Analysis: BRAC commission tosses a curve at Navy's plans
June 11, 2008 · Updated 1:58 PM
Wednesdays headline on the New Hampshire Union Leaders Web site said it all.
The small shipyard in Kittery, Maine, the governments oldest, was targeted for closure by the Pentagon who wanted to send the 4,500 workers there to other Navy shipyards in an effort to save money an estimated $1.3 billion over the next 20 years.
But the Base Realignment and Closure commission didnt see it that way, rejecting the recommendation 7-1. It was pretty transparent how the vote would go as BRAC chair Anthony Principi, a decorated Vietnam veteran, former Navy officer and Secretary of Veterans Affairs, said, I believe Portsmouth is the truly preeminent shipyard in this nation. It is the gold standard by which the country should measure all shipyards. Their ability to turn around subs quicker than any other shipyard, thereby saving the Navy (money) was significantly noted.
According to marinetimes.com, the commissions staff determined that by shifting Portsmouths workload to the Navys shipyards in Bremerton, Pearl Harbor, Ha., and Norfolk, Va. would leave just an 8 percent excess capacity. If demands for ship repairs surged, commissioners worried the Navy couldnt meet the demand.
All human activity must involve some amount of excess capacity, Commissioner Phillip Coyle told marinetimes.com. I dont use my garage 24 hours a day, but Im not about to tear it down.
If the commissions vote, which was scheduled to be ratified today, stands after being re-examined by President Bush and Congress, that means the Navy wont be sending 1,400 workers to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. The president has until Sept. 23 to accept of reject the commissions recommendations in their entirety. If he accepts them, Congress has 45 legislative days to reject the recommendations in their entirety or they become binding for the Defense Department.
U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Belfair), one of the staunchest supporters of a strong military presence in the Puget Sound region and a member of the House Appropriations defense