SHAHEEN: PORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD IS VITAL TO NATIONAL SECURITY, REGION'S ECONOMY

April 15, 2009

(Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, NH) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen toured the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and met with Shipyard Command and labor leaders to discuss the challenges facing the Shipyard and its critical role to our national security and the region’s economy. Shaheen supported the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act passed by Congress in February, which has sent $24.5 million to the Shipyard for repairs to buildings, modernization of training facilities, and other construction projects that will create jobs.

“The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard provides good jobs, supports the Seacoast economy, and is an important asset to our national security,” said Shaheen. “In addition, the hardworking men and women at the Shipyard have made it the most efficient in the nation, which is why the Navy should continue to add jobs here in order to increase cost-effectiveness and bolster our state’s economy during this economic crisis.”

“Today, Senator Shaheen got a firsthand glimpse of some of the unique capabilities that have set our shipyard apart in the business of Repair, Maintenance and Modernization of Nuclear Powered Submarines,” said Paul O’Connor, President of the Federal Employees Metal Trades Council. “Senator Shaheen is aware of the complexities of our business and will work hard to ensure future funding in support of our strategic mission. Thank you, Senator Shaheen.”

In January, Shaheen joined her Maine and New Hampshire congressional colleagues in signing a letter to the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations. The bipartisan group of lawmakers urged the Department of Navy to increase the permanent workforce at the Shipyard to help mitigate weakness in the regional labor market and increase overall employee productivity and quality of life.

A recent report by the Rand Corporation found that the Shipyard has the highest overtime rates of all public shipyards, signaling a shortage in the workforce. According to the report, an increase in workers at the public shipyard could result in increased productivity at a lower cost than other management techniques, such as overtime and temporary or borrowed workers. The projected that the Shipyard must hire 190 new employees every year for the next five years in order to keep pace with retirements because 50 percent of the Shipyards workforce will be eligible for retirement within the next 10 years.

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard employs over 4,100 civilian and military employees and is one of only four remaining shipyards in the nation. The base encompasses approximately 300 acres, including the main base and a family housing site off base.

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