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The principal arms manufacturer in Hastings is the UK branch of an American company - General Dynamics. It has about 200 employees in Hastings, on three sites. Their principal production facility is at 100 Castleham Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, TN38 9NJ.

John Phillip Holland
The following information about General Dynamics is mainly supplied by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and by Global Justice Now.

According to the latest ranking by SIPRI, General Dynamics is the sixth-largest arms company in the world.

General Dynamics started out as the Holland Torpedo Boat Company, founded by John Phillip Holland, an Irish immigrant to the United States. His company built the US Navy's first submarine (1897).
Owing to the delay in payments between ordering and delivering submarines, Holland ran short of capital and had to sell his company to a financier Isaac Leopold Rice, who renamed it the Electric Boat Company in 1899.

Holland was demoted to chief engineer earning $90 a week, while his submarines were sold for $300,000 each. He left the company in 1904.

During the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5), faithful to the traditions of the arms trade, the Electric Boat Company made a large profit by selling submarines to both the Imperial Japanese Navy and the Imperial Russian Navy!
After World War II the company diversified, buying a Canadian aircraft company, and changing its name in 1952 to General Dynamics. The development of the F-111 and F-16 military aircraft established the company as a major arms manufacturer.

In 2008 General Dynamics paid 4 million dollars to settle a lawsuit brought by the US Government for supplying defective components for submarines and military aircraft.

General Dynamics now states that it "is a global aerospace and defence company... [it produces] submarines to wheeled combat vehicles to communications systems".

The company is divided into four main divisions: aerospace, combat systems, IS&T (information systems and technology) and marine systems. Its "combat systems" division manufactures armoured vehicles, tanks, artillery and ammunition.
General Dynamics manufactures the Abrams Tank. They claim "the Abrams remains the top tank choice today for the U.S. Army, U.S. National Guard and the U.S. Marine Corps. It is also popular with several international armies, including Egypt, Kuwait, Australia and Iraq". Saudi Arabia is a major customer. General Dynamics also delivers the AJAX family of armoured fighting vehicles to the British Army, and light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. Political objections to the latter deal may cost General Dynamics dearly.

Its "IS&T division" has "an established global presence in secure communications systems, command and control systems, imagery sensors and cyber products." .
General Dynamics' "Marine Systems" division manufactures some of the US Navy's most formidable surface warships and submarines. It built the Ohio-class submarines which carry the US Navy strategic nuclear strike force missiles,including Trident, and is developing the 12 Ohio Replacement submarines which "will provide strategic deterrent capabilities well into the 2080s."

Bath Iron Works is part of General Dynamics and specialises in the construction of warships. Click here to connect with US campaign to convert Bath Iron Works to peaceful products.
General Dynamics has formed a partnership with the Israeli firm Elbit Systems to provide unmanned drones for US forces. Elbit markets its drones as battle-tested in attacks on Gaza.
General Dynamics has acquired Bluefin Robotics, manufacturer of unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs), expanding its portfolio in the field of UUVs.
Click here to read about General Dynamics work on nuclear weapons systems.

General Dynamics - Maladministration

Most of the following information has been provided by the War Resisters' International:

In the 1970s the Electric Boat operation (part of General Dynamics) was severely criticized by US Admiral Hyman Rickover for the poor quality of its work and the magnitude of its cost overruns. General Dynamics was also criticized for its work on the M-1 tank and Tomahawk cruise missile. A $57 billion deal to build the A-12 Navy attack plane along with McDonnell Douglas was scrapped by the Pentagon in 1991 over delays and cost overruns said to be caused by the companies.

Tensions between General Dynamics and the US Navy reached a point in 1985 at which the company was twice suspended for a period of time from accepting new contracts. The first suspension was a response to overbilling disputes, while the second came after the company and four former or current executives were indicted on fraud charges relating to a contract with the US Army to produce the Sergeant York anti-aircraft gun.

Among the revelations were that the company was billing the Pentagon for dog-kennel fees incurred by one executive and country-club dues paid by another (the case was later dismissed).

A 1986 article in Fortune magazine noted that General Dynamics was “to many American newspaper readers the symbol of waste and corruption in military spending.”

In 1990 the U.S. Justice Department sued General Dynamics, charging that the company defrauded the Army on contracts for M-1 tanks. The company paid $8 million to settle the case.

In the mid-1990s numerous press reports suggested that General Dynamics had bribed South Korean President Roh Tae Woo to bring about a deal in which his country agreed to spend $5 billion on the company’s F-16 fighter jets.

Click here for a list of financial and other offences committed by General Dynamics and subsidiary companies

Theresa May's family is said to have financial links to General Dynamics.

General Dynamics' Environmental Record

Fire at General Dynamics plant
In January 2008 Electric Boat (part of General Dynamics) signed a consent order with the state of Connecticut and paid $75,000 to settle violations relating to the discharge of pollutants into river water. The action came after the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, responding to a report in the Hartford Courant about lax enforcement of water pollution regulations by Connecticut officials, said it would sue various companies for violations.

Earlier environment controversies involving General Dynamics include a $13,600 fine imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1998 for the improper disposal of PCB-contaminated clothing; a penalty of $105,000 paid in 1992 to settle hazardous waste violations at a company facility in Arizona; and a $50,000 fine paid to California in connection with a spill of hazardous waste at a company plant in San Diego.

General Dynamics and the Trump Administration

General Dynamics has been criticised for involvement in the administration of President Trump's policy of separating immigrant children from their parents who had been arrested for crossing the US border illegally. In some cases the children are held in insanitary or dangerous conditions.

Public opposition has forced the Trump administration to abandon that policy, but many of the families will never be reunited because the parents have already been deported. In addition the administration has proposed to extend the length of time in which children can be separated from their parents. In January 2019 the Office of the US Inspector General of Health and Human Services reported that many families had still not been reunited.

General Dynamics has defended its role in the face of public opposition and demonstrations. The company has been accused of buying the support of local politicians, and of misapplying tax credits it received for training purposes. Students and staff at the University of California have urged the University administration to sever their contracts with General Dynamics. US teachers have called for their pension funds to be withdrawn from General Dynamics. Scottish Trade unions Unison and Unite have called for Scottish Pension Funds to be withdrawn from General Dynamics.

For further information about the involvement of General Dynamics in Immigrant Detention, see the website of Global Justice Bexhill and Hastings.

General Dynamics in Hastings

Supporters of Global Justice Bexhill & Hastings protest against GD support for Trump's immigration policy.
About twenty years ago General Dynamics bought a Hastings company, Computing Devices Hastings Ltd, founded by William Charles Uttley-Moore. Uttley-Moore was briefly retained as CEO, but was soon replaced.

The Hastings firm had been involved in the development of the Direct Voice Input (DVI) System for the Eurofighter/Typhoon. This was the earliest DVI unit in production for a military cockpit. It provided voice control over dozens of aircraft controls.

General Dynamics plants in the UK are concentrated in areas of high unemployment - Hastings, Caerphilly, Chippenham and Merthyr Tydfil - where workers can be readily dismissed and replaced.

According to the local General Dynamics website,
Read a whistle-blower's refusal to continue working for General Dynamics.