Rhode Island delegates joined officials from Electric Boat in Quonset on Friday to celebrate a multibillion-dollar contract to build submarines for the U.S. Navy.
"I hope you like building submarines because it looks like we're going to be at this for a while now," said U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.
Whitehouse addressed Quonset employees, praising them for their work in building the submarines.
"You are the best ship builders in the world. You build the best submarines in the world. You do it under budget and ahead of schedule," said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed.
The efforts of Reed and U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin in Washington helped secure a $17.6 billion contract for General Dynamics to build 10 Virginia-class submarines, ensuring hundreds of new jobs for the Quonset plant.
"Obviously, the work force, as it grows here, that money will filter throughout the economy in so many ways, and I think it's going to be a real bright spot in helping us to really continue to rebound in getting people back to work," Langevin said.
Since last year, General Dynamics has hired about 800 people. This contract is expected to require at least 300 more jobs.
In terms of strict dollars and cents, this contract is the richest in the history of the Navy, and ranking officials couldn't be happier.
"We just celebrated our 114th submarine birthday this year. Over a century of submarines for the U.S. Navy and Electric Boat has been with that program virtually the entire time," said Rear Adm. Kenneth Perry.
Construction officially started on the first submarine Thursday.