The Navy secretary joins U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King for a Portsmouth Naval Shipyard groundbreaking ceremony recently. Courtesy photo

KITTERY — On Sept. 8, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King hosted Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro in Maine, where they participated in the celebration of the groundbreaking for the multi-mission Dry Dock #1 modernization project at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. A $1.7 billion contract was awarded for the construction project last month, and work is expected to be completed by June 2028, according to a press release by the Maine senators.

The current Dry Dock #1 can only accommodate Los Angeles-class submarines, which means it will be rendered obsolete when LA-class submarines are removed from service in the 2030s. Failure to modernize the dry dock would result in 20 deferred submarine maintenance availabilities through 2040, meaning Navy submarines would not be able to accomplish their missions.

“This investment is a testament to the skill and dedication of the men and women, Navy and civilian, who work at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard,” Collins said. “They continue to answer the nation’s call to keep our Navy strong and ensure that our brave sailors and submariners are able to defend our nation and return home safely, Today’s celebration also represents years of hard work and important collaboration among members of the Maine and New Hampshire delegations, Navy officials, and the outstanding men and women who keep our submarine fleet prepared for crucial national security missions. A public shipyard hasn’t constructed a new dry dock in more than 60 years. I know that the Navy and the great industry team supporting this project, including Maine’s Cianbro Corporation, will meet the challenge.”

“The committed, talented workforce at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard plays a vital part in Maine communities and America’s national defense,” King said. “Their high-quality work is essential to our nation’s Navy, and it is paramount that we give the shipyard the resources it needs to continue fulfilling its duties. The construction of a new Dry Dock will create good jobs in Maine, both today and for decades to come. I am proud to have worked alongside my colleagues, Navy leaders, and PNSY leaders to secure this funding, which will help ensure PNSY’s facilities are equipped to continue to perform vital maintenance on the nation’s evolving submarine fleet.”

Collins and King have championed funding for the modernization of Dry Dock #1, according tot he release. This year, Sen. Collins, a member of the Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee, secured $475 million towards this project in the fiscal year 2022 MilCon-VA funding bill passed by the Appropriations Committee, and she secured $160 million for the project last year. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. King was instrumental in authorizing the funding last year and has been a vocal proponent this year during the formulation of the fiscal year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.

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