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ICYMI: Shaheen, Hassan & Pappas Meet with Acting Navy Secretary Harker for Visit to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

(Manchester, NH) – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) – a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee – along with U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01) met with Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker for a visit to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Shaheen, Hassan, Pappas and Harker received a tour and update from PNSY leadership on the status of ongoing construction projects at the Shipyard that will improve efficiency and strengthen our national security. They also received an update on the facility’s efforts to protect workers from the spread of COVID-19. Members of Maine’s congressional delegation, including Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-01) were also in attendance.

“I appreciated the opportunity to join Acting Navy Secretary Harker to see firsthand the progress being made on construction projects at the Shipyard. In the Seacoast region, we know how critical the Shipyard and our workers are to maintaining our submarines and enhancing U.S. military readiness, but it is important for Secretary Harker to witness that for himself. It was great to have him on the ground to meet with leadership and observe operations in person,” said Senator Shaheen. “The Shipyard is the largest employer on the Seacoast, and an economic engine in the region. This has been particularly top of mind amid the pandemic since our Shipyard employees put their health on the line to ensure these projects are completed on time, despite the risks posed by COVID-19. I’m glad to see the Biden administration make visiting the Shipyard a priority so early on in the administration and I know Secretary Harker’s visit with workers and PNSY leadership was appreciated. As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I’ll keep working to make sure the Shipyard and its workforce have the necessary funding, resources and support to carry out its missions, as well as push for continued investment in and the timely implementation of the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan, which is crucial to the future of the Navy’s shipyards.”

“The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is essential to our national security and our regional economy, and I was glad to have the opportunity to tour the site with Acting Navy Secretary Harker,” Senator Hassan said. “The Shipyard’s workforce, who are second to none, are implementing critical, innovative changes to modernize their operations, and these innovations will result in practices that the rest of the government can emulate. I will keep pushing to secure federal resources to strengthen the Shipyard’s infrastructure and improve its operations, while also ensuring that its unmatched workforce has the support it needs to complete its vital mission.”  

“The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is a critical piece of our national security efforts as well as a key driver for our regional economy, and I was pleased to visit the facility yesterday for an update on ongoing construction projects,” said Congressman Chris Pappas. “I remain committed to advocating for our shipyard and its workforce, including recently urging the Biden Administration to prioritize funding for shipyards like PNSY that will strengthen, maintain, and modernize America’s naval fleet and readiness.”

“Over these past couple months, I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to visit several of our public and private shipyards,” said Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker. “I am impressed and inspired by the work that I have seen conducted at each of these locations. This visit to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard allowed me to enhance my understanding of current efforts and engage with personnel and thank them for their great work, ensuring our nation’s Sailors and Marines will have the platforms and equipment they need to operate around the globe.”

Shaheen is a fierce advocate for Shipyard priorities. In the annual defense legislation that was passed by Congress and became law in December, a provision Shaheen supported to authorize $160 million for the Multi-Mission Dry Dock project at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was successfully included. The annual defense bill also authorized the procurement of two Virginia-class submarines – which are maintained and repaired at the Shipyard. She was instrumental in defending Portsmouth Naval Shipyard construction projects against then-President Trump’s previous threat to divert Shipyard funding towards the border wall. Last year, Shaheen and Hassan joined the New Hampshire and Maine congressional delegations in a letter to then-U.S. Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite inquiring what steps and protocols were in place to safeguard the health and safety of the Shipyard workforce.

Congressman Pappas has been a tireless supporter of the shipyard, which is located in his district. Pappas also serves as Vice Chair of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Last year, he joined members of the New England House delegation to secure language in the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to support Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) workers who were hired between January 2016 and December 2016, but declared ineligible for the Navy’s Accelerated Promotion Program (APP), a federal career advancement opportunity track. He supported the passage of FY 2020 NDAA in the House, which included the authorization of $160 million for projects at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the temporarily blocking a DOD plan that would have barred veterans and active duty family members from accessing military treatment facilities across the country, including in Portsmouth.