Officials: $414 Million Impact, 'Bright Future at Shipyard'
Portsmouth Herald, March 8, 32014

Lawmakers, Workers Vow to Fight Proposed Base Closures
That Could Hurt New England Shipyard

Fox News.com, March 4, 32014

Shipyard Should Be Safe From Any Closure
Portsmouth Herald, Feb. 28, 2014

Federal budget cuts hit Seacoast
Portsmouth Herald, March 2, 2013

Workers anxious as cuts set to take effect
Portsmouth Herald, March 1, 2013

At Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, fear of furloughs sharpen
Portsmouth Herald, Feb. 27, 2013

Defending the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Portsmouth Herald, Feb. 22, 2013

Hiring freeze, terminations to impact Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Portsmouth Herald, Feb. 3, 2013

Federal cuts pose threat to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Portsmouth Herald, Sept. 21, 2012

Sequestration threatens Portsmouth Naval Shipyard jobs, workload
Portsmouth Herald, Sept. 20, 2012

Snowe’s Exit a Huge Loss for BRAC Team
Portsmouth Herald, March 4, 2012

Officials: Shipyard Strong, Work Lined Up for Years to Come
Portsmouth Herald, Feb. 25, 2012

Shipyard Advocates Brace for Base Closures:
Despite Facility Pumping Hundreds of Millions into Local Economy
Foster's Daily Democrat, Feb. 25, 2012

Seacoast Shipyard Association Ready for BRAC
WCSH-TV6 Portland, Feb. 24, 2012

Base Closure Process Called Into Question
WCSH-TV6 Portland, Feb. 15, 2012

BRAC’s Back: Save Our Shipyard Again?
WCSH-TV6 Portland, Jan. 27, 2012

Officials Vow to Fight Potential Shipyard Closure
WMUR TV-9, Jan. 27, 2012


US Senate

January 26, 2012

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Chris Averill 202-224-5344(Snowe)
Kevin Kelley 202-224-2523(Collins)
Jonathan Lipman 202-224-5553 (Shaheen)
Jeff Grappone 202 224-3324 (Ayotte)

MAINE AND NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATE DELEGATIONS
RESPOND TO BRAC PROPOSAL

Bipartisan delegation pledges to work together to support Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) released the following statement in response to U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s request for Congress to authorize additional base closures under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.  The last BRAC process occurred in 2005, when the Pentagon’s recommendation to close the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was ultimately overturned by the BRAC Commission.

“Another proposed round of BRAC closures now doesn’t make sense for our national defense or our national finances.  The Department is in the midst of decisions on our posture overseas, including the possibility of withdrawing forces and closing bases in Europe, and any move to close bases here in the U.S. should not be entertained until that process is concluded.

“Having only last fall completed the implementation of the 2005 BRAC process, it is abundantly clear that the costs of the BRAC round were far greater than predicted, and that the annual savings were far smaller than expected.  In fact, according to a November 2009 Government Accountability Office report, the 2005 round cost the nation nearly $35 billion.  As a result, it will take well over a decade before the nation potentially realizes enough annual savings from 2005’s base closures just to offset the initial costs of the BRAC round. 

“There is no doubt that the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard remains a fundamental and irreplaceable component of our nation’s security.  The men and women at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard have provided outstanding, valuable, and efficient service in support of U.S. Naval operations for almost 200 years.  No one in the country does what they do as well as they do it. 

“Indeed, in 2005, the region fought the winning battle to convince the BRAC Commission that the Department of Defense’s recommendation to close the yard was a mistake based on flawed data.  When the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was removed from the closure list that year, it validated for the third consecutive BRAC round that the extraordinary work and value of the thousands of men and women who work at the yard is irreplaceable to our Navy and our nation.

“We will stand together, along with the Shipyard workers, the Kittery and Portsmouth communities, and all the people of Maine and New Hampshire to emphasize the importance of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to the Navy, to the Department of Defense, and to America’s national security.” 

