“When the federal government threatened to close the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard [in 2005], the workers, lawmakers, local businesses and the community at large came together to fight to keep it open. It seemed like we had everybody against us: the Navy, the Secretary of Defense, the whole Pentagon. But we had the facts, and we had unity. And together, we kept open the best shipyard in the country.
We have with us today two of the workers who helped lead that fight, Paul O’Conner and JJ Joyal.
Now, there are plans for a new round of base closures. Well we stand ready. We’re not going to let them close our shipyard! This is not a partisan issue. On this, I know all of New Hampshire will stand together.
Let’s get out the t-shirts and the buses. Let’s get ready to showcase our wonderful shipyard workers. Let the federal government try. We’re going to win again – together.”
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was originally up for consideration for closure back in 2005 as part of the Pentagon’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.
Seven years later, talk of big spending cuts at the Pentagon–to the tune of $487 billion over 10 years–have set regional politicians on edge about the fate of the Portsmouth facility. As Deborah McDermott reports for SeacoastOnline.com reports, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is talking about tightening the budget by starting-up two new rounds of the BRAC process:
“[US Senator Jeanne] Shaheen said she’s hopeful a new BRAC process could be forestalled indefinitely, given the strong bipartisan response’…against such an action.
As much to the point, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin and ranking member John McCain have both spoken against the proposal…
Shaheen said it’s also important to note that the final tally of the 2005 round is still unknown, ‘so it’s premature to be discussing a new round.’
She said the Government Accountability Office pegged the cost of the 2005 round at nearly $35 billion — ’50 percent more than expected’…
The senator said she was feeling more hopeful about defense plans to modify the existing Virginia class subs to carry more cruise missiles…
She’s still concerned because the shipyard remains in need of so much modernization work, she said. The Navy is required to file a report this September outlining its steps for taking care of its four public shipyards.”
McDermott wraps her story up by noting that three-quarters of the senators representing New Hampshire and Maine sit on the Armed Services Committee–Granite Staters Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, in addition to Susan Collins of Maine. She quotes Shaheen as saying, “”We will be following very carefully what is being proposed by the Department of Defense and the Department of the Navy.”