At Appropriations Hearing, Senator Collins Presses Navy Leaders to Increase Drydock Capacity at PNSY and Other Public Shipyards to Accommodate the Naval Fleet

Senator Collins also praises the work performed by the shipyard in Kittery, commends the Navy for making investments to improve PNSY’s facilities

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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, questioned military leaders at a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing yesterday on the U.S. Department of Defense’s military construction budget request for fiscal year 2018. During the hearing, Senator Collins praised PNSY employees and the investments that have been made in the shipyard. She also called on the Navy to improve the capacity and capability of public shipyard drydocks to maintain the existing fleet and accommodate additional ships. 

“I am pleased that the Navy’s request includes $62 million to consolidate the paint, blast, and rubber fabrication facilities at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine,” said Senator Collins. “As you know, we’re very proud of this shipyard, which has been called the ‘gold standard’…by which the government should measure shipyards due to the efficient, high-quality work, and this is a much-needed project that will replace some outdated and inefficient buildings.”

U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Dixon Smith agreed with Senator Collins’ characterization of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s impressive work.

“I’ve had the privilege to visit your shipyard more than once in my last job, and they do a great job up there,” said Vice Admiral Dixon. “And I know that you’re very proud of them as you should be; they do phenomenal work.”

Senator Collins also expressed concern about the general state of shipyard infrastructure, particularly the lack of sufficient drydock capability and capacity to maintain the fleet over the next 30 years, as well as the slow pace of modernization.

“Without major improvements at all of our nation’s public shipyards, the fleet’s readiness will be seriously affected over the next 30 years due to a lack of drydock operational availability,” Senator Collins told the Navy leaders. “As the Navy considers its Shipyard Infrastructure Modernization Plan, how do you intend to prioritize public shipyard capacity and modernization?”

Vice Admiral Dixon acknowledged that the current condition of many drydocks is an issue and that more capacity will be necessary as additional Virginia-class submarines and Ford-class aircraft carriers are delivered to the Navy.

“What’s pressurizing our drydocks is that they’re old, in many cases we have not maintained them. Some are from World War II as you know,” replied Vice Admiral Dixon. “The two principal drivers are the Virginia payload module, when that delivers to the fleet, and also the Ford [aircraft] carrier. And so as we go and prioritize those projects, we need to make sure against the other competing issues we have that we get those into the budget and approved in time to deliver and improve those drydocks before we have to put the first Virginia into drydock or the Ford.”