Submarines are crucial to US defense, says businessman
A submarine maintenance and repair yard in Lorain is crucial for national security, says the businessman leading the effort.
As word of the plan spreads, the prospect has also led to an emotional release for workers across the region, said Edward L. Bartlett Jr., merchant sea captain and founder of the Bartlett Maritime Corporation. . His business is at the center of a plan announced Jan. 27 by Lorain Mayor Jack Bradley.
On January 31, Bartlett spoke of his own experience with submarines and business and his hopes for Lorain and Lordstown, which would have naval depot construction equipment for submarines and aircraft carriers.
The facilities would focus on national defense — with potentially thousands of new jobs as a side benefit to the region, Bartlett said.
There was a huge response to the plan from union members and people sending emails, he said.
“People here have been in emotional release and a sense of hope,” for people around Lorain and Lordstown, Bartlett said. “A real sense of emotional release for people who felt left behind by the closure of all these industrial facilities here.”
The sick submarines
“The Bartlett Sea Plan: Solving the Submarine Maintenance and Building Crisis Within Budget” is a 20-page overview that explains how the company aims to keep Navy submarines afloat. and under the sea.
U.S. Navy submarines are a deadly part of national defense, but the nation is falling behind in keeping ships seaworthy, Bartlett said.
His own experience includes service on the USS Bergall, USS La Jolla, USS Gato and USS Fulton and as a teacher at the Nuclear Power School. Bartlett was a design engineer at Electric Boat for the Seawolf and Virginia classes of submarines.
At the end of the Cold War, the Navy closed shipyards as part of the “peace dividend”, or to save money spent on defence.
“Once you close a shipyard, it doesn’t come back,” Bartlett said.
In 2018, the Federal Government Accountability Office published “Navy Readiness: Actions Needed to Address Costly Maintenance Delays Facing the Attack Submarine Fleet”. The issue was not widely known, but the report caught the attention of the defense press.
The report stated: “The Navy has been unable to begin or complete the vast majority of its attack submarine maintenance periods on time, resulting in significant maintenance delays and the expense of operation and support.”
“It made me angry immediately, it drove me crazy,” Bartlett said.
He said he and many others worked to bolster the Navy’s submarine fleet in the 1990s, but those ships are wasted.
Bartlett started his company to come up with a solution. He said he was recruiting senior retired naval officers and experts to provide support and they agreed on Lorain’s potential.
“Somebody has to step in and do it,” he said. “National security is everyone’s responsibility, I don’t care if you’re in uniform or not.”
Bartlett worked at a Milwaukee operation of energy management firm Eaton Corp., which retains its North American headquarters in northeast Ohio. So he met people from Ohio, the state where his wife was born.
“The Cleveland area is a great place, northeast Ohio is a great place,” he said.
There are not enough skilled workers to keep up with the pace of work in the Navy’s ocean-going coastal shipyards.
“What do we have in Ohio?” We have people who are great skilled craftsmen, but they don’t have a job to do,” Bartlett said.
Meanwhile, submarines are one of America’s most feared weapons in its arsenal – but not when the Navy is spending $1.5 billion to keep submarines docked due to a lack of maintenance, Bartlett said.
The goal is not for America to start a conflict, but to prevent it by being so prepared “that the other sane guy wouldn’t be willing to hire you because he knows he’s going to boo,” he said.
“And our submarine force is key to that readiness.”