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Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (NSY)
Kittery, Maine / Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Portsmouth NSY is on the border of New Hampshire and Maine, about 50 miles north of Boston, Massachusetts, at the southernmost tip of Maine. The shipyard itself is on an island in Kittery, Maine, across from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, near the mouth of the Piscataqua River.

The shipyard was established in 1800 by the Federal government. The first warship built in North America was constructed at Portsmouth. In 1917, it built the first submarine constructed at a government-owned facility. After World War II, the yard finished work on six submarines started during the war and upgraded several others. The Albacore was built in 1953. In 1956, the yard started work on its first nuclear-powered submarine. Several SSNs and SSBNs were launched here. The last submarine was commissioned in 1971. Since then, work has reverted to overhaul and repair, particularly of nuclear-powered submarines. In 2005, the DoD recommended to close Portsomouth Shipyard as part of its BRAC Recommendations (see below for details).

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNS) is a US Department of Navy facility that repairs, overhauls, and maintains Navy ships, including nuclear-powered ships. Drydocks, cranes, waste-handling facilities, and offices are located at the shipyard. Activities supporting nuclear propulsion systems are performed in accordance with the requirements and authority of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, a joint DOE and US Department of Navy program responsible for all activities relating to naval nuclear propulsion.

The shipyard encompasses about 297.45 acres including the main base and a non-contiguous family housing site. The total number of buildings is 348, with over 4 million square feet of space. This total includes 49 ship repair/overhaul building with 1,524,512 square feet. The shipyard has three dry docks ranging up to SSBN and SSN 688 Class capability and 6,224 lineal feet of berthing. The berthing is comprised of six submarine berths (of varying class capability) ranging from only parking capability with no services to repair berths for yard and service craft. The facilities current plant value is $1,363,658,279. Plant equipment is valued at $473,507,075.

The civilian work force population at Portsmouth NSY decreased to a level of approximately 4,100 permanent employees in 1994. The military work force totaled 114 (not including forces afloat). Civilian payroll for FY94 was $235.9M.

The Portsmouth Harbor, about three nautical miles from the deep water of the Atlantic Ocean, is accessible year round via the Piscataqua River channel. The river channel is a minimum of 35 feet deep at mean low water and 400 feet wide. A Coast Guard station is located at New Castle near the harbor entrance.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, as the most experienced naval shipyard in submarine design, construction, modernization, and maintenance, is diversifying in the very deep ocean submersible and special operations arenas. It is the planning yard for the Navy's deepest diving submarine and submersible as well as other scientific research, defense prototype testing and submerged rescue platforms. It developes advance technologies and knowledge associated with this environment, including robotics, lighting, compensating systems, manipulators, search sonar, laser communications, material studies, thermal electric cooling and composites.

The construction of naval vessels along the banks of New England's Piscataqua River dates from the year 1690 when the HMS Falkland was built for the British Royal Navy. Naval shipbuilding and repair activities increased in following years, and warships built or fitted out by private shipyards located on the Piscataqua, such as John Paul Jones' USS Ranger, figured prominently in American naval history. However, it was not until 1800 that a permanent shipyard devoted exclusively to the construction and repair of vessels for the United States Navy was established at the mouth of the Piscataqua.

In 1798 the United States Congress established the Navy Department; and the following year, in an effort to build a naval force adequate for the maritime defense of the fledgling nation, the Congress authorized the construction of six vessels of a new class of frigates. Prior to this decision all American naval vessels had been built in private shipyards, but the private shipyards of the era were too small, lacking both the dockage and warehousing space, for the task of building this new class of frigate. The Secretary of the Navy proposed the establishment of publicly owned shipyards to cope with the problems of building these specialized warships.

Between 1800 and 1801, the Secretary of the Navy selected six sites along the eastern seaboard for the establishment of publicly owned shipyards. The first of these publicly owned shipyards was the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which was established on June 12, 1800, on an island located in the Piscataqua estuary. In the following years shipbuilding facilities were erected and a detachment of United States Marines was detailed to provide security for this new shipyard. In 1814 the 74 gun ship-of-the-line Washington, the first naval vessel to bear the name of the first president of the United States, was constructed, effectively demonstrating that the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was fully capable of building state-of-the-art warships. In the years between the launching of the Washington and the beginning of the tragic American Civil War, a total of 13 vessels for the United States Navy were constructed at what was becoming known as the "Cradle of American Shipbuilding."

Following the conclusion of the American Civil War new ship construction continued at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, but at a much reduced pace. The shipyard continued to be the site of significant events in US naval history, however. The USS Constitution, the most famous vessel in American naval history, was berthed at the shipyard as a receiving ship and floating warehouse.