 

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Portland Press Herald/Washington Bureau

Posted: January 27
Updated: Today at 9:47 PM

PPORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD TO AGAIN
BE TARGET FOR CLOSURE?

By Jonathan Riskind jriskind@mainetoday.com
MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON -- The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery could face closure again if the Obama administration wins congressional support for a new round of military base closings. The yard's vulnerability was the subject of sharp disagreement Thursday among defense analysts and members of Congress from Maine and New Hampshire. While Maine lawmakers said the facility is too valuable to close, one analyst said it's a potential target because there will be less work in the future on the nuclear submarines it overhauls. "Portsmouth's days are probably numbered if there is a rigorous and comprehensive review of bases," said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, a think tank in the Washington area.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other officials outlined a plan Thursday for absorbing $487 billion in military spending cuts. Although the plan leans heavily on reductions in ground forces and delays in the introduction of new weapons systems, it includes a provision for President Obama to seek congressional support for a new round of domestic base closures. It's unclear when the president might submit that request and what the focus and projected savings from a closure program might be. Any action in this election year is seen as unlikely.

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was on the Defense Department's base closure list in 2005, but that recommendation was overturned by the independent Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The panel's chairman said then that Portsmouth was "the gold standard by which we should measure shipyards." The round of base closures in 2005 did claim the Brunswick Naval Air Station, which is now being redeveloped for commercial use. Shipyard employees, businesses and public officials campaigned fiercely to keep the Portsmouth yard open, joining forces in a group known as the Seacoast Shipyard Association.

Neil Rolde of York, the association's president, said Thursday that supporters of the shipyard are prepared to do battle again, if necessary. "We are not shaking in our boots," Rolde said. "We are just gearing up to fight the good fight all over again." A spokesman for the shipyard did not respond to a request for comment.

U.S. senators from Maine and New Hampshire issued a joint statement Thursday, saying they want to show that the two delegations and the region will work together to stave off any threat. The commission's decision in 2005 to keep the shipyard open showed that "the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard remains a fundamental and irreplaceable component of our nation's security," said the statement by Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

About 4,600 civilians and 96 military personnel work at the shipyard on the Maine-New Hampshire border. The work at Portsmouth, one of four remaining Navy shipyards, mainly involves overhauling Los Angeles-class nuclear submarines.

The Seacoast Shipyard Association, in its most recent economic impact study, said that in 2010 Portsmouth's civilian payroll totaled more than $395 million. The yard also bought nearly $45 million worth of supplies and services, with more $6.3 million of that spent in Maine, the study showed.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the shipyard should not have to fear for its survival. Pingree, a Democrat, noted that the only other Navy shipyard that does comparable submarine work is in Hawaii. "(Portsmouth) is one of the most efficient shipyards in the country and is absolutely essential in maintaining the Navy's submarine fleet," Pingree said in an email. "There is absolutely no reason why it should even be considered for closure."

Thompson, the defense analyst, said he agrees that the shipyard "is a very well run place," but the submarines it refuels and refits are beginning to be retired and replaced by Virginia-class submarines, which don't need mid-life refueling. There is other maintenance and overhaul work, but the Pentagon has said it is shifting more submarines to the Pacific, which could make Portsmouth less vital, Thompson said. "There was serious consideration to closing Portsmouth in the last round of base closures," he said. "This time around, the case for closing will be much more persuasive."

Whether Congress will approve a round of base closures remains to be seen, analysts say. Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, noted that base closures carry significant up-front costs. He said taxpayers spent about $30 billion over six years to carry out the 2005 base closures. That means that in the short run, other defense cuts would have to be found to offset base closure costs, he said.

The senators from Maine and New Hampshire said in their statement that the 2005 base closure costs will take a decade to recoup completely. "Another proposed round of ... closures now doesn't make sense for our national defense or our national finances," the senators said. "The (Defense) Department is in the midst of decisions on our posture overseas, including the possibility of withdrawing forces and closing bases in Europe, and any move to close bases here in the U.S. should not be entertained until that process is concluded."

