxon, The U.S. Navy's official submarine force newsletter, April 1992. Published by the Nautilus Memorial Submarine Force Library and Museum in Groton/New London, CT.
"The Ups and Downs of Electric Boat" John D. Alden, United States Naval Institute, Proceedings Magazine, 1 July 1999, p. 64.
Running Critical: The Silent War, Rickover, and General Dynamics, by Patrick Tyler. Published by Harper & Row 1986.