In 1884, the survivors of the ill-fated Greely Arctic Expedition arrived at the shipyard to recuperate from their ordeal following their being stranded in the Arctic. In 1898, during and after the Spanish-American War, over 1,600 Spanish prisoners of war were quartered on the shipyard.Shortly after the turn of the century, the shipyard expanded and modernized. The centerpiece of this modernization was the construction of a large granite dry dock. In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt persuaded the belligerents in the Russo-Japanese War to end their conflict. Russian and Japanese delegates met at the neutral site selected by President Roosevelt, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and negotiated the historical Treaty of Portsmouth. For his efforts as a mediator and bringing the two warring parties together, President Roosevelt was awarded the first Nobel Prize for Peace.

World War I saw the expansion of the shipyard's work force to nearly 5,000 people. Significantly, the shipyard took on a new and important role--the construction of submarines--in addition to the overhaul and repair of surface vessels. World War II swelled the civilian employment rolls to almost 25,000 men and women. During World War II over 70 submarines were constructed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and three submarines were launched on the same day. No other public or private shipyard matched Portsmouth's record of supplying this important class of warship to the fleet.

Following World War II the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was the Navy's center for submarine design and development. The research submarine, USS Albacore, with its revolutionary "tear-drop" shaped hull and round cross-section, set the standard for all subsequent submarine hull design world-wide.

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard continued to build submarines until 1969, when the last submarine built in a public shipyard, the nuclear powered USS Sand Lance, was launched. Today, the oldest but the most modern publicly owned naval shipyard in the United States takes pride in being the Navy's leading shipyard for submarine overhaul and repair, and employs people in more than 44 trades and professions.

Among the many functions performed are:

  • Navy's lead shipyard for planning and conducting SSN 688 Class submarine depot modernization period availabilities.
  • Navy's lead shipyard for planning and conducting SSN 688 Class submarine engineered overhauls.
  • Co-planning SSN 688 Class inactivation availabilities with Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

Specialized industrial shipyard capabilities include:

  • Transducer hydrophones refurbishment/servicing/testing facility (east coast certified depot)
  • Towed line arrays refurbishment/servicing/testing facility (east coast certified depot)
  • Submarine antennas and communication buoys refurbishment/servicing/testing facility (Navy certified depot)
  • Submarine battery fill/charge/test/installation (east coast certified depot)
  • Ships service motor generator refurbishment/servicing/testing facility (east coast certified depot)
  • Submarine shaft and propulsion components refurbishment/servicing/testing facility
  • Submarine large scale model fatigue testing facility
  • Submarine valve and pump refurbishment/testing facility
  • Design/manufacture/shipboard application of close tolerance automated cutting and welding machines
  • Bow dome refurbishment (including booting/rebooting) reinstallation associated special hull treatment replacement and hull preservation systems
  • Designing and incorporating special mission capability on new construction and submarines in overhaul.

Submarine Maintenance Engineering, Planning and Procurement (SUBMEPP) is a tenant at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. This engineering field activity aligned to the Navy's Submarine Directorate, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) provides engineering, planning and material to support life cycle maintenance and modernization for the definition of technical requirements, and as the Submarine Fleet Commanders' agent for defining authorized work for submarine depot availabilities.

In 1967, the United States Navy established PERA-SS, Planning and Engineering for Repair and Alterations of Submarines, to contend with extended, high-cost submarine overhauls. The mission of this office was to develop and implement programs that coped with the complexity of nuclear submarine maintenance. That mission expanded over the years in order to meet the demands of major customers: NAVSEA, and the east and west coast Type Commanders (COMSUBLANT, and COMSUBPAC). By the 1980s, the engineering authority and program responsibilities of PERA-SS had grown beyond the charter of a ship maintenance planning office. This expanded role in submarine maintenance management compelled a change to a title that accurately projected new business services, the Submarine Maintenance Engineering, Planning and Procurement activity (SUBMEPP).

SUBMEPP centrally supports submarine repair activities worldwide. These activities include Naval and private shipyards, TRIDENT Refit Facilities, Intermediate Maintenance Facilities ashore and submarine tenders afloat. Our efforts improve the readiness of all types of Navy submersibles, from Submarine Rescue Chambers, Deep Submergence Vehicles, Dry Deck Shelters and Moored Training Ships, to America's nuclear attack and ballistic missile submarine fleet. SUBMEPP establishes and manages programs for the life-cycle upkeep and modernization of these strategic resources.