Jonathan Riskind-- 791-6280
jriskind@mainetoday.com

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Manchester Union Leader
Published Jan 27, 2012 at 3:00 am (Updated Jan 26, 2012)

FOUR SENATORS DECRY MORE BASE CLOSINGS

Quicker than you can say 'submarine repair,’ the four U.S. senators from New Hampshire and Maine on Thursday criticized a proposal by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to institute another formal round of military base closings. The four issued a press release hours after Panetta introduced a 2013 budget that would cut $487 billion over the next 10 years. It would eliminate 92,000 ground troops, mothball ships, trim air squadrons and shift the emphasis in strategic forces from Iraq and Afghanistan to the Pacific and the Middle East. He also asked for Congress to activate a Base Closure and Realignment Commission.

Four such commissions have been tasked in the past, according to retired Navy Capt. Robert McDonough, a former commander at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and member of Seacoast Shipyard Association. In 2005, military brass slated the Portsmouth shipyard for closure, but the BRAC commission overruled the recommendation. In 2010, the shipyard, which repairs and upgrades Navy submarines, employed about 5,100 civilians.

“Another proposed round of BRAC closures now doesn’t make sense for our national defense or our national finances,” said a statement released by Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H, Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Olympia Snow, R-Maine, and Susan Collins, R-Maine. U.S. bases shouldn’t be closed until the Pentagon decides what bases to close overseas, the four said. They also said the costs of the 2005 BRAC are more than anticipated, so it will take more than a decade to realize any savings.

But McDonough, one of the Portsmouth shipyard’s biggest cheerleaders, said he’s not afraid of BRAC. Rather, he fears the ‘sequestering’ that will soon take place because the Congressional super-committee could not meet budget targets. “This (BRAC) is, in my judgment, not a bad thing. These are structured and not a meat ax approach,” he said. “We understand what BRACs are; we don’t understand this draconian cut.”

A Defense Department spokesman Thursday could not give details about Panetta’s BRAC request. “It’s way, way too early to talk about any of this,” said Lt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins. For BRAC to go forward, Congress must authorize it. In the past, military brass drew up a list of bases, the BRAC commission considers and revises the recommendation, then the package is sent to Congress for an up-or-down vote. Also Thursday, Panetta said he would delay purchase of a Virginia class submarine, the Associated Press reported.

The Portsmouth shipyard works on Virginia class submarines. McDonough said that is no shock; such statements are made every year. Ayotte, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said questions remain about whether the proposed 2013 budget meets the country’s national security interests. Panetta proposed spending $525 billion and another $88.4 billion for overseas contingencies, most in Afghanistan. “We must not allow misguided defense cuts to add a national security crisis to our existing financial crisis,” Ayotte said.

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Foster’s Daily Democrat
Friday, January 27, 2012

MAINE AND NEW HAMPSHIRE LEGISLATORS RESPOND TO BRAC PROPOSAL:
PLEDGE TO WORK TOGETHER TO SUPPORT LOCAL SHIPYARD

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sens. Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins, both R-Maine, Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) released the following statement in response to U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's request for Congress to authorize additional base closures under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. The last BRAC process occurred in 2005, when the Pentagon's recommendation to close the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was ultimately overturned by the BRAC Commission. "Another proposed round of BRAC closures now doesn't make sense for our national defense or our national finances.

The Department is in the midst of decisions on our posture overseas, including the possibility of withdrawing forces and closing bases in Europe, and any move to close bases here in the U.S. should not be entertained until that process is concluded. 

"Having only last fall completed the implementation of the 2005 BRAC process, it is abundantly clear that the costs of the BRAC round were far greater than predicted, and that the annual savings were far smaller than expected. In fact, according to a November 2009 Government Accountability Office report, the 2005 round cost the nation nearly $35 billion. As a result, it will take well over a decade before the nation potentially realizes enough annual savings from 2005's base closures just to offset the initial costs of the BRAC round. 



