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Submarine maker plans expansion in R.I.

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Submarine maker Electric Boat plans to double its workforce in Rhode Island to build a new class of submarines under a $95 billion Navy program, welcome news in the state with the nation’s highest unemployment rate.

The workforce at the North Kingstown manufacturing plant could double by 2028 to about 6,000 people, said Sean Davies, the site’s general manager. That is roughly the same number of employees who built submarines there at the peak of the Cold War.

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Rhode Island’s economy has struggled to rebound from the recession. Its unemployment rate is 8.2 percent, well above the national average of 6.3 percent.

The Navy contract has not yet been awarded, but Electric Boat, based in Groton, Conn., anticipates receiving it. Davies said he is focused on ensuring the company’s training programs can handle the influx of new hires because few job applicants have experience in the manufacturing trades. Construction is expected to begin in 2021 on a class of 12 ballistic-missile submarines to replace the current Ohio-class boats.

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