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January 16. 2014 12:42AM

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard may secure federal funding

KITTERY, Maine — The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard will benefit from at least two inclusions in the omnibus appropriations bill released Monday night by the United States Senate and House appropriations committees.

The bill includes $11.5 million in funding for military construction at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the procurement of two Virginia-class submarines.

The bill could be voted on as early as today.

"These investments in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard — particularly during a time of so many budgetary challenges — highlight the installation's importance to our Navy and our national defense," Senators Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, said in a joint statement released Wednesday. "The $11.5 million investment in our shipyard, the procurement of two Virginia-class submarines, and sufficient funding and predictability to avoid furloughs is a huge win for our economy, the skilled men and women who work at the shipyard, and our national security."

The two allocations represent what was included in the White House's fiscal year 2014 budget request announced in April.

The $11.5 million in military construction funding will be put toward the consolidation of structural shops, which is expected to improve efficiency operations at the shipyard and is good news after a difficult year as a result of cuts and furloughs related to sequestration across the federal government.

This project is being funded even as the Department of Defense has delayed or canceled $4.1 billion in other military construction projects during the next five budget years.

The project was originally scheduled for 2015, but was accelerated to 2014 following efforts by the Maine and New Hampshire Congressional delegations to increase investments in modernization needs at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

The appropriations bill also provides funding for two Virginia class submarines in fiscal year 2014, which are starting to replace the Navy's fleet of Los Angeles class submarines.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has taken the lead on the Virginia class submarines, completing the first maintenance of a Virginia class submarine in 2012. In addition to doing maintenance on the submarines, the shipyard has taken the lead for all four shipyards on planning and procedures for the new class of boats.

gmacalaster@newstote.com


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