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Institute to help bulk up ‘Silicon Valley of undersea warfare,’ officials say

By Julia Bergman, Day staff writer

Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel once called southeastern New England “the Silicon Valley of undersea warfare.”

That vision is shared by the two major public universities in Connecticut and Rhode Island and submarine manufacturer Electric Boat, who have partnered to create a new institute that will develop a new generation of highly skilled naval engineers and accelerate research in the field of undersea technology.

The timing is right for the new National Institute for Undersea Vehicle Technology, headquartered at UConn’s Avery Point campus in Groton, said Michael Accorsi, senior associate dean of UConn’s School of Engineering, given the push to ramp up submarine production in the U.S.

“There’s a lot of other places in the country that would like to be doing this work,” Accorsi said. “It’s really important that this region is top of the nation in undersea technology.”

The Navy says it needs more attack submarines to maintain undersea dominance amid increased activity by the Chinese and Russians. Between attack submarines and a new fleet of ballistic-missile submarines, EB anticipates building 55 more subs in the next 20 years. The company is looking to hire 14,000 people in Connecticut and Rhode Island over the next 10 years to do that work.

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