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May 25. 2013 10:04PM

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard holds change of command ceremony

KITTERY, Maine - Current and former leaders of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard choked up when discussing how holding the post of commander at the nation's oldest shipyard impacted their lives.

That impact was palpable during the 84th change of command ceremony on Seavey's Island on Friday morning.

U.S. Navy Rear Admiral (Select) Bryant Fuller was relieved of command after 3 1/2 years at the helm and handed duties over to Capt. William Greene.

During his tenure, Fuller oversaw 36 major construction projects at the shipyard valued at more than $300 million, including a $24 million renovation to Dry Dock 2. He was responsible for a budget of more than $670 million and the command of more than 5,000 shipyard civilian workers and active duty military.

He also oversaw the response and subsequent decision to rehabilitate the USS Miami after an arson fire caused major damage to the forward compartment of the nuclear-powered submarine.

Since 2009, the shipyard has also been responsible for the first major maintenance availability on a Virginia class submarine, the Navy's newest class of fast-attack submarines, and oversaw early or on-time completion of four major maintenance projects, including delivery of the USS Memphis a month ahead of schedule.

Under Fuller's command, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers completed seven major availabilities and more than 150 intermediate level availabilities for the U.S. Navy.

He called fixing the nation's submarines the "ultimate team sport" and commended the workers at the shipyard for their consistent efforts to exceed expectations.

"It takes an island to fix a submarine," Fuller said in his final remarks as commander, before giving his final orders, and being relieved of duty by Greene.

Greene talked about the 213-year legacy of the shipyard, and how union president Paul O'Connor pointed out to him that the nation was only 24 years old when the shipyard began its work.

"Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has been here since the beginning of this country, maintaining the Navy, and providing for the nation's common defense," Greene said.

He said as long as the nation has a Navy, it will have a Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Vice Admiral Kevin McCoy was the keynote speaker, and spoke of his 36 years of service to the U.S. Navy, including three years as the 80th commander of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard from 2001 to 2004 and his plans to retire to the Seacoast area with his wife at the conclusion of his career.

McCoy currently serves as the 42nd commander of Naval Sea Systems Command.

He said in times of turmoil and budget concerns in Washington, all of the shipyard workforce can be responsible for their performance as a shipyard team.

"The best thing you can do every day is excel at what you do every day," McCoy said.

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, spoke about the shipyard's importance to the state of Maine and the nation's defense.

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., was scheduled to attend but was unable to make it.


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