USS New Hampshire

U.S. Navy safety swimmers stand on the deck of the Virginia class submarine USS New Hampshire after it surfaced through thin ice during exercises underneath ice in the Arctic Ocean north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska,  March 29, 2016, in the Arctic.

MANCHESTER — Granite State Manufacturing has been awarded $25 million in defense contracts to produce specialized submarine systems for the U.S. Navy, work that will allow the Manchester company to add dozens of new jobs and expand into additional space in Nashua.

The contracts will allow GSM, a West Side company founded by the Allard family in 1937, to continue its work fabricating cable systems used in Virginia-class submarines as well as begin production for equipment to be used in the new Columbia class, the Navy’s next generation of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.

“It’s very much a good thing. All of these are growth areas,” GSM Vice President Doug Thomson said Monday. “There is an increasing amount of work across this build area, so we’re projecting continued growth at Granite State Manufacturing, which is why the labor force is so important.”

The company currently employs about 130 people. Thomson said GSM would like to add between 40 and 50 jobs over the next year at its facility at 124 Joliette St. in Manchester and a new site in Nashua, where the company is refurbishing an old warehouse it purchased on Burke Street south of downtown.

The 130,000-square-foot Nashua space has 40-foot ceilings and came with large, heavy-lift cranes, which Thomson said are necessary to work on cable systems to be used in the Columbia-class subs.

Currently, GSM has contracts with the Navy to manufacture three cable systems for the Virginia class attack submarines the Navy also uses in intelligence gathering, as well as oxygen-generation systems and two antennae, Thomson said. GSM’s Columbia class contract is for cable systems used throughout the vessel.

GSM will be looking to fill positions for welders, machinists and assemblers capable of handling specialized work.

“You’re talking about systems that have to work for the life of the submarine under water. You can only service these in dry dock. Reliability and functionality are critically important,” Thomson said. “These are very high-skilled jobs. It’s complex equipment that has to be put together very precisely and operate for decades in seawater. It’s challenging fabrication.”

Construction of the first sub in the Columbia class, which the Navy plans to use to replace its aging Ohio class fleet, just began this year.

“It’s a brand-new submarine design. There’s all sorts of components supporting the construction of the first one,” Thomson said.

GSM, which was known as Granite State Machine until 1998, also built several systems for the USS Manchester, the Independence-class littoral combat ship which the Navy commissioned in May 2018.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the sponsor who christened the USS Manchester in 2016, said the new GSM contracts show that New Hampshire companies are forging innovative technologies needed to keep the nation safe.

“I’m pleased that Granite State Manufacturing was awarded these federal contracts, which will further New Hampshire’s role in support of our national defense and empower GSM with the opportunity to build out their workforce to manufacture advanced equipment that strengthens the capabilities of American submariners,” Shaheen said in a news release.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019