In 2002 the shipyard set a record by completing the ERO for the USS City of Corpus Christi in just two years. The scheduled duration was two months shorter than the shipyard's previous best and a huge challenge not only for the Shipyard, but for the sub's crew as well. By the beginning of March 2002, and in the wake of USS Miami (SSN 755), the shortest ever Depot Modernization Period, it was clear that Portsmouth Naval Shipyard would capture a second performance record in as many months. The ERO was declared complete on March 25, one week shy of 24 months -- a new record.

BRAC 2005

Secretary of Defense Recommendations: DoD recommended to close the Naval Shipyard Portsmouth, Kittery, ME. As a result, it recommended to relocate Portsmouth's ship depot repair function to Naval Shipyard Norfolk, VA, the Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility at Pearl Harbor, HI and the Naval Shipyard Puget Sound, WA. It also recommended to relocate the Submarine Maintenance, Engineering, Planning and Procurement Command to Naval Shipyard Norfolk.

Secretary of Defense Justification: This recommendation retains one nuclear-capable shipyard on each coast, plus sufficient shipyard capacity to support forward deployed assets. There are four Naval Shipyards performing depot-level ship refueling, modernization, overhaul and repair work. There is sufficient excess capacity in the aggregate across the four shipyards to close either Naval Shipyard Pearl Harbor or Naval Shipyard Portsmouth. There is insufficient excess capacity to close any other shipyard or combination of shipyards. Naval Shipyard Portsmouth was selected for closure, rather than Naval Shipyard Pearl Harbor, because it is the only closure which could both eliminate excess capacity and satisfy retention of strategically-placed shipyard capability. Planned force structure and force positioning adjustments reflected in the 20-year Force Structure Plan led to the selection of Naval Shipyard Portsmouth as the preferred closure candidate between the two sites. Additional savings, not included in the payback analysis, are anticipated from reduced unit costs at the receiving shipyards because of the higher volume of work.

Relocating the ship depot repair function and Submarine Maintenance, Engineering, Planning and Procurement Command would remove the primary missions from Naval Shipyard Portsmouth and would eliminate or moves the entirety of the workforce at Naval Shipyard Portsmouth except for those personnel associated with the base operations support function. Naval Shipyard Portsmouth had a low military value compared to operational homeports, and, its berthing capacity would not be required to support the Force Structure Plan. Therefore, closure of Naval Shipyard Portsmouth was justified, according to DoD.

The total estimated one-time cost to the Department of Defense to implement this recommendation would be $448.4M. The net of all costs and savings to the Department during the implementation period would be a savings of $21.4M. Annual recurring savings to the Department after implementation would be $128.6M with a payback expected in four years. The net present value of the costs and savings to the Department over 20 years would be a savings of $1,262.4M. This recommendation indicated impacts of costs at the installations involved, which reported $4.9M in costs for waste management and environmental compliance. These costs were included in the payback calculation. Naval Shipyard Portsmouth, the closing installation, reported $47.1M in costs for environmental restoration, which DoD would have to pay regardless of Portsmouth's final outcome (cost not included in estimate above). Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 9,166 jobs (4,510 direct jobs and 4,656 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, ME, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which would be 2.8 percent of the economic area employment.

Community Concerns: Community, Congressional and labor union officials disputed DoD's measurement of shipyard capacity, and asserted DoD seriously underestimated the true military value of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY). They believe DoD overestimated capacity to perform work without PNSY and underestimated the Navy's future maintenance workload. Advocates claimed the costs associated with moving the shipyard's workload are inaccurate; therefore, the cost of closure is inaccurately calculated. In addition, they contended important skills and knowledge would be lost because the highly skilled workforce will probably not relocate. This workforce makes PNSY one of the Navy's most productive shipyards. Last, they noted the facility's non-DoD reuse potential is constrained by a non-nuclear toxic waste site within the fenceline, exacerbating the dramatic adverse economic effect of the DoD proposal.

Commission Findings: The Commission found that reducing excess capacity was a primary consideration in formulating the Secretary's recommendation. The Commission examined a number of past shipyard capacity studies and determined that the capacity study submitted by the Navy in support of its base closure recommendation was a reasonable measure of shipyard capacity. The Commission also found that while excess capacity exists in the shipyard depot maintenance category, that level of excess capacity did not justify closing one of four public yards. The Commission also found that the closure of the Portsmouth shipyard would increase the risk of not maintaining acceptable surge capability across the public shipyards. Given the uncertainties of future threats, the Commission found that these concerns rose to the level of a substantial deviation.

Commission Recommendations: The Commission found that the Secretary of Defense deviated substantially from final selection criterion 3, and the Force Structure Plan. Therefore, the Commission has rejected the recommendation of the Secretary. The Commission found that this recommendation is consistent with the final selection criteria and Force Structure Plan.



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