NH’s Shaheen, Ayotte question base closings

A MAY 6, 2005, FILE PHOTO.
JIM COLE | AP
A MAY 6, 2005, FILE PHOTO.
Posted Feb. 16, 2012, at 7:56 a.m.

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte are questioning the Department of Defense’s request for another Base Realignment and Closure round.

During a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting Tuesday, Shaheen expressed misgivings about the lack of investment in the nation’s public shipyards. Ayotte expressed skepticism that spending tens of billions of dollars to initiate a new BRAC round can be justified.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reaffirmed the department’s support for public shipyards, including Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. That shipyard is in Maine, though it does employ many New Hampshire residents, and does maintenance work on nuclear subs. It was pegged to be closed in the last BRAC round that also saw the shuttering of the Brunswick Naval Air Station. But a concerted effort by Maine and New Hampshire politicians and workers kept the shipyard open.

Maine’s senators have also spoken out against another BRAC round.

Shaheen said the shipyard was removed from the last BRAC round because of its effectiveness, and mentioned it just delivered the USS San Juan attack submarine eight days ahead of schedule.

Ayotte pointed to a November 2009 Government Accountability Office letter that revealed the 2005 BRAC process cost significantly more than anticipated.

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