KITTERY, Maine — Federal funds could be directed to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to help get an ongoing dry dock expansion project across the finish line after an initial cost estimate increased by $500 million.
A $95 billion bill being considered by the U.S. Senate includes $3.3 billion for the nation's public shipyards, funding to support dry dock projects at Kittery and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. On Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted 67-32 to advance the bill, which includes billions of dollars in aid for humanitarian efforts in Gaza and other global hotspots, as well as aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. The bill included support and moved to a final vote.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, said the bill would not only help U.S. allies, but that some of the funds earmarked by the Pentagon would go toward the shipyard's dry-dock program, which the Navy originally estimated at $1.7 billion. He said it is important because it helps pay for it. .
However, the Navy reported in 2023 that the actual cost to complete the project is now $2.2 billion in a five-year plan, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
“Ensuring we completed the dry dock expansion was the most important part, and the estimate for that project turned out to be below the actual cost, so we needed additional funding to complete it.” Shaheen said in an interview with Seacoaston Line. on wednesday. “I think the content of this bill will accomplish that.”
The exact amount of money that would go to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard if the bill passes has not yet been determined, according to Shaheen's office.
Shaheen says funding for shipyards is essential
The Kittery and Pearl Harbor dry dock projects are part of the Navy's Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP), a 20-year, $21 billion effort to improve dry docks, equipment and facilities at the nation's four public shipyards. It is. But in June, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said SIOP's “expected cost and scope” had increased since 2018.
“The Navy's four public shipyards are critical to maintaining the readiness of our aircraft carrier and submarine fleets. However, their drydocks and facilities are in poor condition and equipment is generally past its useful life. ,” the department's study said. Additionally, the Navy reports that unless shipyard infrastructure is improved, by 2040 it will be unable to support nearly a third of its aircraft carrier and submarine planned maintenance periods, hampering fleet readiness. Masu.
In September 2021, U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos del Toro called Portsmouth Naval Shipyard “a beacon of our silent service” during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Kittery dry dock project.
The Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2024 would also support the country's role in the AUKUS Partnership, a trilateral agreement between the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom to enhance each other's undersea industrial base.
“Part of that is to support the implementation of agreements with Australia and the UK to improve Australia's submarine warfare and nuclear warfare capabilities,” Mr Shaheen said of the bill. “The deal with Australia is very important as we look at how to bring balance to China and the Indo-Pacific.”
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The AUKUS agreement was officially launched by the three partners in September 2021.
Mr. Shaheen spoke about the far-reaching implications that could be expected if the National Security Supplemental Bill is ultimately given the go-ahead by Congress.
“This bill specifically targets aid to Ukraine, Israel, the Indo-Pacific, and Taiwan. It will also help people in Ukraine and Gaza in other parts of the world where hunger is at risk of malnutrition and starvation.” We also provide humanitarian assistance for the people,” she said. “Part of it will be to rebuild depleted weapons stocks through cooperation with Ukraine, and the money will go to our defense industrial base, including money that goes to public shipyards. This is critical for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard as it works on its Infrastructure Optimization Program, which is currently very close to completion. We need to secure funding to complete the process.”
“Obtaining this emergency funding will help us support not only Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, but our allies who truly depend on us and are essential to our national security, and to educate them about the United States. And how important is really important: a trusted partner,” Shaheen added.
Asked about the role of naval submarines in protecting U.S. security amid current global tensions, Shaheen said the U.S. is a “world leader” in technological advancement and is ahead of China on this issue. He said there was.
“To stay ahead of our adversaries, it is important that we continue to invest in our undersea industrial base. That is part of it. We also know that our record at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is one of the best. I know,” she said. “I think we are the best of the public shipyards when it comes to delivering ships on time and on budget. The faster we can get ships back into service, the more important it is to our national security. We want to make sure we can continue that.”
The Navy's other two shipyards are Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Washington state.
The national security additions were initially combined with a bipartisan agreement that included funding to strengthen border security, but the Senate killed that coordination package on Wednesday.