Naval Submarine Base New London averted closure in the 2005 round of base closures, but leaders from eastern Connecticut realize the installation likely would be a target in a future BRAC round. The experience in staving off closure, though, has helped prepare advocates for the Groton sub base to defend it once again if necessary, according to a forum held earlier this month at the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus.
“One of the amazing things about 2005 was that we put together Team Connecticut and pointed out the base did have military value, and that the process itself was rigged,” said former Rep. Rob Simmons (R).
The key to saving the base in 2005 was community support, Simmons stressed, reported the Norwich Bulletin. “We’ve got to be absolutely on board as a team to fight it,” he said.
Of course, community leaders won’t be starting from scratch in a future BRAC. Local businesses and chambers of commerce have forged a much tighter relationship with the Navy, said Tony Sheridan, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut. The chamber now has a military affairs committee that works closely with the Navy.
The state has invested $14 million in facility improvements at the sub base, helping it to modernize and prepare for expansion.
“We should never let our guard down, but should be very proud of the progress we’ve made,” said Bob Ross, executive director of the state Office of Military Affairs.
While it remains highly uncertain when Congress would approve a new BRAC round, eastern Connecticut believes it already knows the winning formula to preserving its sub base — overwhelming community support.
“Everyone felt that this is their base [in the 2005 round],” Simmons said.