Vermont's unexpected aircraft carrier shipbuilding industry

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Vermont's unexpected aircraft carrier shipbuilding industry

Sun, 06/07/2015 - 6:59am -- tim

Although it is the only New England state not to border the Atlantic Ocean, Vermont is home to businesses that contribute significantly to the construction of the most powerful ships at sea: US Navy aircraft carriers. Two manufacturing companies in the state—Velan Valve in Williston and Champlain Cable Corp in Colchester—perform more than $9 million worth of work for aircraft carrier construction and maintenance.

With a workforce of nearly 300 skilled men and women who provide parts and services for carriers, Vermont is a valuable asset for the aircraft carrier industrial base—the community of small, medium and large businesses that build and maintain these ships. The United States’ ability to sustain a powerful fleet of aircraft carriers to respond in times of crisis depends on this robust and skilled industrial base.

To date, Velan Valve’s products have been installed on more than 950 ships and submarines for the US Navy and NATO nations, including every active nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. With a workforce of 160 men and women, Velan Valve supplies an assortment of valves and steam traps for the largest, most powerful and most technologically advanced ship ever built, Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), the first ship in a new class of aircraft carriers.

“I’m proud of the contributions Velan Valve makes to keep U.S. Navy aircraft carriers the strongest in the world,” said John Kohnowich, Velan Valve’s Navy program manager. “Although Vermont is not what typically comes to mind when you think of an aircraft carrier, every carrier in the Navy fleet has roots to our state—or, to be more specific, valves.”

In Colchester, Champlain Cable’s skilled workforce of 135 designs cable products that are designed to meet the high-speed, secure data communications needs of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. “We take great pride in knowing there are more than 85 miles of cable from Vermont on every Navy aircraft carrier,” said John Griffin, Champlain Cable’s product and market director.

Aircraft carriers are the most essential platform in providing national security defense and humanitarian aid and serve as a symbol of American diplomacy. Sustaining at least an 11-carrier fleet through a predictable and stable construction and maintenance schedule will keep the Navy strong and aircraft carriers ready to respond anywhere in the world during times of crisis.