Published December 19. 2012 4:00AM
U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii's senior senator who died Monday, understood the value of submarines, and his vision guaranteed the nation's undersea superiority for this century, Electric Boat President Kevin J. Poitras said Tuesday.
Inouye, 88, a World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, died Monday.
He had long-standing ties to the submarine community, the military and veterans.
In the early 1990s, Inouye supported the construction of the Seawolf class of submarines, a program the administration planned to terminate. EB built three of the submarines, which Poitras said sustained the submarine industrial base until production began on the Virginia-class attack submarines.
In 2007, Inouye was a keynote speaker at the commissioning of the USS Hawaii, the third member of the Virginia class, in Groton. He advocated for doubling submarine production from one to two per year.
Poitras said Inouye was instrumental in achieving that goal in 2011.
"Senator Inouye was an ardent advocate of the U.S. submarine fleet," Poitras said.
Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said Inouye's efforts earned him the nickname "Connecticut's third senator."
"Senator Daniel Inouye's death is a tremendous loss not just for Hawaii and the United States Senate, but for the state of Connecticut as well," he said.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he admired Inouye as a patriot, a warfighter and a public servant. Inouye's close friend, the former Sen. Chris Dodd, said in a statement that the country "lost a truly remarkable man."
"The United States Senate will not be the same without Senator Inouye's knowledge, expertise and friendly 'Aloha' greetings," Dodd said. "He will forever be remembered by our nation for his service and sacrifices as a WWII veteran, a United States senator and a champion of the causes he held dear."