Saratoga County

Jobs cut as firms switch at naval facility

The Electric Boat division of General Dynamics will eliminate 165 jobs as part of a switch in the co

The Electric Boat division of General Dynamics will eliminate 165 jobs as part of a switch in the companies that maintain the naval nuclear reactor facilities in West Milton.

Layoff notices were issued Friday to 92 salaried and 73 hourly Electric Boat employees at the Kenneth A. Kesselring site, where sailors are trained to operate nuclear-powered naval ships.

However, many of those employees may be retained by Kesselring’s new nuclear reactor maintenance contractor, Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of defense contractor Huntington Ingalls Industries.

“We need to get in there and determine the number of employees we will need for efficient operation, and then the people who are there now will have the right of first refusal,” said Christine Miller, a spokeswoman for Newport News Shipbuilding.

A transition will begin in mid-October, Miller said, with Newport News taking over the contract Jan. 1.

The state Department of Labor has been formally notified of the pending layoffs, and company and state officials are planning their responses.

“Affected employees will be provided with transition services by Electric Boat and the New York Department of Labor,” said Robert A. Hamilton, director of communications for General Dynamics Electric Boat, which is headquartered in Groton, Conn.

Under contract, Electric Boat has maintained the nuclear propulsion training facilities at the Kesselring site for more than two decades.

Kesselring is used to train U.S. Navy sailors to operate the Navy’s nuclear propulsion systems. The site has two small nuclear reactors, as well as laboratories, machine shops and other facilities.

Kesselring is operated by the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Niskayuna, a division of Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corp. Combined, about 2,700 people work at either the Niskayuna or West Milton sites.

A KAPL spokesman referred questions about future employment levels to Huntington Ingalls.

Huntington Ingalls announced it has been awarded a five-year contract to start maintaining the prototype reactors, at an estimated cost of $195 million. There will be an option for an additional five years.

Huntington Ingalls designs, builds and maintains nuclear and non-nuclear ships for the Navy and Coast Guard, with 38,000 employees nationwide, according to the company website.

“Newport News Shipbuilding’s skill sets, experience and commitment align well with [Bechtel’s] need for the highest-quality maintenance services for its Kesselring site,” Kent Williams, director of nuclear overhaul engineering, said in a prepared statement.

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