June 14, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), all members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, along with Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) have successfully included language in the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that would require the Secretary of the Navy to provide Congress with a plan to fund infrastructure improvements at each of our nation’s four public shipyards, including the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  Under their amendment, the Navy would be required to submit a plan no later than March 1, 2012.

“I am very concerned with the lack of an investment strategy to address the lack of funding to maintain and repair our shipyards, and I have strongly advocated for the Navy to reverse this trend and accelerate military construction and facility modernization projects at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and our other public shipyards” said Senator Collins, who is also a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee.  “Our provision calls on the Administration to provide us with an investment plan to do just that and meet its commitments in ensuring the safety and efficiency of our naval shipyard workers.”

“The men and women at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard have provided outstanding service in support of U.S. Naval operations for almost 200 years.  Yet, Portsmouth continues to suffer from lack of investment in critical infrastructure causing both a decrease in efficiency and hazardous working conditions.  This amendment will require the Navy to begin to address critical improvements at our four public shipyards. Revitalizing our shipyards will ensure that the men and women of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard will be able to continue to maintain the ships that protect our shores,” said Senator Shaheen. 

“Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s workers play a critical role in maintaining our nation’s nuclear submarine fleet.  In addition to conducting Los Angeles Class submarine maintenance, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is leading the way among the four public shipyards in Virginia Class submarine maintenance, which is critical to our Navy’s readiness,” said Senator Ayotte, Ranking Member of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness.  During the Readiness Subcommittee markup, Senator Ayotte commented on a subcommittee provision related to the nation’s four public shipyards.  She said, “This provision will require the Navy to submit a plan to address the modernization project backlog at our nation’s public shipyards, including a backlog of over $500 million at Portsmouth.  If we want to maintain top-rate readiness levels for the U.S. Navy fleet, we have to make sure our four public shipyards have top-rate facilities.”

“I am pleased the committee supported our proposal to ensure that the Navy develops a plan to address the inadequate conditions of infrastructure at the nation’s shipyards, including the Kittery-Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  As GAO’s November 2010 report illustrated, properly and promptly addressing infrastructure needs is a wise investment that saves money, increases yard efficiency and ensures the continued high quality service required to keep our nation’s naval fleet in top condition,” said Senator Snowe.

In November 2010, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report that found that the Navy's modernization requirements at our nation's four public shipyards were underestimated, even though the Navy has stated that the backlog of facility improvements at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is $513 million.  In March, the Navy announced plans to invest approximately $100 million in facility upgrades and modernization at PNSY next year.  The funding, provided through the Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization (SRM) budget, would be used for energy conservation and repairs to submarine enclosures, building renovations, repair to the waterfront support facility and structural repair and consolidation of the yard's workshops.

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