Former Navy Sec: Courtney in the Perfect Position to Shape Decisions About Submarine Production

President Barack Obama meets with Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus in the Oval Office, June 17, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


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I read with interest comments in a recent article in CT Examiner that claimed that the person you elect to Congress doesn’t matter in sustaining submarine production. As someone who served as Navy Secretary for eight years and had a front-row seat in these kinds of decisions, I can tell you that is not true.

When I was Navy Secretary, I respected the clear and decisive role that Congress’s Constitutional responsibility to build and maintain a navy played in our shipbuilding and naval security decisions. And there are few people I respected more in Congress in that role than Joe Courtney. 

When I became secretary in 2009, we had not yet started building two submarines a year.  Congress, under Joe’s leadership, had previously allocated the funding and authority needed to finally get to that build rate. But getting to that two-boat build rate wasn’t automatic. Joe was relentless in pushing to lock in the contract that finally started the second submarine in 2011–a milestone I know was sought, but not achieved, by his predecessor.

Even then, sustaining that progress wasn’t always a sure thing. In 2012, the Defense Department, for budgetary reasons, cut a submarine from the Navy’s construction plans in 2014. Joe immediately got to work to make sure the second sub got built. He worked tirelessly with Democrats and Republicans – who were in the House majority at that time- and got the second sub funded.  While it was after my tenure at Navy, I watched him do the same in 2020 when the Trump Administration tried to cut a submarine out of the budget.

Defense budget and funding decisions are made year-to-year, and nothing is locked in or guaranteed until Congress acts. That’s why you want people like Joe on your side – people who will work with both sides of the political spectrum to not just advocate for their districts, but to make a lasting impact on our nation’s vital undersea capabilities. That’s what I saw Joe do while I was Secretary, and I was honored to award him the “Navy Distinguished Public Service Award,” the highest award given to a civilian by the Navy.

I know first-hand that who you elect to represent your district this year truly matters. Now, as Chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee, Joe Courtney is in the perfect position to shape key decisions coming up about submarine production and supporting the industrial base. You cannot find someone new that can do that as effectively as your current Congressman.

America is more secure because of Joe Courtney and our shipyards and shipbuilders are more stable because of his work.

Ray Mabus
Secretary of the Navy (2009-17)