"There is no doubt that the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard remains a fundamental and irreplaceable component of our nation's security. The men and women at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard have provided outstanding, valuable, and efficient service in support of U.S. Naval operations for almost 200 years. No one in the country does what they do as well as they do it. 

"Indeed, in 2005, the region fought the winning battle to convince the BRAC Commission that the Department of Defense's recommendation to close the yard was a mistake based on flawed data. When the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was removed from the closure list that year, it validated for the third consecutive BRAC round that the extraordinary work and value of the thousands of men and women who work at the yard is irreplaceable to our Navy and our nation.



"We will stand together, along with the Shipyard workers, the Kittery and Portsmouth communities, and all the people of Maine and New Hampshire to emphasize the importance of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to the Navy, to the Department of Defense, and to America's national security."

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Portsmouth Herald Editorial
Saturday, February 4, 2012

BRAC IS NO LONGER PRODUCTIVE

The possibility of another go-round for the BRAC process comes as no surprise. The revival as early as 2015 of the Base Closure and Realignment Commission has been mentioned previously in our editorials.

Hopefully, however, Congress will come to understand the process is flawed and unwise — as has been well argued by U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).



The concept of BRAC, from its inception, was a way for Congress to sidestep its responsibility to oversee the nation's defense budget in a bipartisan fashion.

At one time that may have been an acceptable excuse. The country was coming out of a military buildup after World War II, the Cold War, Korea and Vietnam. It could be argued that there were domestic military installations that could easily be declared surplus. So, why not let an independent body make an all-or-nothing recommendation.

But since 1989 there have been five formal BRAC closure rounds that have seen more than 350 installations closed — including the former Pease Air Force Base in Newington.

During that time the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has survived being placed on BRAC lists, while other shipyards have been closed. 

At some point, however, the law of diminishing returns is sure to step in and make more closures problematic — here in the Seacoast or elsewhere. 



Sen. Ayotte et al have made this point in noting the last round of base closures failed to net the savings promised. 

Quoting from a recent joint press release by the senators: 

"Having only last fall completed the implementation of the 2005 BRAC process, it is abundantly clear that the costs of the BRAC round were far greater than predicted, and that the annual savings were far smaller than expected. In fact, according to a November 2009 Government Accountability Office report, the 2005 round cost the nation nearly $35 billion. As a result, it will take well over a decade before the nation potentially realizes enough annual savings from 2005's base closures just to offset the initial costs of the BRAC round."



Complicating the discussion is the fate of current U.S. military facilities located overseas. There is serious debate during this election cycle over the proper scope and depth of military spending overseas. And given the strains on the overall U.S. economy, it is reasonable to assume the next Congress and president will look to bring more troops home and close more overseas installations. All this make decisions about which bases to close — if any — that much more important. It is not unreasonable then to demand that members of Congress do the job for which they were elected. This means an open debate over the nation's military spending and how it will impact the future of military installations such as the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

We also note that part of this discussion will involve voters passing judgment on President Obama's recently announced realignment and mission for U.S. strategic forces here and overseas.

All in all, nothing should happen in the way of reviving BRAC until the total impact of the last round of closures is adequately assessed and our countries strategic needs overseas are well vetted.

To that end, any discussion of BRAC should be placed in a Defense Department draw and locked tight.

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By DONNA CASSATA, Associated Press

Posted Feb. 06, 2012, at 7:59 a.m.

DEFENSE CUTS TEST LAWMAKERS' RESOLVE ON DEFICITS

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers who came to Washington demanding budget cuts face a tough test now that President Barack Obama and military leaders want to shrink the force, shut down bases and cancel weapons to achieve them.

A new national security strategy reflecting an end to decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan offers the opportunity to reduce defense spending and government deficits by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years — but at a cost of thousands of jobs in lawmakers’ states and districts.

