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Remarks by Secretary Panetta at Electric Boat in Groton, Conn.

U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) - November 17, 2011

JOHN CASEY (president, General Dynamics Electric Boat): Good afternoon, everyone. It's great to see all of you out here today to greet Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

I would like to mention four of the guests that came this morning to help us welcome the secretary: my boss, Phebe Novakovic, from GD Marine Systems; her boss, Jay Johnson, our chairman of the board at General Dynamics; our congressman, Joe Courtney from Connecticut here; and our lieutenant governor, Nancy Wyman. I want y'all to give them a round of applause -- (inaudible) -- would you please? (Applause.)

You know, as the nation's defense budget comes under increasing scrutiny, we're fortunate to have such a capable and experienced secretary of defense. Since arriving at Electric Boat this afternoon, Secretary Panetta has toured Mississippi behind me with members of our EB team and the ship's crew. We're working together to deliver this ship about one year ahead of schedule and about $50 million under its target cost.

Mr. Secretary, on behalf of everyone here, I want to express our sincere appreciation for your interest in all of us at Electric Boat. It's a privilege to have you here at our shipyard, and we're grateful for your offer to take questions, which I'm sure you all have many of -- but for your offer to take question from our employees at the conclusion of your remarks.

So now it's a great pleasure that I introduce a lifelong public servant, the 23rd secretary of defense, Leon Panetta. (Applause.)

SECRETARY LEON PANETTA: Thanks. Thanks very much, John.

I can't tell you what an honor it is for me to have a chance to come up here to Groton and recognize the fact that this is the submarine capital of the world. (Cheers, applause.) It's the home of our submarine force. It's the original home of the Nautilus. And it is, from my point of view, one of -- one of the very important elements of our national defense. What you guys are doing and the work that you're doing is absolutely essential to our ability to keep our country safe.

And I thank you for that. I thank you for your service, for your work, for your dedication and for your commitment. The -- this kind of work simply could not happen without your skills and your dedication, and I -- and I just can't tell you how much I appreciate that.

I want to thank Congressman Courtney for being here.

Lieutenant Governor, good to see you. (Applause.)

The reality is that, you know, your delegation has put up a good fight. You're talking to somebody who went through the BRAC process. In my district back in California, I had a post called Fort Ord, California. And it represented about 25 percent of my local economy. So we had to go through BRAC, and unfortunately, BRAC shut it down. And I went through the hell of having to figure out what do I do to try to protect the economy of my local community. Fortunately, we were able to do it. We located a campus there, and it's doing fine. But I wouldn't wish going through BRAC on anybody. It's a son of a bitch to try to go through that process.


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