U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Chuck Hagel is "firmly committed" to submarine programs and he supports Hagel as the next secretary of defense.
Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked Hagel about building Virginia-class submarines and the plans to build a new ballistic-missile submarine during Hagel's confirmation hearing Thursday at the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Hagel said he would want to talk to Navy officials about the budget before committing to building a fleet of 12 ballistic-missile submarines, but that he is "committed completely to modernizing our Navy."
Hagel also said he would carry out the Defense Department's commitments for the attack submarine program. He agreed with Blumenthal that submarines are "cornerstones" to our national security. Electric Boat in Groton builds Virginia-class submarines and is designing the ballistic-missile submarine.
Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he thought Hagel was being cautious because it was a contentious hearing. In a private meeting with him, Hagel did speak in great detail about submarines, he added.
"I will be voting for him unless there are surprises, which I don't anticipate," Blumenthal said Friday.
Blumenthal said he appreciated Hagel's support for submarines and his "passionate and consistent commitment to our men and women in uniform."