Democrats as well as Republicans are resisting, looking to protect home turf from California, where the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft is built, to Wisconsin, home to speedy Littoral combat ships, to military installations all across the country. In New England, senators from both parties, including Maine Republicans Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, have spoken out against another round of base closings, defending the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery and charging that more closings don’t make sense in advancing national security or saving money.

“It’s funny that we want to save money everywhere except when it can bother us,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in an interview. Graham is a member of the Armed Services Committee and one of the few lawmakers who favors another round of domestic base closings.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently outlined a $525 billion budget for next year that’s $6 billion less than the current level. The proposal is the first step in the deficit-cutting plan that Obama and congressional Republicans agreed to last summer that calls for a reduction in projected defense spending of $487 billion over 10 years.

“Make no mistake, the savings that we are proposing will impact on all 50 states and many districts, congressional districts, across America,” Panetta said at a news conference spelling out the new strategy. “This will be a test, a test of whether reducing the deficit is about talk or about action.”

Obama submits his complete budget proposal to Congress on Feb. 13, but Panetta’s preview included enough details to stir alarm on Capitol Hill.

The budget calls for canceling the Air Force’s Global Hawk program, a high-altitude unmanned aircraft used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The Pentagon said the aircraft’s cost at $215 million apiece make it less cost-effective than the existing U-2 spy planes that burst on the scene in the 1950s and were critical in finding Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962.

Northrop Grumman, the aircraft’s prime contractor, builds the planes in Palmdale, Calif., located in the district of the House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon.

The aircraft is based at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville, Calif., soon to be in the redrawn congressional district of Democratic Rep. John Garamendi, a member of the committee. The program also is one of many that the Air Force manages at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the district of Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, another committee member.

McKeon has criticized the overall military cuts but has not commented specifically on the Global Hawk. The Republican did send a clear message to the Pentagon and the White House when he promised to hold hearings on the budget “keeping in mind that while the president proposes, Congress disposes.”

Garamendi questioned the Pentagon’s rationale, especially since six months ago it called the Global Hawk a critical program with no alternatives “that will provide acceptable capability to meet the joint military requirement at less cost.”

“Now we’re going in the other direction and I’m going, ‘guys you got some explaining to do. What changed? What is the reason here?” Garamendi said in an interview. He called the U-2 an “incredible machine, but it can’t stay over the target for 20 hours. Global Hawk can stay there for a day or more. So explanations are needed.”

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s reason at the briefing with Panetta: “That’s the fate of things that become too expensive in a resource-constrained environment.”

But just a few months ago, the Pentagon had said that “when analyzed in the context of the Global Hawk mission, the U-2 costs $220 million per year more than the Global Hawk.”

Panetta also called for slowing the pace of building new ships and speeding up the retirement of older ones. The Pentagon blueprint said it would reduce the purchase of Littoral combat ships, the speedy boats built at shipyards in Wisconsin and Alabama, by two. It didn’t provide more specifics.

The ship is built in the city of Marinette on the Wisconsin-Michigan border, and has meant hundreds of jobs in the two states. While Wisconsin has an unemployment rate of 7.1 percent, Michigan’s jobless rate of 9.3 percent is well above the nation’s.

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, who declined to comment about specifics of the budget proposal. Freshman Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., praised the Littoral as a ship that “just keeps us a little more nimble.”

Contributing to the nervousness on Capitol Hill — and in the defense industry — is the prospect of deeper cuts in the military. The deficit-cutting supercommittee’s failure last fall to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in savings last year means automatic, across-the-board cuts for defense and domestic programs beginning next January.

For the Pentagon, that would mean an additional $492 billion reduction over a decade on top of the $487 billion.

Top Republican senators have proposed reductions in the federal workforce and a freeze in federal pay to delay the automatic cuts for a year. Both the White House and congressional Democrats have rejected any move to undo the automatic cuts absent a far-reaching deficit-cutting plan.

Jeremy W. Devaney, a senior equity analyst in defense technology for BB&T Capital Markets, said contractors look at Congress and the administration, and “they don’t believe sequester is going to happen, but they don’t know how it’s not going to happen.”

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