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N.H.’s senators speak out against more base closings

New Hampshire’s U.S. senators are speaking out against the Department of Defense’s call for a new Base Realignment and Closure round.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte are the chairwoman and ranking member, respectively, on the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management.

At a hearing Wednesday, Ayotte highlighted the national security value of the Kittery, Maine-based Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and studies finding that a 2005 round of BRAC costs dramatically exceeded estimates. She said the Portsmouth shipyard is booked for a number of years to handle maintenance on the attack submarine fleet.

“It’s not a proposal I can support,” Ayotte said of the administration’s proposal for another BRAC round. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in a Feb. 24 speech, said the administration will propose a new round of domestic military base closings in 2017, while noting that Congress has rejected such requests in recent years.

Shaheen said the shipyard and New Hampshire’s economy would suffer if there were another round of base closings at this time. She said the shipyard is home to thousands of New Hampshire jobs.

In 2005, the Portsmouth base had been recommended for closure by the Defense Department, despite Navy findings that it was the most cost-efficient boatyard in the nation. It was spared by the BRAC commission after intensive lobbying by shipyard workers from Maine and New Hampshire, as well as the congressional delegations and governors of both states.

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